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Old 04-09-2008, 03:42 PM   #1
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Join Date: Aug 2007
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SUN #368
Hot Water Heater Replacement

I have just been told by the RV place holding my new used Sunline hostage that I need a hot water heater. I have to say I'm a little perturbed; they are the ones who winterized it and I asked them many times if there were any problems with now I'm just determined to install one myself (or with DH). They tell me it's an Atwood DSI, and I can only find one kind of those for 6 gal heaters.

So my question is: is this all that difficult to do? The trailer is a 1996 2653, the hot water heater is in the rear under the double bed and of course outside...

I can find much more reasonable prices on these units almost anywhere else including the RV dealer out the other end of I84, but I also want to save two hours labor.

So is it worth it to do? They are quoting me close to $500 for the heater (list price is 514) and two hours labor. I found this considerably less expensive I could actually save something like $400 overall.

Is this a straightforward repair? I'm thinking it is, otherwise I would not be considering it, but if there are any things to watch out for, let me know. Thanks!

Tony and Marylyn
1996 Sunline T1740
1996 Sunline T2653
2003 Excursion
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Old 04-09-2008, 06:48 PM   #2
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Hi Marylyn,

First of all, if the dealer winterized it like you said, they should take full responsibility for damage as a result of them not doing the job right. They have no excuse since they had it all winter. Now, if the problem is something unrelated to the winterization, like the heating element, that's a different story, even though they may have accidentally hit the switch or something. But if the problem is a cracked tank or line, they should take responsibility.

If the problem is something like a heating element, they should have tested this before they sold it to you unless you bought it as is. If I were running an RV dealer, I would want to check all appliances on a unit before winterization to make sure everything works and I'd know if something would be my fault or not.

I would take this issue farther into the company, possibly the service manager or store manager. Customer service is (well, should be) their # 1 priority, and if they care at all about you, they should get that heater replaced free of charge. If they don't do anything, I wouldn't bother going back there. Surely they can do better on the price, because that isn't even 10% off.

I would start my asking them how much you mean to them and if you mean anything, tell them to give you the heater at cost to them, plus the labor.

Another thing is I really doubt you need a whole new heater. They sell replacement tanks and heating units separately, which will save a lot of money. But, I don't know all the details, so I can't make a conclusion.

Now about installing a new one...

It should be fairly easy to do assuming you can get the back part of the bed platform off, which you probably can by removing the hinge screws for the movable part and the screws holding it down. They are probably all square head. Once that's off, you can get your hands down in there to disconnect the gas, electric, and water connections. Make sure all those are off before attempting anything. Make sure to have windows open because the line will probably have gas in it that will escape once you open it. Next, pull out all the screws on the outside flange and the unit should pull right out. In order to install the new one, make sure to have some new putty tape to wrap it with. You don't want to use the old stuff. Then, simply reverse the process, making sure connections are tight. Check the gas connections with soapy water and then put water to the system and check the water lines and tank for leaks.

I believe I heard somewhere that it's easier to slide the tank out like 3-4 inches and then disconnect the lines. It gives you more room that way.

Also, if the trailer is still winterized when you start the process, and since it was probably winterized with antifreeze, make sure all antifreeze is drained or you'll have a pink mess everywhere when you disconnect fittings, assuming you don't have bypass valves.


2007 T-286SR Cherry/Granola, #6236, original owner, current mileage: 9467.8 (as of 5/26/19)
1997 T-2653 Blue Denim, #5471
1979 12 1/2' MC, Beige & Avocado, #4639
Past Sunlines: '97 T-2653 #5089, '94 T-2251, '86 T-1550, '94 T-2363, '98 T-270SR
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Old 04-09-2008, 08:40 PM   #3
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IF you or DH are handy with mechanical type repairs, the HW heater is not that large of a project. BUT it could take you a good part of a Saturday if this is the first ever you have done this. Be prepared going in, it will take some time.

Sunline Fan mentions the things to watch out for and the new putty take. Caution on the gas line. Do not cross thread it screwing it on and take care to not ding or nick the flared fitting. Buy a new brass adapter fitting to screw in the gas valve verses trying to reuse you old one.

As to using old part on new tank. If you are money strapped, then yes this will work. But you have a 1996 camper. It is not a spring chicken HW water heater…. So going all new gets you a new Attwood warranty and new parts all over.

However I would keep the usable parts off he old one. Pending the age, if the old parts match the new heater, they can be an emergency spare, again if you know how to diagnosis these type of heaters. If you are not in the repairs yourself, then just send it to the trash man.

Now to the crack. If it is indeed a cracked tank, and an Atwood, sounds like that 1 quart of water left inside and then even left the plug in. Or maybe it was full. To drain an Atwood completely of water, you have to use compressed air to blow out that last 1 qt of water below the drain plug. It says this in the Atwood instructions and I find it true as I blow drain my camper after each trip.

Good luck.

Current Sunlines: 2004 T310SR, 2004 T1950, 2004 T2475, 2007 T2499, 2004 T317SR
Prior Sunlines: 2004 T2499 - Fern Blue
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