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Old 05-13-2022, 09:10 AM   #1
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Water Heater Element Replacement

The heating element on my water heater (Atwood GCH10A-4E) is not working. It has burned one of the wires going to the element off. I have a new element coming, but was wondering if anyone knows how much coolant I will loose when I remove the water heater.
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Old 05-13-2022, 09:26 AM   #2
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Sparky0058 View Post
The heating element on my water heater (Atwood GCH10A-4E) is not working. It has burned one of the wires going to the element off. I have a new element coming, but was wondering if anyone knows how much coolant I will loose when I remove the water heater.

OK very confused . COOLANT ?

Is this a water heater with a heating coil for engine coolant to circulate to heat the water while you're driving ?
The coolant coil , is sealed from the water , so you shouldn't loose any .
Or is you access so bad , you have to remove the heater from the RV to replace the element ?

You'll want to shut off the taps ; hot and cold ; behind the heater and drain it ( 10 gallons ) via the outside plug, before you remove the element .

If you do have engine coolant running through the water heater, and have to remove the heater from the RV , clamp off the heater hoses , as close to the heater as you can before you remove the clamps and the hoses from the heater , you shouldn't loose more than a couple of quarts .

For a clamp on the heater hoses , I use vice grips with a piece of cardboard folded over the hose to keep the jaw of the vice grips from cutting the hose.

EDIT: After an internet search I see your model of water heater does have the heat exchanger for engine coolant , sorry about my initial confusion .
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Old 05-14-2022, 09:17 AM   #3
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Skip426 Sorry about that, I guess it would have helped to mention it has a heat exchanger from the engine coolant. And yes I have to pull the water heater most of the way out to troubleshoot it. There is only about 2" clearance to the wall behind it. and with the wire burnt off of the element, I will need to get in there and really check everything out.
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Old 05-14-2022, 07:54 PM   #4
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Don't forget you'll need new grey sealant tape for the heater to the RV outside wall .

I hate Atwood heater with a passion because of the position of the electric element .

Look at Auto Zone for a six point 1 1/2 " socket in 1/2" drive , any tool you purchase from an RV store will fail if the element is tight .
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Old 05-14-2022, 08:17 PM   #5
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If you do not have to disconnect the engine coolant lines at back of WH Tank no coolant lost........check if you have slack in coolant hoses.

PITA w/o room to work -------- coolant will leak when you remove them.
W/O ampule room to get bucket/jars etc....wrap with plastic sandwich bag and tie wrap to hoses

Vice grips work IF you can get 2 of them in to clamp the hoses off
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Old 05-16-2022, 08:17 AM   #6
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Thanks for the advice guys, pretty much what I expected. This definitely looks like one that will test the limitations of my medications! I have some clamps that I use for wood working that may work well in there, as this looks like it will be a one-handed operation. And not enough slack in the coolant hoses for any movement.
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Old 05-16-2022, 10:37 AM   #7
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Rome , wasn't built in a day ; but unfortunately most RVs were .

With no plan for service or repair , take it one step at a time and you'll get this repair finished .
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Old 05-17-2022, 05:08 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Sparky0058 View Post
The heating element on my water heater (Atwood GCH10A-4E) is not working. It has burned one of the wires going to the element off. I have a new element coming, but was wondering if anyone knows how much coolant I will loose when I remove the water heater.
Before you try to remove the heating element test it with a ohm meter. If you have continuity through the element and none to ground to the element connections it is probably good. The wire came loose, overheated because of the looseness and burned up. Replace the damaged screw and replace the connector on the wire. Did the relay get damaged? If so, you will need to replace it also.
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Old 05-19-2022, 05:39 AM   #9
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Some Suggestions.....

I have had to remove my Water Heater several times for maintenance AND finally, to replace it.
2 Suggestions.....from experience.

1. DO NOT use the butyl tape to 'seal' the WH face to the frame. This is a real mess and is very hard to remove. You have to 'pry' the heater flange away from the frame to remove it. I used a foam self sticking tape (aka window seal and others) and placed it on the MH frame. The heater easily seals against it, provides the air seal required and is easy to work with.

2. I have 'cut out' a section of the 'white board' separator to make access to the back of the water heater much easier. Photos show the cut-out.

Use of small vise-grips to clamp off the 2 coolant hoses is a very good idea, I have always used this. Just put several pieces of duct tape over each jaw to protect the rubber hose. A little coolant will leak out but the compartment is easy to wipe up.

Hope this helps.....
Paul
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