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Old 05-03-2022, 09:16 AM   #1
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2002 Adventurer Water Heater Supply Line Leak

Anyone here have any tips on fixing a leak on the supply line of a 2002 adventurer 32 v? The picture below is not mine but is pretty close to identical to what I am dealing with. The yellow arrow shows where the supply line goes behind the water heater and it is nearly impossible to access.

After de-winterizing last weekend I noticed my pump was coming on every 20-30 seconds. Then I noticed water dripping from the compartment immediately behind the hot water heater. This compartment has always had damp carpet and in retrospect I think I had a very slow leak at the supply line that got worse over the winter. The unit had been fully winterized and the hot water tank was drained and left open all winter. It is an Atwood 10gal tank.

Contorting my body and reaching behind the heater I could feel the drip coming out of a fitting on the supply line. After the line makes the elbow you can see in the picture it goes to a short (1.5") piece of Pex, then screws onto a brass 1/2" backflow preventer valve, then that goes into a female-female pvc coupling which then threads onto the elbow coming out of the the water heater. I could clearly feel and barely see (if I wedged my head all the way back) the drip coming ouf of where the coupling met the elbow.

With a lot of patience and turning some channellocks 1/64th of a turn at a time I was eventaully able to remove the fittings. The 1/2" coupling between the backflow valve and the elbow coming ouf of the heater was clearly cracked.

I ran entirely new Pex from the diversion valve to the elbow, around to the back of the heater, to the backflow preventer and bought a new brass 1/2" female to female connector to connect to the existing elbow. Trying to work on this is nearly impossible though and requires balancing on one knee, leaning entirely into the compartment, grabbing the coach with my right hand to balance and using my left hand to try to get my channellocks on the fittings to tighten them. After about an hour, many breaks and several cramps I turned the pump on and still have a slow drip. I don't think I have enough turns on the fittings.

My questions are; there has to be a better way to access these fittings. There is no way they installed these at the factory this way. I looked underneath hoping to find a removable access panel but there is nothing. I plan on removing the fittings this weekend and staring over, trying again, but am dreading the process. I also picked up a 1/2" female to female PVC fitting that I think I am going to use instead of the brass one I tried.

If I can't get it tight enough I'm thining my only two options are: 1-Pull the water heater out 6-8" to get to the fittings -or- 2: Remove the water pump and all the valves and tubing on the white panel pictured and it appears that 4-5 screws will let me remove this whole side panel, which may help a little.

Does anyone have any ideas or experience working on a unit like this? It is maddening that a fix worth less than $10 in parts and would take 5 minutes if I could get access to the connection.

Here is a pic of the compartment immediately behind my HW heater and what I am dealing with. The elbow coming out of the heater is a good 8-10" around the bend.

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Old 05-03-2022, 09:31 AM   #2
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Boy, I feel sorry for you- and no, I've never worked on that. My leak in an '08 Sightseer was no picnic either but I was able to just tighten the pex in a similar fashion with success. I guess from looking at the picture that the inaccesable spot really isn't pictured. The pic shows a campartment but the pex disappears up behind the panel.- Is that where you're working? I think I'd try to move the heater as you mentioned. I hope you can fix it- sorry for your pain!
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Old 05-03-2022, 09:52 AM   #3
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Yes, after the line with the yellow arrow disappears around the corner all the work and fittings are dead center behind the hot water heater. There is maybe 3" of space between the back of the heater and the vertical panel section. So I have to put a trouble light up on the upper shelf (by the back of the arrow), shine it down to the back and bottom of the WH. My chest is pretty much up against the water pump, and my left arm and elbow is up on the upper shelf with my hand over the fittings and the channellocks hanging down. I can get a grip on the fittings and get a very small turn before the handles hit the back of the water heater, then I have to reposition them and try for another turn. (This is after sitting on my butt with just my arm going into the compartment and hand tightening the fititng/getting it started.) It is quite the feat to get access which is why I'm wondering how they installed and tightened at the factory.

EDIT to add the compartment behind the HW heater is maybe 12" wide at the max! The pic does not show the left side of the compartment wich is immediately out of frame.
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Old 05-03-2022, 10:17 AM   #4
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On my 2003 33V I removed the white board when I had one of the check valves fail. I removed the light by cutting the wires (butt spliced later). I unmounted the pump and placed it on the upper shelf to the left. I undid all the pipe mounting straps and was able to swing them out of the way to the left without disconnecting. Then you can remove the board, in addition to the screws in the small angle bracket, there are several more that are accessed along the edge of the water heater when the door is opened.


I eventually ended up removing the water heater when I had an electrical failure, and repaired the aux coach heater while I was in there.


Good luck.
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Old 05-03-2022, 11:07 AM   #5
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Thanks. Looking at the original owners manual and parts list I am 99% sure the previous owner worked on this once before. The female/female coupling looks "odd" and even though it is connecting a simple male 1/2 elbow to the male threads on the 1/2 check valve or back flow preventer it has a weird compression type insert inside of it. It doesn't match the original parts.

I am going to try again this weekend. I think I just need to suck it up and know it is going to be slow going and try again. If not I will go the route of removing the white panel. I"m assuming they must slide the WH in part way, make the connections at the back, then slide it in the rest of the way and mount that panel then all the tubing/pump to the panel.
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Old 05-03-2022, 03:54 PM   #6
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My guess is they installed the water heater before they put the floor on.


