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Old 09-17-2011, 07:40 AM   #1
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Electric water htr wont heat

I have a atwood 6 gal water htr that the electric element won't heat the water. The last time camping it worked fine. Yesterday we set up camp turned the htr on and no hot water from the electric side. Switch to propane and it works fine.
Is there a easy way to check the element to see if it is the problem, or what else should I check. Thanks for any advice Jim
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Old 09-17-2011, 08:55 AM   #2
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On my 96 Windsor, there is a switch on the sink that you can either turn in the microwave or water heater, check and see if yours has the same.
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Old 09-17-2011, 11:58 AM   #3
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Time to break out the ohm meter. The water heater element is a low-ohm device (I'm guessing: less than 50 ohms). If it reads "open" (or a VERY high ohm reading), then it has failed and Camping World would have what you need to replace it.

Using your volt/ohm meter in a different fashion, you can measure the voltage applied to the heater element: 120VAC. If no voltage is being applied to the heater element's 2 connections (one has a white wire; the other is black), then that's your problem: You have an open circuit in your AC voltage supply to the heater element.

FYI, my '04 Diplomat has a relay close by the heater element. The 12VDC -activated relay controls the 120VAC that is applied to the heater element. If you have such a lash-up yourself, this may be a point of failure.
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Old 09-17-2011, 02:23 PM   #4
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Jim, These Atwood heaters have a thermostat that is under the electrical cover that is attached to the heater itself. This thermostat has a little red button that acts as a circuit breaker. This reset button is between the two terminals and is hard to see. My heater quit 1 time and this was the problem on my 10 gallon Atwood. The heater element has about 5 ohms resistance as I remember. George R. 2001 Diplomat PBD
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Old 09-17-2011, 04:54 PM   #5
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Update on this.. I was able to look at it more today and found the element will turn on for approx 30-45 sec, if I turn the switch off for a min or two, and then back on, it will kick off after 30-45 seconds. I can tell it turns on because my progressive surge protector will show a 12-13 amp draw increase for the seconds it is on then drop when it kicks off.
I think I may have a bad element and it draws to much. Any other opinions? Thanks Jim
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Old 09-17-2011, 05:03 PM   #6
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You only have 1 element in this heater and it is rated about 1400 watts. Most of these elements when they fail it is an open circuit and they would not draw any amps. My Atwood has 2 of these temperature sensors that are held against the side of the aluminum tank. I would think if it was too much current draw the circuit breaker part of this would trip and it is a manual reset. I would look at the thermostat that does not have the reset button. George
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Old 09-17-2011, 05:38 PM   #7
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Jim,
You say "I can tell it turns on because my progressive surge protector will show a 12-13 amp draw increase for the seconds it is on then drop when it kicks off." The current draw is not too much. Does the surge protector show the load returning after a few minutes?....and then tripping back off again?...and again, etc.

Circuit breakers can "age out" (i.e., wear out). Perhaps your breaker is opening up in an unintended manner.

Also, do you have a load-shedding system on board? This is accomplished via relays....and it could be this relay has bought-the-farm (can't handle the current).
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Old 09-18-2011, 05:50 AM   #8
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Originally Posted by 86 Cavalcade View Post
You only have 1 element in this heater and it is rated about 1400 watts. Most of these elements when they fail it is an open circuit and they would not draw any amps. My Atwood has 2 of these temperature sensors that are held against the side of the aluminum tank. I would think if it was too much current draw the circuit breaker part of this would trip and it is a manual reset. I would look at the thermostat that does not have the reset button. George
I agree that makes more sense the thermostat not the element. I will look at it more today
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Old 09-18-2011, 05:54 AM   #9
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Jim,
You say "I can tell it turns on because my progressive surge protector will show a 12-13 amp draw increase for the seconds it is on then drop when it kicks off." The current draw is not too much. Does the surge protector show the load returning after a few minutes?....and then tripping back off again?...and again, etc.

Circuit breakers can "age out" (i.e., wear out). Perhaps your breaker is opening up in an unintended manner.

Also, do you have a load-shedding system on board? This is accomplished via relays....and it could be this relay has bought-the-farm (can't handle the current).
It doesn't go on and off that I can tell. No load shedding. I will look more close at breakers today. Thanks for the help
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Old 09-18-2011, 06:23 AM   #10
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Jim,

When it came on briefly, did you make sure there was water in the water heater before you switched it on? It will cycle like this if it's dry (and not a good thing for the element either). Getting back to the problem- have you ohmed it out yet? Just curious.
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Old 09-18-2011, 06:40 AM   #11
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get out the old voltmeter and when the heater stops woking check the line voltage before and after the safety circuit breaker. You should be able to figure it out. I had to reset mine after I used the propane heat. Apparently the gas made the water hotter than the elect. breaker liked.
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Old 09-19-2011, 09:49 AM   #12
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Update .. Last evening I looked at it a bit more couldn't find anything with the breakers or any other thing that seemed wrong, so I switched the switch in the outside compartment off and on about 6 or 8 times (it was in the on position) and now all is working correctly. I let it heat up then ran the hot water out and let it heat again and it is working like it always has. We are going camping this weekend and will try it again. Thanks to all who offered support. Jim
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Old 09-19-2011, 02:32 PM   #13
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sounds like dirty contacts in the outside switch.....if it would fail out camping...remove switch and connect both wires...this will bypass the switch and get you working....if need be
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Old 09-19-2011, 02:53 PM   #14
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sounds like dirty contacts in the outside switch.....if it would fail out camping...remove switch and connect both wires...this will bypass the switch and get you working....if need be
Thanks for the info
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