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Old 05-26-2022, 05:09 AM   #1
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Water Heater please help

Hey guys, so I’m super stumped about what is wrong with my electric portion of my hot water heater. Randomly went out the other day and I replaced the element as well as the thermostat but still nothing. Next is the switch on the water heater itself but that’s the last option I could think of. Anyone have any ideas. Fuses are all good in the converter as well.
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Old 05-26-2022, 05:46 AM   #2
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Not sure about your system, but some have more than one switch. One on the water heater and one inside the trailer on the wall or a panel. Two of my TT's had multiple switches.

Also.....you said "Fuses" ? water heaters are on a "Breaker" in the Breaker panel.
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Old 05-26-2022, 05:50 AM   #3
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I guess I meant to say breaker. Yes it has two switches one on the actual water heater and one inside the travel trailer. I purchased another switch for the one that’s on the water heater and if that doesn’t work I’m stumped
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Old 05-26-2022, 06:20 AM   #4
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Originally Posted by mxchrit11 View Post
I guess I meant to say breaker. Yes it has two switches one on the actual water heater and one inside the travel trailer. I purchased another switch for the one that’s on the water heater and if that doesn’t work I’m stumped
What needs to explained more clearly is that "some" water heaters will have two switches to the electric water heating element.....and "all" tank type water heaters with direct spark ignitor(DSI) will have one switch inside the RV that controls the propane/dsi mode of heating.

So do you have two switches inside the RV to the water heater (one for the propane mode of heating and one for the electric heating element) OR do you just have one switch inside the RV (propane mode of heating)?

It sounds like you are just throwing parts at the situation without actually having traced to where the problem is. A multimeter would be your friend here and let you find out exactly what/where the problem is.
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Old 05-26-2022, 06:23 AM   #5
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What brand and model water do you have?

The switch on the inside of the trailer probably is for the gas side.

I assume that you have checked for power at the water heater and are on shore power?

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Old 05-26-2022, 06:26 AM   #6
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What make/model water heater do you have?
Knowing that will help us help you.

The 120v volt side of R/V water heaters is not complicated. Do you own a multimeter and know how to use it? 5 minutes with a multimeter will tell you what the issue is and keep you from needlessly throwing parts (and money) at it.
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Old 05-26-2022, 10:35 AM   #7
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I am actually working right now I’m not too sure what model but I believe it’s a typical suburban water heater. I have two switches inside for gas and electric and one switch on the heater for electric all of them are on. I do have a multi meter for electric and haven’t used it yet all the parts have been pretty inexpensive but I was just wondering if people had a common issue with it. I heard something about the outlet that’s near the water heater on the inside sometimes goes bad or a loose wire.
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Old 05-26-2022, 10:45 AM   #8
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Originally Posted by mxchrit11 View Post
I am actually working right now I’m not too sure what model but I believe it’s a typical suburban water heater. I have two switches inside for gas and electric and one switch on the heater for electric all of them are on. I do have a multi meter for electric and haven’t used it yet all the parts have been pretty inexpensive but I was just wondering if people had a common issue with it. I heard something about the outlet that’s near the water heater on the inside sometimes goes bad or a loose wire.
I would suggest you get an understanding of the operation of the dual heating sources first.

You need to turn off the inside switch to the propane/dsi. You are not having issues with that portion according to you, so you don't need it on or heating the water. If the water is heated inside the tank, then neither thermostat assembly (you have two of these thermostats, one for propane and one for the electric heating element) will close to allow power thru. They sense the tank water is heated and thus open up, cutting off power to the heating source connected to which thermostat.

You want the propane/dsi OFF and the water inside the tank cool, so the thermostat will close to allow power all the way to the element so you can start trying to figure out at what point there is no 120 volt AC.
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Old 05-26-2022, 10:50 AM   #9
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Two weeks ago I was prepping my TT for our first trip out of the year. Since my storage site has no electrical for me to use I made arrangements elsewhere. Everything worked fine except the hot water heater. Tried everything I could come up with and still no luck. My mobile tech was jammed up with work and could not get to me for a few days even if I brought the TT to him. So, I called the campground we were going to and confirmed their showers would be available and they were. Fortunately mt DW is a real trooper. So off we went. And lo and behold...the water heater worked just fine for four days while we were there! No idea why or how but we lucked out. Rough roads maybe jarred whatever the problem was !! Will it work next trip? We'll know soon. LOL!!
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Old 05-26-2022, 11:08 AM   #10
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I’m sorry that was confusing I do not have the propane switch on. The propane side of the water tank works. The only thing I have on are the electric switch on the inside and the electric switch on the outside with no hot water
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Old 05-26-2022, 11:10 AM   #11
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I believe it’s a suburban water heater and yes I am hooked up to shore power and the switches are on.
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Old 05-26-2022, 11:12 AM   #12
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I have two switches on the inside one for propane one for electric and a switch on the outside just for electric. I have not used a multimeter yet but all the parts that I’ve purchased are very inexpensive and just wanted to replace them anyway but now that I have replaced the parts and it’s still not working it’s getting me confused.
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Old 05-26-2022, 11:34 AM   #13
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Exclamation

Have you checked the circuit breaker in the coach's breaker/fuse panel? It may be tripped but *look* okay. Flip it all the way to OFF then back ON.