The hardest part of removing the heater is getting it unstuck from the black sealant. My motoraid hoses entered under a flap in the front right wheel well. Disconnect the propane hose and it slides right out.
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Old 05-03-2022, 04:25 PM   #7
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We have an 04 33V with similar WH. I have been able to tighten the connection on the back of the WH, but had to visit the Chiropractor afterwards. I used a pump plier and took a mirror that has a light. It took a while, but in the end was successful.

I think I may try removing the panel next time. May be less trouble than having to find a good Chiro.
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Old 05-03-2022, 05:12 PM   #8
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I had a 2003 WBGO Adventurer 31Y that was similar.
I never had tubing leaks but did have to work on the water htr.
Its not a fun job but you can remove the WH and get complete access to stuff behind it.
Mine needed a new overtemp cutoff but I decided while it was out to replace the 120V element, overtemp and the thermostat as they aren't very expensive and I didn't want to go through the removal twice.
While it was out I did a refurb on the mildly rusted enclosure before reassy.
Its not easy but it is doable with a bit of patience.
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Old 05-04-2022, 10:05 AM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by rlcpe View Post
We have an 04 33V with similar WH. I have been able to tighten the connection on the back of the WH, but had to visit the Chiropractor afterwards. I used a pump plier and took a mirror that has a light. It took a while, but in the end was successful.

I think I may try removing the panel next time. May be less trouble than having to find a good Chiro.
Thanks. I think that is pretty much my next step. Limber up, know I will be uncomfortable and try to address the connection one more time and just know it is going to be miserable and slow going. My 14 yo is smaller, younger and also left handed. I may try to train him on what needs done and send him in to try.
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Old 05-08-2022, 11:46 PM   #10
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Had the same leak on our 2005 Adventurer 33v. Underneath the water heater there is a slightly recessed oval in the plastic. We didn't realize at first that it actually can be popped out with a screw driver. That gave access to the back of the water heater. It's still a small place to work in while having to lay on one's back underneath the RV.
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Old 05-09-2022, 11:49 AM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Cheryl Bisson View Post
Had the same leak on our 2005 Adventurer 33v. Underneath the water heater there is a slightly recessed oval in the plastic. We didn't realize at first that it actually can be popped out with a screw driver. That gave access to the back of the water heater. It's still a small place to work in while having to lay on one's back underneath the RV.
They must have designed that in later. I attacked this issue again over the weekend. Step 1 was slide under and hope to find an access panel. No luck. I just have a solid piece that makes up the entire floor of the HW compartment. No screws, just rivets on the sides, and no access at all from underneath.

Step 2: I started from scratch. Removed the attachment coming from the water pump from the backflow/check valve. Then removed the check valve and 1/2" female to female brass fitting. This left just the plastic elbow coming out of the back of the HW heater. Then I stretched and tried to get my back to go straight for a few minutes.

Step 3: I tossed the brass 1/2" connector and used a PVC 1/2" to 1/2" female to female connector and put the brass check valve into it. Made sure the threads were super clean on both and used a nice wrap of silicon tape. I did notice that I could get the brass check valve to thread into the 1/2 PVC coupling quite a bit further than it would thread into the brass coupling I had tried last weekend.

Step 4: Cleaned the threads as best I could on the elbow coming out of the HW heater. Since I could not put silicon tape on the male threads of this elbow I put plumbers thread paste on the female threads of the PVC coupling. Then, crawled back in the compartment and using some channellocks was able to grip the plastic PVC coupling and slowly get it quite a way onto the elbow. Here's a pic looking straight down at the fitting installed on the elbow. The white PVC is a little chewed up from the pliers.



Step 5: Connect the pex line to the other end of the brass check valve. I had pre-taped the threads and this actually went on semi-easy.



Turned water pump on and let the HW tank fill. Then waited. Water pump, which was coming on every 30-45 seconds, never came on. Waited some more, did some work, cleaned the windows and gave it a good hour and pump never came on. Checked fittings and dry as a bone.

Overall probably took a good 1.5 hours to get the first attempted repair off and the new fix installed. Would take 5 minutes if you could actually get to the fittings. Definitely requires a nimble person, and squeezing my hole head and chest into the compartment behind the WH was not easy. Only damage was a chunk taken out of my thumb when I tried to reach in with my right hand and tighten the fitting and slipped.

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Old 05-10-2022, 04:38 AM   #12
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Do you think that new pvc coupler will tolerate the heat? That job you have there is a real Pia.
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Old 05-10-2022, 01:16 PM   #13
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Do you think that new pvc coupler will tolerate the heat? That job you have there is a real Pia.
I think the PVC coupler should be fine. The elbow coming out of the heater is PVC as well, and when I went to the plumbing store and told the guy what it is going on (feed line to a HW heater) this is what he provided. PIA does not even begin to describe this job.
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Old 05-16-2022, 10:28 AM   #14
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For your sake I hope this is the last time you'll have to squeeze into the cabinet to repair the plumbing. We had an almost identical problem on our 2001 Adventurer 32V. In our case it was the plastic elbow going into the water heater.

We quickly found out the 32V was the only model that didn't have an access panel to get to the rear of the unit. We spent several days stopping at hardware stores on our way to Alaska to find the parts and tools needed to remove the broken elbow.

I had to remove the pump and half the plumbing to squeeze one arm behind the heater. I finally found the proper size easy out to get the broken stub out. I ended up replacing it with a brass one.

That was in 2007. I don't think I would fit in that space today, and certainly wouldn't have the strength in one arm to remove it and replace it
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