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Old 10-20-2009, 12:08 PM   #1
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Is my corroded water heat salvageable???

My coach (Itasca Ellipse 40FD) is now 30 months old. I have been pretty good about maintenance but for some reason, the water heater completely escaped my list and now I have a problem.

Upon delivery, my dealer sold me a annode plug to replace the drain plug. I installed it but never even checked it again until last week.

After quite a bit of work, I was able to get out the drain plug and the rod the annode used to be attached to but there was nearly solid corrosion blocking the drain. I have chipped out much of it and the tank drains now but there is still too much corrosion remaining for the new annode plug to be installed. I've spent a bit of time chipping away with an awl but wanted to ask if anyone had an eaiser solution for this mess. Am I looking at needing a new water heater? Can just the tank be replaced? I believe I have an Atwood.

An ounce of prevention I guess.

Rick, Nancy, Peanut & Lola our Westie Dogs & Bailey the Sheltie.

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Old 10-20-2009, 12:17 PM   #2
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I was told that Atwood's don't use an anode so I have never installed one. I wonder if that is true now? I do drain my water heater every year about this time.

Wayne & Roberta and Maggie the Miracle Dog
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Old 10-20-2009, 02:02 PM   #3
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As stated Suburban WH's have an Anode rod, Atwoods do not. One thing you might try to possibly dissolve the corrosion is to remove the pressure relief valve on the top of the wh. I would buy 1-2 gallons of generic white vinegar and a turkey baster. Try and put the vinegar, at least a gal into the wh throught the pressure relief hole and let sit for 12-24 hours. If the blockage is going to dissolve, it will do so by then. If it does, then use one of these to clean out the inside of the tank. Water Heater Flushing Tool - 88-8710. At least 1-2 times each year, I clean our wh tank by adding 1 gal of white vinegar per 15 gal of water and let it sit for 4-6 hrs then flush good with clean water.
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Old 10-20-2009, 06:40 PM   #4
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In all probability, you have a Suburban heater since Atwood uses a different design. All water heaters are particularly problematic in areas that have hard water. I also flush out our water tank 2 to 3 times a year. However, we still ended up replacing our 6-gallon tank when it began leaking in several locations last year. I think JC2's suggestion is a good one. Let us know how things work out.

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Old 10-20-2009, 06:47 PM   #5
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You maybe able to clear out threads with a correct size thread tap. May save your WH since it has been working. The flush tool mentioned is a handy item also.
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Old 10-21-2009, 03:47 PM   #6
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You can put an anode rod in an Atwood, but I believe it may void the warranty. Atwood tanks should not have an anode in them. I believe your coach should have an Atwood.

Yes, it is possible to replace just the tank rather than the whole WH, but I would not recommend it as you may spend as much or more as you would for a new one due to the labor cost involved. But if you provide the labor, it might save a few dollars.

As others mention, I drain and flush my WH tank 3 or 4 times a year while fulltiming -- before fulltiming I did it at least once or twice a year. And also as indicated, since your WH has been working, I would flush it the best I could --using vinegar should help --put the original type nylon plug in the drain, and press on until the WH fails. I definitely would NOT put an anode in it UNLESS it is a Surburban rather than Atwood.
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Old 10-21-2009, 03:48 PM   #7
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You need to make sure you have a Suburban water heater, before using an anode rod, The Atwood doesn't use one.
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Old 10-24-2009, 06:51 PM   #8
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Thanks to all for the great insights. I'm still a little confused but need to do a bit more digging. I've confirmed I have an Atwood model GCH10A-4E. It came with my new coach which I took delivery of 5/07. On delivery day, the dealer took me around the parts department and loaded me up with all the things I "had to have". Included in that pile was the annode for my water heater. Hmmm....

My wh manual makes no statement about an annode one way or the other and the wty states that "modifications" may void it. What's surprising to me (maybe naively so) is that CW sells annodes for Atwood heaters. Here's the text from their web site:

"Anode Rods attract corrosive elements in water, so they attack the anode rod rather than the interior of your water heater's tank. Simply remove the plastic drain plug and insert the anode rod. Atwood Anode Rod is made of magnesium; Suburban Anode Rod is made of aluminum. When replacement is necessary, unscrew the old one and insert the new one. Anode Rods are easily replaced and should be checked every three months.

Atwood Anode rod is .5" dia. and 4-1/2" long Suburban Anode Rod is .75" dia. and 9-1/2" long. "

So, having said all of that, I've picked up the jugs of white vinegar and I'm going to clean it out as well as I can and then I think I'll call Atwood to see what they say. If they claim an annode should have never been installed, I'm headed back to my dealer. Otherwise, I'll use it until it fails and rely on my extended wty. I found my EZCare wty is really pretty good.

Thanks again.
Rick, Nancy, Peanut & Lola our Westie Dogs & Bailey the Sheltie.

2007 Itasca Ellipse 40FD
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Old 10-24-2009, 07:37 PM   #9
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"After quite a bit of work, I was able to get out the drain plug and the rod the annode used to be attached to but there was nearly solid corrosion blocking the drain. "

Attwood heaters have an aluminum tank and use a plastic plug for a reason. Now you too know why.

The mfg. recommends against ANY anode rods.

Good luck on repairing the tank.
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Old 10-24-2009, 08:27 PM   #10
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Thanks for your insights ernieh. From the mess I have on my hands you are clearly correct. However, if it really is as simple as "don't replace a nylon plug with a metal one (dummy)" I'm really surprised at three things:

1) My dealer specifically told me I needed this and sold it to me as a part of the new coach delivery process. Yeah, maybe they were trying to sell the newbie a line of bull but they had to know this would come back to bite them.
2) Camping World advertises annodes specifically FOR Atwood heaters. I'm not sure why there hasn't been a realy liability problem for them.
3) Atwood makes no mention pro or con regarding annodes in their owners manual. Their website seem next to useless when it comes to technical or support content. It this manufacturer recommends against annodes of any kind... they sure don't do much to share that recommendation with people who buy their products.

Believe me, I'm not trying to make any sort of case for putting annodes anywhere they are not supposed to be...before posting this thread I didn't know enough to flush my water heater regularly... but, just from what I've learned from the responses it still seems pretty odd and inconsistent.
Rick, Nancy, Peanut & Lola our Westie Dogs & Bailey the Sheltie.

2007 Itasca Ellipse 40FD
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Old 10-24-2009, 09:05 PM   #11
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One thing you might consider if you have an air compressor is putting a wand extension on the end of your connection. Once you take the plug off the bottom of your HWT push the wand extension into the water flowing out and put on the air. This will help stir up any deposits in the bottom of the tank and drain it out more completely.

Once the wand is in, then flip the handle on the pressure release valve, and stand aside. Six or ten gallons of water coming out suddenly is quite a torrent of water. Any deposits on the bottom will come out with the addition of a bit of air to stir them up.
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Old 10-25-2009, 10:29 AM   #12
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If your Atwood manual doesn't mention an anode then surely you should not use one. It appears that the anode you installed plated its metal in the wrong places and hopefully did no other damage. It is hard to say which metal got "sacrificed". If necessary you could re-thread the drain and it may be necessary to do so. I would spring for the tool to do that instead of buying a new water heater. Interesting about CW advertising anodes for Atwoods. A call to Atwood should be very illuminating. My Atwood is aluminum and has no anode. In fact I have an electric Hott Rod in my drain and it works fine. I remove it once a year to winterize and no problems.

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