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Old 04-07-2009, 06:54 AM   #1
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Water heater electric not working

Greetings!
I have the normal 6 gallon electric and gas water heater most of you have.
On our last trip I discovered the electric heater is not working.

YES, the outside "hidden" switch is on.
Yes the inside circuit breaker is on.
Yes the electric element is good.

I have voltage to the hidden outlet above the WH.
The WH is plugged in.
No voltage at the heater element.

Apparently either the outside hidden switch is bad (doubtful)
or the "hi limit"/thermostat is bad.

Question--- how do I access the thermostat?
I've looked at the back of the heater and it's all enclosed in styrofoam.
Do I have to cut away styrofoam or (gasp) remove the WH from the
trailer???

Anyone been there done this?

Thanks for any insight!
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Old 04-07-2009, 07:11 AM   #2
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I believe everything you need to access should be right in the front of the water heater. Here's a link to some troubleshooting tips about water heaters.

http://en.allexperts.com/q/RV-Repair...ter-heater.htm

Hope this helps.

You didn't indicate which manufacturer of the water heater you have. Maybe one of these sites may help.

http://www.rvcomfort.com/suburban/service/water.php

http://www.atwoodmobile.com/water-heaters.aspx

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Old 04-07-2009, 08:31 AM   #3
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Download and check out page 23 of the following Suburban water heater service manual. Suburban WH Service Manual It shows you where the high limits are located. They're located simularly in an Attwood heater too. IIRC they're under a small cover that easy to remove. Hopefully all you'll need to do is press the reset button.
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Old 04-07-2009, 08:45 AM   #4
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It's a Suburban stock # 5034.
The sticker that shows model numbers and lots of other info is
covered in silicone seal by the installers bless them......
Judging from descriptions on pplmotorhomes.com
my WH is likely a Model SW6DEM.

The suburban link you included tells you to go get service if
you need it.
No help there on the technical side.
The general link covers testing the electric element.
Mine is not getting voltage.
It does not mention how to trouble shoot that.
I removed the cover over my element.
No voltage there.
The wires disappear into the side area of the WH.
That is covered in styrofoam.

Now what?
If my owners manual does not cover this, I'll try calling the
Suburban help desk. Maybe they will tell me what's next.

I just hoped that someone here had been down this road already.
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2017 Nissan Titan 5.6L King cab 4wd
2016 Evergreen Everlite 242RBS
29' empty nest model. Blue Ox WD hitch
(1 queen bed, large main cabin and huge bathroom)
Camping days 2010-53, 2011-47, 2012-41, 2013-41, 2014-31, 2015-40, 2016-44, 2017-63, 2018-75, 2019-32, 2020-41, 2021-49, 2022-43
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Old 04-07-2009, 10:24 AM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by KyDan View Post
It's a Suburban stock # 5034.
The sticker that shows model numbers and lots of other info is
covered in silicone seal by the installers bless them......
Judging from descriptions on pplmotorhomes.com
my WH is likely a Model SW6DEM.

The suburban link you included tells you to go get service if
you need it.
No help there on the technical side.
The general link covers testing the electric element.
Mine is not getting voltage.
It does not mention how to trouble shoot that.
I removed the cover over my element.
No voltage there.
The wires disappear into the side area of the WH.
That is covered in styrofoam.

Now what?
If my owners manual does not cover this, I'll try calling the
Suburban help desk. Maybe they will tell me what's next.

I just hoped that someone here had been down this road already.
Unplug your RV so there is No 110 Voltage Present.

Check continuity between the Screw on the water heater breaker and neutral. Be sure the On/Off Switch outside is in the On position. If open then you need to start eleiminating items, Outside switch, T-stat sensor, Heating Element.

Can you get to the back of the On/Off Switch? Corrosion on the terminals may be your problem.

If not corruded your Water Heater tank will need to be cold. Disconnect the leads and test them for continuity. This will tell you whether or not the probelm is in the T-stat sensor and or heating element. You can test the switch the same way. Just turn it to on and see if there's continuity. The circuit for the electric side of the water heater is one big loop.

Power is fed from the breaker in the panel to the Power On/Off Switch outside in the water heater cabinet. Through that to the T-stat sensor that calls when temperature needs to be increased. Then to the heating element and back to neutral. As long as there's continuity between all of these the element should heat up the tank. Any break in the continuity between these items will be the problem and need to be replaced. Is that the original heating element? It needs to be 115 Volt not 230 Volts if it has been replaced.

Hang in there we'll find this thing!!
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Old 04-07-2009, 11:46 AM   #6
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My WH is plugged into a "hidden" outlet right above it.
Accessed thru my pass thru storage door on the WH side.
The outlet is hot from the breaker.
The WH has a power cord that is plugged into the outlet and
the power cord goes to a junction box mounted on the side of the WH
also near the outlet. When I plug in the power cord-
It's hot in the junction box.
Wires from the junction box disappear behind the styrofoam but must lead
to the switch in the WH outside panel and the thermostat and the heater element.
There is no voltage at the element so either the switch or the thermostat or a
connection in between must be open.

