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Old 07-29-2014, 10:59 AM   #1
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Hot Water Heater/Tank Replacement Plan

Hiya!

I'm renovating a 1995 Firan Raven. I did not take care of (winterize) the hot water tank and now it has a huge crack in the tank.

It is an Atwood.

Here are photos of my current tank, placement, compartment, etc.
Water Testing – or – Teeny Tiny Hole in the Hot Water Heater | RV Renovation

Below is my plan of attack. If you have any input or suggestions that will help in purchase and execution, please let me know. Thank you!

1. Purchase another Atwood as that is the model in there now and should fit the opening without any modification. Any recommendations for a place to purchase?
2. Purchase a 10 Gallon instead of the 6 Gallon. I've measured the internal compartment and I can go up to 22" deep before it will hit the hose that comes up out of the floor. The 10 Gal measures 21" deep.
3. Right now the Hot Water Tank is drained, and internal compartment water connectors are turned off and disconnected from the back of the tank already.
4. The main LP tank is currently empty so I shouldn't have to worry much about that until I get some LP in the tank.
5. Disconnect the LP line and push it through the rubber gasket in the tank so I can pull the tank out. I may have to do after step 6.
6. Remove outside screws; use heated metal scraper to pry it out of the chamber (if needed - probably not much sealant left after all of these years).
7. I assume there will be some electrical connections I will have to disconnect from the backside of the tank (?). My fresh water holding tank is also empty at the moment so I shouldn't have to worry about that much either.
8. Reconnect new hot water heater in same fashion as old one. Butyl tape for sealant.
9. Once I have propane in the tank test all propane connections with soapy water for leaks.
10. Fill with water in fresh tank and start it up and test for hot water.

I need to clean/treat my fresh holding tank and lines. Is it OK to do this after I've hooked up the new water heater, or just do it through the cold lines, or?

Anything else I should know, do, use as tools, don't use as connectors, etc. I should think about? =)

JFYI - My current thoughts re: tankless hot water heater for Me/My Rig:
I've extensively researched tankless hot water heaters. I was actually really excited about getting one when I saw this tank was cracked. However, after a lot of reading and research I think I've decided it is not the right thing for me/my rig right now. The main reason is PSI. I've read that a lot of the issues with the tankless is about PSI, and often people have to invest in further modifications to the pump or the lines to make the tankless work. I'm doing this renovation by myself, since October, and honestly - I'm tired as hell and need to get us out of this house - so more delays with a system that is completely new to me and is really reliant on water pressure is just not something I want to tackle right now. I'm ALWAYS open for other opinions or suggestions for consideration, but just wanted to put this here as I suspect that will be a suggestion from some. =)

Thank you all again for your help, support and suggestions. =)

Lorelei
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Old 07-29-2014, 11:09 AM   #2
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Did you do any winterizing ?
If not , you should set up and pressure test the whole water system, when you have the tank out , you may have a line leak that would be easier to fix with the tank out.
Tank depth , may not be the only problem with going to a larger tank, you may find issues with wall structure , if you try to make a larger opening in the outside wall.
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Old 07-29-2014, 12:07 PM   #3
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Skip - thank you for your response!

On size: Thank you for saying something! I just realized I DIDN'T notice the height difference for the 10 Gal. Bummer. I'm definitely NOT interested in cutting the side of this RV for a larger tank. So 6 Gal it is! =)

The 10 gal is: 16" wide, 15-1/2" high, and 21" deep.
The 6 gal is: 16" wide, 12-1/2" high, and 18-1/2" deep.

On Winterizing: I, actually, have never done winterizing. I took this rig on trips for two years with a mild winter and then it SAT in my driveway for 7 years. However, I'm VERY interested in performing this kind of test to avoid water leaks + repair and instead do test + repair if needed. Could you give me more information on how to test these lines? Or a link or thread to start my reading?

Thank you!

PS - I'd like to add to my execution list above putting a metal tray under the Hot Water Heater to catch any leaks in the future.
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Old 07-29-2014, 12:26 PM   #4
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I'll check your blog and post more tonight, my first reply got lost in cyber space.
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Old 07-29-2014, 12:28 PM   #5
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Thank you so much, Skip! I'm working on some other finalizing touches/cleaning and organizing in the main part of the rig, so please don't feel rushed. I always try to post my questions here at least a week before I pull the trigger so no one has to feel like they have 10 min to respond or they won't be heard. Thank you again for your effort on my behalf. I really really really appreciate it. =)
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Old 07-29-2014, 12:32 PM   #6
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An easy way to pressure test would be to use the street water connection. Make an short hose adapter to go to a schrader valve and gauge. Pump up to around 40 psi and then disconnect the air supply and watch the gauge. It should hold air forever in theory and hours/days in practice. If you have a compressor use a regulator to keep the pressure down to the 40-50 PSI range. If it is leaking leave the compressor on and go inside to listen for the whistle. ;-)

It occurs to me that you might want to look into a dual fuel electric/gas model HW tank. The thermostat is on the tank so all you need is a connection to the 115VAC with a switch and maybe pilot light. They will run on either fuel for economy or both if you are in a hurry. ;-)
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Old 07-29-2014, 05:52 PM   #7
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If it were me, I'd repair it. But I'm a cheapskate.

There's even places that do repairs.

And I'd add an electric element and a tube for engine coolant heating while I was at it.

