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Old 08-31-2011, 10:04 PM   #1
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Leaking Atwood hot water heater

I have an four year old Atwood GE16EXT water heater. Which lately leaks on occasion. Maybe once per month. The water drips down from inside the styrofoam insulation, possibly from the bottom [see arrow]. I can't really tell where without tearing off the insulation.



I wash out the water heater twice yearly. Don't see any serious debris in it when I wash it.

Any suggestions I can try? Or am I just looking at a replacement at some point?

Thanks much.
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Old 08-31-2011, 11:40 PM   #2
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Sure its not just condensation?
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Old 09-01-2011, 06:17 AM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Midniteoyl View Post
Sure its not just condensation?
Wish it were. Much more water than that.
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Old 09-01-2011, 08:18 AM   #4
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Here is a previous thread that discussed a similar sounding issue that you might be interested in:

http://www.irv2.com/forums/f54/atwoo...leak-3590.html

Hope this helps.
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Old 09-02-2011, 12:07 AM   #5
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Thank you Bob. Coincidentally, that forum is for my Excel. But the two different leaks discussed are in different places than mine.
1 TPV
2 Hoses and fittings that I have already checked.
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Old 09-02-2011, 04:57 AM   #6
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Remove the black cover from the rear of the heater and the electric heating element should be exposed. Check the gasket for weeping. Sometimes a simple snuging of the element is all that's required to stop a minor leak. If not, you can remove the element and just replace the gasket. Here's a pic of the element for clarity

http://farm4.static.flickr.com/3141/...d4d5103f_z.jpg
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Old 09-03-2011, 01:28 PM   #7
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Bob,

Thanks for the suggestion. I removed the cover and found no leak. Also checked the inlet and the mixing valve. Not wet. I don't see or feel any water dripping down from anything in the back.

Also looked on the outside panel - at the drain plug and the TPV. They are dry on the outside, including under the foam gasket.

Any place else to check? Otherwise, I figure I'm fighting a pinhole leak on the tank. What will it take to fix this? Removing the tank and welding or patching the leak? $$
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Old 09-03-2011, 07:27 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bruce and Jenna View Post
Bob,

Thanks for the suggestion. I removed the cover and found no leak. Also checked the inlet and the mixing valve. Not wet. I don't see or feel any water dripping down from anything in the back.

Also looked on the outside panel - at the drain plug and the TPV. They are dry on the outside, including under the foam gasket.

Any place else to check? Otherwise, I figure I'm fighting a pinhole leak on the tank. What will it take to fix this? Removing the tank and welding or patching the leak? $$
Bruce:

I had to remove my Atwood from my MH due to a leak. Had a constant drip which wasn't coming from any of the hoses or drain. Upon removing the form cover I discovered that the previous owners had left water in the tank and it froze, spliting the rear of the tank. The approximately 12"/14" crack had been tig welded. The weld developed two pin hole leaks which seeped water. I took the tank to a friends garage and used his tig machine to reweld the pin holes and then pressure tested it with air up to 65psi. Installed a pressure gauge on the tank and let it set for several days and the pressure held steady. Also sprayed the entire tank with soapy water to comfirm the repairs were solid. Since the repair I reinstalled the tank and have had 50/55lbs water pressure and so far no leaks.

Removal of the tank is not complicated. You may want to go that route to find your leak. Make sure you install new rubber cone washers with copper flat washers to your hose fittings.

Here's the same pic as I previously provided. Looking closely you can observe some fainted rust/mineral marks on the rear of the tank. They are the tell tale signs of the pin hole leaks.

http://farm4.static.flickr.com/3141/...d4d5103f_z.jpg

Hope you have success with detecting the leak. Repair welding the tank is much cheaper than a replacement. Found exact replacement tanks from Atwood for approximately $250/$275. That's much less than a new WH
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Old 09-03-2011, 10:16 PM   #9
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According to what you have described this is something that happens occasionally, not all the time. I wonder what the conditions are that cause it to happen. I would suspect it occurs when pressure builds in the system beyond what it normally experiences. Have you changed anything in your potable water system? Pressure regulator? Check valve? How about the way you use your hot water? Any changes? Sudden rapid multiple withdrawals can cause "stacking" in the heater leading to higher than normal temps and pressures. Clothes or dish washers can be a cause of that.

Intermittent problems can be tough to trace, that's for sure. I'd rather have something that is broke all the time. If you can find the common thread leading to the problem I bet you'll have your solution.
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Old 09-03-2011, 10:30 PM   #10
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Thanks Bob1. I feel better about the problem. I will find someone to remove and weld it or replace it.

I've learned thru experience when to attempt a repair myself and when to hire someone experienced in the work. Usually costs me the same amount either way.

BobA - well, the good news is that I actually have a constant leak now. Been spending more time on the floor in the past few days. Before I was relying on my leak alert alarm, which would sound off once in a while. Now I see that I have a steady slow drip-drip. Either the water ran around the alarm, or it's leaking more now.

Other than a new TPV a few months ago, I've made no changes to the HW heater, and the leak started before then. Got no washers other than me, and I'm too slow as it is.

Since I live fulltime in my RV, this is now a constant problem for me. Time to break out the credit card, I reckon.

Thanks all for your help.
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Old 09-03-2011, 11:08 PM   #11
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I was hoping that there was a less costly solution to the problem. It is what it is, I guess. Good luck with your repairs. FWIW the Atwood parts I have purchased in the past have been very reasonably priced.
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