I need to know how to access the thermostat
or where it's located. It must be mounted against the tank under the
styrofoam somewhere.
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Old 04-07-2009, 11:55 AM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by KyDan View Post
My WH is plugged into a "hidden" outlet right above it.
Accessed thru my pass thru storage door on the WH side.
The outlet is hot from the breaker.
The WH has a power cord that is plugged into the outlet and
the power cord goes to a junction box mounted on the side of the WH
also near the outlet. When I plug in the power cord-
It's hot in the junction box.
Wires from the junction box disappear behind the styrofoam but must lead
to the switch in the WH outside panel and the thermostat and the heater element.
There is no voltage at the element so either the switch or the thermostat or a
connection in between must be open.

I need to know how to access the thermostat
or where it's located. It must be mounted against the tank under the
styrofoam somewhere.

Did you check page 13 in the Service Manual Link ? There are drawings of the T-stats there. Maybe that will help identify it.
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Old 04-07-2009, 12:57 PM   #8
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I'll try to describe where the t-stat & cut-out is from the manual. Looking at the front (behind the outside access door) of the unit. In the upper left hand corner, above and to the left of the burner chamber, you'll find a small flap or cover that can be lifted or removed. Behind that is both the 12v t-stat/cutout and the 120v t-stat/cutout. The cutouts will have a red button on the top of them. Frist thing to do is turn off the 120v power and press the red buttons to see if they will reset. Hopefully that's all you need to do. With the unit calling for heat both t-stat and cutout should read continuity through them.
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Old 04-07-2009, 01:57 PM   #9
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Here's a link to the Owner's Manual.

http://bryantrv.com/docs2/docs/operating/swinstall.pdf
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Old 04-07-2009, 02:26 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by KyDan View Post
My WH is plugged into a "hidden" outlet right above it.
Accessed thru my pass thru storage door on the WH side.
The outlet is hot from the breaker.
The WH has a power cord that is plugged into the outlet and
the power cord goes to a junction box mounted on the side of the WH
also near the outlet.
There is no voltage at the element so either the switch or the thermostat or a
connection in between must be open.

I need to know how to access the thermostat
or where it's located. It must be mounted against the tank under the
styrofoam somewhere.
This is the simplest way I can think to test for continuity with your set up.
1. Unplug your water heater from the wall outlet.
2. Make sure the On/Off switch is in the On position.
3. Take a continuity tester and touch the leads to each prong on the water heater cord. Most likely it will be open. If it's closed then I suggest taking it to a professional. If open, proceed on.
4. Take a piece of bare copper wire and wrap it around the two cord prongs.
5. Go to the ON/Off switch. Touch your leads to the two wires attached to the switch, it should be ON. If open, replace the switch. If closed proceed on.
6. Gain access to the T-stat. Touch the leads to the terminals where the wires are attached. If open, replace the T-stat assembly. If closed proceed on.
7. Find the Electric Heating Element. Touch the leads to the two wire connections. If open, replace the Element. If closed and every connection is closed then I suggest taking it to a professional.You may have had a critter chew through a wire somewhere.

We're gonna get this thing figured out!!!!!
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Old 04-07-2009, 03:17 PM   #11
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MY BAD!!
I removed the cover over the reset buttons and discovered that one is for 12v side
and the other is for 120v side.
I thought everything under that cover was for 12v! NOT.

The fusible link on the 120v T-stat is burned out.
NO idea why yet.
Will be removing and visually inspecting my heater element and then go from
there. Possibly a pinched wire or even lightning strike.
Probably just a shorted heater element. Still wonder why it burned out the link instead
of kicking the breaker.
As far as I know it worked last season.
No heat this year 1st time we tried it.
I'm sure it was not turned on while empty.
See the picture here
http://tinyurl.com/dgk9on

Thanks for all your help!
Now I'll do some more digging to try to figure out what burned this out and
then I'll be looking for parts.
It's 35 deg and windy today so I'm done for the day!
Retirement is not supposed to be this much work!!

Thanks again everyone!
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2017 Nissan Titan 5.6L King cab 4wd
2016 Evergreen Everlite 242RBS
29' empty nest model. Blue Ox WD hitch
(1 queen bed, large main cabin and huge bathroom)
Camping days 2010-53, 2011-47, 2012-41, 2013-41, 2014-31, 2015-40, 2016-44, 2017-63, 2018-75, 2019-32, 2020-41, 2021-49, 2022-43
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Old 04-07-2009, 06:21 PM   #12
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I'd bet on a surge. That's about the only thing I can think of that would burn the link like that. Good luck on the parts and better luck on being retired.
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Old 04-08-2009, 05:55 AM   #13
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Glad to hear you found the problem. I agree with Bama Rambler about the surge most likely causing the link to burn out. Best of luck.
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Old 04-21-2009, 07:15 AM   #14
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Follow up.
I ordered new thermostat and electric element and anode rod from
rvpartscountry.com
The screw in heater was $10 and the anode was $11. The T-stat was $25.

I found my heater was burned out and split open.
That should not have burned out the fusable link in the T-stat but it did so I had
to replace both. My anode is not even close to being half gone so I'm saving
the new one for next season.

We're back to dual heat when needed and thanks for all the advice!
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2017 Nissan Titan 5.6L King cab 4wd
2016 Evergreen Everlite 242RBS
29' empty nest model. Blue Ox WD hitch
(1 queen bed, large main cabin and huge bathroom)
Camping days 2010-53, 2011-47, 2012-41, 2013-41, 2014-31, 2015-40, 2016-44, 2017-63, 2018-75, 2019-32, 2020-41, 2021-49, 2022-43
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