One other thought. You mentioned that you replaced the element. You didn't by any chance turn it on with no water in the heater's tank, did you? If so, the element probably burned out very quickly.
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Old 05-26-2022, 11:50 AM   #14
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Originally Posted by mxchrit11 View Post
I have two switches on the inside one for propane one for electric and a switch on the outside just for electric. I have not used a multimeter yet but all the parts that I’ve purchased are very inexpensive and just wanted to replace them anyway but now that I have replaced the parts and it’s still not working it’s getting me confused.
OK, from your description, you have the Suburban SWDEL model. See schematic below



For the electric element mode of heating, it consists of a few parts

1. A 12 volt DC switch inside the RV. This 12 volt DC switch goes to a relay that then turns on 120 volt AC. The relay will be connected to power cord, which is plugged into an outlet usually (but can be direct wired). The direct wire or the outlet will go to the circuit breaker in the electrical panel.

2. Now after the relay allows 120 volt AC power, it goes thru the second switch on the face of the water heater, which also allows you to turn the electric heating element on/off.

3. After this second switch, the circuit goes to the thermostat assembly (which is the left hand side one underneath the rubber covers. The right hand side assembly goes to the propane mode). The thermostat assembly has actually two thermostats in each assembly. One tstat that opens up around 130 degrees and a second hi-limit Emergency Cut Off/ECO resettable thermostat opens around 160ish degrees....in case the normal thermostat fails. These two thermostats are connected together via fusible link that can burn out. Since you have a 120 volt AC thermostat to the electric element and a 12 volt DC thermostat to the propane mode, you have to make sure when replacing you purchase the correct one.

If you look at the thermostat assemblies below, you can see where the fusible link is burned out on the 120 volt AC assembly but is intact on the 12 volt DC assembly.



4. Then it goes to the element along with a neutral return wire all the way back to the electric panel.

A break in any of these items, or wiring will render the element mute.
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Old 05-26-2022, 04:32 PM   #15
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wmtire gave you excellent information and a good schematic. Again, these water heater circuits are not complicated and using the schematic with a multimeter will pinpoint the issue in minutes.

If you have problems following the schematic, chime in and we'll walk you through it beginning at your breaker box.
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Old 05-27-2022, 08:22 AM   #16
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Two weeks ago I was prepping my TT for our first trip out of the year. Since my storage site has no electrical for me to use I made arrangements elsewhere. Everything worked fine except the hot water heater. Tried everything I could come up with and still no luck. My mobile tech was jammed up with work and could not get to me for a few days even if I brought the TT to him. So, I called the campground we were going to and confirmed their showers would be available and they were. Fortunately mt DW is a real trooper. So off we went. And lo and behold...the water heater worked just fine for four days while we were there! No idea why or how but we lucked out. Rough roads maybe jarred whatever the problem was !! Will it work next trip? We'll know soon. LOL!!
Last week it was just shy of 100F here. When I arrived at the TT I turned on the propane, lit the range burners, and then flipped the DSI switch. As usual, I stuck my head out the door and listened for tick-tick-tick-whoomp. But...nothing. Same on the second try. I shrugged my shoulders, thought "something else to work on", and turned on the electric switch.

About four days later I figured out that it was so hot that the water inside was already at 120F+ and so the propane thermostat wasn't calling for heat. It was cooler then. To test, I turned off the electric switch, waited an hour, drew out a couple of gallons, and flipped the gas switch. Sure enough, tick-tick-tick-whoomp.

If it's hot where you are, this could also have been your problem.
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Old 05-27-2022, 07:33 PM   #17
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Originally Posted by wmtire View Post
What needs to explained more clearly is that "some" water heaters will have two switches to the electric water heating element.....and "all" tank type water heaters with direct spark ignitor(DSI) will have one switch inside the RV that controls the propane/dsi mode of heating.

So do you have two switches inside the RV to the water heater (one for the propane mode of heating and one for the electric heating element) OR do you just have one switch inside the RV (propane mode of heating)?

It sounds like you are just throwing parts at the situation without actually having traced to where the problem is. A multimeter would be your friend here and let you find out exactly what/where the problem is.
2X. Exactly. Sometimes a good diagnostician is worth a part's house of savings
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Old 05-28-2022, 07:25 AM   #18
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Downside of eazter-egging

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It sounds like you are just throwing parts at the situation without actually having traced to where the problem is. A multimeter would be your friend here and let you find out exactly what/where the problem is.
The downside of easter-egging (replacing parts by guessing) is that sometimes you introduce a second problem. Last weekend I was asked to replace a phone in a hand-built 4-wire communication system that had been built in 1995, with scant documentation. Getting the new phone in place wasn't too hard but voice communication was only one-way. I rechecked the wiring for an hour. Finally someone said "Let's try another handset." Sure enough, the microphone in the new handset was dead.

I've seen this happen with auto parts, too.
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Old 05-28-2022, 09:31 AM   #19
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OK guys I think I found the problem! After reading some of your guys comments I was taking a multimeter out there and I went behind the water heater where it plugs into the 120 outlet and when I gently moved it the wire that connects from the power cord to the water heater, it sparked. It was late at night and I didn’t want to fix it then but I’m going to fix it today and let you guys know!
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Old 05-28-2022, 09:34 AM   #20
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In the dark

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OK guys I think I found the problem! After reading some of your guys comments I was taking a multimeter out there and I went behind the water heater where it plugs into the 120 outlet and when I gently moved it the wire that connects from the power cord to the water heater, it sparked. It was late at night and I didn’t want to fix it then but I’m going to fix it today and let you guys know!
Sometimes working in the dark is the best way to make a diagnosis. In the old days, that's how you found bad spark plug wires--open the hood at night and watch the fireworks. And if you had a dim timing light, you could only time the engine at night.
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