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Old 07-28-2013, 04:40 PM   #1
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Water heater problems

When I went out to our 8285ws this afternoon I could hear the water heater heating. The trailer was on shore power and the water heater switch was turned off. I can stop it from heating by turning the circuit breaker off or disconnecting the shore power. This is a Suburban Heater. I tried resetting the resets and they appeared to be OK. The fuse links are intact. I am concluding that I have a high side limit switch go bad. Is this a logical conclusion or is there another option? While trying to diagnose the above problem I turned on the water pump. It would run continuously and not build pressure. I am indicating a 1/3 tank of water which I believe is reasonably correct. This is a 2010 model which we have had about 3 months. It seems to me that it never has had adequate water pressure whether it was coming from the water tank, or shore hook up. Do these water pumps go bad?

I can't see any correlation between the two problems, but I am new at this. Any ideas?
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Old 07-28-2013, 05:10 PM   #2
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Originally Posted by Blaster 84 View Post

1) the water heater switch was turned off.

2) While trying to diagnose the above problem I turned on the water pump. It would run continuously and not build pressure. Do these water pumps go bad?

1) Are you talking about the gas water heater switch (inside) or the shore power switch outside? These are two completely different systems and troubleshooting depends on which one is malfunctioning.

2) Not building pressure is usually the sign of a leak.

If the high pressure cut out on the pump was bad it would run until it could no longer pressurize and you would hear the motor "lugging." You would also have very high water pressure; initially (which you do not have).

If the internal pump check valve was leaking your fresh water tank would be filling. If the city water connection was leaking it would leak down the side (outside).

Is there any unexplained water on the floor, outside under the camper, or inside a compartment?
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Old 07-28-2013, 07:11 PM   #3
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if you're talking about the propane DSI inside switch, you might have it backwards.
it's commonly setup to be opposite of what normal toggle switches are.
you flip it down to turn it on and up to turn it off.
you might be thinking that you're turning it off when you are turning it on.

as Herk said, you need to specify which switch or whether you're talking propane or electric operation.

as to the water pump, most logical answer is a leak in the water system somewhere.
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Old 07-28-2013, 07:46 PM   #4
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As Lou and Dan pointed out, are you sure you have the switch in the correct position...or even the right switch. A Suburban water heater can have the electric heating element switch on the front of the heater (which is assessed from outside the camper), and not in the camper itself:

http://www.forestriverforums.com/for...ore-36197.html
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Old 07-28-2013, 08:36 PM   #5
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Many questions to start.. When you say you can hear it, can we assume you are referring to the significant noise made by the gas burner, and is the switch the gas switch or the electric switch. Depending on the unit you have ther can be one or two switches inside your unit or one on the tank itself outside at the access cover. If it is running on LP, with the LP switch off (doesn't matter if you are plugged in or not) then that is very weird. Do you have 12 volts at the heater? The water pump mat or may not be related and the pumps DO go bad including the pressure switch. Do you have any water pressure at all, even with reduced flow? With multiple problems it can be difficult to diagnose what is what. The reduced water pressure can be a clogged filter or screen.

Many variables and much information to find out.
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Old 07-28-2013, 11:01 PM   #6
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In regards to the water heater switch. I am referring to the switch on the main control panel, the one with a lit that indicates it's on. Tis was off. Off position and no light. If I turned the circuit breaker off then the heating would stop. I opened the heater cover and their is no flame, so it's not propane related.

I had to entertain relatives today and will try to do further testing tomorrow. But we are also working our way to Goshen. Thanks for your input.
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Old 07-29-2013, 03:42 AM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Blaster 84 View Post
In regards to the water heater switch. I am referring to the switch on the main control panel, the one with a lit that indicates it's on. Tis was off. Off position and no light. If I turned the circuit breaker off then the heating would stop. I opened the heater cover and their is no flame, so it's not propane related.

I had to entertain relatives today and will try to do further testing tomorrow. But we are also working our way to Goshen. Thanks for your input.
Your Suburban water heater most likely has a dual source of power. One can be propane, and the other can be the 120 volt electric heating element. They work independent of each other as Lou stated.

If you just have one switch on the control panel, this is usually for the propane side and turns on the Direct Spark Ignitor (DSI) to light the propane. When you turn off this switch, you are turning off the propane side of the water heater. This switch is left on for the DSI to ignite the propane.......when the thermostat says the temperature is too low.

There can be another switch on the control panel that controls the 120 volt electric heating element side (which you have to have a 120 volt source of shore power)...............but more times than not this switch isn't on the control panel, but is on the face of the water heater. You will usually need to access the electric heating element switch from outside of the RV. It can kind of be hidden somewhat.

You can actually run both sources of power (the propane and electric heating element at the same time) by having both switches on...or run one or the other. If the electric heating element is on, then it can be heating the water up to the point of where the thermostat for the propane side isn't letting the propane side ever come on because it doesn't need to since the water is already heated......so there is no flame.

The electric heating element doesn't make a loud sound like the propane burner, but you can still usually hear a little sound if you listen close as the water is heating.

It sounds to me like you have the electric heating element on.......and instead of using the proper switch for it, are turning it off/on by it's 120 volt circuit breaker that controls the circuit that the electric heating element side is plugged in to......or unplugging shore power as you stated in the opening post.

There are pics of the electric heating element switch in the link provided above and below.......as well as a better explanation of the dual power source. I bet you are going to find the switch is turned on.

http://www.forestriverforums.com/for...ore-36197.html
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Old 07-29-2013, 07:10 AM   #8
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What WMTIRE said.

This is the switch outside he is talking about.
It should ALWAYS be OFF unless you want to run the heater on AC.
If you forget and drain the water heater, you will burn out the water heater's electric element.
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Old 07-29-2013, 07:26 AM   #9
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As for your water pump, get that are open so you can see the pump. Should be dry in there. Also do a check under all your sinks, again should be dry. Put some water in the tank and start the pump. As it's pressurizing, feel around your inlet and outlet connections. If they are wet, there is your leak. Connections are either lose or one of the hose 'connectors' is cracked. If nothing there, check under your sinks. Around the shower. If everything is dry, most likely the pump. VERY simple to replace, $100-$120 will get you a good pump.
As for your city water connection, I have no idea. Sediment build-up at the connector? Happens with my wife's washing machine.
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Old 07-29-2013, 07:35 AM   #10
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As for your city water connection, I have no idea. Sediment build-up at the connector? Happens with my wife's washing machine.
Excellent point John.

The silt screen washer on the city water inlet can rust or fill with silt from well water. This can reduce flow and pressure even from a known good campground water source. Replace with a new screened washer.

A "whole house" water filter can also be clogged with silt from a near dry well. If you have one of these, remove the filter from the canister and see if the situation improves. These canisters are also the site of many leaks.
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