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Old 03-25-2009, 12:12 AM   #1
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Electric Water Heater Switch

I have a 2001 38 Limited Alpine Coach. Does anybody know if there is another switch to turn on the electric portion of the water heater, other than the one on the water heater itself. When I turn that switch on and the main switch inside to on, the gas burner still fires. Is this normal for electric mode or am I missing something?
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Old 03-25-2009, 12:58 AM   #2
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Well, if the outside switch is on, and the breaker at the 120VAC panel is on, that's it, your electric water heater is on. DO NOT flip the switch at the kitchen sink to ON, that is ONLY for gas operation.

We have turned both electric & gas on if we pull into a park, get plugged in, it's cold outside, and I want to take a shower immediately.
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Old 03-25-2009, 08:49 AM   #3
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What is your definition of the "main swith" inside? The electric side of the the water heater is controlled by the rocker switch on the heater itself--usually not necessary to use this, except during maintenance, and the the curcuit breaker in/around yr bathroom. I suspect the "main switch" in yr kitchen area that you are referring to is the propane start switch [has the red pilot/reset light beside it]. If you are using this switch to "turn on" the electric side of yr water heater, you are in fact, turning on the propane side which overrides/heats regardless of the electric side setting.
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Old 03-25-2009, 09:41 AM   #4
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The main switch is the propane start switch [has the red pilot/reset light beside it]. I suspect at this point that maybe the element itself is bad. With the outside switch on, and the breaker at the 120VAC panel on, I get no hot water.
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Old 03-25-2009, 10:22 AM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mikeyj67 View Post
... I suspect at this point that maybe the element itself is bad. ...
I think that would be a correct assessment. Of course, you might want to verify 120VAC directly at the element before tearing into it further.

There is possibly a resistance measurement that could be taken across the electrical element once disconnected from the AC source that might confirm a bad element. (i.e. high resistance from bad element)
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Old 03-25-2009, 11:24 AM   #6
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Quote:
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I think that would be a correct assessment.
I am not sure I would agree with that assessment quite so quick. I would check the thermostats first. If for no other reason they are cheaper than heating elements! There are two of them, one a 12 volt and one a 120 volt. One acts as an over-temp safety as well. If you look at the water heater from the outside, there is a reset button for this over-temp thermostat. I once had that trip.

There is a service manual that describes how to check the thermostats with a voltmeter. And probably the heating element for continuity as well. I don't remember if I found that on the ACA website tech library or the manufacture's website, but I did find it somewhere.
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Old 03-25-2009, 10:41 PM   #7
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I'm going to investigate this further on mine.

My water is hot only when the main switch in the kitchen is "on", irregardless of the A/C circuit breaker. With the main switch "on":

If my A/C circuit breaker is "off" the propane fires periodically.

If my A/C breaker is "on" the propane only fires initially to gain temperature and then only fires when I'm running hot water for a while.

My assumption has always been that the electrical side is very slow to heat, but will maintain the temperature, once close to the maximum setting. When I start using hot water, the temperature in the tank falls low enough that the electric anode cannot keep up and the propane fires.

I'd love to have the electric only option for the initial heating, since I'm seldom in a hurry to use it when I arrive at the coach. Also it is already hot from the engine after travel.

BTW you HH-folks can just stop laughing at our primitive problems!!!
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Old 03-25-2009, 11:35 PM   #8
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Takepride,

Your issue of electric only not being able to provide hot water during continued use, brought to mind something I heard a while back.

An Alpine owner said that their water heater was plumbed with the incoming water supply to the top of the tank, and the outgoing water from the bottom of the tank. This arrangement allows for the low point drains to also empty the hot water heater. However, this is the reverse of how they should be connected for efficient water heater operation.

I have never checked my coach (2000 36FDS) for in/out positions, but this could be causing your diminished electric-only water heater performance.

Jeff S.
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Old 03-26-2009, 11:30 AM   #9
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Dont think "reverse" plumbing is the issue here--think this would cause issues for either the electric or propane modes. Generally speaking, the propane side of the HW in my 2003 is faster to heat/recover than the electric side, though both seem to perform adequately in moderate climate conditions. Sounds like you have issues with either the electric heat element or the temp sensors/controls on the electric side--my two cents!
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Old 03-26-2009, 09:18 PM   #10
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Problem solved. New element from Home Depot for $10. Works like a champ.
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Old 03-27-2009, 12:59 AM   #11
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Mikey J:

So does your water heat up with the main (propane) switch turned to "Off" and the A/C breaker turned to "On"?
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Old 03-27-2009, 09:55 AM   #12
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Yes it does. Main (propane) switch turned to "Off" and the A/C breaker turned to "On", electric switch on the outside of the heater turned to "On"
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Old 03-29-2009, 01:04 AM   #13
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Mystery solved and cloudy thinking cleared....

The electric switch on the outside of the WH was "locked out" with a cotter pin. I suspect today was the first time in seven years the element came on. Worked well. A bit slow, but then it is electric.
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