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Old 06-28-2020, 01:01 PM   #1
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Water heater electric heat not working

I have a 2012 Palomino Puma 19FS with a suburban sw6de water heater. Currently the electric heating element is not getting any power to it and I cannot find the culprit. It was working fine until I turned on the propane heat on the water heater. It looks like something happened after that. I have reset the breaker (and all the other breakers too) several times but that seems to be putting out the proper 120v. The issue is somewhere after the breaker. I am getting 0V across the leads to the electric heating element regardless of the electric heat switch position.

Could the issue be the switch itself? Has anyone else had a similar issue? It looks like it will be a giant pain to access the rest of the wiring or how take the switch off. Any ideas?
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Old 06-28-2020, 01:15 PM   #2
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Yes, that little rocker switch that's tough to get to goes all the time....mine went this past winter. It's really not big enough for 15 amps.
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Old 06-28-2020, 01:18 PM   #3
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Originally Posted by Oldboy View Post
Yes, that little rocker switch that's tough to get to goes all the time....mine went this past winter. It's really not big enough for 15 amps.
Any suggestion on how to get to it? Does the entire unit have to be pulled out of the camper?
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Old 06-28-2020, 01:22 PM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by brettk View Post
I have a 2012 Palomino Puma 19FS with a suburban sw6de water heater. Currently the electric heating element is not getting any power to it and I cannot find the culprit. It was working fine until I turned on the propane heat on the water heater. It looks like something happened after that. I have reset the breaker (and all the other breakers too) several times but that seems to be putting out the proper 120v. The issue is somewhere after the breaker. I am getting 0V across the leads to the electric heating element regardless of the electric heat switch position.

Could the issue be the switch itself? Has anyone else had a similar issue? It looks like it will be a giant pain to access the rest of the wiring or how take the switch off. Any ideas?
Yes, we have many threads about the failure of this switch - some fairly recently.
FIRST turn off the breaker to the water heater or risk resulting dental work/hair replacement.
Then take a small screwdriver, etc., and pry the switch out of its rectangular metal hole.
Next, turn the power/breaker back on and CAREFULLY test for power with a multimeter.

I put a jumper wire across the two leads (with power OFF) to get heating power until I went to an RV supply house and paid $5 for a new switch. Some RVers keep a spare.
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Old 06-28-2020, 01:22 PM   #5
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Is the water hot using the propane? If yes, then shut propane off and use hot water at a faucet to cool water heater to activate thermostat for electric heating. Does that work?
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Old 06-28-2020, 01:39 PM   #6
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Any suggestion on how to get to it? Does the entire unit have to be pulled out of the camper?
Here’s the thread from when it happened to my SW6DE. You might find some useful information in it:

https://www.forestriverforums.com/fo...-182725-2.html

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Old 06-28-2020, 01:49 PM   #7
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Originally Posted by Mr. Dan View Post
Yes, we have many threads about the failure of this switch - some fairly recently.
FIRST turn off the breaker to the water heater or risk resulting dental work/hair replacement.
Then take a small screwdriver, etc., and pry the switch out of its rectangular metal hole.
Next, turn the power/breaker back on and CAREFULLY test for power with a multimeter.

I put a jumper wire across the two leads (with power OFF) to get heating power until I went to an RV supply house and paid $5 for a new switch. Some RVers keep a spare.
So Ingot the switch off and it is getting more interesting. The switch tests just fine. Also I am getting the proper 120V fed to the switch. The issue seems to be the wire going from the switch to the heating element. There is no continuity between the output wire thst plugs into the switch and the black wire on the heating element. There must be a break in the wire somewhere so now it looks like I have to pull the whole unit out.
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Old 06-28-2020, 02:09 PM   #8
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Have you checked the thermostat and the over temp reset under the black rubber cover? There is one for the 120vside and one for the 12v side.
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Old 06-28-2020, 02:11 PM   #9
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Have you checked the thermostat and the over temp reset under the black rubber cover?
Why check the obvious first? Itís always much more fun and educational to work backwards.

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Old 06-28-2020, 02:14 PM   #10
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I can't edit my previous post.
Also here is a schematic.Click image for larger version

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Old 06-28-2020, 02:17 PM   #11
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Actually, I reread your original post and this is a better schematic for your model...Click image for larger version

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Old 06-28-2020, 02:23 PM   #12
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If the propane side heated the water to the correct temp, the electric side may not be powered on until the water gets cool/cold. Turn off the propane side, run the hot water a while and see what happens.
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Old 06-28-2020, 02:45 PM   #13
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Originally Posted by brettk View Post
The issue seems to be the wire going from the switch to the heating element. There is no continuity between the output wire thst plugs into the switch and the black wire on the heating element.

