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Old 11-28-2022, 06:22 AM   #1
Join Date: Jul 2021
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Advice on water heater "mod"

I have the Atwood GC10A-4E

Just got this rv and am working through stuff on it but the electric part of the hot water heater was fine, the gas needs adjusting but it lighting etc

Then the electric quit and i was looking for fuses etc on the hot water heater

On the back of this one directly under the top water line there is a small black cover with a relay and some wires, looks like the top line was barely leaking down the side of the tank into these wires, so obviously i needed to fix that leak and did
but thought it might be a good idea to just run some weatherstripping or something around the cover, it is not meant to seal well by design

I also put dielectric grease on everything..

The tank is warm though and the weatherstripping is right on it against the tank so now worried about possible fire from that?? Or does it get that hot

This black cover/box is super loose, i actually feel like I should just lengthen all the wires and move the ones that can me moved, it is a dumb design

Obviously we should be watching for leaks but shorting out a bunch of stuff and frying the relay on top of a leak seems like a pia
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Old 11-28-2022, 07:33 AM   #2
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OEM tank thermostat only heats water to 140 degrees so no real concern for fire.

But sealing for a leak that shouldn’t be there to begin with is probably overkill.
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Old 11-28-2022, 07:35 AM   #3
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Good morning Cvin.

First, no fuses on that, as it is a 120 VAC circuit on the electric side. You will have a circuit breaker in your breaker panel, wherever it is. Don't know if you are in a camper, bumper pull, fifth-wheel or motorhome, so not able to help much there. But look for a breaker and see if it might be tripped.

You are on a good track with trying to relieve the strain on any wiring. Vibration is our enemy, and if they are pulled tight, they can become a problem.

Don't worry about the weatherstripping unless it is against or extremely close to the burner and/or exhaust hardware. It likely isn't. All of the other temperatures on and around the tank should be in the <150 range, so fire isn't a concern.

The top water fitting likely has a check valve in it. They are often plastic, and they develop leaks. If you are draining the tank, and if you can get to that area with both hands, you might see if you can't get a brass check valve and replace your plastic one while you are at it. That is also probably a standard pipe thread fitting on the tank, so if you had to, you could insert a nipple, maybe with a 90 bend in it, to make the water line routing more "friendly".

You are spot on when you say they tend to use "a dumb design". Everything in our RV's is designed with no real consideration for anything on, in or around where it will one day be installed.
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Old 11-28-2022, 01:25 PM   #4
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The Relay is what allows 120VAC to the element

You model uses DC for controls of electric & gas
2A Fuse on circuit board
DC from On/Off switch to circuit board
YELLOW wire from circuit board goes to the closes 120VAC goes thru relay to element

Cover was not intended to be water is a protective cover to keep DC & AC from being touched

Fix the Leak and don't worry about the cover...just keep your fingers out of there with DC & AC energized

Cold In/Hot Out are 1/2" NPT

Here is the wiring for your Model
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Old 11-28-2022, 01:37 PM   #5
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Thank you for the diagram OB.
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Old 11-28-2022, 06:16 PM   #6
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Thanks guys, great info here

This is a 2006 holiday rambler presidential 5th wheel, need to add that to my sig

Good to know it is not hot enough to catch the weatherstripping on fire

Mine has valves for everything so no check valves

Changing out those nipples that the pex screw onto was a hassle because i could not find what i am guessing is an old style pex gasket, mine have these weird rubber gaskets, looks like anytime i do plumbing stuff will be swapping out the pex end fittings :(
If anyone is familiar with those and has a source for these old style pex fittings that would be great
If not for that all of this should have been pretty quick

It now has copper? Brass? Fittings into the hot water heater and new style pex connectors, no leaks
I am learning way more about plumbing than I wanted to lol

Not sure the relay was bad but went ahead and swapped it, one of the wires was burned and corroded i am guessing from the water
All that has been replaced and i put dielectric grease on everything and the weatherstripping on top of the little cover to hopefully route any leaks around in the future..

