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Old 10-27-2012, 09:30 PM   #11
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So I was winterizing our new SP295 today and I took out the anode rod for the hot water tank. It was packed full of calcium! I mean packed, as in there was only the hole for the anode in the outlet. I spent a good 30 minutes flushing all sizes of stuff out. No idea how much actually came out but it was quite a bit! I am also curious about my actual anode rod. From the photos of a worn one, mine looks shot. It is only 7 months old and we used the TT 4 times for 16 days total. The rod is completely smooth and has no visible wear on it and it is completely uniform in size. I didnt know if it was this small when new or if it really was shot.

Either way, is that much buildup normal for that little bit of use? Camper was ordered new so it wasnt like it sat around the dealer or was pre-owned.

See pics for what I found. The photo of the outlet was after flushing a little bit.




No that's not normal, looks and sounds as though the electric element is running too hot, maybe too large in Watage or the therostat is running way hot. I think most of the debris came from the water breaking down. Where did you get those big flakes in the middle photo?
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Old 10-27-2012, 09:35 PM   #12
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Another thought, you really should pull the electric element also and inspect it.
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Old 10-27-2012, 10:48 PM   #13
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Big flakes came out the drain hole when I was flushing it out.

I am calling my dealer on Monday. This TT is 7 months old, I don't want to start pulling things apart. My dealer has been great with other issues that have come up. At least we are done camping until April when we go back to Edisto. I will bring up the heater element and possible electric leakage. The water is VERY hot coming out. I swear we could boil with it out of the tap. Our old Salem was also pretty hot so I don't know what is normal. Our home tankless system is set fairly low for the kiddos safety.
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Old 10-28-2012, 07:58 AM   #14
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Here is what I think is happening:

By the OP posts, brackish water is being used in the fresh water system.

Brackish water has a high salt content. Not quite the high salt content of seawater, but the results are as bad.....salt water makes metal rust through a process called galvanic exchange. The anode rod is a sacrificial metal that dissolves so that the metal in the hot water heater does not rust.

What you are seeing is probably sodium chloride (NaCL, ie table salt) and some other elements and minerals, with a little zinc thrown in from the anode rod.

The best thing the OP can do is to not introduce brackish water into the fresh water system. If it were me, I would flush the system, sanitize, flush again, sanitize again, and fill the fresh water tank with just that......fresh water before I leave home.....or with trusted water somewhere. Check the electric heating element for damage. Install a new anode rod. If the water heater is not already ruined, and the pipes and faucet screens aren't already clogged, count your lucky stars and chalk it up to a harsh learning experience. The anode rod did what it was supposed to do as long as it lasted.....hopefully it lasted long enough that no permanent damage was done to the water heater.
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Old 10-28-2012, 07:58 AM   #15
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High acid content water is causing your problem. To eat your anode to the wire in 7 months is a big clue.

I have never seen an anode rod destroyed in 7 months.
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Old 10-28-2012, 10:02 AM   #16
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The best thing the OP can do is to not introduce brackish water into the fresh water system.
X2! I would not let anything other than potable water anywhere near my TT's FW system. In addition to the high salt content (with the sodium and calcium,) who knows what else could be making its way through your plumbing? Bacteria, organisms, etc...if its not drinkable, it's not coming in! Flush it, drain it, bleach it, flush it again, replace the anode, and do that "lucky stars" thing.
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Old 10-28-2012, 06:00 PM   #17
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Here is what I think is happening:

By the OP posts, brackish water is being used in the fresh water system.

Brackish water has a high salt content. Not quite the high salt content of seawater, but the results are as bad.....salt water makes metal rust through a process called galvanic exchange. The anode rod is a sacrificial metal that dissolves so that the metal in the hot water heater does not rust.

What you are seeing is probably sodium chloride (NaCL, ie table salt) and some other elements and minerals, with a little zinc thrown in from the anode rod.

The best thing the OP can do is to not introduce brackish water into the fresh water system. If it were me, I would flush the system, sanitize, flush again, sanitize again, and fill the fresh water tank with just that......fresh water before I leave home.....or with trusted water somewhere. Check the electric heating element for damage. Install a new anode rod. If the water heater is not already ruined, and the pipes and faucet screens aren't already clogged, count your lucky stars and chalk it up to a harsh learning experience. The anode rod did what it was supposed to do as long as it lasted.....hopefully it lasted long enough that no permanent damage was done to the water heater.
While I am not dismissing this idea at all, since most of it makes perfect sense, I have to think it is something else... I also want to reiterate that it is not like this is brackish from a coastal swamp. There is a definite salt taste to the water and the rangers dont recommend drinking it. It is island wide, even the vacation homes have the same issue - is the nature of the location. I completely agree that a high salt content is not ideal for any system. But - these are the reasons I see this is most likely something different.

Reasons-
1) there are 100 sites on the beach, I dont remember seeing anyone NOT hooked up to the water system. Not just using the water for a spray hose or to fill a bucket, but I mean actually plumbed into their TT, 5'er, Class A, etc... I know some probably had filters of some sort, but not all of them.

2) My relatives have been camping there for over a decade using the water.

3) Their best friends have also been there for over a decade using the water.

4) We have been there in the past using their water.

1 - 4) Nobody that I know of has ever had an issue with their hot water system, plumbing, or anything else water related. My anodes in the past just had regular wear. My relatives and their friends looked normal from when I contacted them over the weekend. Since a lot of campers there are regulars who come annually (or even more, my relatives go two times a year most years) and there are some pretty nice rigs there I have to think they wouldnt All be doing something that would cause massive damage to their systems.

I saw that the water temp could be an issue. Our current system (we had the identical heater in our Salem) gets the water hot enough that when we hook up our hose with a metal sprayer attached, the metal gets hot enough you need to use a towel to hold it. It is also hot enough that when we fill our wash buckets you cant leave your hand in the water for more than several seconds. I think that is way too hot, but as I stated before I dont know how hot these run. Our Salem was pretty hot as well but I swear this one is hotter. We normally run it on electric and propane both, but only when needed. We have it off otherwise.

I am still calling the dealer in the morning to go over this and email him my photos. I would still like to hear ideas if there are more out there. I will update what I hear back from the dealer.
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Old 10-28-2012, 07:21 PM   #18
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Here is my rod. Brought my 2013 5er home july 24th, and pulled the annode out this past Friday and was surprized to see it ate up this bad. We only camped at lakes around here in Oklahoma for 16 nights, but we didnt drain the h2o heater till winterization.

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Old 10-28-2012, 08:12 PM   #19
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I am still calling the dealer in the morning to go over this and email him my photos. I would still like to hear ideas if there are more out there. I will update what I hear back from the dealer.
Must agree with you, 99% of the water system is plastic piping and valves. Worst can happen is you consume sacrificial anode rods and maybe later on will cause the steel tank to pit and deteriorate. New they are epoxy coated. Thats the need for the anode, it protects the steel if and when the epoxy begins to fail. The thermostats for Suburban are available in 120, 130 and 140F for both the gas and electric sides. Having lost one already (1 year) they are very flimsy. The next temp protection is the trip 180 and the relief valve 195 I believe. IE its a specific not general cause.
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Old 10-28-2012, 10:48 PM   #20
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Here is some information on anode rods.

If you are posting for vindication of your opinion that something is wrong with your water heater, I think you will find very few here who will agree with you.

The water you are introducing to your system is ruining your plumbing to include your water heater in my opinion. What is happening to your heater is also happening inside your valves and flush valve in your toilet.

Best of luck but I would buy a small water softener unit to pre-treat your water prior to bringing it into your camper (similar to On The Go - Portable Water Softener)
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