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Old 10-22-2018, 04:35 PM   #1
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Atwood Water Heater Short Cycles - Video

From the day I purchased my RV in July 2017 my 10 Gal Atwood Water Heater model GCH10A-4E has not worked correctly on propane.

I've taken it to 4 Winnebago dealers to have it repaired - including the WBGO factory in Forest City. Each time they do something, make an adjustment, change a part and tell me it's fixed. But after a couple of hours of use it goes back to short cycling.

Atwood tech support has been no help and obviously no dealer, including the factory have been able to help either.

I shot this video of the problem - the video is 4 mins, which is long, but once it starts doing this it will do it non-stop for days.

Generally we never run the WH on propane as a result - and when we do it both short cycles as in the video and then it blows the thermal cutoff. I've had to replace them 4 times.

It works fine on AC so, we just stay where there is power and all's well. But I'd like to get this fixed.

If you know anything about Atwood Water Heaters please watch this long video and let me know what I should look at when trying to get this fixed. The gas lights, but the flame sounds too variable - loud then soft then dies. Sometimes it just dies immediately after lighting. It can take 30 to 45 seconds after "winking" out before it restarts - hence the 4 min long video to show the problem.

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Old 10-23-2018, 08:40 AM   #2
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If not a bad circuit board..........Why not send a certified, return receipt requested, to CEO of WinnIndustries and complain. A cc to RVIA, state AG, etc., might be helpful.
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Old 10-23-2018, 08:51 AM   #3
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The components that seem to be unique to the propane side of things;

1. Gas valve
2. ECO switch (maybe)
3. Spark and spark sense electrode.
4. Portion of the control board.

The first thing I would try and do if possible is monitor the spark sense signal at the board and then closer to the electrode. Unfortunately I'm not really sure what this is supposed to be. It should change though.

The propane does sound a little funny when lighting up. I would expect it to stay full force for 6-10 seconds while the flame is being sensed. It's already not working so I wouldn't be afraid to gently tap on the gas valve while it's firing up. I've had to do this in home furnaces before.
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Old 10-23-2018, 09:33 AM   #4
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Thanks all. Winnebago sent me a new control board and that didn’t help. The WH has a 2-yr warranty and my tech rep at the factory has made note of the ongoing issue from day one in my files.

I tried getting them to ok a full replacement under warranty but they said no to that.

It’s just finding someone that will dig into it and solve the riddle.

Because it doesn’t start this behavior right away. Every repairman believes he’s fixed it because he turns on the propane WH and it runs normally.
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Old 10-25-2018, 12:26 AM   #5
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I posted this info back on 10/14 in another Atwood WH issue thread


Atwood has had bad circuit boards.
This is info from an RV Tech:

"Yes, there is a problem with Atwood Water Heater boards.
As of 9/1/2018, most distributors should have the updated boards.
The problem is, Atwood has/had no way of determining which boards are defective. Originally, back in July, we were instructed by Atwood to get ALL replacement boards from the Manufacturing facility in Greenbriar, Tenn.
Atwood knew that those boards were the new updated.

ALL the distributors until 9/1/2018 would have the suspect bad boards. THAT is why there are multiple failures on the same water heater.
Even the boards the OEM RV makers had in their parts dept were bad."


SO OEM board was probably the original issue
And if NEW Board Winnebago had in stock and it was from the Chinese Vendor then it is suspect also.


Video was NOT helpful.
Need to open compartment so Propane Flame could be observed. Hearing it was of little value.


Gas valve is Opening because flame is lighting off (takes both solenoids to be functional for gas valve to open)
Thermal Cutoff...one shot fuse that blows when exposed to 190*F temp....flame blowing back out of combustion chamber
T-stat/ECO....same set used for electric and propane. If faulty then electric would not operate/heat water. (When using electric a millivolt current goes to/thru ECO to gas valve to ground so that the ECO is part of control Loop)


Spark Electrode.....provides ignition spark AND is used for Flame Proving.
If electrode wire is shorting ...no flame proving signal can return to circuit board
If electrode ceramic insulator is cracked....signal goes to ground vs returning to circuit board
***If water heater propane fires off and runs correctly with compartment door OPEN then something is shorting out when you close door
**If problem persist door Opened or Closed......

BAD Circuit Board especially if prior to Sept 2018
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Old 10-25-2018, 10:41 AM   #6
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O-B, thanks so much for your assessment. Now if you just lived in South Texas and I could drop over with my RV I'd bet you could point out the issue very quickly.

WBGO did send a new board back in July. So, it's no doubt one of the bad old boards. When I phoned Atwood Tech Support (waste of time) this week they said "It can't be the board." and showed no interest in replacing the board.

WBGO Factory Service did replace the Spark Electrode in May. So, perhaps that's OK?

You mentioned "***If water heater propane fires off and runs correctly with compartment door OPEN then something is shorting out when you close door" and you might be on to something here.

My WBGO has two "doors" over the water heater. One is the stock Atwood heater door and then there is a body panel "door" that fits over that - hinged at the top and then the bottom is held in place with screw into the framing the makes up the basement cabinets.

To work on the WH I unscrew the tabs at the bottom of the body panel and lift open the panel to reveal the WH door. I secure the panel with a bungee cord in it's raised position and then open the drop down WH door.

The WH does appear to run better when the doors are open. I open everything up, adjust the flame tube for a consistent burner flame and then when I close the doors it starts running poorly. I always assumed it was an air issue since the doors are somewhat restrictive. But I know other Adventurer owners with the same WH do not have a problem.

