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Old 02-09-2014, 10:31 PM   #1
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Two things...water heater and propane tank...

My coach is currently winterized..by the previous owner. I will de-winterize when I get to Florida in a couple weeks.

I"m spending every weekend now prepping for the trip and have been running the furnace to stay warm...Ohio

Well, I noticed that my water heater is firing and running. I guess the tank is empty from the previous owner and am worried that the firing will damage the unit.

How do I turn this thing off? Do I have to flip a braker or pull a fuse?

Also, since I"ve been using the furnace a great deal, I will probably end up heading to Florida with about a half tank. How do refills or top offs work with a propane vendor? Will I pay for what the tank takes? Or, will they want to hit me for a full tank load, even if I don't need that much.

Got a class A with a pretty large tank.

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Old 02-09-2014, 11:27 PM   #2
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There should be a switch somewhere (possibly lighted) which controls the igniter for the propane burner

Mine (different make) is on a panel above the entry door -- Normally placed somewhere readily accessible when entering / exiting the coach

You are correct - Not good for the Water Heater to fire without water in it

Good Luck

sfi4 (RVM 44)
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Old 02-10-2014, 12:18 AM   #3
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Whenever we buy propane, it is just sold by the gallon. I hear it is about six bucks a gallon now. Bought some last fall for $1.88. We only have about a half of tank now.
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Old 02-10-2014, 02:59 AM   #4
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Usually the water switch (12 v) is on the monitor panel for tank levels. It could be near a sink or shower.
Also check that the water heater doesn't have a 120 v element in it. If so, turning it on could burn out quickly with no water in the tank. Usually a 120 v style light switch on a red switch plate or red indicator light shows when it's on. If you are hooked up to shore power but don't have water in the tank, take the outside cover off the water heater and you'll find a second switch you can turn off to insure no one turns on the inside switch when tank is empty.

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Old 02-10-2014, 03:17 AM   #5
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20 bucks for 5gal lp, (at local lp dealer) altho last time i was at camping world , was 1.99 lb. on mine seperate switch for water heater. ft myers area.
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Old 02-10-2014, 06:51 AM   #6
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Propane is quite a bit more costly now but to answer your question, they will only charge you for what they pump into your tank.
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Old 02-10-2014, 08:54 AM   #7
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Diffently not good to have the hot water active with no liquid in it. However depending on how it was winterized, there might be antifreeze in the tank. On our MH there is a switch that allows me to turn the hot water tank on/off.
As far as propane goes, it is by the gallon, and most places do not mind if you need only a half tank. There is been times that I have only taken 2-3 gallons to top off the tank.
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Old 02-10-2014, 12:36 PM   #8
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If the water heater is an Atwood. On the outside (Well inside the outside cabinet) attached to the tank is a piece of black foam that has two devices under it one is labled ECO, Removing the red wire from the ECO will do two things

One. It will kill the burner and I mean NOW

TWO, it will illimuinate the FAULT light inside the motor home on the control panel.. This light is normally either next to the switch, or part of the switch. Thus making the switch easier to find...

To restore operating re-connect the wire, and cycle power to the control board (Either by operating the switch or by using the battery disconnect).
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Old 02-10-2014, 05:20 PM   #9
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Ok, I'm going to take a picture of the water heater from the outside a post.

There's a switch in the bathroom that is labled "water heater" and it IS off.

I'm seeing gas firing on the water heater. It does not stay on very long; but, it is firing!!

I looked for a switch on the outside and did not see one. Hopefully, a good picture will show you guys what wire I need to pull.

As for the propane, glad to hear they will only charge me for what I need. Was worried about that.
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Old 02-10-2014, 05:37 PM   #10
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If it is a Direct Spark Ignition (DSI) model heater that operates of a switch inside the rig. The ECO switch is located as shown here:

If you have a pilot model WH, then shut the control valve off(blue knob below)

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Old 02-10-2014, 07:39 PM   #11
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Here's my unit. Looks like I have DSI type:

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Old 02-10-2014, 07:48 PM   #12
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There should be a switch near your monitor panel to shut this off. If you look at the edge of the toggle switch and black shows, it is on. Flip it the other way.
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Old 02-11-2014, 10:43 PM   #13
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Alright, I figured this one out...

Although, there is a flip switch labeled water heater that is in the off position, there is another switch on the test panel for all the levels labeled "heater"

Now, the previous owner told me this was to enable the furnace to run. I guess he was wrong, there. I found this out tonight as I was turning everything off for the day, when I heard the water heater gas fire just before flipping the switch labeled "heater" and I heard the gas fire immediately stop.

Hmmm, let's try the furnace with this switch in the off position to prove it's for the furnace. Flipped the furnace thermostat to on and it fired right off.

I think the water heater with no water would fire and quickly get to a temp shut off point and repeat. Not sure how this would damage the tank. Any informed ideas if I may have damage? I guess I'll find out when we get to Florida.

Also, I noticed that the anode rod looks quite different than the one in my trailer's heater. I can only see what looks like a nylon nut that threads into the tank. Should I take this out and inspect asap?
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Old 02-11-2014, 10:55 PM   #14
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If there is only a plastic plug in your water heater I would suggest you pull it out, flush out your tank and install an anode rod before you use it. You can pick up a flush wand for around $6.00 along with a new anode rod for $15.00 to $20.00 at Camping World. It's cheap insurance cuz I just had to replace the water heater in my old coach last year, $500.00 I didn't want to spend but had no choice. Should have replaced the anode rod a long time ago.

Good luck!

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heater, propane, tank, water, water heater

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