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Old 01-16-2020, 06:55 PM   #1
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Atwood Water Heater- what next?

I've had issues with my 10-gal, dual fuel water heater (with motorad) since the day I purchased my RV in July 2017.

I've posted about it here off and on. I'm wondering what my next step should be.

1. I'm not interested in taking it to a dealer. Been there. I even took it to Winnebago's factory.

2. I've replaced: circuit board, igniter, flue tube, ECO and Thermostat.

Here's the problem- when on propane the gas flame varies constantly and sometimes this turns into a huge roaring flame and the thermal cutoff blows. This has happened 5-times.

The thermal cutoff blew on the first night we used the RV the day we bought it brand new. So, you see it's been a constant problem. Just one we live with.

The WH works great on electric and we stay where there is 50-amp power 85% of the time. So we rarely run it on propane.

The problem of a dealer or the factory in making a repair is the same problem I have making a repair. It doesn't exhibit all the flame issues "at first". You can start it and it appears to be working normally. So, technicians work on it, turn it on and it fires right up and the tech says, "All fixed" but it's not. Run it for a day or two or maybe three and it starts short cycling and going strong, then barely running, then strong again then the cutoff blows.

I've used it twice in the past couple of months and it worked pretty well. Not great but it didn't blow a cutoff. So, I thought it's fixed enough. But then when dry camping two days ago it blew another thermal cutoff.That's the 5th time in 2 1/2 years with very little usage on gas.

I carry spare cutoffs, and I recognize it when it happens because nothing works after the cutoff blows. And, I know how to bypass it quickly to get Electric heating going. I never use the gas function when I bypass the cutoff.

We're spending the next 5 weeks in Tucson and we have 50-amp so running it on AC is no problem. But I thought I'd take this opportunity to try to fix it on propane one more time.

I'm thinking of replacing the gas valve/orifice or perhaps trying another control board, maybe a dinosaur brand board. I've thought of spending $1000 to simply replace the whole thing and be done with it. But....

What do you folks suggest?.
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Old 01-16-2020, 07:42 PM   #2
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Old-Biscuit will be your best advisor, but I believe the control boards are notorious for malfunctions and a Dinosaur replacement may be a good move, IMO.

Still, the varying flow of gas strikes me as a gas valve problem as my understanding is the valve is only an ON/OFF device and does not regulate flow rates, only duration of flow via the control board. If the flame varies in intensity, I’d suspect the valve.
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Old 01-16-2020, 07:46 PM   #3
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Thanks Larry. I'm of a mind to that also.

By the way, in addition to what I wrote. I've spent less than $100 on these attempted fixes so far. The board and igniter were replaced under warranty and so were all 3 of the attempted dealer/factory fixes.

Since we use it on Propane so little - it's easier to simply ignore. But I really should get it fixed once and for all.
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Old 01-16-2020, 08:58 PM   #4
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Regulator?

I would suspect the regulator on your propane tank. while it is running check your cook top. Do they vary at all. Just a thought. Good luck.
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Old 01-16-2020, 09:12 PM   #5
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Quote:
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I would suspect the regulator on your propane tank. while it is running check your cook top. Do they vary at all. Just a thought. Good luck.
No issues with the cook top burners nor the propane heater..
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Old 01-17-2020, 05:37 AM   #6
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creativepart-

Until "Old Biscuit" ("OB") comes along, you're left with us...

If you haven't cleaned the water heater gas orifice yet, you may want to give it a try. Here's a link to a post by "OB" on how to do that.
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Old 01-17-2020, 09:03 AM   #7
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I would replace the regulator on the water heater first, and if that doesn't resolve the problem then replace the regulator on the tank.
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Old 01-17-2020, 09:36 AM   #8
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I would replace the regulator on the water heater first, and if that doesn't resolve the problem then replace the regulator on the tank.
Is there a regulator at the DSI water heater? Guess there could be but I've never run across one. My first thought was regulator as well but I figured it'd be at the propane tank.

Given that the flame varies, goes "strong" as the OP puts it, makes it sound like a fuel pressure problem. The solenoid valve itself opens and closes so it might not let enough gas through if it was going bad. This could cause a low flame situation. But at the same time, I don't think it could open wider and cause a "stronger" than normal flame.

Thinking about it, I don't see how anything on the WH itself can cause a "huge roaring flame". Sounds like a gas pressure problem.
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Old 01-17-2020, 09:50 AM   #9
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Regulator is part of the gas valve. I said regulator instead of gas valve to indicate that it's not a gas valve issue per se.
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Old 01-17-2020, 09:54 AM   #10
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Mark thanks for the link. I haven’t cleaned the orifice yet.

I have aligned the gas tube. It was waaaaay off center when I bought the RV. So I first unbolted everything and bent the mounts until it lined up. Then later when that didn’t fix things I bought a new assembly and replaced it and this included the spreader.

The WH instillation in the Adventurer is a bit different. It is mounted behind a basement panel, like a compartment door that’s screwed into place. The only part of the actual WH visible is the exhaust grate sticking out of a hole on the compartment.

To work on the WH you unscrew the bottom of the compartment door and it swings up. Then you see the actual WH door that looks just like the door you see exposed on the outside of most RVs. So, naturally to adjust the flame you open the compartment, then open the WH door.

It seems that I can adjust the flame correctly with the air tube and it seems good. Then I close the WH door and it still sounds right. But then when I close the compartment door within about 20 seconds the sound changes. It doesn’t change immediately.

This is another reason I think Techs can’t fix it. The adjust it. They can see It seems to work good. The close it up and tell me it’s fixed.

But I fail to see how being behind the door could be the problem. This design has been used for decades on this popular model and you never see hordes of other owners lamenting their failed WHs.
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Old 01-17-2020, 10:05 AM   #11
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Here’s a video I took awhile ago. This is after 12-hours of running more or less normally. Well not normally because the fame varies so much. Then it’s gets to the place where it starts and winks out as in this video. The video is 4 mins long but if you watch long enough you’ll see there are parts where it runs for a while and doesn’t wink out the flame. But you can hear the variable flame intensity.

When it starts acting the way shown in the video is when it will usually cause the thermal cutoff to blow.

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Old 01-17-2020, 06:58 PM   #12
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Regulator is part of the gas valve. I said regulator instead of gas valve to indicate that it's not a gas valve issue per se.
Just looked at the valve on ours and yep, the wider rounder part does look to be a regulator in the valve. I learn something new everyday, Thanks!
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Old 01-17-2020, 10:31 PM   #13
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I suggest you need more air. My 2003 Adventurer was similar, but no slot on door like yours. They added one later. I first bent the wh door hinges to get more air. I finally drilled holes on the floor of the heater enclosure below the burner tube and all was well.


Next time you are set up, prop open the compartment door some and see how it works.
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Old 01-18-2020, 09:46 AM   #14
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Dan, thanks so much. I’ve wondered about this since closing the compartment cover changes the sound of the burner about 20-sec after it’s closed.

One other oddity... the second time a tech worked on it to try to fix the issue he removed a thick bead of caulking between the body of the WH and the WHer’s actual door. It was obviously put there during manufacturing. I didn’t put it there. He said it was blocking air flow. It was sealing the whole WH door.

Why isn’t this an issue that all Adventurer owns report having? It seems most RV mount the WH so that the door is on the outside of the RV not behind a compartment. Well, except for AquaHot owners.
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