The wire doesn't go directly from the switch to the electric element. It goes from the switch, to the paired thermostat assembly, then to the electric element.


Each mode of heating (electric element or propane) is controlled by it's own thermostat(s). These thermostats are underneath the black rubber cover on the face of the water heater (accessed from outside the RV). By having separate thermostats, this allows each method/mode of heating to operate independent of the other.

If you will notice in the pic below, there are two thermostat assemblies bolted up to the tank wall to sense the heat of the water. The one on the left goes to the 120 volts AC electric heating element, and the one on the right goes to the 12 volt DC propane/dsi.



You may also notice that each assembly has actually two thermostats to it. The bottom thermostat is the normal operating one which opens the circuit (turns off the power/circuit going thru it) when it senses the tank temperature is 130 degrees. It closes (turns on the power/circuit) when the tank temperature falls to a certain temp...thus starting the heating process again.

Each assembly also has an Emergency Cut Off (ECO) hi-limit thermostat on the top. The is in place should the normal thermostat fail and not shut off the heating circuit. This ECO will open at around 160 degrees, and is a safety feature so you don't get scalded. If for some reason this ECO thermostat trips, it will not reset itself. You have to manually push in the reset button to it, which you will see the word "RESET" on the rubber cover over the thermostat assemblies. Sometimes these ECO's do trip, and you have to reset such. There is also a small fusible link that connects the operating thermostat and ECO thermostats together. It can sometimes burn out. These thermostats are an assembly, and if the normal tstat, ECO tstat, or fusible link fail, the whole assembly needs to be replaced.



If the water temp inside the tank is low enough, then both modes of heating thermostats will close, allowing both modes to simultaneously come on and heat the water. So the electric heating element and the propane burner will both be heating the water at the same time if you have both turned on....or just one mode of heating if you have just one mode turned on


EDIT: Here is a pic with the rubber cover installed over the thermostat assemblies, that you can push in to reset the ECO/hi-limit in case it has tripped.





and here is a pic of the thermostat assemblies underneath the cover, where you can see the fusible link burned out on the left hand electric element side.
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Old 06-29-2020, 04:34 PM   #14
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While you're all here...

A vaguely related question.

My new rig has a dual fuel hot water heater: electric and/or propane.

I never camp in RV parks, and I only have a 15 amp shore power supply at home.

Like my air conditioner, I'd like to at least test my hot water heater. Will the hot water heater run on a 15 amp supply, or will I just pop breakers everywhere?

Thanks,
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Old 06-29-2020, 04:54 PM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jimmoore13 View Post
A vaguely related question.

My new rig has a dual fuel hot water heater: electric and/or propane.

I never camp in RV parks, and I only have a 15 amp shore power supply at home.

Like my air conditioner, I'd like to at least test my hot water heater. Will the hot water heater run on a 15 amp supply, or will I just pop breakers everywhere?

Thanks,
It will run on 15 amp supply, just don't use any other high current draw appliances at same time.
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Old 06-29-2020, 05:48 PM   #16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jimmoore13 View Post
A vaguely related question.



My new rig has a dual fuel hot water heater: electric and/or propane.



I never camp in RV parks, and I only have a 15 amp shore power supply at home.



Like my air conditioner, I'd like to at least test my hot water heater. Will the hot water heater run on a 15 amp supply, or will I just pop breakers everywhere?



Thanks,
Suburban water heaters utilize a 1440 watt electric heating element, which 12 amps.

1440 watts/120 volts = 12 amps.

Dometic water heaters are similar
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Old 06-29-2020, 06:24 PM   #17
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I just had the same issue with my son's camper, next door, where the Suburban water heater worked just fine for the first week, then suddenly, no hot water...

at first I whittled it down to the Temp/Limit switch for the Electric side, since that's the only side we use - he's always plugged in.
But, we were getting no voltage reading at either the temp/limit switch, or the electric element....SO....

I went to pull out the 'on/off' switch with some needle-nose pliers, when WHHHAAMMMMM, sparks and arcs flew and the breaker tripped. Oh well....at least NOW we know we have POWER!

What that told me, though, was that the switch was not working correctly. As soon as I removed the switch a butt-connected the two wires together - we had voltage to the Temp/Limit switch and the Electric element - all is now good. (no switch needed, either, as he'll never be 'winterizing' the camper, but if needed, we can simply trip the breaker)
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