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Old 03-12-2021, 07:39 AM   #1
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Water Heater Failing?

I have a Bighorn fifth wheel with a standard Atwood water heater. Like all of these devices, the water is heated with either propane or electricity ó or both at the same time if I'm in a hurry. Recently however I've noticed that when using shore power electricity the water isn't quite as hot as the week before and it doesn't last quite as long. I've noticed this deteriorating condition every morning for the last couple of weeks. Is it time to replace the water heater before it fails completely?
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Old 03-12-2021, 07:49 AM   #2
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No reason to replace the Water Heater....replace bad parts
My 2007 Atwood still in service working quite well

Does it heat correctly using just propane??

Propane and Electric use SAME t-stat/eco for temp controls
So if gas heats...then t-stat is good
If NOT----replace t-stat/eco (they come as a pair)


Do you drain/flush water heater routinely?
Tucson water is VERY Hard...scale/calcium can build up inhibiting heat transfer and especially on the element reducing it's heating capability
Time for new element??

One last thing...
120VAC to element is triggered by a DC Relay (Yellow wire from circuit board)
12VDC to relay closes it...then the 120VAC goes to element
The 120VAC Terminals get hot due to loose connections...insulation melts/wires don't make good contact

DC Relay is inside that protective cover where element is ---backside of WH Tank
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Old 03-12-2021, 10:03 AM   #3
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Good advice from Old Biscuit. It's unlikely (but not impossible) that the electric heat element is only partially functional. However, extreme contamination of the heater element by hard water deposits is one of those rare things that could do that. After testing on propane as suggested, my next step would be to pull out the electric heat element and check for corrosion. Maybe just go ahead and replace it, since they aren't real expensive (it's a fairly standard bolt-in 1440 watt element, often available in hardware stores, Lowes, Depot, etc).).
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Old 03-12-2021, 10:19 AM   #4
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Ed,
Pull the blow out valve, close the bypass and dump 3 gallons of vinegar in and top off with water. Let it sit for a day and a night, then pull the drain plug and hose her out thru the blow out valve hole.
You will be surprised how much white crud you get out of her.

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Old 03-12-2021, 07:36 PM   #5
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Originally Posted by Gary RVRoamer View Post
Good advice from Old Biscuit. It's unlikely (but not impossible) that the electric heat element is only partially functional. However, extreme contamination of the heater element by hard water deposits is one of those rare things that could do that. After testing on propane as suggested, my next step would be to pull out the electric heat element and check for corrosion. Maybe just go ahead and replace it, since they aren't real expensive (it's a fairly standard bolt-in 1440 watt element, often available in hardware stores, Lowes, Depot, etc).).
Atwood uses a 1400W element and they screw into the tank
**Very Old Models had a bolt on but that was discontinued many years ago

Suburban uses the 1440W and they screw in also


1 1/2" thin walled socket needed
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Old 03-13-2021, 05:14 AM   #6
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Here's a pdf that may help you
Attached Files
File Type: pdf Water Heater Service Manual - Atwood.pdf (981.0 KB, 11 views)
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Old 03-13-2021, 05:37 AM   #7
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Yep, as posted only a couple of parts that can be bad, easy fix.
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Old 03-14-2021, 12:19 PM   #8
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Quote:
Atwood uses a 1400W element and they screw into the tank
**Very Old Models had a bolt on but that was discontinued many years ago

Old Biscuit is right - all of them in the last 25+ years are screw-in elements. The bolt-in elements are almost ancient history. I stand corrected! Regardless, they are standard elements available anywhere water heater parts are sold. Nothing unique to an RV.
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Old 03-14-2021, 09:07 PM   #9
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Old Biscuit is right - all of them in the last 25+ years are screw-in elements. The bolt-in elements are almost ancient history. I stand corrected! Regardless, they are standard elements available anywhere water heater parts are sold. Nothing unique to an RV.
And cheaper at the Big Box Hardware stores
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Old 03-15-2021, 06:15 AM   #10
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And cheaper at the Big Box Hardware stores

6 bucks at Home Depot:https://www.homedepot.com/p/Everbilt...5024/205681007


The socket is $7 : https://www.homedepot.com/p/Everbilt...5016/205680998.


Way years back and several trailers ago, I needed to replace a gas valve. That wasn't as inexpensive but a LOT less then a new HW heater.
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