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Old 09-16-2010, 09:44 AM   #1
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Suburban Hot Water Heater - Plugged

I have been fighting with my water heater for several days trying to determine why I was not getting any (or very little) water pressure. I kept assuming that because the previous owner had not serviced it (based upon a totally dissoved anode) that it just needed to be cleaned and/or flushed. I spent several hours yesterday draining, flushing, & scraping (the awning rod works great for scraping the inside to loosen rust and debris) but each time the water fill would result in no pressure.

I finally got aggressive, took the plastic line off the "Hot" output on the tank, and removed the brass fitting (all of which is under the kitchen counter). The interesting thing is that the brass fitting contains some type of check valve based upon the internal pieces (plastic stem valve, spring, and plastic retainer). Since the "check valve" was not staying together, I decided to try leaving it out. Problem solved!

Does anyone know what that check valve actually does? I assume it would just stop water pressure from backing up into the tank?! So what????

Can anyone tell me what repurcussions I'll have permently leaving the check valve out? Does anyone know where you can get another brass fitting/check valve? I haven't tried the typical Home Depot or Lowe's as yet (currently at a rally). The Suburban manual does not identify a check valve or brass fitting for the "Hot" output.
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Old 09-16-2010, 10:54 AM   #2
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Without the check valves, when there is no pressure in the system and a faucet is opened air could be drawn into the pipe, then when pressure is on you will get a
40 psi air bubble. That being said, I removed the broken check valves from under the sink (freeze damage I think) and have not had any problem with air in the system.
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Old 09-16-2010, 04:55 PM   #3
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One guess--think it has to do with the cold weather/freeze by-pass. If you by-pass the input to the tank in freeze mode, the check valve is there so water doesnt back track into the tank thru the output side. But again, I am guessing here.
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Old 09-16-2010, 05:26 PM   #4
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The check valve is on the cold water inlet line allowing cold water to go into the tank. Its job is to prevent hot water from getting back into the cold side of the plumbing system, since pressure is created when the water heater is heating the water.

This is also to protect the fresh water tank (although it should have one as well-pump) tank since it’s not equipped to handle hot water in the range of the water heater temperature. And when someone turns on the cold tap expecting cold water and it turns out to be hot, you could burn yourself depending on how close the tap is in relation to the tank.

It’s required by RV Building codes so I would replace it with a new one when you are into the system again.

Happy camping!
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Old 09-16-2010, 09:51 PM   #5
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in the event you are unable to locate a replacement check valve you could purchase an in line check valve and install
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Old 09-16-2010, 09:57 PM   #6
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Also, here was an interesting procedure I used to clear debris from the hot water tank ...

I used the hook-rod that you typically use to pull down the window awnings. I turned it sideways to insert the hook end into the tank through the drain hole. I then used it to literally scrape and pull the debris towards the drain hole. Large pieces of rust and deposits can be pulled out of the drain hole directly whereas smaller pieces will get flushed while using a flushing water-wand (Camping World). CAUTION - This procedure should only be applied in severe situations (like my tank) and NEVER pull the hook rod back with excessive force to avoid damaging tank integrity. Otherwise, it worked really well.

Even though the debris in my tank wasn't the ultimate cause of blockage, it needed to be cleaned out and the amount was excessive due to NO previous flushing and a dissolved anode. The lesson learned here is to drain & flush your hot water tank annually or sooner, and clean or replace the anode as necessary.
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Old 09-20-2010, 01:42 AM   #7
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Most RV showers have a shutoff on the spray head for water conservation but this leaves the hot and cold connected through the temperature control. Many of us have experienced a rush of hot or cold water after turning the showerhead back on. I believe one flows into the other because of a slight pressure variation. A pair of check valves will prevent this cross flow and some RV makers are putting them in.
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Old 09-20-2010, 10:21 PM   #8
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Hmm. I always had that problem on my Vectra. I just figured the cold was making through the hose faster on startup. I guess it was actually filling up the hot side plumbing, too. Make more sense. Thanks for your explanation.
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Old 09-23-2010, 08:38 PM   #9
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A little follow-up ...

I've been using the hot water tank without the check valve for several days and can not determine any difference in the functional use of the kitchen faucet, shower, bathroom faucet, or service bay fawcet.

Supposedly, the Camping World in Colorado Springs (on my way home) has the check value at their "OEM" counter so I'll purchase one to have available in case an issue pops up later. Otherwise, the check valve is staying out in my coach for now.
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Old 09-23-2010, 11:21 PM   #10
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Bob:

I had to replace my check valve for the hose reel recently. I called around and everyone had it, except Camping World. Seems they only carry the double female, not the male to female I needed. Figures.
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