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Old 10-28-2012, 01:15 PM   #1
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Need help with Suburban Water Heater

I have a 1987 Southwind Fleetwood. Hot water heater worked great until recently. It fires, but then shuts off after about 5 seconds. Every time we try to start the heater, it does this. Most of the parts seem to be in ok shape, but the tag number with the model number is missing. I enclosed a picture so maybe I can at least first get an idea of what model this heater is. Maybe this way, I can order some parts to try to fix this:




After a couple hours of searching, I've seen that cathode rods in some heaters go bad and need to be replaced. I took off the plug (which can be seen at bottom left of image, about a 1/4 of the way up and 1/4 of the way to the right), but it seems to be just a drain plug. I can't see any indication of a cathode rod.

Any ideas of what Suburban model heater this is? Any ideas on what the problem might be? Any insight would be greatly appreciated.
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Old 10-28-2012, 02:13 PM   #2
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It is called an anode rod and Suburban water heaters need one and you should get one and install. It is a "sacrifical rod" which means it deteriates over time and keeps the metal insides of your water heater from deteriating. You might check to see if anything is plugging the chamber (wasps nest, etc.). Also check to see if anything else needs cleaning.
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Old 10-28-2012, 02:59 PM   #3
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Your problem is that the flame sensor is telling the board that the flame did not light and the board is shutting off the gas. The two wires that go into the burner tube are: left big red the igniter. for the spark. The right smaller is the flame sensor. Clean the connector and also clean the probe. These get high resistance in them and cause the problem. There is a 20% chance the board is weak and will have to be changed, but I would go with the probe first.
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Old 10-28-2012, 03:09 PM   #4
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Also you have a Atwood model G6A-8E hot water heater. Atwood has an aluminum tank and does not need a rod. The steel tanks have one because minerals will react with the steel.
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Old 10-28-2012, 04:04 PM   #5
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Thank you for all of the help. I cleaned the connectors and the probes really good - steel wool and a small file. When I tried to fire heater, it did run for a about a minute at first (better than it's done in a while), but then it shut off again. Now, every time I try to start it, it goes for about 5 seconds and then shuts off. Any suggestions?
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Old 10-28-2012, 05:13 PM   #6
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I'm wondering if the thermostat or the electric cutoff switch is out. Can I unplug the wires for these (pair of red, pair of brown), connect the wires, and bypass the thermostat and ECS just to test? For example, unplug and the two red wires and connect them together to test ECS? Or, is there another way to test these?
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Old 10-28-2012, 06:19 PM   #7
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I'm sorry, in my above post, I meant ECO (electric cutoff), not ECS.
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Old 10-28-2012, 06:44 PM   #8
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Bench test the motherboard. Rv service places that sell replacements usually have test equipment. Good luck.
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Old 10-28-2012, 06:46 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by andrew99 View Post
I'm sorry, in my above post, I meant ECO (electric cutoff), not ECS.
ECO means energy cut-off and DO NOT bypass it nor the thermostat. It's non resetable so if it was bad, the burner wouldn't light at all. Your problem is either the flame sensor (ignighter) or the control board.
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Old 10-28-2012, 10:20 PM   #10
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Based on the suggestions here, I guess I should start off by replacing the Heater Spark Probe Assembly.

According to "ga traveler" in this post, my heater is an Atwood model G6A-8E. Hopefully this is correct.

Even based on that information, I'm having difficulties finding what the correct part for replacement. Is the following correct?

Atwood Spark Probe Assy Dual : Amazon.com : Automotive

The Atwood basic water heater manual that I found online says to use the following one instead, but it doesn't seem to be the correct one.

http://www.amazon.com/Atwood-91504-U.../dp/B004QMXS9I

The one on my heater has 3 probes, not 2, and there seems to be other things included in the kit (not to mention it's 5 times as much as the first link I mentioned)

Thank you for any suggestions.
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Old 10-29-2012, 07:51 AM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by andrew99 View Post
Based on the suggestions here, I guess I should start off by replacing the Heater Spark Probe Assembly.

According to "ga traveler" in this post, my heater is an Atwood model G6A-8E. Hopefully this is correct.

Even based on that information, I'm having difficulties finding what the correct part for replacement. Is the following correct?

Atwood Spark Probe Assy Dual : Amazon.com : Automotive

The Atwood basic water heater manual that I found online says to use the following one instead, but it doesn't seem to be the correct one.

Atwood 91504 Universal Ignition Control : Amazon.com : Automotive

The one on my heater has 3 probes, not 2, and there seems to be other things included in the kit (not to mention it's 5 times as much as the first link I mentioned)

Thank you for any suggestions.
You do have a G6A model heater. The dash number of your heater is probably earlier than a 8E
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Old 10-29-2012, 08:58 AM   #12
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The replacement board will not use a three probe system. Call Dinosaur Electronics at 541-994-4344. They are open mon to fri 8 to 5 Pacfic time. These guys are great and will tell you which board is correct for your installation. They are cheaper and their board carries a three year guarantee. They are online at Dinosaur Electronics . com
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Old 10-29-2012, 10:34 AM   #13
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ga traveler - are you saying that if I want to just get the probes, I can't do this? Are you saying that I need to get both a new board (even if it's not bad) and the probes because the new style of probes uses a new board? I'm just trying to make sure I understand thank you for all of your help.
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Old 10-29-2012, 11:06 AM   #14
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Before You Replace ANYHING.....

If you can get to the board take it out and clean the electrical contacts with a pencil eraser or contact cleaner. Put it back in the same way it came out and try it.

Worked for me.

If that didn't work I would approach it in this order.

#1 clean the entire burner assembley including the jet. Look for spider webs in the jet area. They love propane.

#2 if it then gets a nice 'noisy' flame but it still goes out test/replace the thermocouple. If the flame is weak you may need to adjust the gas/air mixture. A weak flame may not generate enough heat to trigger the thermocouple.

#3 Test/replace the Hi-temp thermostat.

#4 If you can find a shop that will test the board take it to them. Replace if necessary.

In all my years of RV'ing I've never had to replace a gas valve, but it does happen.
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