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Old 08-27-2017, 06:35 PM   #1
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Suburban water heater repair/maintenance

I have a 1985 Skyline TT with what appears to be a Suburban water heater; name on the mostly faded tag is American Appliance Mfg. Corp. The model number is SSRVB-A or something like that.

The P/T valve is in good shape, the leak I have is a weeping drip from behind the thermostat when it is fired up and water is heating. Once the tank and water are hot, I cannot determine if the unit is no longer leaking or if the water is just evaporating before dripping. The water pump has been giving an occasional "bump" every hour or two so my assumption is that the leak is still present. Removing everything else and then the thermostat to reseal the fitting behind it appears to be a difficult (if not near impossible) task.

New propane only water heaters are about 260.00 and up, just verifying if I can toggle the pump when needed and live with the leak, repair it, or R/R the WH.

Any input is greatly appreciated. I have been lurking and learning on this site for about a year now. My favorite threads are RV Mutants and Vintage.

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Old 08-27-2017, 07:06 PM   #2
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Suburban bought out the American Appliance Mfg. Corp in 1987. Some parts might be interchangeable, but it's hard to determine without the old part in hand.

In a Suburban WH, the thermostats don't penetrate the tank wall, they are mounted on studs on the tank and measure heat by conduction through the stud. To see if the tank is actually leaking, I'd put a wadded up tissue inside the bottom of the square cover plate over the thermostat. It will absorb and hold the water to show a leak. A Suburban WH has a steel tank and the drain plug has an anode on it. If yours is leaking, it might be time to install a new WH.
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Old 08-27-2017, 11:39 PM   #3
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I suspect it is never a good idea to try to live with the leak. Water damage is inexorable, but your situation will determine your decision.
I replaced my leaking Suburban 10 gal last summer. Assuming the current Suburban are similar in dimension to your old unit, the R/R should be quite straightforward. One suggestion: in my DS there was rigid PEX plumbing direct to the cold and hot fittings on the back of the unit. Very difficult access. I cut the PEX back to a convenient work point and then bought flexible feed lines and fittings to make the connections. Much easier.
Good Luck!
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Old 08-28-2017, 12:07 AM   #4
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The only thermostats on THAT unit is the WARM to HOT knob on the front of the Unitrol Gas Valve and the ECO/Hi Temp 'probe' that comes out the back of that Unitrol Gas Valve and 'sticks' thru tank wall into the water.




That vintage ..monies better spent on NEW water heater
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Old 08-28-2017, 01:17 AM   #5
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Let it drip. The pan will catch the drip and move it to the outside. I am in the water business, lots of new installations will just barely leak. A few days and the lime in the water will seal the leak up.
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Old 08-29-2017, 01:20 AM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Old-Biscuit View Post
The only thermostats on THAT unit is the WARM to HOT knob on the front of the Unitrol Gas Valve and the ECO/Hi Temp 'probe' that comes out the back of that Unitrol Gas Valve and 'sticks' thru tank wall into the water.




That vintage ..monies better spent on NEW water heater


That's it, excellent and thanks.
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Old 08-29-2017, 01:30 AM   #7
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All great tips,thank you. After reading more about these water heaters I determined that there was no air space, creating excess pressure when heated but not enough for the P/T valve to blow.

After using the P/T valve to create an air space, i fired it up and... no drip. That doesn't mean ther isn't a problem though. I may dig into it when daytime temps cool down.
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