Atwood told me that a small independent RV Repair place 20 miles from my home was a certified Atwood Water Heater dealer that has been trained in setting up the WH and troubleshooting. So, I think I'll take it there and give that a try.

Thanks again for your help. It's very valuable for me.
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Old 10-25-2018, 10:48 AM   #7
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Water heater runs with doors open and problem shows up with doors closed


restricted air is NOT the issue.


Something is being shorted out......or ground is being lost when doors are closed


And if your replacement board was from stock PRIOR to this past Sept it is suspect as a contributing issue
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Old 10-25-2018, 10:57 AM   #8
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The day I purchased the RV brand new from LaMesa RV in Albuquerque the thermal cut off blew and I took the RV back to the dealership. All they did was replace the thermal cut off.

About 4 months later we went back to ABQ to visit friends and I took the RV to LeMesa for the short cycling problem. When I picked up the RV after the repair they told me that it was an air problem and that they removed thick black sealant from around the WH door. They said, "someone sealed the door with black caulking and this was restricting air flow." Their "fix" was to scrape all the sealant off of the body of the WH where the door contacted the WH. I saw it lying on the floor of the shop where they had scraped it off.

That always puzzled me. Who put that caulking on there? Atwood? Winnebago? Was it supposed to be on there?

It may not be anything - but I thought I'd mention it in case it could be part of the issue.
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Old 10-25-2018, 12:28 PM   #9
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Purchased brand new...........who would have done the caulking?


The RV MFG on factory production floor

Dealerships do NOT do much of anything upon receiving new stock....and then ONLY after unit is sold and buyer complains


Caulking was most likely to prevent water intrusion.....again nothing to do with airflow


Restricted airflow would occur with ALL RVs that have the OEM panel/door AND the RV external door...........10000's are made that way. Common on MHs


I am always amazed at the 'explanations/excuses' spouted by repair facilities when they are unable to find/fix issues
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Old 11-06-2018, 12:58 PM   #10
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Circling back to this thread - for future use by others - I decided to change out a few more parts before taking it in for service. I hate the delays and results of having service done.

Anyway, I replaced the burner tube. The old one was a bit out of shape and not fitting the gas nozzle all that well. And a new one was something like $6. And while at it I replaced the T-Stat and ECU devices. They were $11 for them both and a pretty easy job to replace.

I thought perhaps the short cycling "might" be explained by a faulty T-Stat calling for more heat and or an ECO that kept cutting off the gas flow as a result. It was a long shot but $11 - so why not.

Well, something worked. I'm not sure which. But the WH has been on for 24 hrs in my driveway and it is running normally. I will not call it FIXED until we take the RV out for a long weekend (which we will at Thanksgiving) to know for sure. But, it's the first time since we purchased the RV that it's run normally as expected, on propane, for 24-hours.

Fingers crossed.
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Old 11-06-2018, 02:35 PM   #11
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Thanks for the update. Joining you in hoping it is fixed!
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Old 11-06-2018, 03:08 PM   #12
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My wife came in from the RV and said "It's not fixed." So, I went out and sure enough it's starting and stopping.

Since it was suggested I film it with the door open while it does this I opened it up and started filming. It was cycling off and on regularly. I touched the thermal cutoff diode wire and it turned on, I touched it again and it turned off.

So, now I'm working on both that connection and the T-Stat I installed. At present I can't tell if it's the T-Stat I installed yesterday. Or the Thermal Cutoff diode I installed a few days ago. Or the wiring. Or what?????
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Old 11-06-2018, 04:20 PM   #13
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I think the issue today was the thermostat was not making good contact with the tank. So, the electrical connection was intermittent. I removed the T-Stat, cleaned the tank where the T-Stat touches the hot water tank and examined, cleaned and tightened all electrical connections there.

It started and runs properly now... and i can wiggle, move and tug on the thermal cutoff, and all other electrical connections, and it has no effect on the operation of the heater.

I'm not going to say that it's "fixed" yet. I have no idea. it only exhibits this behavior after it's run normally for a long while - like 24-hours. So, I'll not know if it's fixed or not until we take our next camping trip in 2-weeks.

Assuming it's not fixed. I'm not sure where to go from here. There are only a few avenues left to explore.
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Old 11-09-2018, 12:30 PM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by creativepart View Post
I think the issue today was the thermostat was not making good contact with the tank. So, the electrical connection was intermittent. I removed the T-Stat, cleaned the tank where the T-Stat touches the hot water tank and examined, cleaned and tightened all electrical connections there.

It started and runs properly now... and i can wiggle, move and tug on the thermal cutoff, and all other electrical connections, and it has no effect on the operation of the heater.

I'm not going to say that it's "fixed" yet. I have no idea. it only exhibits this behavior after it's run normally for a long while - like 24-hours. So, I'll not know if it's fixed or not until we take our next camping trip in 2-weeks.

Assuming it's not fixed. I'm not sure where to go from here. There are only a few avenues left to explore.

Bet you found the issue
First part of circuit is via BROWN wire from lower connector going to/thru Thermal Fuse then to/thru T-stat and back to circuit bd via upper connector
Bad connection at/on t-stat would be just like t-stat opening/closing


Door was probably making contact with BROWN wire making it move and with bad terminals on t-stat and/or thermal fuse the DC was intermittently interrupted



New parts/tighter-cleaner connections and should be good to go
Might want to bend the thermal fuse tab a bit so it lays flatter and door can not make contact with BROWN wire
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