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Old 07-23-2016, 08:36 AM   #1
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Suburban water heater problem on gas operation

I have a Suburban SW10DE water heater which can operate on electric and/or propane. Recently, it started to fail running on propane. Now when I turn on the propane switch inside at my control panel, it illuminates the red lamp, I hear the click, I see and hear the flame outside operate, but after a few seconds, it all stops. As described in the manual, it does the same sequence 3 times and then stops completely.

I removed the "motherboard" and had it tested at a local RV repair centre, and they reported all works fine. I cleaned all the contacts of the plug and connector, and re-installed the "motherboard". I cleaned the gas orifice tube, cleaned out the chamber where the flame occurs, and re-assembled. The next day, everything ran fine for several hours.

Next day, the red lamp was on, and no hot water. I turned off the propane switch, waited several minutes and turned on the switch, and I'm back to the same problem outlined in my first paragraph.

Anyone have any ideas before I'm at the mercy $$ of an RV serviceman?

BTW..the electrical side of the operation works fine.

Thanks in advance.
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Old 07-23-2016, 08:48 AM   #2
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I was leaning toward the high limit switch, but if it works on electric sort of rules that out. You might want to check the gas pressure at the valve with a manometer and ensure you are getting proper pressure.
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Old 07-23-2016, 08:49 AM   #3
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The flame proving function of the control is not sensing the flame. Try cleaning the electrode at the spark with very fine emery cloth or steel wool. The spark electrode functions as the flame sense probe by utilizing the fact that the flame is conductive but if there is any corrosion on the electrode it will not conduct.
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Old 07-23-2016, 09:01 AM   #4
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The igniter wire has to be in alignment in 3 directions for the burner to work properly. It may light, but will not stay lighted. Page 12.
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File Type: pdf Suburban_Water_Heater_Service_Manual.pdf (3.60 MB, 83 views)
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Old 07-23-2016, 12:24 PM   #5
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KenandTerry.....being as I was in the appliance repair business for 40 years, I can point you right to your problem. There is a sensor in the flame that has microscopic soot on it. Take it out and clean it with steel wool. Your problem will be solved. It doesn't take much soot to block the flame sensing. It'll fix you up.
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Old 07-23-2016, 12:28 PM   #6
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Are you at high altitude? I believe that the instructions indicate that over 4500 feet or so operation on propane may be affected.
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Old 07-23-2016, 02:28 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by kenandterry View Post
I have a Suburban SW10DE water heater which can operate on electric and/or propane. Recently, it started to fail running on propane. Now when I turn on the propane switch inside at my control panel, it illuminates the red lamp, I hear the click, I see and hear the flame outside operate, but after a few seconds, it all stops. As described in the manual, it does the same sequence 3 times and then stops completely.

I removed the "motherboard" and had it tested at a local RV repair centre, and they reported all works fine. I cleaned all the contacts of the plug and connector, and re-installed the "motherboard". I cleaned the gas orifice tube, cleaned out the chamber where the flame occurs, and re-assembled. The next day, everything ran fine for several hours.

Next day, the red lamp was on, and no hot water. I turned off the propane switch, waited several minutes and turned on the switch, and I'm back to the same problem outlined in my first paragraph.

Anyone have any ideas before I'm at the mercy $$ of an RV serviceman?

BTW..the electrical side of the operation works fine.

Thanks in advance.
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Old 07-23-2016, 08:08 PM   #8
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Just the flame sensor , replace it and that should solve the problem. Happy Camping
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Old 07-23-2016, 08:47 PM   #9
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Well now I have this problem.....

I removed the entire burner assembly and manifold outlet. Then I removed the electrode, and cleaned the end pieces with steel wool. The gap between the spark electrodes was 1/8". I reinstalled all the pieces, put lubricant on the threads of all the nuts and bolts for assembly.

Went inside, and turned on the switch for the gas to the water heater......and nothing. No light, no clicking, no flame. Nothing.

At least lights, clicking and flames happened before cycling 3 times before shutdown.

What did I break now?
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Old 07-23-2016, 09:14 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by kenandterry View Post
Well now I have this problem.....

I removed the entire burner assembly and manifold outlet. Then I removed the electrode, and cleaned the end pieces with steel wool. The gap between the spark electrodes was 1/8". I reinstalled all the pieces, put lubricant on the threads of all the nuts and bolts for assembly.

Went inside, and turned on the switch for the gas to the water heater......and nothing. No light, no clicking, no flame. Nothing.

At least lights, clicking and flames happened before cycling 3 times before shutdown.

What did I break now?
Assuming you do have water in the tank (always make sure before trying to use the water heater)

That is going to be hard to really diagnose, as to what you may not have reassembled correctly. I would start with the easiest, and make sure you made the electrical connection to the electrode correct (The rusty orange wire) in the bttom right hand side of the pic below.

Then push the ECO/hi limit reset buttons under the rubber covers, to make sure one or both have not tripped.

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