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Old 11-22-2021, 08:41 PM   #1
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Need water heater help please

I just bought a 2001(I think) t-280-sr. Not in the best shape but for all intents and purposes of a hunting camper it is pretty good. Still trying to figure out the water heater on it. Got some minor repairs done and they tested the electric water heater and said it worked. I ran it tonight and had a hot shower for about 60 secs before it went cold. I have all gas turned off. I dont know if the hot water came from the tank cause I filled it or if it came from the hose feed?

Either way, about 1-2 hrs afterward I heard a pop and then a water stream, look under the back right drawer and saw one of the hoses blew off and steam everywhere. I guess I need to turn off the electric heater after done taking showers?

After cutting off the electric water heater, reclamping the hose I noticed these valves and a black on off switch. (see photos) can someone explain which is what or point me in the right direction? I saw some messages about stickyís but I canít find them on this site.
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Old 11-23-2021, 09:06 AM   #2
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Welcome Epicbite,

A few things, how to post pics, they really help so we can see what you are seeing.

There are 3 ways to add pics.

1. Upload pics to a specific post attaching them at the end of the post.

2. Linking them in from a public viewable web photo hosting service you have.

See here for 1 and 2 https://www.sunlineclub.com/forums/f...html#post86041

3. You can upload pics to the forum in your own personal photo album. Then link them to anywhere in the text of a post. See here on how to create an album. https://www.sunlineclub.com/forums/f...html#post87945

If you still get stuck, let us know.

Next up, your water heater.

Trying to understand your situation and I may be able to offer what went wrong. You may have 2 or more things going on at the same time. You said,

Quote:
Originally Posted by Epicbite View Post
I just bought a 2001(I think) t-280-sr.
Got some minor repairs done and they tested the electric water heater and said it worked. I ran it tonight and had a hot shower for about 60 secs before it went cold. I have all gas turned off. I dont know if the hot water came from the tank cause I filled it or if it came from the hose feed?
Having hot water and then no hot water that fast, need to confirm a few things. Water flow and water temp.

Was the water flowing out the shower (or any sink) with hot and cold being mixed to find the right temp correctly and then all went cold, but the water was still running? All cold water or mostly cold at this point.

Did you happen to notice when the all went cold event happened, did you try to turn just the shower hot water on, no cold and the hot water went to a trickle? not much flow at all from the hot?

When this all happened, did you try a the cold again and did it flow normally, just cold?

By chance did you try any of the other hot water faucets in the camper, bath or kitchen sinks, and did they have normal water flow out of the hot faucets, and the water was hot?

Not knowing the answers to those questions on flow or temp, the shower points to at least 2 problems.

1. Odds are high, the check valve on the back of the water heater, up on the top, the hot discharge outlet check valve plunger stem keeper fell off and the plunger is stuck in the piping discharge elbow. This restricts a large percentage of flow. The hot water cannot get out of the heater. This means "all" hot water faucets have low flow, not just the shower. What little flow comes, could be warm.

2. If it is only the shower that has low flow on hot water, and the sinks have good flow and hot water, then it is "not" problem 1 above. The issue points to a problem in the shower faucet itself.

Next up,

Quote:
Originally Posted by Epicbite View Post
Either way, about 1-2 hrs afterward I heard a pop and then a water stream, look under the back right drawer and saw one of the hoses blew off and steam everywhere. I guess I need to turn off the electric heater after done taking showers?

After cutting off the electric water heater, reclamping the hose I noticed these valves and a black on off switch. (see photos) can someone explain which is what or point me in the right direction?.
This sounds like your water heater was still on after the shower has issues and a hose below off inside the camper. If this correct?

This is a different problem then the shower going cold. Ideally need to see pics of the back of your water heater to see if someone changed the piping from what Sunline installed. Your 2001 Sunline should have 1/2" pex piping with white Flair it screw fittings.

This is not your model camper but your vintage should look close to this. The pipe may be routed differently due to floor plan, but the back of the heater would and valving would be/should be very similar.


Does this look like yours?

Need to know what hose let go on yours.

