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Old 06-18-2020, 09:54 AM   #1
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Rusty screws and rusty water heater

The last posts I found on rusty screws was dated 2012, so I'm starting another.


Forest River Forester rusting
As I am de-winterizing our Class C 2014 2501TS (we bought it new in 2013) for the season, I am seeing a distressing amount of rust on things.
Many of the screws that hold compartment frames and door surrounds are rusted. Other screws, such as for utility covers and the strip holding the edge of the toppers, are rusted, too.
Some of the compartment latches are corroded and two locks were near impossible to move until I spritzed them with LPS2.
Last year (2019), for the first time, we drove on highways that had been treated with salt, but nearly all of it was gone (dried, white powder) by the time we traveled them. That hardly seems like enough time to cause this, and we washed the RV, including underbody, upon return home a day later.
Most of those screws, but not all, were painted over, and the rust has lifted the paint. It gives me concern about what might be under the ones still holding their paint.
I suppose, being honest with myself, I saw some of this starting during de-winterizing last spring (2019), but was not concerned by it.
Since all of the screws are sheet metal screws that use their threads to hold one thin thing to another, replacing them all will likely result in some difficulty making tight holds. One which holds some of the topper hardware to the coach body, had backed out a bit and when I attempted to tighten it, it merely spun. Removing it, I found it was heavily rusted.
I donít see an alternative to replacing them. I thinking of using Locktite on new ones.
We have been very happy with the FR, with only minor glitches I could attribute to manufacture, all resolved. THIS seems like a poor choice of screws. I think using stainless steel at time of manufacture couldnít cost much more.
Far worse is the water heater. It is a Suburban, 6-gallon gas and electric. We had to replace it in August 2017 because it began to leak as we departed home for Seattle to take the ferry to Alaska. We had to hustle to find a heater and then have it installed in Oregon a day before we were to leave. Then we found that the extended warranty company would not cover the replacement. They demanded we stay there until their rep could look at it, two or three days hence. They demanded we keep the old one for them to see, and to be there in person for the inspection. We would have missed the ferry, the last one for the year, and we had pre-paid tickets. The dealership even offered to keep the old one there to be inspected.
So, they refused to pay.
Two and a half years later there is substantial rust around and below the anode port, and the anode and port threads are rusted.
For winterizing, we flush the hot water tank with vinegar, then with plain water, leaving the anode out but putting a plastic plug in the hole.
It looks to me as though we will soon have to replace it. Again.
I would like to know how others have dealt with rusty screws and fittings, and what alternative there might be to installing another Suburban in the FR Class C.
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Old 06-18-2020, 10:54 AM   #2
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One thing I see is there doesn't appear to be teflon tape used on your water heaters drain or on the plugs threads. That could be the cause of the rust in that area as you may have a small leak leaving the area wet. Cleaning up any standing water after draining the wh will go a long way in preventing rust. Another thing is there should be an anode rod on your drain plug, it will prevent the water heater tank from rusting on the inside. You said you had to previously change the wh, if you never had a anode in your wh that why it rusted out and started leaking.


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Old 06-18-2020, 11:05 AM   #3
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Using locktite on loose or rusted screws will do no good as much of the time the screws go into a backer board. If the screws are loose your only option is to replace them with oversized stainless screws. If they are just rusted but still hold tight use the same size stainless screws. Whenever you replace screws use no-sag sealant in and surrounding the hole before putting the screw in. It shouldn't take much for each screw.
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Old 06-18-2020, 11:36 AM   #4
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One other thing, that dried white powder salt is worse than the wet. It gets stirred up by traffic, floats in the air, static causes it to stick to everything and gets in places you would never think of.
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Old 06-18-2020, 01:01 PM   #5
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The little bit of rust in your 2 photos looks normal for a 6 year old RV. Wire brush the threads on the plug and tank. If it were mine I would not worry about it.
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Old 06-18-2020, 01:07 PM   #6
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I sympathize with you. We live near the ocean, and travel almost exclusively up and down the East Coast. Having lived near the beach for the last 45 years, I have learned that the only fasteners to use anywhere have to be stainless steel or hot-dipped galvanized.

For the trailer, I have purchased a box of SS painted head screws of each size that the factory used to build the trailer, and as one of the originals shows rust, I switch them out using a good adhesive caulk to seal them in. If I found one completely stripped, I would probably use some epoxy putty.

As previously stated, your Suburban water heater should have an anode. The quality of the water used greatly affects how long the anode and tank will last.
The Suburban manual says the tank is porcelain-coated steel and the anode should help the tank last two or three times the normal 3 year period. Ours is a 2014 model built in 2013, and it is time to replace the water heater.
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Old 06-18-2020, 01:09 PM   #7
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Scrapper: It doesn't show in the pic, but we do use the tape on the threads. You're seeing the over-winter plug after it was pulled off.
The anode/plug is taken out during winter storage. The anode functions only when the tank if filled, and we keep it empty for winter so it won't freeze.
The water you see is from when I flushed the tank after winterizing, just before taking the photo. The area was dry over winter.
We always used an anode in the previous tank, changing it at a minimum every spring, and one year we changed it at mid-year.
In normal use there is never water in that area under the plug. If there were, it would be a sign that the plug/anode was loose, or something else was leaking.
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Old 06-18-2020, 01:10 PM   #8
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We have ALWAYS used an anode.
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Old 06-18-2020, 01:13 PM   #9
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"SS painted head screws of each size"
I guess that is what I'll have to do. Oh joy. thanks for the tip, Cathcartww. And to Scrapper or his screw suggestion.
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Old 06-18-2020, 01:26 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jan Gerstner. View Post
The last posts I found on rusty screws was dated 2012, so I'm starting another.


