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Old 06-15-2012, 05:40 PM   #1
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Suburban Water Heater

I have a Dutch Star 2001 and have needed to "reset" my water heater at least once a day for the past week. Last night when I reset it I heard a WHUMP/THUMP about 1-2 minutes after the reset. Had to reset again about 60 minutes ago. After I hit the reset switch I ran outside and around to the water heater to watch and listen. Good thing I didn't bend over to look inside the vents because WHUMP and out shot a sheet of flame! Talk about scaring the beejeebees out of somebody! I immediately went back inside the coach and turned off the water heater. I had taken the cover off earlier today to take a look inside for soot (none), cobwebs (none), road dirt (none). mud dobbers (none). I'm stumped. There is no sliding sleeve to readjust the flame. I'm thinking this means a trip to the garage? Oh, I forgot to ask. The manual says there is an electrical heating element and that one can use shore power to heat water without using propane. (would be nice to take a shower tomorrow morning) I've located the switch in the water heater bay but water is not heating. Am I missing something?

Thanks for any help all of you may suggest.

J
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Old 06-15-2012, 09:40 PM   #2
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J,
Hopefully I can provide some information that may help.

I have attached a copy of a May 2012 article in the FMCA magazine that provides some excellent pointers relative to maintenance requirements for a typical RV hot water heater. I have also attached a service manual for the Suburban water heater that I think you would have in a 2001 RV as it is what I have in my 2001 Monaco Dynasty.

If I understand you correctly, I believe the two RESET button (two little black buttons on the outside face of the water heater) that are black rubber covers, are for, Hi-Limit and Thermostat. Possibly one of these switches are faulty and need to be replaced.

To operate the water heater on 120 vac, it sounds as if you have found the ON-OFF switch on the face of the Suburban hot water heater, which of coarse must be ON for 120 VAC operation. On my Dynasty, there is a 12vdc switch inside the RV, near the kitchen sink that when it is activated or turned ON, you should hear a set of relay contactors snap-in wherever the electric control panel is located. If that relay is not snapping in when you activate the 12vdc electric switch in the RV, then it could be the electic ON-OFF switch in the water heater or the one in the RV, or the 12vdc control relay that provides 120 vac to the water heater is hanging up or the relay coil is not able to energize to activate the relay contacts.

If the relay is snapping in, then you would need to check to see if you have 120vac at the 1440 WATT heating element that is accessed through an oval shaped tin cover by removing 2 screws on the face of the water heater, located behind the outside cover panel. This small tin cover protects the electrical connections of the 120 vac heating element.

If you have not done so already, I would strongly suggest to change out the heating element which is a standard device that can be purchased at most all ACE hardware stores. I have replaced two heating elements in my 2001 RV as it is surprising how quick they get coated with mineral deposits. And the more deposits, the less efficient the heater element becomes as the mineral deposits act as an insulator. But possibly that is because when I am plugged into electrical, I never us the LP portion of my Surburban hot water heater.

Hope this helps and happy RV'g

Yukon Jack
Attached Files
File Type: pdf RV Water Heater Mntce, FMCA 5-2012.pdf (236.7 KB, 75 views)
File Type: pdf Suburban Water Heater Service Manual.pdf (1.03 MB, 90 views)
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Old 06-16-2012, 10:25 AM   #3
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Hello, some things to add to Yukon Jack's reply to your post.
My 99 DS, has a 110v shut off for water heater power, in the conlrol panel ; with the slide control. Both, control panel & outside at the heater, must be on for electric hot water. There is also a dedicated circuit breaker for the element; main panel. The re-set buttons at the H/W heater . are high limit temp controls for 1 propane & 2 110v , each has a slow burn fuse attached, If the high limt for the propane is tripped, or the slow burn fuse blown, the gas and ignitor will not work. So that's not your problem. You may have dirty ignitor contacts, remove the contacts, from in front of the burner and clean with steel wool and clean the mount/ground when you have the ignitor removed, even a light coat of soot on the contacts will delay the spark and cause the problem you discribe.
Jack is correct about the 110v element ; they have a short life span, use and water quality are determining factors. The element is available at hardware stores $20 approx , 1440/1500 watt 110v , Do Not buy the tool for changing the element at the hardware store , it WILL break, go to Auto-Zone and pick up a 1 1/2" six point 1/2 inch drive socket you will spend the same amount and get a tool that will last. Good Luck
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Old 06-16-2012, 02:53 PM   #4
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Oh my gosh you guys, thanks so much! I think Skip426 may have hit it on the head. It's like there is a build up of gas in the ignition compartment and after several clicks it it finally makes a connection, WHUMPS and shoots flame out. Most of the information you guys gave is Greek to me as I'm a woman and have never dealt with these issues. Not that I can't learn and I intend to. I'm headed out there shortly to take another look, identify all the parts you are speaking of. If I'm not completely certain of what I am doing I'll take the coach to Pontiac RV in Pontiac, IL where I've had great success with everything they have done. At the moment I'm camping in East Peoria waiting for twin grandsons to be born this fall. After than it's off to who knows where, certainly somewhere warm. Thanks again for all your help and I will be certain to report what the results are to this problem.

J
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Old 06-16-2012, 06:47 PM   #5
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Don't be afraid to try anything, for my part , I can't thread a sewing machine, although my wife tells me it's easy. Guys and gals just see things from a different angle.
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Old 06-18-2012, 12:00 PM   #6
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On the face of your Suburban water heater outside you have a small switch that has to be on for the electric element to heat your water plus the one inside the coach display panel.
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