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Old 05-13-2014, 08:50 AM   #1
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Water Heater

The water heater on my 2008 390TS does not work on electric. Works fine on propane and that's how I've used it since I got it a year and a half ago. Mostly because I'm a newbie and I didn't really understand how it worked. Now that I've got a little more experience, it's obvious that the electric heating element isn't working.

It could be that the electric element was fried when I got it or I did something stupid along the way. I've never looked at the circuit breakers. How likely is it that I just need to check the breaker? Is the water heater on its own breaker? From conversations here, the breaker panel is under the bed?
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Old 05-13-2014, 09:05 AM   #2
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If you have the Suburban brand water heater---These threads may help, and they have links to other threads that may also:

No Hot Water 2011 V-Lite 21WRS

http://www.forestriverforums.com/for...sue-59872.html
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Old 05-13-2014, 09:06 AM   #3
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Your water heater might have a rocker switch for electric on the unit itself besides the one you have inside. You have to take off the small door and look. It's purpose is to prevent people from turning the water heater on electric if there is no water in the tank which will burn out the element.
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Old 05-13-2014, 10:05 AM   #4
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Yes, it's a suburban with the rocker switch in the outside panel.
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Old 05-13-2014, 10:11 AM   #5
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The rocker switch to enable the water heater to run on electric is outside under the cover for the water heater. If you still do not get hot water when that switch is turned on, your heating element is probably shot. Very easy to replace. You can pick one up at Home Depot or Lowes. There is a black, plastic cover that needs to be removed to get access to the element. You would also need to remove the gas feed to the burner. The heating element is under the black cover. Should be able to get a replacement element for around $20. Take the old one with you when you go for the replacement so that you get one that is the same size. I believe it was about 1500 watts. You may also want to pick up the wrench to make removing the element easier.
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Old 05-13-2014, 12:27 PM   #6
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Daniel, your may also have a breaker in the panel. Both 5'ers that I owned before my current coach had breakers in the electrical panel. They were the small 1/2 breaker type.
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Old 05-13-2014, 12:44 PM   #7
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You could just have a bad switch. Before you buy a new one take the 2 wires off, and with a ohm meter if the element is good it will read between 10 and 11 ohms. Zero ohms bad element. To check for electric measure at the element should have 110v. to check your high and low limit. measure between the limit first lower then upper and the element should get 110v. If you are not getting power at the lower limit, you have a bad switch or breaker. It should be a white neutral and black hot. The white neutral at the element should work for all testing. The switch is hot coming in and hot going out to the limits then to the element itself.
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Old 05-13-2014, 01:04 PM   #8
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Also those switches are notorious for "freezing" up. If the switch is not clicking when you move it from on to off, try some electriclean and work the switch from on to off several times.
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Old 05-13-2014, 01:04 PM   #9
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Also, before you spend any money, check the thermostat on the electric side. You can get to it from the outside. With an ohm meter it should show a short when it is cold. Mine went out when it was still in warranty but they wanted me to take it to an "authorized" repair shop 60 miles away. I already did the detective work and so I just ordered one on line for a whole lot cheaper than hauling the whole trailer to some dealer. It wasn't real easy to replace since it was behind the burner tube and some other things, but since I'm retired it was still easier than hauling it somewhere and I had the time to do it.
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Old 05-13-2014, 01:13 PM   #10
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Thanks for all the advice! The motorhome is at a campground for the next 6 weeks so I'm not going to dive too deep while camping because I would be in big trouble if I made the hot water go away while we are camping. I'll check the breaker and perhaps any other tests where I don't have to dismantle anything until I get the rig back home at the end of June.
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