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Old 07-08-2018, 11:25 AM   #1
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Water heater replacement

Ok just used the water system for first time. I must have left water in the heater over winter. Major leak from it now...
Has anyone replaced the RV unit with on demand heaters?

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Old 07-08-2018, 05:52 PM   #2
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Many people have it's cheaper though and a lot easier to replace it with a standard heater no plumbing mods no gas lines to mess with. My question has always been what are you going to do with all that hot water when your weater tank only holds so much? They can freeze too so it's something that has to be looked at every winter also.
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Old 07-08-2018, 07:09 PM   #3
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Thanks Maunah!
Not so sure it's cheaper (replacement electrical/LP water heater is over $500 here in Ontario) than a small on demand shower ($169 on Amazon) heater that would provide all the hot water needed and be mounted outside..also the pump vibrates a LOT when it is running. Probably due to the poor shape of the floor to which it is (or was ?) attached. Is the accumulator supposed to shut off the pump when it reaches pressure? Lived on well water most of my life so thinking it could be similar to a pressure tank? Or am I way off base??
I guess I don't know the nature of these RV hot water heaters or water systems. Last year we had a very early cold snap to about -20F for nearly a week that came in fast and hard before many of us even had disconnected hoses from our house taps! Many frozen taps last fall and I was planning to winterize about a week later but?? I knew what damage was done so I left it to fix in better weather!
The places we go we can live without a water heater for a while but the bad part is that there is no good way of accessing the water system.
The whole thing is on the door side of the Advancer and by the outside wall behind a underbed wafer board vertical support for the bed. In other words I have think really skinny and stretch over the bed free under the lifted bed mattress and over the center bulkhead like bed support... yeah it's as awkward as it sounds!
So several 'opportunities for solutions' have been found!
First fixing and possibly upgrading/crossgrading the water system to better fit our needs.
Second accessing that °€°€÷|ע^^π÷×}[°^€€€€•√ water system space. Has anyone added a side hatch in that area?
Third possibly securing a little more storage space in our little trailer. A couple cubic feet is nothing to sneeze at, nor is a nicely plumbed appropriate water system!
I'm sorting and spitballin here any brainstorms?? Anybody??
I've attached photos of the pages from the original owners booklet.
Thanks in advance everybody ...as usual hoping my hard luck can help the next guy...

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Old 07-08-2018, 07:13 PM   #4
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That was supposed to be Mainah not Maunah!

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Old 07-08-2018, 07:35 PM   #5
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The water system is under the bed to the left of the bathroom and all the way left to the wall. The right half of the bed board hinges up with gas struts to hold it up... still not much room and certainly not easy access to the water system.

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Old 07-08-2018, 09:36 PM   #6
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The water heater, do you plan to camp off grid? Ever? The LP gas feature of the water heater allows to run without being hooked to shore power and works well in gas mode. The electric element feature yours has allows it also to be run on 120 VAC.

We do a quantity of off grid (boondocking) camping and really enjoy it. But, it is not for everyone, just mentioning it.

The congestion of the piping... each floor plan has it's challenges on plumbing. Our pump system was buried under the kitchen sink where I had to crawl through a bottom draw to get to it. That got real old real quick and I creatively moved the whole pump to a more accessible area for servicing. Moving the pump depending on layout can be done.

Moving the water heater is a major move. It is sort of planted in the side of the camper where it will fit and there needs to be a certain distance where nothing inside should contact it. (so it does not overheat I do believe)

If you are going to stay on the LP gas/electric unit you may find it has to stay where it is due to not really having an option of where else to locate it.

The instant on demand heaters have been talked about, however I do not recall any of our club members reporting on how they worked out. For sure check on the power consumption part of this unless you are upgrading your power system. It does not take much to tap out your 30 amp service to the camper. Especially while running the roof AC unit. In very hot summer months, we flip the water heater to gas to save the AC power. CG's can have low voltage and heating hot water with electric adds to the problem at your camper site. The 1,400 watt electric element in the water heater uses 11.6 amps of 30 amps you are starting with. Not trying to talk you out of the instant heater, just sharing some thoughts to help you consider all the options.

