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Old 09-16-2009, 08:33 PM   #1
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What did the PO do to our water heater?

I was preparing to install a diaphragm in our Sunline and found the water in our water heater still hot. It's been more than a week since we've been camping, so an investigation was in order. First thing I checked, was the butchered up wiring that the PO "Worked" on. When we looked at the camper at the dealer, I questioned them on the wiring hack-job and asked that it be fixed.

Their "Fix" was to put wire loom over the mess and tape it up real good. When I got the loom and tape off, I found this:





Note the lack of any wire nuts, on the ground wire and the white jumper wire. The hot wire had jumpers put on it, to be able to reach the switch.

Then, I looked at the box on the side of the water heater itself...



It looks as if someone's been in there, but I can't yet climb in there because of my hip being injured.

I did put my volt meter on the hot side of the switch and it was hot (Ok... at least THAT part was right!) With the switch off, I probed the other terminal on the switch. It was ALSO hot!


I then turned the WH mounted switch off. To my surprise, the hot wire from the switch to the WH was STILL hot!! I then checked the switch for continuity (Unhooked from AC power) and it works properly. I have no idea, how power could backfeed, with the WH mounted switch off. I know I have lots more investigating to do, but I need some ideas on where to go from here.

Any advice, would be greatly appreciated!
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Old 09-16-2009, 10:37 PM   #2
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Gary

Something is not adding up for 2 things.

Thing 1

Hímm your 2003 unit is different then both of my 2004 units. Here see the one off the T2499. There is no rocker switch on the heater. There is a relay in the junction box. The 120VAC runs from the breaker box to the relay.

The relay is then turned on and off by the Atwood control board working off the Tstart. There is a permissive that the actual 12VDC HW heat switch up on the tank panel area be on to allow the Atwood control board to turn on and then the electric element to work. As long as the AC power is on.

The control circuit and relay is 12 VDC. The element, naturally is 1400 watts 120VAC.

Thing 2. In canít exactly follow your test and which switch you are referring to. The black rocker switch on the conduit box or the new fancy lighted big flip switch you just modified. My 1st thought was the black rocker switch was fused closed. You can flip the switch off but the contact fused closed and power still is on.

However that does not seem to match your wording that I really do not follow.

Iím suspecting the PO did something else too.

Here is inside my conduit box. Kitty needed this a while back on her T2499 when the hot water element didnít cooperate.




And here is the wiring diagram on mine on the AC part. I canít see yours in your pic.


See here on page 7 of the wiring diagram. Somewhere in your camper there should be a 12 volt DC switch to allow electric to work. It is generally up by the tank panel area at least in 2004 and forward. That 120 VAC switch of yours should only be applying power to the relay to allow the element to work when the control board calls for heat and the 12 VDC switch is enabled.

http://www.atwoodmobile.com/media/55...2011.29.07.pdf

My T310 has this. Not in the tank panel but next to it.







The T2499 had this in the tank panel.


You are going to need to get into that little conduit box and see what is in there. If the 120VAC goes right on the element, not good, then the PO has it hot wired direct with no control. That means the element will never shut off unless you do. If the relay went bad, they may have pitched it and wired it direct. And if it never shuts off, you are going to expand water right out the safety relief valve eventually.

Do you see a yellow wire coming over from the control board outside into that box? That is the coil hot wire on the relay. Iím assuming the color code on yours is the same. The wire may be close to the bottom of slightly under it. You can just barely see my yellow wire going into the conduit box.

Here is the outside control board. Iím also assuming yours looks like this. If not, we need a model number so we can look up what you have.


Good luck and hope this helps

John
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Old 09-17-2009, 06:46 AM   #3
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Just to let you know your HW tank is the same as mine. There is a switch on the HW tank. I would be tempted to pull out the "mod" and redo it properly.
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Old 09-17-2009, 08:36 AM   #4
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Gary,

My '99 has the little switchbox on the back of the WH, same as yours. The original wiring was circuit breaker direct to WH switchbox on the back of the heater. The WH's t-stat and control board determine when the element is turned on and off so there must be a contactor of some type inside the box on the back of the WH. Never disassembled it so I can't say what's in there for sure.

The only other control wiring is from the WH control board to a SPST switch up in the galley that simply turns the WH on or off, in either mode (gas or AC.) There is a light in that switch assembly that comes on if the WH goes into a fault mode. But that is not part of the box on the back of the WH.

I suspect yours is identical to mine, and they changed to different control and wiring with the '04 model year.

The switch that the PO added isn't a bad idea, just very badly done.

I am venturing a guess that the PO disabled or bypassed the switch on the WH in favor of his add-on switch. Again, not a bad idea. You may find when you get into the WH electric box that this is the case. Hopefully, restoring it to proper function should not be difficult.

First thing I would do is shut off the breaker for the WH and disconnect all wiring at the PO added switch, then turn on the breaker and make sure that the wiring is correct with a meter or other tester. If hot is hot and neutral is neutral and ground is ground, and there's no opens or reverses, then....

Temporarily bypass the PO added switch and make sure the wiring is good back to the box on the WH.

Then, inside the box on the WH, restore original function, probably by reconnecting a wire or wires back to the switch. Hard to tell without seeing what's been done in there.

