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Old 11-22-2021, 08:57 PM   #1
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New water heater

A couple of weeks ago I was moving things back after finishing a new floor when I found water on a small section of still exposed sub floor under the couch. The 28 year old water heater was leaking, apparently for a second time as it was patched with epoxy or JB Weld. It didn't work when I got the motor home, a new controller and igniter from Flight Systems fixed that. But I also decided no more repairs because of the age and overall poor condition.

I ordered a new gas and electric water heater. The electric switch for the old water heater was on the back of the water heater, I had to open one cabinet and reach through to the next cabinet to flip the switch. Not much of a chance of accidentally turning on the element and burning it out because the water heater was empty.

The new water heater is wired to use a remote switch. There's a switch panel in the face of the cabinet under the sink which has a switch to control the gas (plus other switches), I'm going to put the electric switch in that also. Because of the location I could foresee brushing against the switch or accidentally turning it on and trashing an element if the tank was empty.

I went on a search for a simple solution. Some reverse osmosis systems have a booster pump because of the filter restrictions. Some of those use a pressure switch to protect the pump, if there's no pressure in the tank the pump won't run dry and burn out. Or in this case no pressure means the heater element won't burn out.

In the picture below the switch is at the top. Electrically I ran a wire from my AC power switch to one contact of the pressure switch. The other contact has the white (electric) wire from the water heater. In the plumbing a line is T'd after the bypass at the inlet to the tank and runs to the switch. I made the mounting bracket out of a piece of scrap aluminum and glued it to the switch with JB Quick.

Now I don't have to worry about burning out the element, and it was less than a $20 fix.
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Old 11-26-2021, 12:38 AM   #2
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Many/most have a (almost hidden) rocker switch that kills the 12vdc control voltage, and this switch is on outside near top of outside access panel? Killing 12v stops gas or electric operation.
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Old 11-26-2021, 05:20 PM   #3
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I've got a switch, but it won't stop the heating element from burning out if there's no water in the tank. That's why I added the pressure switch.
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Old 12-02-2021, 10:12 PM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by THenne1713 View Post
Many/most have a (almost hidden) rocker switch that kills the 12vdc control voltage, and this switch is on outside near top of outside access panel? Killing 12v stops gas or electric operation.
That would be for a Suburban water heater. The OP has an Atwood. (He doesn't say so, but the picture shows an aluminum tank, which is the Atwood, now Dometic).

My Bigfoot Trailer came out of the factory with an Atwood combo gas/elec water heater, but the gas control and the fault light were on the stove hood, and the elect switch (which is 12v DC telling the circuit board to tell the relay to close and allow 120v to the element) was located in a very open horizontal surface and was an extremely easy to operate switch. It was the illuminated type but that doesn't do any good when you throw a jacket on top of it and accidentally turn on the switch with the jacket hiding it. (which is exactly what I did with a dry tank. thankfully I caught it rather quickly and the heat element still works.

The stove hood had extra switch positions on it, so I ran the additional wire in the harness bundle behind the cabinets, opened up the areas that had to be opened to run the wire with the rest, pinned it thru a connector, and installed a lighted switch on the stove hood for the electric side of the WH and added a lighted switch for the gas side also.

You'd have to be a real klutz to accidentally switch these on. Stove hoods with switches, tank levels, etc were apparently fairly common in the early/mid 2000's.

Last pic shows what I did before I got around to running the wire, tracking down the proper size switches and re activating the original gas circuit and warning light.

I would not be able to use the pressure switch idea as I don't turn on the pump unless I am actually using water, and I never use the city water connection, always drawing out of the tank.

Charles
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Old 12-02-2021, 11:35 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by THenne1713 View Post
Many/most have a (almost hidden) rocker switch that kills the 12vdc control voltage, and this switch is on outside near top of outside access panel? Killing 12v stops gas or electric operation.
Suburban doesn't use a 12VDC scheme for control of gas AND electric .......
That switch in the video is the OEM 120VAC on/off switch

Suburban 12VDC is ONLY for the gas operation. Nothing to do with the 120VAC function
*Suburban does have one Model that uses a 12VDC relay for the 120VAC function....but it is also separate from the gas 12VDC controls ('DEL' model)

Atwood up until 2004 Models used separate controls ---12VDC for gas and 120VAC for element
The 2004 Version both 6 gal and 10 gal use 12VDC for control of gas and electric element....one set of t-stats, common DC, same circuit board. But utilizes a DC Relay to trigger AC to element.

OP has installed a pressure switch on the AC circuit so that AC can NOT be allowed to element unless there is Water pressure present
**Atwood/Dometic OEM design will allow AC to element should the DC Relay FAIL in a closed position. And with the DC Relay failed closed the AC to element is continuous WITHOUT any control/affect by the T-stat/ECO
That is what OP has 'modified' on his Atwood water heater
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