You mentioned accumulator tank, the standard Sunline system does not have an accumulator. The pump has an internal pressure switch that shuts off when it reaches pressure. Also check valves to prevent back flow to the fresh tank. The hot water heater has an air pocket in the top of the tank (when it is not dissolved) that acts like and accumulator and creates some cushion in the water system. Our pump will bang like crazy building pressure when the air cushion is all gone. (towing with full water will do this) I go out drain about a qt of water out of the heater, let air in, re-pressurize and then the pump calms down. If you go to a tankless system, you may have to add your own accumulator to help deal with thermal expansion or hydraulic lock up that the old water heater took care of most of the time.

Hope this helps

John
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Old 07-09-2018, 05:48 AM   #7
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The attached are our two best options I believe. They both use LP but the cost and size are extremely different!
Not certain where I would mount the tankless but I could mount on a plate in the same area as the current heater with it vented similarly by a vent plate.
The accumulator stateowas based on the pump manual and you're right there isn't one in the current setup and the 'bubble' in the tank is obviously not there! That all makes a ton of sense!
Boondocking is a possibility and we won't use so much LP that losing the AC heat would be an issue at all. Yeah the AC on the spot heaters are even cheaper and my wife likes a campground primarily but the rest of the trailer is setup to be off grid so I don't want to lose that!
Now to figure out how to access!

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Old 07-09-2018, 07:10 AM   #8
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I just found another possible solution and that is a replacement tank!
Never dreamed I could replace only the tank but?? They are available and I just have to find if the one for MY heater is available from Atwood...
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Old 07-09-2018, 09:29 AM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Draughty View Post
I just found another possible solution and that is a replacement tank!
Never dreamed I could replace only the tank but?? They are available and I just have to find if the one for MY heater is available from Atwood...
You can replace just the tank, if cost is a concern. We often advise to replace the whole unit because other parts of the heater may have been damaged, or are just old/corroded.

It looks like you were looking at a Suburban water heater for a replacement- that's not a good comparison. The Suburban unit is smaller on the outside, so you'd have to come up with a way to patch the gap. The Atwood heaters are a direct replacement hole wise.
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Old 07-09-2018, 11:35 AM   #10
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Thanks! I didn't know that... Not worried about matching the hole up as I do enough carpentry and metalwork..also have a Fab shop at my disposal as I am the draftsman..they all owe me favors!

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Old 07-10-2018, 04:23 AM   #11
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Well here it is...
Except for the split line it's in pretty good shape!
Heavyweight aluminum and appears to be repairable.
I removed the electrical panel and some sensors and will see if it can be TIG welded today. The walls if this tank are 1/8 thick. Not everyone can weld aluminum but the fabrication shop where I work has multiple aluminum certified welders. This should be a relatively easy fix.

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Old 07-10-2018, 05:46 AM   #12
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We accessed by removing the under bed board supports and one plywood piece that was crosswise under the back window. Easy to remove and gave access to the water heater.
I did order an accumulator so that will be added. Are those connections just standard 1/2" water supply lines like in a house?

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Old 07-10-2018, 07:22 AM   #13
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Wow, that's a huge crack. Since you have the welding option easily accessible, it's worth a shot. I've heard welding them can be risky, risky in that it may not hold and still leak. Make sure to pressure test the tank before reinstalling it.

Personally I'd drill a small hole at each end of the crack, to prevent it from splitting any more. Then weld away.

Yes, I believe the water fittings are standard 1/2", I bought elbows I used on my water pump from the hardware store. FYI, the bridge line and valves on the back of the water heater is for winterizing, you shut those valves to create the bridge and you can winterize the whole trailer without having the water heater tank in the mix. Hopefully they used that here and simply forgot to drain the tank, because otherwise you may find other water line issues down the line.
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Old 07-10-2018, 08:02 AM   #14
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Thanks!
Yeah the welder is going to tack the crack and place a 1/8 patch over then fully TIG weld all around the patch.
Good idea pressure testing I can do that too....
I'm thinking I can install the accumulator after I get the water heater in and tested...I'll sanitize the heater tank before I install it as well...

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