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Old 05-09-2016, 03:04 PM   #1
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Rockwood water heater question

If I turn on the water heater on gas it works perfectly.

If I turn in on using electric I only get barely warm water.

Suggestions please.
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Old 05-09-2016, 03:10 PM   #2
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Originally Posted by SweetOleBill View Post
If I turn on the water heater on gas it works perfectly.

If I turn in on using electric I only get barely warm water.

Suggestions please.
How much time are you allowing for the water to heat? It takes longer on electric than gas. Do you have two separate switches inside for the gas and the electric, or just one for the gas?

If you have the Suburban brand water heater, this FAQ may help:

Suburban's electric switch and much more

Have you ever accidently turned on the electric heating element without water being in the heater (or had the bypass valves set wrong)?
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Old 05-09-2016, 03:13 PM   #3
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Is this on a brand new unit or has it worked correctly and something that has just started happening? Loose wiring connections can sometimes 'open' when they get hot. (warm)
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Old 05-09-2016, 03:30 PM   #4
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It is a new unit so has never been tested until a few weeks ago and this week. Also, this is not our first camper.

I have left is on over night but only gets to warm.

Yes, there are two separate switches.

And I never tried it until I had a full hookup and the hot water tank full.
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Old 05-09-2016, 03:47 PM   #5
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Originally Posted by SweetOleBill View Post
It is a new unit so has never been tested until a few weeks ago and this week. Also, this is not our first camper.

I have left is on over night but only gets to warm.

Yes, there are two separate switches.

And I never tried it until I had a full hookup and the hot water tank full.
OK, that helps some. Just to clarify and tailor the suggestions properly, there are TWO switches INSIDE the RV...and not one inside and one outside on the face of the water heater itself?
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Old 05-10-2016, 01:34 PM   #6
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Yes, two switches inside. Only thing outside is a reset switch that is not popped.
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Old 05-10-2016, 01:47 PM   #7
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You don't have the switch on the outside as shown in this pic?



It can be hard to see and easy to miss.
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Old 05-10-2016, 02:58 PM   #8
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Wait for it....wait for it....
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Old 05-10-2016, 03:18 PM   #9
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Wait for it....wait for it....
Bet they come back and say I never noticed that switch outside.
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Old 05-10-2016, 03:22 PM   #10
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Bet they come back and say I never noticed that switch outside.
Especially if it still has the silver foil tape over it!
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Old 05-10-2016, 03:30 PM   #11
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If it's an Atwood water heater most likely no switch as shown......
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Old 05-10-2016, 03:36 PM   #12
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OK Bill, we are s-l-o-w-l-y narrowing it down as to what brand water heater you may possibly have. You may not realize but there are usually two different brands that can be in a Forest River product that run on both propane and electricity. Since you didn't state what brand you have, we have to whittle it down with all these questions.

You may have an Atwood water heater (they have two inside switches for the propane side and the electric heating element side)

......or could possibly have a Suburban SW?DEL water heater which also has two inside switches for the propane and the electric heating element. Usually the DEL model does also have a secondary switch for the electric heating element on the face of the heater like in the picture above.

Once we get it pinpointed to what brand water heater you have, then it will be easier to start telling you what to check for. if you could take pics of the switches inside your RV (to make sure of the switches function) and the water heater itself, it would make it so much easier too...as well as speed this all up.

Here is an Atwood water heater:



and here is a Suburban water heater:





Another easy way to identify brand is to look at the tab that holds the water heater compartment door shut on the outside of the RV. If it is a silver metal tab, then it's an Atwood. If it's a white plastic tab, then it's a Suburban.

Let us know please, and post pics if you can. Also the model of your RV would help greatly too, as others with the same might could chime in quickly and accurately.
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Old 05-10-2016, 05:29 PM   #13
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Originally Posted by SweetOleBill View Post
If I turn on the water heater on gas it works perfectly.

If I turn in on using electric I only get barely warm water.

Suggestions please.
Would be great on stuff like this particularly to have Year make and model on issues especially with new coaches and on brand new stuff maybe even the production date.

Stuff in production will vary from time to time and from one plant to another in terms of problems. As new people come and go at the various work stations and as we are hearing about Domestic AC units --- bad ones seem to run it spurts.
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Old 05-10-2016, 06:29 PM   #14
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I only use electric to save on propane. It is hot within 20 minutes. In fact I haven't used the propane for the water heater.
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Old 05-10-2016, 06:34 PM   #15
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I saw the "wait for it" and knew you guys had the answer!!

The foil was in place and the switch was indeed there. So do I turn it on and leave it on? Or do I turn it on for elec and off for gas?

AND thanks for the responses. I now have the water heater on elec inside with the switch outside on too.
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Old 05-10-2016, 06:38 PM   #16
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I usually just use the breaker inside to turn the electric heat off or on. Especially in the summer with the ac on. Just don't forget to turn it off since it takes about 3.5 seconds of it being on empty to burn out the element. Glad you got it working!
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Old 05-10-2016, 06:52 PM   #17
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OK, to be sure with the outside switch off and the inside on = no hot water.

With both on then = electric hot water

So I can control the electric hot water by turning the inside switch on or off - correct? (Meaning there is no need to ever turn the outside switch off except as a safety if the tank is empty?)
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Old 05-10-2016, 06:57 PM   #18
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It really depends on how it was wired up. If you have a switch inside for the electric heat then yes you can leave the outside one on all the time. But be sure of the inside since most do not have a switch inside for electric. Some people add them on but from the factory fewer have them than not. Usually the switch inside is for the gas section.
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Old 05-10-2016, 07:29 PM   #19
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Definitely makes it easy to winterize knowing you can see that the water heater is turned off when you unscrew the drain plug. What is the label of your inside switch?
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Old 05-10-2016, 08:14 PM   #20
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Originally Posted by SweetOleBill View Post
OK, to be sure with the outside switch off and the inside on = no hot water.

With both on then = electric hot water

So I can control the electric hot water by turning the inside switch on or off - correct? (Meaning there is no need to ever turn the outside switch off except as a safety if the tank is empty?)

Yes, if you have two electric switches (one inside and one outside on the tank) just leave the outside switch on and control from inside.

As a side note, if you use a lot of hot water, it is permissable to use BOTH electric AND propane at the same time for faster recovery. Simply turn on the electric switch and the propane switch. (Make sure your propane tank is turned on)
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