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Old 06-18-2021, 10:07 PM   #1
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Suburban 6gln water heater

I have a Rockwood Roo with a suburban water heater. Since I bought it used years ago the electric element has never worked. Today I bought a new element and installed it. I need clarification on how to turn the electric element off. I had the shore power connected and the small black switch turned off and I got electrocuted when I went to disconnect the wires. Now this wasn't a big deal but I would think with the switch off it would not be energized, probably the reason the old element was fried. The manual says the black switch shuts the electric power off. Am I missing anything else or another switch? Switch seems to do nothing after testing with voltage meter. As of now I have the breaker turned off to shut it down.
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Old 06-18-2021, 10:54 PM   #2
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The black rocker switch is probably bad.
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Old 06-19-2021, 05:05 AM   #3
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Do you own a voltage meter and know how to use it?
These black switches inside the water heater have been known to go bad, AND…..

BE VERY CAREFUL. These rocker switches position themselves opposite to the way you see normal switches.
DOWN = OFF
UP = ON

BE ABSOLUTELY CERTAIN there is no power going to the water heater when working on the circuitry.
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Old 06-19-2021, 07:00 AM   #4
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You sure there's a heating element in the water heater -- one that's not burned out?

There's a circuit breaker in the power center as well. I painted the top of the switch white 'cuz I turn the water heater Off when not in use to avoid burning out the electrical element which happens before you say "Poop" (or similar) if there's no water in the heater. All RV shops have several of these in stock as it's a "high demand" item. And my local hardware store has them too, they're nothing special.

The "black rocker" switch on my Roo was safety clipped in the Off position. For a while I thought it was LP only. Switches will often clean their own internal contacts with a couple dozen cycles On/Off.

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Old 06-19-2021, 11:25 AM   #5
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Ok, so the switch must be bad then. I am planning to replace the water heater after this season, or sooner if need be, so that should come with a switch.
I do not have a voltage tester that works at the moment, I used a ticker to detect 120 after I got zapped.
Thank you everyone!
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Old 06-19-2021, 11:53 AM   #6
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Originally Posted by Matthuck88 View Post
Ok, so the switch must be bad then. I am planning to replace the water heater after this season, or sooner if need be, so that should come with a switch.

I do not have a voltage tester that works at the moment, I used a ticker to detect 120 after I got zapped.

Thank you everyone!
Why are replacing the whole WH, when replacing the rocker switch would be cheaper and easier?
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Old 06-19-2021, 01:02 PM   #7
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Why are replacing the whole WH, when replacing the rocker switch would be cheaper and easier?
Last year and this spring when I flushed the tank out large chunks of rust and debris came out with the rinse water. When the hot water has not been used for a half a day or so rusty water comes out of the faucet for a few seconds. When I replaced the electric element part of it was missing so that could have been the chunks and the rust I am seeing. This fall I will flush it and if it is clean I will let it alone, if there are more signs of rusty debris its getting replaced. Its probably original and if it leaks and ruins my floor I will be pissed. Call it $400 preventive maintenance.
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Old 06-19-2021, 01:22 PM   #8
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You do have a good anode rod in that tank, right? As it sacrifices itself for the sake of your tank, some rust will be created. If there is no anode rod, it may well be the tank itself that is disintegrating. But as long as the tank is okay, and the HW heater appears to work fine on propane, it is inexpensive and easy to replace that switch and heating element. Good luck!
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Old 06-19-2021, 02:38 PM   #9
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Yes, the anode rod looks new. Looks the same as it did when I bought the trailer 3 years ago. It works on gas and electric now, the switch is just stuck “on” no matter what position it is in. I will use the breaker to operate the electric till it is replaced.
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Old 06-19-2021, 07:24 PM   #10
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Water heater no switch

We have a Suburban water heater also, works great. If ours has an on/off switch it is a well hidden secret! We turn it on and off with the circuit breaker, and have for 10 years. The only switch for the heater is the propane switch.
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Old 06-19-2021, 07:30 PM   #11
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We have a Suburban water heater also, works great. If ours has an on/off switch it is a well hidden secret! We turn it on and off with the circuit breaker, and have for 10 years. The only switch for the heater is the propane switch.

