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Old 03-29-2016, 09:41 AM   #1
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Atwood Water Heater Leak Enigma

About two weeks ago, I bought a 2012 19' R-Vision Crossover--I absolutely love the camper and its floor plan. Anyway, I took it out on a maiden voyage to Utah (from Oregon) last week and partway through the trip, I noticed a small water leak coming from the water heater. After some cursory trouble-shooting, it appears that it only leaks when I turn the water heater on. Now, I've read through a mind-boggling amount of possibilities on the Internet, but it has only confused me more. It is a 6-gallon Atwood water heater. Are there certain connections I should check? I'm going to fill it and turn it on to try and see exactly where the water is coming from. Any cagey RV veterans on here with any tips? Thanks!

Chris
Portland, OR
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Old 03-29-2016, 11:46 AM   #2
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As the water heats and expands, it often will push a little out of the pressure valve. If that's the leak, try opening the valve and letting it snap closed to dislodge any deposits on the valve seat.

It might have been winterized before your purchase and perhaps the drain plug wasn't tightened. If it's a fitting connecting the tank to the plumbing, try tightening it a little and see if it stops.
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Old 03-29-2016, 12:18 PM   #3
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atwood water heaters need some air in the tank to handle the expansion of the water as it is heated. As water is heated it will expand and if there is no air cushion the T & P valve will leak. Drain the water heater down and open the T & P handle so air can get into tank. This should give the air cushion that is needed. You drain down the tank with no water pressure on system you don't want it to fill up as you are draining it. Once it is empty refill and purge air from hot water lines some air will be left in heater for the cushion. If this doesn't work and it is still leaking from T&P replace it.
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Old 03-29-2016, 12:48 PM   #4
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Shut off or connect city water and water pump is off, parked level. If you have all faucets closed in RV, then open the pressure valve, air should gurgle into the tank as water comes out. When all air/water has stopped moving, allow valve to close with a 'snap' and you'll have a proper air pocket in the top of the tank.
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Old 03-29-2016, 12:52 PM   #5
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Just as an side, make sure the water heater has been off for more than a full day before you go playing with the pressure relief valve. The water heater can retain a fair amount of heat long after you shut it off.

Or leave it alone like I have. It not a sign of a problem.
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Old 03-29-2016, 01:03 PM   #6
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Weeping from T&P Relief Valve should be obvious.....drips from the T&P, wet connections on ECO/T-stat, Wet burner tube as these components are all directly below T&P.
Yes air pocket is by design (Atwood & Suburban)

Drain plug....they are nylon due to tank being aluminum. They wear out. Buy new one (come 2 to package) Check drain hole threads....clean them up with a small brass brush or get a 1/2" NPT threaded brass nipple 6" long and screw it in/out to clean up threads then install new drain plug hand tight then snug up with socket (15/16" or 7/8" six point socket-----depends on who make the plug)

Only other places for tank leaks are on backside........
Cold & hot water line connections/nipples on tank OR screw in electric element (uder cover at bottom)
But those leaks would be inside RV

Cracked tank?

So ID where......then it can be fixed (Toilet Paper around fittings, under connections etc will help ID small leaks)
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Old 03-29-2016, 06:02 PM   #7
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I have the same water heater I believe and mine will leak out the pressure relief valve some times if there is not a air gap at the top according to the Manuel is this where yours is leaking from
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Old 03-29-2016, 07:24 PM   #8
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Filled the tank and it began leaking from the side, underneath the Styrofoam insulation without heating the water. I'm assuming the tank has failed, since all connections are tight. With that, I'm wondering whether to get a new tank or a whole new unit. I have read opinions on both sides. I'm leaning toward a whole, new unit, but not 100% sure. Thanks for input.
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Old 03-29-2016, 07:43 PM   #9
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Sounds like the tank failed perhaps because it wasn't properly winterized. Go back to the dealer and see if they will make it good. Removing and reinstalling the WH isn't a big job, I'd think dismantling and replacing the tank would be much bigger. All according to labor costs.
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Old 03-30-2016, 02:41 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Goostew65 View Post
Filled the tank and it began leaking from the side, underneath the Styrofoam insulation without heating the water. I'm assuming the tank has failed, since all connections are tight. With that, I'm wondering whether to get a new tank or a whole new unit. I have read opinions on both sides. I'm leaning toward a whole, new unit, but not 100% sure. Thanks for input.
3 options after pulling unit out....least expensive to most expensive

1) Have tank welded
2) Replace just tank
3) New 6 gallon unit

What Model do you have?

2012 Year model is worth repairing
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Old 03-30-2016, 03:38 PM   #11
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Had five MH/TTs and three of them with the small 6 gal tanks would drip a little on heat up - Since it leaks when first turned on I would reset the air gap before doing anything else.
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Old 03-30-2016, 03:48 PM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Melvo View Post
Had five MH/TTs and three of them with the small 6 gal tanks would drip a little on heat up - Since it leaks when first turned on I would reset the air gap before doing anything else.
The OP reports a leak from under the styrofoam insulation, and the WH isn't heating water. Your drips most likely from the pressure relief valve, common, but already covered.
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Old 03-31-2016, 04:36 PM   #13
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If you bought it from a dealer they should repair or replaced your WH. I would think you would have at least a 30 or 60 day warranty.


If you bought it from a private party you are on your own. Wireman
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Old 04-07-2016, 09:39 AM   #14
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Thanks again!

I purchased a brand new Atwood 6-gallon water heater for $339 (free shipping), took the other one out, put the new one in, and after a skinned knuckle, presto, perfectly working water heater! No leaks! I managed to sell the other one for $100, so I figure I did okay. Thanks for all the suggestions and replies. Since I am responsible for this water heater, I will take great care to make sure it is winterized, etc. Thanks again!
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