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Old 05-08-2014, 11:05 AM   #1
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Discovery 36J 2012 - Water Heater Access

Our 2012 Discovery 36J has the washer and dryer installed, making access to the water heater a major issue. Does anyone have any suggestions on how to overcome this other than removing these appliances? Hard to believe that Fleetwood engineers signed off on this design.

We have the Atwood ET series water heater that has the integrated check valve that seemingly has a high failure rate - the only one like it that Atwood built. We have had hot water issues (lack thereof) since delivery. An independent tech described the issue perfectly. Water starts out "warm", then gets colder because the check valve has failed.

We're contemplating removing the heater and installing an on demand heater in its place...

Not happy. Especially DW.
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Old 05-08-2014, 11:13 AM   #2
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Sorry to hear of your water heater problem, Joe. Would the water heater happen to still be in warranty? (I'm not sure if they have a longer warranty since some of the systems and appliances do.) Sorry I can't offer up any help.
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Old 05-08-2014, 11:14 AM   #3
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Actually it's not too hard to believe that the engineers signed off on this. Their job is to cram everything into a small space as cheaply as possible. They know that they will never have to actually work on on so they don't really worry about access. On our 2004 National Tropi Cal in order to change the electric heating element for the water heater I had to remove the washer/dryer cut a hole in the bottom of the cabinet and then frame it in so that it would again be able to support the washer/dryer. Sounds like you may be in a similar situation. Best of luck!
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Old 05-08-2014, 11:28 AM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SarahW View Post
Sorry to hear of your water heater problem, Joe. Would the water heater happen to still be in warranty? (I'm not sure if they have a longer warranty since some of the systems and appliances do.) Sorry I can't offer up any help.
Hi Sarah - thanks for commiserating. The heater is out of warranty by 4 months...I sent a note to Atwood asking for a goodwill offer to cover the replacement. Will let everyone know...
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Old 05-08-2014, 11:31 AM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bdpreece View Post
Actually it's not too hard to believe that the engineers signed off on this. Their job is to cram everything into a small space as cheaply as possible. They know that they will never have to actually work on on so they don't really worry about access. On our 2004 National Tropi Cal in order to change the electric heating element for the water heater I had to remove the washer/dryer cut a hole in the bottom of the cabinet and then frame it in so that it would again be able to support the washer/dryer. Sounds like you may be in a similar situation. Best of luck!
My thought - expressed to Fleetwood - is that their engineers should have to actually REPAIR the product they designed before it is signed into production. Sounds like we may have to endure the same fate you've set forth above...both the check valve/mixer valve and the heating element are in the same place on our Atwood - with the washer/dryer blocking access.
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Old 05-08-2014, 01:32 PM   #6
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And, here is Atwood's response:

I would not be able to replace the mixing valve under warranty. It is out of it's warranty period. You would have 3 choices. You could replace the mixing valve. Pull the mixing valve and clean out the screen on the inlet side of the mixing valve (it might have a buildup of lime or calcium on it), while it is off, you might soak the mixing valve in lime away or CLR something like that. Also, you could remove the mixing valve and replace the thermostat with part number 91447. These are a lower temperature thermostat. This would make the tank a 6 or 10 gallon depending on what you have.

No help...
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Old 05-08-2014, 01:33 PM   #7
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Well, poop. Sorry, Joe.
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Old 05-08-2014, 02:15 PM   #8
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It was worth asking...
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Old 05-10-2014, 09:01 AM   #9
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An update.

A great mobile RV tech (Larry, from Mobile RV Specialists) in Prescott, AZ, where we currently are, found out how to get to the water heater. We had to remove the wooden fascia, including the wooden doors, framing the washer/dryer. What a pain that was. The carpet had to be removed to allow the door surround to be removed.

That provided access to the heater, but the heater had to be unscrewed from the outside of the coach and slid forward to provide enough room. At this point, it would be convenient if you were left handed, as there was only enough room to get one hand in there to remove and bypass the mixer/check valve.

The time it took to do the actual repair: 15 minutes. The time it took to remove and reinstall the rest of the stuff to get to the heater: 2.5 hours. Priceless? Not really...

What an insane design layout by Fleetwood that precludes easy access for repairs, and equally ridiculous design by Atwood in installing this mixer valve that is such a source of problems. The fine mesh screen in the valve collected whatever was in the water as well as calcium buildup that stopped hot water flow. We threw the valve away and the change was instant and amazing!

It was great to have hot water and enjoy a shower this morning!
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Old 05-10-2014, 09:46 AM   #10
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Glad you got it fixed, Joe. I know what you mean about the design of these things. I live in fear of the day that our Vacu-Flush toilet needs repair because we have heard that accessing those is a major undertaking. (Too bad we didn't know that before buying, but that's the way it goes.)
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Old 05-10-2014, 09:50 AM   #11
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You're so right, Sarah. The things we learn to look for next time!
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