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Old 10-20-2005, 08:05 AM   #1
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Hi Ho: Well, I did a pretty dumb thing. After winterizing, including draining the water heater, I plugged in the power cord and forgot to check that the electric heater switch for the water heater was off. (This was one of those wake up at 5:00 am after a late night and go "Oh, no!" followed by a walk outside to the motorhome to confirm what I already knew) Anyway, it looks like the water heater has to come out to replace the element. Has anyone done this? Is there anything special to look out for? We have a 2000 Itasca 35U with the 10 gallon Atwood water heater. It looks like the element is on the back. (How convenient) Any suggestions will be appreciated.
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Old 10-20-2005, 08:05 AM   #2
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Hi Ho: Well, I did a pretty dumb thing. After winterizing, including draining the water heater, I plugged in the power cord and forgot to check that the electric heater switch for the water heater was off. (This was one of those wake up at 5:00 am after a late night and go "Oh, no!" followed by a walk outside to the motorhome to confirm what I already knew) Anyway, it looks like the water heater has to come out to replace the element. Has anyone done this? Is there anything special to look out for? We have a 2000 Itasca 35U with the 10 gallon Atwood water heater. It looks like the element is on the back. (How convenient) Any suggestions will be appreciated.
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Old 10-20-2005, 09:46 AM   #3
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Dirk Katie and Duke, first of all the element is on the back of the heater. Replacing the element is not a hard job once you can get to it. First make sure you have no 110v to your heater by turning it off at the switch, breaker or unplug. From past experience Winnebago usally has a access panel on the back side somewhere near the element. Sometimes access is from inside the motorhome.(behind a drawer etc.) On the back of the heater there is a black plastic cover that needs removed to get to the wires on the front of the element. Remove the two wires. If you have a ohm meter check for continuity of the element. If you have continuity the element is ok, if not you just unscrew the element out of the tank. This requires a 1 1/8 socket. Then use teflon tape on new element and install in reverse order. If you want you can fill the tank heat it up to check for leaks with pressure. Good Luck
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Old 10-20-2005, 09:54 AM   #4
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Dirk, there is no "trap door" or hidden access panel. A contortionist of a tiny kid with long skinny arms can reach the back of the water heater without removing it. But likely you'll be faced with removing the 12 screws around the front lip and pulling the heater partway out. A real P.I.A.. Just be glad you have the larger compartment on the 35U than the 34D and 33v models do.

And Dirk, while you've got the WH out, consider removing the two in-line check valves from the inlet & out lines on the water heater, and replacing them with reliable, good 'ol 1/4 turn ball valves. The check valves do go bad after awhile, so to winterize without getting pink in your water heater, several owners have gone back to the old method of positive valves.
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Old 10-20-2005, 10:48 AM   #5
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Hi Ho: Thanks for the inputs. I have been wondering how much has to be removed. Although I haven't worked on the water heater there is obviously 115 volts on the element, a propane connection, 12 volt connection, and some means of connecting the coolent from the engine. Do any of these have to be disconnected, or can I just move the thing forward enough to get to the heating element? I have replaced heating elements on the 50 gallon water heater at the cabin, but this is entirely different. Thanks again for your insights.
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Old 10-20-2005, 10:53 AM   #6
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The 120 vac element is a screw-in type, very similar to a home water heater. In fact, some have opted to get their replacement element in all-stainless offered at Lowes or Home Depot. (Caution: get same wattage as you take out). There should be enough slack in the motoraid rubber hoses for you to get the WH slid out far enough to remove the heating element.
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