Here is that same heater out on the bench. The brass check valve at the time is the one I was talking about in item 1 above. I "think" the little black switch you are referring to is the one in this pic on the silver box in the back of the heater, Yes/no?


As to what blew the hose off, we need to dig into this further once we know what let go. If all the water went out of the water heater, and the electric element was left on, the element can and will burn out real fast. Fast means a minute or less as there is no water to cool it and it just burns out.

You may have a corroded safety relief valve that is stuck shut and did not relief outside, you may have had a bad hose put on by someone, your air pocket in the top of the water heater which helps with heat expansion is consumed, and the continuous heating built up creates excess pressure due to heavy calcium buildup in the tank and no air pocket for expansion. If the temp or pressure goes too high, it was supposed to blow off outside from the safety relief valve and this assumes the piping inside can handle the full pressure before the relief valve opens.

You may have 3 or more problems at once. Give us some more info so we can help better.

Hope this helps

John
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Old 11-23-2021, 05:50 PM   #3
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water was flowing warm not hot with just hot on in the beginning. After a while I needed to mix in some cold water to cool it down before it all went cold. Never did either warm or cold lose pressure. all continued to flow normally throughout. Maybe I just didnt give it enough time to get hot. Who knows how long it had been since last ran. All faucets had the same symptoms throughout camper initially, just luke warm coming from hot side until it got hot enough for a shower it felt like.

yes that is exactly how my water heater looks and it was the top right that blew. and that is the black switch i am referring to. I am purely running the electric part of the water heater, not gas. I checked that valve and it does seem pretty rough. ordered a new one. It doesnt seem like its healthy for the unit to let it continously release pressure though. Is it supposed to be turned off after every use?


still cant share my photos. I looks like the JPEG size is too large.
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Old 11-24-2021, 01:57 PM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Epicbite View Post
water was flowing warm not hot with just hot on in the beginning. After a while I needed to mix in some cold water to cool it down before it all went cold. Never did either warm or cold lose pressure. all continued to flow normally throughout. Maybe I just didnt give it enough time to get hot. Who knows how long it had been since last ran. All faucets had the same symptoms throughout camper initially, just luke warm coming from hot side until it got hot enough for a shower it felt like.
H'mm, how long did you let the heater warm up before using it the first time?

On a clean water heater, with cold 55F well water filling it, it can take 45 to 55 minutes to come up to temp, (140F) the very first time.

Once the heater has been up to temp, and you leave it off over night, the insulation on the heater will keep it semi warm (~ 80 - 95F ish) A reheat on electric only, would take approx. 30 minutes. If you are using gas, a reheat can happen in about 20 to 25 minutes. If you run both electric and gas at the same time, a reheat could be more towards the 20 minutes.

Gas mode does heat faster then electric mode.

Notice I said "clean water heater", this means the tank is not heavily caked with burnt on calcium sediment all over the inside of the tank. That heavy build up over time from hard water can push of the times above a 15 to 20 minutes. The caked tank insulates the heat from getting into the water by either the electric or gas mode. And once it gets hot, it could be hotter then the 140F as it had to be over heated to trip the temp sensor on the outside of the tank. Since your camper is as old as it it, and you may have no idea what the prior owner did with it, your water heater may have a lot of sediment in the bottom and be calcium caked up.

There is a flushing procedure to get the loose sediment out and a vinegar boil out to get the walls of the tank back closer to bare tank. If you have the time to do this, ask away we can show how to do it.

So, how long did you let the heater run before trying to shower?
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Old 11-24-2021, 03:06 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Epicbite View Post

yes that is exactly how my water heater looks and it was the top right that blew. and that is the black switch i am referring to. I am purely running the electric part of the water heater, not gas. I checked that valve and it does seem pretty rough. ordered a new one. It doesnt seem like its healthy for the unit to let it continously release pressure though. Is it supposed to be turned off after every use?


still cant share my photos. I looks like the JPEG size is too large.
The easier question, on your vintage heater, the little black rocker switch is a power on/off switch for the electric element on our vintage heater. But, pending where the heater is installed, if can be extremely difficult and a royal pain to get to that little switch to turn on and off the water heater.