Now starting a new thread to try and figure out what is going on with the gas side of the water heater ..
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Old 11-28-2022, 06:24 PM   #7
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Yellow flame all the time Atwood hot water heater-air adjustment does nothing

Atwood GC10A-4E

Leaning toward thinking i have a bad gas valve
Or maybe gas valve solenoid??

Was having problems with it blowing back and catching on fire at the air adjustment
Cleaned everything
Finally got it firing after a couple more blow back deals but the flame is solid yellow and the air adjustment does nothing at all...???? Zero change in color

Electric works fine and it seems to want to light on gas every time with spark etc

Just still getting some of this fire at the valve/air adjustment area and cannot get any change at all in the color of the flame
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Old 11-28-2022, 06:33 PM   #8
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Yellow flame as you apparently know is not enough air, since adjusting the air admittance doesn't correct I would be checking to make sure you have enough draft. Pull the burner and look with a flashlight for an obstruction in the fire box, and check the exhaust for obstructions. Apparently RV water heaters and furnaces are considered prime real estate by wasps.
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Old 11-28-2022, 06:53 PM   #9
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Did you or previous owner poke out the orifice.
I had to replace my burner tube to stop the yellow flame.
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Old 11-28-2022, 07:03 PM   #10
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Agree on cleaning especially exhaust, I did not check that thoroughly

Thinking i will pull the burner tube and be more methodical about it , can that be soaked in alcohol or vinegar or something?

I did use a small orifice cleaning tool but did not try to make it bigger or anything, the tool was probably 2 sizes too small and there were no obstructions

plus we pulled it today to make sure there was nothing in it
Do not think I did anything to hurt it.. hope not

This project may have to go on the back burner for a few months with other stuff especially since electric is working
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Old 11-28-2022, 08:43 PM   #11
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It’s possible your LP regulator isn’t working as intended - how old is it?
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Old 11-28-2022, 09:45 PM   #12
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Word to the wise, disregard all the YouTube videos where people blew compressed air through the burner tube and pushed rags down there etc

My advice is take the burner tube completely apart and out of the unit then clean it

Originally I used a pipe cleaner like thing and got nothing but it could not get past the little round direction thing on the end, still I thought it had to be clear

I also used a can of compressed air, not solved

Decided to blow out the exhaust with my medium size air compressor and decided before spending 200 on a gas valve to swivel the burner tube and blow the bigger air through it too

Once i used the bigger air could see a big spider web trying to come out, it was right past the curve in the tube , certainly could not see it at all looking down the tube from the outside with a flashlight

Even the medium size compressor could not get it out, brought it inside and soaked it for 30 minutes and still could not get it out
Finally pushed it out with the pipe cleaner like tool

Have the air adjustment as little as possible and not sure about the flame but the wind is blowing 40 mph right now so cannot tell anything for sure
Either way it is working correctly even if i need to adjust it a little more

Thank you everyone!!!
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Old 11-28-2022, 10:03 PM   #13
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Cvin is on the right path to a certain degree -

Part of the problem is - blowing the burner out with compressed air has a number of flaws - firstly, if it’s not dirt daubers in the burner, it’s spiders and their webs. It’s hard to blow spider webs out of a burner, and even if you do, the webs get blown up against the backside of the burner which further screws up the gas/air mixture.

2nd - don’t ever push a wire through the orifice - even if 2 sizes smaller. At most, use a plastic wire, but quite frankly, blowing through it backwards, after soaking in pretty much any kind of liquid that is not aggressive to brass is best, followed by mouth blowing thru or low pressure air - opposite the normal gas
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Old 11-29-2022, 12:06 AM   #14
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Cvin, if there's too much air admitted with air adjustment it will give you a noisy, harsh flame. Too little and the tips of the flame begin to turn yellow and lazy (that will create soot and clog everything up). You want to set the air adjustment just at the point where the noise and harshness goes away and there are no yellow tips on the flame for best results. If you stir up a lot of dust and it gets sucked in the flame, it will look a dirty orange color which should go away when the air clears up.

Hope that helps.
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