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Old 09-07-2009, 05:00 PM   #1
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Water Heater fails to ignite properly


Rather new Atwood, model GC10A-4E water heater has worked well in both modes up until about a month or so ago. It still works fine in AC mode, but fails to properly ignite in gas mode. ( all other gas appliances work well ).

When the gas mode is activated, the igniter clicks about 3 times, then I hear the roar of the gas burner for between 1 and 2 seconds, then the flame goes out and the unit repeats that sequence two more times. After the three tries, it gives me a DSI fault on my control panel.

I have visually inspected the unit, and the push-on connections and see no problems... connections are clean and dry.

The unit has probably gotten wet a couple times over the past 5 months when washing the coach, although I attempted to minimize that.

Any suggestions?
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Old 09-07-2009, 06:29 PM   #2
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Hi Ed,
Gut feel says the problem is the thermo couple, not enough air or the unit needs some regular maintenance. The air is easy to check. Take off the outside cover and see if there is any difference in the symptom. Also, watch the flame. Is is orange or blue?

This may sound dumb, but make sure the HWH is full of water and the water is cold enough to ask for the heat to be turned on.

A long shot is altitude. My HWH will not work on gas when over 7K ft above sea level. It's always been like that and I just put up with it and wait for the electric to heat.
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Old 09-07-2009, 07:26 PM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by GaryKD View Post
Hi Ed,
Gut feel says the problem is the thermo couple, not enough air or the unit needs some regular maintenance. The air is easy to check. Take off the outside cover and see if there is any difference in the symptom. Also, watch the flame. Is is orange or blue?
Did that... opened door.... same problem. Flame is mostly yellow.

[/QUOTE]This may sound dumb, but make sure the HWH is full of water and the water is cold enough to ask for the heat to be turned on.[/QUOTE]

Not the problem, but certainly something to keep in mind.

[/QUOTE]A long shot is altitude. My HWH will not work on gas when over 7K ft above sea level. It's always been like that and I just put up with it and wait for the electric to heat.[/QUOTE]

We are at about 90 feet elevation.

Also, to be clear, unit is as clean as it was when purchased about 7 months ago... no bugs, spiderwebs, etc.
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Old 09-07-2009, 08:16 PM   #4
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I had the exact symptoms two weeks ago.It was a bad igniter. They are quite easy to replace and do not cost much more than $30. You can find them on eBay for $25.
Turns out that the igniter/sensor not only fires the gas but it also switches over and provides a very minute signal to the black box that the flame is ok and to continue working. What happens is the ceramic that holds the igniter/sensor rods develop minute cracks that hold moisture and drain the flame sense signal down. Not hard to understand why as the signal is only 400 millionths of a volt when it is working correctly!
Good luck.
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Old 09-07-2009, 09:12 PM   #5
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The yellow flame sounds like the air/gas mixture is incorrect. The burner should be adjusted, which usually means adjusting the size of the air opening on the burner.
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Old 09-07-2009, 09:21 PM   #6
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The first thing I would check would be the TCO (Temperature Cut Off), if it has one. Look for what looks like a small fuse mounted inside a clear plastic tube. It will be connected to a brown wire on one end, and the thermostat tab on the face of the heater tank.
If you have it, either check the continuity across the device, or temporally remove it, and hook the brown wire directly to the thermostat.
If the water heater fires off, and continues to run, then you have a bad TCO, and it needs to be replaced.
The purpose of the TCO is to open the circuit to the gas valve, in the event of a burner flash back.

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Old 09-07-2009, 10:05 PM   #7
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Hi Ed G....first the yellow flame should be blue...you currently are choking and not gettting enough air/fuel mix, so manually adjust the vent tube inlet just a little where the propane and air mixes and passes thru...
Second...your electric spark igniter is really dirty, but is also simple to fix yourself...there is a single black wire attached to your igniter which can be disconnected so you can remove the igniter itself (one or two screws/bolts) and with a razor blade, sand-paper or steel wool really clean off the soot/gunk so the medal end/s to the igniter tip is nice and clean of soot/gunk... reinstall the igniter after cleaning then plug the black wire back in and "let 'er buck"... these igniters need cleaning from time to time/they get dirty from useage!...Enjoy
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Old 09-08-2009, 07:25 AM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Troubleshooter View Post
The first thing I would check would be the TCO (Temperature Cut Off), if it has one. Look for what looks like a small fuse mounted inside a clear plastic tube. It will be connected to a brown wire on one end, and the thermostat tab on the face of the heater tank.
If you have it, either check the continuity across the device, or temporally remove it, and hook the brown wire directly to the thermostat.
If the water heater fires off, and continues to run, then you have a bad TCO, and it needs to be replaced.
The purpose of the TCO is to open the circuit to the gas valve, in the event of a burner flash back.

Bill
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So that is what that is. I always thought it was a fuse. Ah, well, Camping World fixed my heater problem. But now the wee light in the HWH switch on the monitor panel is dead. Anybody have the source of replacement bulbs?
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Old 09-08-2009, 11:30 AM   #9
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So that is what that is. I always thought it was a fuse. Ah, well, Camping World fixed my heater problem. But now the wee light in the HWH switch on the monitor panel is dead. Anybody have the source of replacement bulbs?
I always thought that little thing was a diode...... will have to look closer... in a day or two when I check it.

I have the same problem with the light in my HWH AC switch... it is out. Rather than bother to replace a possibly soldered in bulb, I called Monaco a few weeks ago and ordered the complete switch..... it was only a couple dollars plus shipping. Unfortunately, as of this posting, it has not arrived yet.

Regarding the good suggestions in this thread concerning my HWH failure to ignite properly, I hope to address some of them in the next couple days... and I will get back with my report of success or failure..... Ed
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Old 09-08-2009, 06:04 PM   #10
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Just got an email response back from Atwood that I had given up on. They think it is my igniter and are sending me a new one ! Nice company. Many of you also suggested the fault may be with this unit and I was about ready to purchase a replacement locally if your suggested "repairs" and adjustments didn't work. Will see in a week or so if this takes care of my problem. I will also adjust the flame per your recommendations, once I get it going again.

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Old 09-12-2009, 10:04 PM   #11
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To wrap up my original post, Atwood came through quickly for me on this... they sent me a new igniter, I installed it, and it solved the problem.

Thanks to all who gave me input on this.
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Old 09-16-2009, 12:33 AM   #12
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Hello ED,
DocUSAF hit the nail on the head. Take out the IGNITER and clean it real good, you will probably find SOOT build up on it, that's not uncommon. On the VENT TUBE facing you, to the right side, is a very small screw, go ahead and loosen it just enough for now so it will move easy, Once your flame is going, take your PLIER'S and slide that tube until you get a really GOOD ROAR from your flame, tighten the small screw. Good luck,
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Old 10-15-2009, 08:22 AM   #13
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Yes, DocUSAF is right on, I came across this thread searching because my water heater was doing the exact same thing. I removed the igniter last night, cleaned it as Doc suggested and it is working great. I am going to get a spare igniter , these are reasonably cheap.

Thanks DocUSAF

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