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Old 10-14-2014, 09:54 AM   #1
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Question Suburban water heater; electric light stays on

I have a 1999 DSDP with a Suburban SW10DE (gas/electric with ignitor) water heater. The indicator light for the electric portion of the water heater stays on no matter if the switch is on or off.
In the control panel above the passenger seat, there are two switches for the water heater. A 12v switch for operation on propane and what looks like a 120v wall switch for operation on electric. Both have red lights. The switches have worked fine for the 3 years I've owned the coach and I'm familiar with how they're supposed to function.
The water heater functioned normally when it was last used. It was winterized in early spring and has sat unused through the summer unplugged and with the batteries removed for replacement. I installed new batteries last week and everything appeared to be in order. The electric water heater light wasn't on when I first plugged it in and verified that everything was working.
After being plugged in to shore power for 3 days, I noticed that the red light for the electric hot water heater was on. I assumed I must have flipped it on by accident and rushed to switch it off. The light stayed on. I immediately flipped it back the other way. Same thing. I flipped off the circuit breaker for the water heater and the light stayed on and is still on now.
I haven't put water in the tank yet nor done any voltage testing. I'm hoping someone can tell me that this is a designed fault indicator and how to fix it. I called Suburban, but they said the switch was added on by Newmar and they can't diagnose it. Any help would be appreciated. Thanks!
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Old 10-14-2014, 10:35 AM   #2
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Quote:
Originally Posted by driedl View Post
I have a 1999 DSDP with a Suburban SW10DE (gas/electric with ignitor) water heater. The indicator light for the electric portion of the water heater stays on no matter if the switch is on or off.
Any help would be appreciated. Thanks!
driedl
See the "Trouble Shooting Guide", (on pages 17-20), of this pdf:
http://dutchmen.com/image/data/docum...ice_Manual.pdf
Good luck
Mel
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Old 10-14-2014, 11:02 AM   #3
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I'm scratching my head to figure why the light would be on , with the C/B for the water heater off.

If the heater element was powered with no water in the tank, it will be fried.
First thing would be to disconnect the coach from shore power, and replace the element. Inspect the wiring for damage from overheating.
Test the 110v limit switch for continuity, it may have been damaged too.
With every thing inspected, fill the tank and plug the coach back into power and test the switch/light operation.
If the light operation is back to normal, on/off when it should, your ok.
If not you may need a new switch.
Note: I had a problem with the tank heat pad switch/light glowing ( very dim) when off, had to shut off the C/B to put the light out. I pulled the switch and cleaned the wiring and tightened the connecting wires, 2 years ago, no issues since.

EDIT: When checking the suppliers web site, for a replacement switch, I couldn't find any info on testing.
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Old 10-14-2014, 12:56 PM   #4
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Hi driedl,
Try what Skip426 said. Like him I am baffled with the CB off the light stays on. Newmar wires this from the CB to the light to the WH. All the light does is tell the owner there is power from the CB. You could have a bad CB, but it is a long shot. If you can, take some meter readings (at the CB and light switch) to begin to narrow the possibilities.
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Old 10-14-2014, 05:33 PM   #5
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May want to check the switch on face of the WH wiring could be corrode and shorting out.
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Old 10-15-2014, 07:17 AM   #6
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Thanks!

Thanks for the suggestions. I've ordered a new electric element and will troubleshoot on Saturday and let you know what I come up with. I did find a post on another forum saying that the wiring for the switch is 12v so that may explain why the CB didn't kill the light.
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Old 10-15-2014, 09:50 AM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by driedl View Post
Thanks for the suggestions. I've ordered a new electric element and will troubleshoot on Saturday and let you know what I come up with. I did find a post on another forum saying that the wiring for the switch is 12v so that may explain why the CB didn't kill the light.
I think you will find that your switch/light is 110, and that the change to 12v switches, with relays, to control 110 power, was a change up for newer years, of Newmar, with a built in power management system.

I did have a second thought , and this thought comes with several " IFs ".
If the last time the switch/light worked correctly, your coach was plugged in at a different outlet, the problem your having with the light staying on; even with the C/B off , could be an indication of reverse polarity at the current power source. If your coach doesn't have a surge protector with reverse polarity protection & if you have never plugged in at this outlet before & if there is a chance you missed the light being on when you first plugged in and only noticed it on day 3.
I mentioned in my other post a glowing light on my heat pad control, as well as corrosion ( from proximity to vanity tap set) the load side wiring was reversed, something I corrected when I re-installed the switch.
As I said , several ifs, just something else to consider.
Question. Are you plugged into 50 amp service, or adapting down to a lower amp outlet?
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Old 10-15-2014, 03:03 PM   #8
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Hi driedl,
I'm pretty sure, on your coach, the switch and light are 120 VAC and powered directly from the C/B. There is nothing between the C/B and Thanks for offering to post here, what you find. the switch/light.
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Old 10-15-2014, 05:17 PM   #9
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No way of checking mine because of winterized, but the led light I believe is always on when your using your electric element, to indicate that its in use.
And as I said before the small switch on face of WH has to be on for element to work also.
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Old 10-17-2014, 05:04 AM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Skip426 View Post
I think you will find that your switch/light is 110, and that the change to 12v switches, with relays, to control 110 power, was a change up for newer years, of Newmar, with a built in power management system.
Just a thought, could it possible that the relay fried in the "closed" position?
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Old 10-19-2014, 07:34 PM   #11
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Solved!

Thanks to everyone for your suggestions. Before I was able to fix the water heater, I had a really fun experience on Thursday night. I was reattaching the stairs under the motorhome, laying in a puddle of water, when I dropped the wrench . . . twice. I also noticed a funny tingly sensation in my hand while I tightened the bolt. It took me longer than it probably should have to realize that I was being electrocuted. When I unplugged the motorhome, the tingly feeling went away - and just when I was starting to enjoy it! I also found that, if I plugged the motorhome into a GFCI outlet, it would trip immediately.
Anyway, I got the new electric element for the water heater and went to install it today. While doing so, I found that one of the wires to the element had rubbed through its insulation so the bare wire was touching the metal water heater. I fixed the wire and installed the new element. The 120v switch now works like it's supposed to, I have hot water, and a GFCI outlet no longer trips when I plug into it. Happy days!
Thanks again.
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