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Old 07-01-2016, 09:51 PM   #1
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Hot Water Heater Won't Lite

Let me first say I believe that I have read every post on this board pertaining to hot water heaters not igniting. Like so many others, my Atwood gc10a-4e works fine on electric, but on propane, will lite for around a second then go out, and re-try until it cycles out.

I've cleaned all the electrical contacts, installed new thermostat/ECO, cleaned out the feeder tube, cleaned the ignitor and flue all with no result. Figuring it MIGHT be a bad board, I took it to our local mom and pop RV dealer.

After a week, they stated that they "replaced every part" including the control board, and charged $260 to tell me that they think "there are some wires shorted IN the water tank" and therefore I need a new tank at $850 plus $200 to install.

Somehow the shorted wires in the tank doesn't make sense to me. If they truly did replace all(?) the parts they could, obviously something is being missed. It can't be the control board, because they ordered and tried that also.

Any ideas on what obscure thing that we may be missing here?

Rather than paying another $100 to $200 to have some other dealer fool around trying to diagnosis it, I'm thinking of just replacing the tank myself. Before I move in that direction, I'm seeing what the experience and brains of this great group may come up with! <grin>

As always, thanks for any ideas/suggestions. This is truly a great group of helpful folks!
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Old 07-01-2016, 10:13 PM   #2
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Sounds like it's not sensing the flame. Make sure that the sensor is in the flame good. The suspect parts would be the flame sensor and control board. Do you know for sure what they replaced?
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Old 07-01-2016, 10:28 PM   #3
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I believe it may be a bad thermocouple which is the bare wire looking thing that should be in the flame when it is lit on one end and connected to the propane control valve on the other end. Thermocouples are there to shut the gas flow off if the flame does not stay lit. I am not familiar with the Atwood water heater but I have had to repair a home gas water heater a couple of times.

------- Jim
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Old 07-01-2016, 10:46 PM   #4
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First off......STAY away from that 'repair' (rip off) shop

There are NO wires in tank. All wiring is in the bundle that connects to upper connector on circuit board, lower connector on circuit board (both being 12V DC) and the wiring on backside of water heater tank for the 120V AC element.

(White wire--------from on/off switch for ELECTRIC)
(Orange wire------from on/off switch for PROPANE)
(Brown wire.....DC to t-stat then to thermal fuse then to Lower circuits on board)
(Green wires -----Ground)
(Red wire------DC to ECO and gas valve)
(Blue wire-------Fault Light on/off switch)
(Yellow wire-----DC to relay for electric element AC Power---under cover on backside of water heater)
Lower section of board only functions if/when upper connector has power

Intermittent firing is typically 1 of 4 items.
Spark electrode, grounds, propane and circuit board

Spark electrode--
Provides ignition for propane flame AND proves means of 'flame proofing'
High voltage wire needs good clean tight connections on transformer at board and on spark electrode.
Spark gap S/B 1/8"
Ceramic s/b free of any cracks and clean----wipe it down with rag sprayed with silicone
Tip of electrode needs to be engulfed in main flame and has to be clean
Screw that holds spark assembly also provides ground so it needs to have a clean tight contact.

Propane....
Burner tube needs to be 'aligned' so that propane flows down the center of tube. If tube is cocked propane will bounce down inside of tube and not properly mix with the air being pulled in thru shutter.
Flame spreader needs to be parallel with end of burner tube.
Main orifice needs to be clear.......can be removed and cleaned with alcohol
Propane is very low pressure so even tiny spider webs cab disrupt the proper flow path.

Circuit board is also grounded by mounting screw so it needs to have a clean tight contact
Pull connectors off board and check pins....should NOT be bent and should leave a mark on circuit board edge connector surface. Clean edge connector with a pencil eraser

2 simple tests for circuit board

TO TEST POWER TRACK
Place negative lead of the multi-meter to ground (green
wire) track of edge connection and positive lead of the
multi-meter to top power (brown wire) track of edge-connection.

TO TEST VALVE TRACK:
Place negative lead of the multi-meter to ground (green
wire) track of edge connection and positive lead of the
multi-meter to valve (red wire) track of edge connection.
If no continuity, this indicates a blown valve track.



Propane firing circuit
12V DC comes from DC Dist Panel FUSE to ON/OFF Switch
With Switch ON----12V DC goes to circuit board via ORANGE wire
12V DC comes from circuit board via BROWN wire (upper one) to 't-stat' then to 'thermal fuse' then back to circuit board via BROWN wire (lower one)
12V DC then comes from circuit board via RED wire to ECO then to gas valve solenoids and to ground (black wires)
*****at same time hogh voltage DC comes from ciruit board transformer to spark electrode.
*****DC voltage to gas valve (RED wire) is only there for 6-8 seconds UNLESS main flame gets proven.
Main flame gets proven by 'flame ionization'----a milivolt signal gets sent back to circuit board that proves main flame lit.
Circuit board then keeps DC voltage on gas valve solenoids until 't-stat' OPENS dropping DC power

BUT if no 'milivolt signal' then circuit board drops DC power to gas valve. Makes 3 attempts then locks out until reset (turning on/off switch off then back on)

Easy simple circuit......easy simple tests/checks

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Old 07-02-2016, 01:28 AM   #5
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Hot water heater not working on propane

Just something to try:
We had a similar problem several years ago when we got to our destination campground. We tried everything we could think of and finally called a mobile Rv repair company. They came out, checked things out and closed the lowest point water bypass valve, cost us $98.00 for a 5 minute service call. The water could not flow into the water heater and when the propane was turned on it sensed no water and propane would shut off.
When we winterized we opened the valve and forgot to close it in spring. We have not forgot to do it since.
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Old 07-02-2016, 05:06 AM   #6
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Wow! Thanks for all the GREAT information!