If you ever want to locate it, this thread will show the way:

https://www.forestriverforums.com/fo...ore-36197.html
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Old 06-19-2021, 10:53 PM   #12
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Cool Surviving electrocution

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Originally Posted by Matthuck88 View Post
I have a Rockwood Roo with a suburban water heater. Since I bought it used years ago the electric element has never worked. Today I bought a new element and installed it. I need clarification on how to turn the electric element off. I had the shore power connected and the small black switch turned off and I got electrocuted when I went to disconnect the wires. Now this wasn't a big deal but I would think with the switch off it would not be energized, probably the reason the old element was fried. The manual says the black switch shuts the electric power off. Am I missing anything else or another switch? Switch seems to do nothing after testing with voltage meter. As of now I have the breaker turned off to shut it down.
I've not ever known anyone to come back after electrocution, so I assume you experienced an electric shock and did not stop your heart. That aside, our Suburban water heater has an interruptor on the exterior of the trailer, just inside the access door. I'm not sure if it's merely a switch or if it's a circuit breaker, but it is required to be on to electrically heat water. Since I don't trust the 'close to correct' wiring schematic I have for our ePro 14fk, I disconnect shore power if we do anything with the A.C. wiring. I don't trust that power is fully shut off, otherwise. Even though we have never had a use for the inverter, I kill the 100 Amp circuit breaker on the 12 volt side of the inverter, too.
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Old 06-20-2021, 09:48 AM   #13
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Suburban water heater

Most hardware stores sell a 1500W element which, although a bit larger than the 1440W stock element is OK according to the Suburban help desk.
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Old 06-20-2021, 09:57 AM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Matthuck88 View Post
I have a Rockwood Roo with a suburban water heater. Since I bought it used years ago the electric element has never worked. Today I bought a new element and installed it. I need clarification on how to turn the electric element off. I had the shore power connected and the small black switch turned off and I got electrocuted when I went to disconnect the wires. Now this wasn't a big deal but I would think with the switch off it would not be energized, probably the reason the old element was fried. The manual says the black switch shuts the electric power off. Am I missing anything else or another switch? Switch seems to do nothing after testing with voltage meter. As of now I have the breaker turned off to shut it down.
Rule #1 when working on anything "electrical". Unplug the device, or make sure the circuit breaker controlling the power to the device is OFF!
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Old 06-20-2021, 10:48 AM   #15
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Rule #1 when working on anything "electrical". Unplug the device, or make sure the circuit breaker controlling the power to the device is OFF!
X2. I also unplug the shore power and turn the main breaker off. If I'm working on the DC side, I also remove the negative battery terminal. It may be overkill, but better safe than buried.
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Old 06-21-2021, 12:09 PM   #16
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X2. I also unplug the shore power and turn the main breaker off. If I'm working on the DC side, I also remove the negative battery terminal. It may be overkill, but better safe than buried.
A good friend of mine in the Coast Guard had a been a quartermaster before going to OCS. He said he never trusted electronics technicians to think straight because somewhere sometime early in their career they had thrown across the room into a steel wall while working on a radar.

Been there, done that wiring a stairway light in a renovated upper story in my late 20s. Was on an aluminum ladder in bare feet, and reasoned that if I only touched one wire at a time, I would be OK. Finished up, and went to cut the excess duplex cable, forgetting my instructions to self. As the pliers shorted out the circuit, the skin on my hand was above the insulation on the handles. I got to feel the full effect, falling off the ladder, and breaking the circuit. The pliers had a nice gap where the cutting edges had been. That's my excuse for my cognitive problems, and I'm sticking to it.

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Old 06-21-2021, 01:09 PM   #17
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{snip}...working my guardian angels overtime with my youthful stupidity


Yup! For the last 15-years of my working life, I taught computer science, electronics and robotics to high school students. Talk about an emphasis on safety! This was in stark contrast my pre-teaching days:
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Old 06-21-2021, 01:22 PM   #18
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Suburban 6gln water heater

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Yup! For the last 15-years of my working life, I taught computer science, electronics and robotics to high school students. Talk about an emphasis on safety! This was in stark contrast my pre-teaching days:


I used my daughter who was ~4 at the time…
Plugged in a lamp and handed her the phone and told her that she needed to tell me when the light turned off. Went down to the panel and flipped the first breaker
Me: “Did it turn off?”
Daughter: “No”
Click the next breaker
Me: “how about now “
Daughter: “it’s off”
Thinking to myself, those dang lazy electricians, this breaker is labeled completely wrong. Went up to the attic and cut the wire and POW! (Fortunately I had on insulated gloves) my wire cutters now had some missing pieces. Turns out I had plugged in a touch lamp, and every time I asked my daughter if the light was off she had tapped the light… it turned off after a few taps!
Now I use a voltage tester
(Incidentally, the correct breaker was also mislabeled, but it was very easy to find in the box now!)
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