(The engine coolant heating is part of Winnebago's "Motoraid" system. It's just a 6" or 8" long 1/2" tube that is welded to the side of the tank. Hot engine coolant heat is transferred the the water tank while you drive. Real nice when you drive.)
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Old 07-30-2014, 09:29 PM   #8
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OK , I scrolled through your pictures so far, You've put a lot of time and effort into your RV.
You need to round up or make a hose to connect the , Cold water inlet to the hot water out let, by-passing the blown tank, so you can pressure test the entire RV's water system.
After everything you've done so far, I'd hate to think that behind one of your installs is a blown water line.
A water heater by-pass kit may have all the fittings, valves and the hose you need, to connect and test before you go any further.
CW, has the kit with valves for under $20. I had their P/N and now I can't find it. I'll re-post.
Good luck, and safe travels when you get to that point.
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Old 07-31-2014, 10:58 AM   #9
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Tim - THANK YOU for that link. If I was CERTAIN that this hot water heater system was in good condition, worked, etc. I would definitely DO that option. However, I'm really not certain of that and so I think at this point it might be better to purchase new.

Skip and anyone else interested - Thank you for the information. I think I'm a little confused. So I want to clarify to make sure.

First, to be sure, the main concerns/reasons and good practice for testing the lines and having a PSI regulator on any incoming water sources to the RV are:

- Due to me not winterizing, and the evidence of my busted hot water tank, some of my pipes may be ready to crack, or have a crack in them that I can't see (under a cabinet, subfloor) and once they get up to a 40 PSI range a leak or further damage to the hose may happen

AND/OR

- Or just due to age, heat, cold, etc. a crack or pinhole may happen when I hook up to different water sources as we travel and so I need a PSI regulator to prevent over pressurizing my lines.

So, I need to:

1. Get a piece of hose and connectors to connect the top and bottom white tri-connections on this HOSE so that it completely by-passes the hot water tank - OR - Is the hose that connects the top and bottom lines of this already a by-pass?



2. Then I get confused. Here are the three ways I figure I can do a PSI test on the lines based on the feedback/my understanding:

All below scenarios assume a bypass on the hot water heater as outlined in step 1.

A. Using a the city water connection on the outside of the RV, AND a PSI gauge and regulator like this AT the house/water source:

In-Line Water Regulator Gauge Combo - Lead Free - Valterra A01-1124VP - Faucets & Inlets - Camping World

- I will turn on the city water connection
- Run the faucets to bleed any air from the lines
- Turn off the water source at the house. Now there should be water in the hose going to the RV and water inside the lines in the RV.
- Watch that gauge on the outside of the RV at the city water connection to make sure it doesn't drop in pressure? If it does, that means there is a leak somewhere, and I need to seek it out.
(Something about this doesn't seem correct).

B. Put the PSI reader on the custom line I'm making by by-passing the hot water tank.

- Connect to the city water connection.
- Run the faucets to bleed any air from the lines
- Turn off the water source at the house. Now there should be water in the hose going to the RV and water inside the lines in the RV.
- Watch that gauge on the INSIDE of the RV at the hot water tank bypass to make sure it doesn't drop in pressure. If it does, that means there's a leak somewhere, and I need to seek it out.
(Seems more correct, but the city water connection on/off status during test is still confusing to me AND if that connector will fit on the lines by-passing the hot water tank.)

C. Put the PSI reader on the custom by-pass line

- Connect to the fresh water tank fill line and fill up the fresh water tank enough to create a closed water system in the tank.
- Run the inside pump (40 PSI) until it stops (if it doesn't stop, there's definite leak somewhere)
- If it stops, then watch the PSI gauge and if the pressure drops, look for further leaks.

I think that one of the suggestions here is to use an air compressor and test the lines with air instead of water. I do not have an air compressor. I get that it would be safer to do this with air than it would be to do it with water, but can I do this with water instead? If not, I have access to an air compressor that I could get the parts to use that instead.

Thank you all again for your patience and your time on my behalf! =)

Lorelei

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Old 07-31-2014, 11:09 AM   #10
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Air compressor with a pressure regulator for the first round of testing is probably the best. Less mess if there is a leak.
Then water pressure from the 12v pump for round two.

As for the water pressure gauge/regulator , pick up the adjustable one .
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Old 07-31-2014, 11:49 AM   #11
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It certainly looks like a tank by-pass set up to me. The two 3-way valves allow water to be diverted through the connecting line.
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Old 07-31-2014, 12:53 PM   #12
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Bob - HOORAY on tank bypass! After all of these months of heavy thinking/doing/re-doing/sweating/etc. when something requires LESS work of me than I thought it would I literally get goosebumps and want to throw a party! YAY!

Skip - Thank you again for your feedback. I saw the adjustable one, and since I've posted I've watched a few more videos and researched and yes, I can totally see the practical reasons to have an adjustable one (varying camp pressure, filters, weekend vs week PSI variances). Also, I hear you on the test order. Thank you - you're right. =)

Question:
If you FT would/do you all carry an air compressor on board? If so, this is something I should consider getting to do this test, and have for future use (for...tire pressure, if big enough, air compressor tools, ?). If not, I'm sure I can find someone locally to loan me their air compressor and I'll then buy the appropriate connector to match their air compressor type.

Thank you all, again, for your time!
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Old 07-31-2014, 12:58 PM   #13
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Nothermark - I meant to respond to you as well! =) Thank you for the suggestion, that was an open question in my mind and so I'm glad you made the recommendation! Phew! So many decisions to make - it really helps to have the experience/knowledge/affirmation of others. =)
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Old 07-31-2014, 02:24 PM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by BFlinn181 View Post
It certainly looks like a tank by-pass set up to me. The two 3-way valves allow water to be diverted through the connecting line.
Oops, I called them '3-way' valves when I should have said 2-way. They allow water to by-pass the tank when set correctly. The top valve is installed with the handle towards the tank, so it would be easy to miss.

A small, "pancake" style air compressor that can deliver 125 psi would be ideal for testing plumbing, inflating tires, etc. Perhaps something like this: (even though it's not a pancake tank)

PrimeFit Home Workshop 125 PSI Air Compressor - Walmart.com
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