Just a quick response at this point:

The spark electrode and burner tube was replaced and is brand new.

A new board was ordered and reportedly tried. At this point, the old board is in place.

I remember the board was not real "tightly" mounted. I'll see if that can or should be "tightened up."

I'll be checking the lowest point bypass value. I don't THINK it's open, as I think I would have had water leaking there when I turned on my water pump, but............I WILL check that out!

I'll get my voltmeter out and run the diagnostics. Some I have done previously, some I was not aware of how to perform.

Time to finish the coffee and get out there! Follow up report will be forthcoming. :-)

Thanks to all for your time, input and expertise!!!!!
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Old 07-03-2016, 08:02 PM   #7
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Steve something to check is your monitor switch inside the RV, mine did that it would spark but no light some how the switch got bumped and it turned off the propane see if it blinking green if it isn't then flip the switch and it will chirp for a couple of seconds then start blinking, hope that helps
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Old 07-07-2016, 11:53 AM   #8
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Similar problem

I have a 2005 Coachmen Freelander 2890QB. I recently had the propane tank refilled and the water heater does not light. I read the manual and went through the process of waiting 5 minutes and trying again several times. I did finally get the green light on the monitoring panel, but there's no flame. All of the burners on the stove work and so does the furnace. I plan to print and try everything I've already read on this thread, but will happily welcome additional ideas. I'll attach some photos. At this point, i can't even tell the make/model of the water heater.
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Old 07-19-2016, 01:00 AM   #9
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Greetings all! Wanted to loop back around with some updates. Sorry for the delay but being out of town and working lots of overtime, my working on the problem and reporting on the problem was delayed.

Thanks to Old-Biscuit, I did some troubleshooting and found a bad power track on the circuit board. Also found the thermal fuse was swapped by the repair shop from the one I had (which tested good with an ohm meter) to one that tested NO good. <sigh>

Got a board from Dinosaur Electronics (GREAT company) and a new thermal fuse from Amazon and the puppy fired RIGHT UP like a camp! UNREAL! :-)

HOWEVER.........there is sooooo much heat coming out of the burner tube, it started to melt the ignitor wire as well as the cover to the circuit board! I'm talking LOTS of heat!

Soooo................how do I control this new-found intense heat? <grin> I don't think adjusting the burner flame alone is going to cut it. I'm almost home on this repair job, I just need to get this very intense heat backed down some.

Soooo................any one have any experience and/or ideas on how to remedy this?

Last, but certainly not least, my sincere gratitude to everyone that present ideas, recommendations and potential solutions. Every one of them was given consideration and or initiated. Thanks for taking the time to present your ideas.

Now.........let's see if we can get this last thing taken care of. :-)
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Old 07-19-2016, 02:41 AM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SteveZ494 View Post
Greetings all! Wanted to loop back around with some updates. Sorry for the delay but being out of town and working lots of overtime, my working on the problem and reporting on the problem was delayed.

Thanks to Old-Biscuit, I did some troubleshooting and found a bad power track on the circuit board. Also found the thermal fuse was swapped by the repair shop from the one I had (which tested good with an ohm meter) to one that tested NO good. <sigh>

Got a board from Dinosaur Electronics (GREAT company) and a new thermal fuse from Amazon and the puppy fired RIGHT UP like a camp! UNREAL! :-)

HOWEVER.........there is sooooo much heat coming out of the burner tube, it started to melt the ignitor wire as well as the cover to the circuit board! I'm talking LOTS of heat!

Soooo................how do I control this new-found intense heat? <grin> I don't think adjusting the burner flame alone is going to cut it. I'm almost home on this repair job, I just need to get this very intense heat backed down some.

Soooo................any one have any experience and/or ideas on how to remedy this?

Last, but certainly not least, my sincere gratitude to everyone that present ideas, recommendations and potential solutions. Every one of them was given consideration and or initiated. Thanks for taking the time to present your ideas.

Now.........let's see if we can get this last thing taken care of. :-)
I would start by checking the pressure on the outlet side of of the gas valve.
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Old 07-19-2016, 03:42 AM   #11
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Here a troubleshooting guide
Attached Files
File Type: pdf atwoodwaterheater.pdf (981.0 KB, 44 views)
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Old 07-24-2016, 07:37 AM   #12
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Thanks Mark. I'll review the manual. :-)
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Old 07-24-2016, 07:50 AM   #13
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did you check your flue for obstructions already? wasps love to nest in those things and can cause what you have there.
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Old 07-24-2016, 02:18 PM   #14
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I did a visual down the flue as far as I could see? Is there another way I should be be checking (or cleaning) the flue?

Well this morning I adjusted the flame to make it run leaner, thus reducing the "roar" of the flame. However, regardless now the flame was set, I could visually see flame significantly "bouncing back" out of the burner tube, thus getting ready to melt my brand new circuit board. I'm guessing a blocked flue might cause these symptoms, so I'll research how to ensure that is clear.

Any other ideas as to what would cause this problem? As always........thank you for your input.
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