If everything is good at that point, then you can go back and fix things at the PO added switch.
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Old 09-17-2009, 09:25 AM   #5
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I have some wire that will work perfectly for this.. Just have to try and figure out what all has been butchered.
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Old 09-17-2009, 11:47 AM   #6
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Gary

You said your water was staying hot all week. You mean warm or like HOT it's been on heating??

While your model has a rocker on/off switch on the conduit box, somewhere these almost needs to be a 12VDC switch to enable the electric option to work with the Tstat and control board.

Was that HW heater on electric enable left on all week?


If the electric enable 12VDC switch was left on, the shore line power was plugged in, and the PO's on/off switch on then the unit was indeed heating as it was told to.

If the 12VDC enable switch was off and you have heating going on, then that is a whole different problem. This mystery is going to start in the little conduit box on the back of the unit.

John

Give us a model number and we can look up what exactly you have.
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Old 09-17-2009, 12:33 PM   #7
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Looks like Gary & Kitty have the same water heater I do.

The electric heating side is very simple. No 12V, no relay, no connection to the control board. Going from memory here: A length of romex was run from the breaker to the water heater. When it entered the little box, the neutral was ran directly to the heating element. The hot wire ran through the box-mounted switch, then through a klixon thermostat and into the heating element. I believe there was a safety cut-off wired in there as well, but it was totally independant of the 12v (gas) control circuitry.

A little quick digging, and here's a diagram. Bottom right, page 7:

http://www.dutchmen-rv.com/scripts/p.../get.php?id=45

Although it's listed as "pilot only", my (presumably older model) DSI water heater is wired that way on the electric side.

As a sidenote, because there's no "remote control" on mine, I never run it on electric. Too much of a pain to lift the mattress and play contortionist to get to that on/off switch in my coach. One of these days I will add a relay and put an electric on/off switch with the gas on/off, similar to the newer units like JohnB's.

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Old 09-17-2009, 12:39 PM   #8
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I was always told that the switch on the wall was to turn on the gas system. The switch on the HW tank is the only one needed to turn on the electric heater. Using the switch on the tank only I've had plenty of hot water.
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Old 09-17-2009, 03:31 PM   #9
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I'm getting ready to go "Tackle" this thing.. Kitty was sweet enough, to take some pics today...







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Old 09-17-2009, 04:16 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DF5.4
I was always told that the switch on the wall was to turn on the gas system. The switch on the HW tank is the only one needed to turn on the electric heater. Using the switch on the tank only I've had plenty of hot water.
Now you have me wondering. We've used the electric side of the WH so little that I can't recall the last time I even turned it on.

My WH is the exact same model as Gary & Kitty's. The electric schematics show no interaction between the gas control board circuitry and the 110vac side of things. They're completely separate, and I stand corrected.

Gary, the 110vac schematic of the WH mounted switch matches the pic of your open panel.
* Black goes through the switch to a terminal on the back of the t-stat.
* White goes directly to one side of the heating element.
* Green goes to WH physical ground.
So it is possible that the WH mounted switch is defective is you still have hot on the far side of the switch when turned off. Maybe that's why the PO installed the switch in the cabinet?
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Old 09-17-2009, 06:14 PM   #11
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We figured it out....

I feel kind of stupid, for not figuring this out sooner... Turns out, that Kitty's rocker switch is the kind that is lit when off. It's designed to make you able to find the switch, in the dark.

My tests were inconclusive, because the voltage required to keep the light on when the switch is off, was throwing me off.

It's all figured out now and Kitty's switch has been removed.... For now. As soon as I can come up with a better idea, I will have Kitty's pilot light idea as a reality...

Thanks for all the advice and suggestions!
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Old 09-17-2009, 09:21 PM   #12
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My water heater is the exact same one as Gary's. Electric is seperate from the gas operation. I always use the circuit breaker on the converter to turn mine on and off. Is it possible the small amount of current flowing through the pilot light (and the heater element) is enough to make the water warm?
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Old 09-17-2009, 11:24 PM   #13
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WOW

Learn something new every day here on SOC. Well I guess that is one more thing that changed in the 2004 models. The HW heater control on AC.

If the instructions sticker pic you have with the red wording would of showed up better in the pics we could or read the wiring diagram on it showing the T stat and over temp Klixon relay in the circuit. Boy what a pain to flip that rocker switch.

That would be mod number 2 for me if that was in our camper.

Gary I have seen what you are after. I saw this one quick but there are more out there and in Ivoy
http://www.grainger.com/1/1/109709-l...ght-brown.html

http://hardware.benfranklin.com/1085...B00004YUJ2.htm

Levington makes them

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Old 09-20-2009, 07:12 PM   #14
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John,
Those are almost identical to the one I put in there first. They are the ones that Kitty did not like very well. I kept the one I bought and will be re-installing it for now.

Are there any indicator lights, that I could mount and make it more visible?
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Old 09-21-2009, 10:04 AM   #15
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I went to Tri-State Electrical supply store here and found a switch that will light up "ONLY" when the WH is turned on and getting power. The actual "toggle" will be lit up, so it can be seen easily. OH, geesh, need to call and get that ordered. Ha, another mod for Gary. Hey, this is GREAT, I think of things/stuff to do to Sunny 14 and now I can have Gary do it. And people say blondes are dumb

PS: Gary stop reading my posts while your supposed to be working :P
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