On your vintage water heater, some folks added a 120 vac switch in the romex cable line feeding the heater out in the open to turn it on and off. Others, use the circuit breaker in the power convert box to turn it on and off, again on electric only. The next generation water heater after yours, has a on/off switch by or in the tank panel for the electric operation.

On gas mode, there is a flip switch most times on the tank panel for the gas mode. When running on gas, you can hear the roar of the heater and then when the roar stops, you know it made it up to temp. On electric mode, you really have no idea when it is at temp other them time and knowing how long "your" exact heater takes to get all the water in the heater hot.

Now to your piping blowing off, from what you told us, after 1 to 2 hours the top hose blew off, I'm assuming you mean the red hose?

That means the heater over that time period was heating, but since it was on electric, you or we, do not know if the call for heat ever was satisfied as you cannot hear anything. On gas mode, the gas burner would shut down when it reached what it thought was at temp.

You might have a bad T stat (one that does not open when at setpoint)
and it is letting the electric portion run non stop. That would be something to test/check for. BUT, there is another issue, the hose blew off. The pex piping is rated at 150 psi, the hose should not have blow off, the safety relief valve outside should start to open when the pressure or temp gets hot enough.

Another unknown is, did your safety relief valve get stuck closed with heavy calcium and corrosion and not allowing the system to weep/ blow off outside? This can happen if the relief valve was weeping a long time from heavy calcium build up. And if the owner never did annual maintenance on the relief valve which is to open and close it at least once a year so it does not get stuck.



The relief valve is a combo unit, temp and pressure. The white stem is the temp probe in the center of the valve inlet. Here is one out of the heater to show you.


And then, there is the "air pocket" in the top of the water heater that acts like an "expansion cushion" so when the water heats, it can expand into that air pocket and not build pressure so high. In your case, the air cushion may have dissolved even if the system is heating correctly. When the air cushion if lost, the relief valve can weep off excess pressure. Then it can create a lot of mineral build up on the relive valve seat, and create either be a dripping leak that will not stop, or affect the valve stem to not open if left go long enough. The pressure can build beyond 150psi when doing normal heating if there is no air pocket in the heater. The relief valve is made to open at 210F or when the pressure is close to 150psi.

With all that explained, you are left with, why did the hose blow off?

Was the pex fitting not tight enough or cracked?
Was the safety relief valve weeping?
Was the air pocket dissolved and let the pressure get too high?
Was the safety relief valve stuck closed?
Did the water heater go over 140F water temp due to high mineral build up in the tank?
Was the T stat on the electric element control stuck on?

Or is there a combo of them?

You sort of need to test/eliminate each of them and you might find another issue.

You have bought into a older water heater that may have some issues. Since this is all new to you, you really may not know what normal is supposed to be. But, since you had a hose blow off, that is a problem and can create a really mess quick.

As to do you leave the water heater on all the time like at home, or do you turn it off when you are done with hot water? This is a separate topic, but in any case, the pipe should not blow off even if you leave the heater on all the time. That needs to get corrected and then the rest of the heater checked so you know all is good.

As far as to what is good practice on leaving the heater on or off, I'll give you my take on this. We turn ours off when we are done with it. And turn it in 30 to 45 minutes or more when we need to use it. Now to why do we do this?

The RV water heater setup is not like a house system, there is no expansion tank system other then the infamous air pocket in the top of the heater. Over pressure building during normal water heating can makes the relief weep and start degrading it and the water weeping ends up on the controls below it. You cannot hear this water weeping issue, but it can be going on 24/7 if the heater is left on all the time if and when the air pocket is dissolved. And, leaving the heater on 24/7 bakes on more hard water minerals all day long being hot all day long. We only use hot water for approx. 2 to 3 hours a day. The other 21 hours the heater is cooking it self into mineral build up. If you want the heater to work right the longest before problems start, we turn it off and back on when needed. And we deal with making sure there is an air pocket in the tank when we setup camp. I also do annual maintenance on the heater to help stay ahead of the issues.

See if any of the above fits what your camper. We can go into more detail on how to test things if this seems to fit your situation.

Hope this helps

John
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Prior Sunlines: 2004 T2499 - Fern Blue
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