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Old 10-24-2013, 11:45 AM   #1
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Atwood 6 gal gas water heater, hot water lasts only seconds

Bought this Winnebago Itasca in August, had water heater checked out and told it was functioning. Pilot lights, burner fires up but hot water lasts only seconds and then gradually turns ice cold. Have call in to our RV doktor but would appreciate any troubleshooting insights from you all.
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Old 10-24-2013, 12:21 PM   #2
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check to make sure there is not a winterizing valve closed that should be open or the opposite. May be on the back side of the tank where the water hoses hook up. Also if you have an outside shower make sure it is turned off at the knobs and not just the little button on the head, this will mix the cold and hot and result in the symptoms you are experiencing (check the inside shower too).

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Old 10-24-2013, 12:35 PM   #3
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Ditto. Check the water heater's winterizing bypass valve - it should be closed for normal operation (the cold water supply and hot water discharge valves should be open), and the cold and hot water valves on the outside shower should be closed.

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Old 10-24-2013, 12:35 PM   #4
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Check to make sure you don't have air in the water heater. This could resul in it not filling.
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Old 10-24-2013, 12:49 PM   #5
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+1 for TonyDi. Turn it off and wait till it cools down. Then open the pressure relief valve to see if you have trapped air.
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Old 10-24-2013, 01:46 PM   #6
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Be aware, though, that the water heater tank is designed to operate with an air cushion at the top of the tank to provide room for water expansion. If no air cushion is present, every time the water heats and expands, it will spit out the overpressure valve since water (to oversimplify) isn't compressible whereas air is.

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Old 10-24-2013, 01:56 PM   #7
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There are two or three prime suspects

1: As others have noted the bypass valves, My heater has a 3-valve bypass. IF the crossover valve is open, You describe one possible result.

2: What I call the Dog Shower (Outside shower) on my coach the head has a cut off valve in it, If I leave the mixer valves open but close off the head.. Again that is a possible outcome.

Fact: A fellow camper was only getting "warm" not Hot water. He called customer support and got exactly no where, He toled me, I ask about that outside shower, Next moring he said "Thanks, It's fixed".. Yup you guessed it.

Suspect #3 is the indoor shower. Same comments save they forgot the cut off valve on mine so I had to add it after market.
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Old 10-25-2013, 04:15 PM   #8
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wa8yxm has given exactly that answer that I was about to write. If the bypass valves are properly aligned, then there is a very good chance that one of the two shower heads is turned off with the faucet valves left open.
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Old 10-25-2013, 08:25 PM   #9
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Similar symptoms occur if the cold water inlet check valve has collapsed - but that is easily checked by running just a hot water tap - no cold. If the flow is normal for a couple of seconds and then reduces dramatically then it is likely to be the check valve.
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Old 10-25-2013, 09:34 PM   #10
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If you have the high output model, there's a mixer valve on the back side of the heater. This valve could be malfunctioning and letting only cold water go to the faucets.

Mine was faulty and causing the same problem. Replaced mixer valve and problem solved.
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Old 10-27-2013, 09:15 AM   #11
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Thanks to all for excellent troubleshooting advice. Problem were valves behind water heater not set correctly. Problem now fixed and I learned a lot.
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