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Old 04-15-2019, 06:23 AM   #1
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Plumber in Need of Plumbing Assistance

Iím being lazy and I am hoping somebody knows the solution before I pull out my tester and begin troubleshooting.

Just this morning my wife told me we had no hot water. I leave the electric turned on to my Suburban SW6 DE water heater while I am camping and only use the propane when there will be a greater demand. I turn the switch (located outside on the tank) on when I get to the campground and I turn it off before I leave. Three days ago, I turned it on like I always do, and I had hot water. This morning I have no water being heated from the electric side ó the propane side works fine.

I started by making sure the outside switch is on, and it is. But when I tried to toggle it to the ďoffĒ position, it wouldnít budge. It is stuck in the ďonĒ position, but I had no hot water.

At this point, I assume I (hopefully) just need a new switch. Is this a problem anybody has dealt with before? Is it going to be as simple as just replacing the toggle switch and trying to work out why the switch failed?

Bruce
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Old 04-15-2019, 06:43 AM   #2
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This Part

Hopefully, this is all I need:

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Bruce
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Old 04-15-2019, 06:51 AM   #3
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Hey Bruce, it is very common for this switch to fail. I keep an extra in a drawer based on all the threads I have read about the switch going bad.

I think I picked one up at my local RV dealer for about 10 bucks.
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Old 04-15-2019, 07:00 AM   #4
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in the mean time pop it out and use a wire nut on it. You can turn it off at the breaker.
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Old 04-15-2019, 07:09 AM   #5
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Had the same happen to mine.
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Old 04-15-2019, 07:18 AM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by cavie View Post
in the mean time pop it out and use a wire not on it. You can turn it off at the breaker.
Do you know if there is usually enough slack in the wires for me to be able to just pop it out and swap it out without digging deeper into it?

Bruce
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Old 04-15-2019, 07:20 AM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by wmtire View Post
Hey Bruce, it is very common for this switch to fail. I keep an extra in a drawer based on all the threads I have read about the switch going bad.

I think I picked one up at my local RV dealer for about 10 bucks.
Thank you.

I just called my dealer and they will have two of them for me tomorrow. They are going to cost me $5.59 each.

Bruce
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Old 04-15-2019, 07:31 AM   #8
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Originally Posted by A32Deuce View Post
Had the same happen to mine.
How did the swap-out go?

Bruce
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Old 04-15-2019, 07:36 AM   #9
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Mine still works but I noticed yesterday I can't move it.
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Old 04-15-2019, 07:40 AM   #10
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You just pry /push on the tab on the top and or bottom ..and pull the switch out. There will be enough wire slack to do this. You may have to repair a wire connection if it is melted as some are occasionally.
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Old 04-15-2019, 07:50 AM   #11
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The Root Problem

I think the root problem is that the switch is lower than the T&P valve, so when the water heats and expands, the pressure in the tank exceeds 150psi, causing the T&P to relieve that pressure in the form of droplets of water that splash on the burner tube and onto the switch. I may thread a 3/4Ē male adapter into the T&P and pipe it to direct the spillage down to the base of the water heater compartment.

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Old 04-15-2019, 07:55 AM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by nomad297 View Post
I think the root problem is that the switch is lower than the T&P valve, so when the water heats and expands, the pressure in the tank exceeds 150psi, causing the T&P to relieve that pressure in the form of droplets of water that splash on the burner tube and onto the switch. I may thread a 3/4Ē male adapter into the T&P and pipe it to direct the spillage down to the base of the water heater compartment.

Bruce
My T&P valve doesn't drip and my switch seems melted.
I think the element draws too much current for the switch to handle long term.
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Old 04-15-2019, 07:57 AM   #13
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Bruce....

Iíve had the same switch lock in the ďONĒ position when it failed too.

MAKE SURE TO TURN OFF WATER HEATER BREAKER BEFORE REPLACEMENT

Take your time prying it out for replacement and it will release. Thereís usually enough slack wiring to do the swap out. Keep your spare switch in your toolkit.
I provided one to a fellow camper until he could get a replacement.
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Old 04-15-2019, 08:11 AM   #14
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How did the swap-out go?



Bruce
Easy. Used a small tip flat screw driver and there was enough slack to use needle nose players.
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Old 04-15-2019, 08:11 AM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by 5picker View Post
My T&P valve doesn't drip and my switch seems melted.
I think the element draws too much current for the switch to handle long term.
The only times I get dripping from the T&P is when I am using propane. I havenít measured the difference in hot water temperatures to compare the electric to the propane, but I can feel a significant difference between the two. The propane-heated hot water is always hotter than the electric-heated hot water with my water heater.

I donít see any signs of melting yet, but I will let you know what I find when I pull the switch out.

Bruce
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Old 04-15-2019, 08:14 AM   #16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by kenandterry View Post
MAKE SURE TO TURN OFF WATER HEATER BREAKER BEFORE REPLACEMENT
Thank you! This is a good reminder, no matter how many times it is restated.

Bruce
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Old 04-15-2019, 08:21 AM   #17
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Quote:
Originally Posted by nomad297 View Post
The only times I get dripping from the T&P is when I am using propane. I havenít measured the difference in hot water temperatures to compare the electric to the propane, but I can feel a significant difference between the two. The propane-heated hot water is always hotter than the electric-heated hot water with my water heater.

I donít see any signs of melting yet, but I will let you know what I find when I pull the switch out.

Bruce
I hear you. We often use both propane and electric for faster recovery and once when doing this, we seen a few drips from the T&P during one outing.

I toggled the lever a few times and it hasn't dripped since.

Your idea of an extension is a good one if it continues to leak.
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Old 04-15-2019, 08:41 AM   #18
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Quote:
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My T&P valve doesn't drip and my switch seems melted.
I think the element draws too much current for the switch to handle long term.
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Old 04-15-2019, 12:37 PM   #19
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Under-rated switches

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That's not the only under-rated or misapplied switch in your typical travel trailer. I've replaced switches in both trailers on lights and fans where the switch was only rated for AC (it matters), or was rated for less current than the appliance used. I've even replaced those three-position, two-pole switches that go in the ceiling fixtures for off/one/both lighting. All because the wrong switch was selected for the application.

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Old 04-15-2019, 01:01 PM   #20
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As long as it gets out of warranty. I would just add a relay with snubber diodes.
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