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Old 09-13-2020, 03:29 PM   #1
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Water Heater Fire

Hello Everyone,
We are seasonal campers at a Campground in Michigan. We have always used the electrical system to heat our water heater. The Switch outside is set to "On". The Switch inside the RV is always set to "Off". We have never used the inside switch for the propane system. We have barely turned on the propane in the RV all season do to using it from Memorial day to Labor day weekend and it has always been hot outside. Well this weekend we were cleaning out the 5th wheel for the season and turned on the propane for the furnace use only. Switch is still "Off" inside the 5th wheel for the water heater. Some how the water heater gas system ignited even though the switch was off.....is that normal for that to happen? In the picture, you can see one wire melted and the black fuse box is melted. Is this a electrical fire or gas fire? Doesn't look like anything on the bottom burned up.


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Old 09-13-2020, 03:39 PM   #2
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Originally Posted by cbaldridge76 View Post
Hello Everyone,
We are seasonal campers at a Campground in Michigan. We have always used the electrical system to heat our water heater. The Switch outside is set to "On". The Switch inside the RV is always set to "Off". We have never used the inside switch for the propane system. We have barely turned on the propane in the RV all season do to using it from Memorial day to Labor day weekend and it has always been hot outside. Well this weekend we were cleaning out the 5th wheel for the season and turned on the propane for the furnace use only. Switch is still "Off" inside the 5th wheel for the water heater. Some how the water heater gas system ignited even though the switch was off.....is that normal for that to happen? In the picture, you can see one wire melted and the black fuse box is melted. Is this a electrical fire or gas fire? Doesn't look like anything on the bottom burned up.


Attachment 239075
From what I see I would say electrical. Peel back the rubber cover and you'll probably find the source. Burned wiring/connectors will be the giveaway. If it was gas the damage will be only on outside as it appears the rubber is enough intact to have kept fire out of wiring space.
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Old 09-13-2020, 04:05 PM   #3
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I agree, to me it looks electrical. The metal reflective part to the left of the tube isn't scorched at all and the rubber piece on the bottom isn't scorched either. Thanks for answering BTW
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Old 09-18-2020, 07:37 AM   #4
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Is it possible the water heater tank was empty when this occurred? If so the element normally burns out with no indication on the outside. Curios mind.....
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Old 09-18-2020, 07:42 AM   #5
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Not enough information or enough photo.
I believe it could just have been a gas burner blow back. I once had a WH light and for what ever reason it didn't draw the flame up the tube but back fired out into the outer area. Luckily I was listening and shut it down when it sounded much louder than normal. I did nothing but try it again and it never happened again on that rig. We had it at least a couple more years and used it many more times.
We're all guessing. I'd like to see what's behind the cover as well but I'm guessing a burner blow back.
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Old 09-18-2020, 08:12 AM   #6
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Old 09-18-2020, 08:13 AM   #7
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From what I see in the picture, it looks like there may have been a burner tube/air shutter fire. There are several things that can cause this, but some of the most common things are, the flow of gas is somehow restricted between the air shutter and the burner. The burner will ignite first, but the lack of flow will allow the flame to follow the gas inside of the burner tube back to the air shutter where it will burn. The same thing can happen if the orifice becomes slightly obstructed or if the gas pressure is too low.

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Old 09-18-2020, 04:54 PM   #8
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From what I see in the picture, it looks like there may have been a burner tube/air shutter fire. There are several things that can cause this, but some of the most common things are, the flow of gas is somehow restricted between the air shutter and the burner. The burner will ignite first, but the lack of flow will allow the flame to follow the gas inside of the burner tube back to the air shutter where it will burn. The same thing can happen if the orifice becomes slightly obstructed or if the gas pressure is too low.

Bruce
Look closely at the picture and you'll see no sign of fire damage on burner side of baffle.
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