Forest River Forester rusting
As I am de-winterizing our Class C 2014 2501TS (we bought it new in 2013) for the season, I am seeing a distressing amount of rust on things.
Many of the screws that hold compartment frames and door surrounds are rusted. Other screws, such as for utility covers and the strip holding the edge of the toppers, are rusted, too.
Some of the compartment latches are corroded and two locks were near impossible to move until I spritzed them with LPS2.
Last year (2019), for the first time, we drove on highways that had been treated with salt, but nearly all of it was gone (dried, white powder) by the time we traveled them. That hardly seems like enough time to cause this, and we washed the RV, including underbody, upon return home a day later.
Most of those screws, but not all, were painted over, and the rust has lifted the paint. It gives me concern about what might be under the ones still holding their paint.
I suppose, being honest with myself, I saw some of this starting during de-winterizing last spring (2019), but was not concerned by it.
Since all of the screws are sheet metal screws that use their threads to hold one thin thing to another, replacing them all will likely result in some difficulty making tight holds. One which holds some of the topper hardware to the coach body, had backed out a bit and when I attempted to tighten it, it merely spun. Removing it, I found it was heavily rusted.
I donít see an alternative to replacing them. I thinking of using Locktite on new ones.
We have been very happy with the FR, with only minor glitches I could attribute to manufacture, all resolved. THIS seems like a poor choice of screws. I think using stainless steel at time of manufacture couldnít cost much more.
Far worse is the water heater. It is a Suburban, 6-gallon gas and electric. We had to replace it in August 2017 because it began to leak as we departed home for Seattle to take the ferry to Alaska. We had to hustle to find a heater and then have it installed in Oregon a day before we were to leave. Then we found that the extended warranty company would not cover the replacement. They demanded we stay there until their rep could look at it, two or three days hence. They demanded we keep the old one for them to see, and to be there in person for the inspection. We would have missed the ferry, the last one for the year, and we had pre-paid tickets. The dealership even offered to keep the old one there to be inspected.
So, they refused to pay.
Two and a half years later there is substantial rust around and below the anode port, and the anode and port threads are rusted.
For winterizing, we flush the hot water tank with vinegar, then with plain water, leaving the anode out but putting a plastic plug in the hole.
It looks to me as though we will soon have to replace it. Again.
I would like to know how others have dealt with rusty screws and fittings, and what alternative there might be to installing another Suburban in the FR Class C.
Attachment 231744Attachment 231745
I don't believe that locktite will do anything useful on sheet metal screws. It is intended for threaded bolts and nuts. If you find screws that appear to be stripped, feel free to replace with stainless. All you should have to do is increase to the next bigger diameter. For instance, if they are number 6 sheetmetal screws, change to number 8 of the same length. That should solve your problem. Regarding your water heater, do you actually use a sacrificial anode rod? The photo of the plug that you pictured clearly is not one. Regardless, the anode rod will have no effect whatsoever on external rust. It protects the tank from being corroded internally by galvanic action promoted by the water. Externally, any rust problems, either on the water heater, or fasteners would be the result of the storage environment being overly moist or humid, or with accelerators such as salt or acid rain.

Rust on a coach this old certainly would not be unusual.

Good luck.
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Old 06-18-2020, 01:47 PM   #11
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Another factor

Sloppy thinking on the part of park operators and city inspectors is responsible for some of the water heater problems. They put backflow preventers in ill-advised places causing the Temperature/Pressure Valve (TPV) on the water heater to drip continuously.

The water system in a travel trailer has no capacity for expansion. There's six gallons in the water heater and maybe another 1/2 gallon in the pipes and hose to the pedestal. When you load the heater with cool water and heat it to 120 F, the water expands and has no place to go. Pressure builds up, is released by the TPV and drips down the face of the water heater.

The justification for backflow preventers at RV pedestals is questionable. Are you really scared that someone else's trailer might feed a few ounces back into the pedestal? That somehow their water is toxic?

Same thing at your residence. Do you really stay up late at night worrying that the neighbor's plumbing, installed and subsequently flushed for twenty years, might contaminate yours?

But they do put these preventers on, and water heater drips are the consequence. If you have room for a two-or-three gallon expansion tank, someplace, you can prevent the drip, but they can be hard to winterize.
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Old 06-18-2020, 02:09 PM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jan Gerstner. View Post
Scrapper: It doesn't show in the pic, but we do use the tape on the threads. You're seeing the over-winter plug after it was pulled off.
The anode/plug is taken out during winter storage. The anode functions only when the tank if filled, and we keep it empty for winter so it won't freeze.
The water you see is from when I flushed the tank after winterizing, just before taking the photo. The area was dry over winter.
We always used an anode in the previous tank, changing it at a minimum every spring, and one year we changed it at mid-year.
In normal use there is never water in that area under the plug. If there were, it would be a sign that the plug/anode was loose, or something else was leaking.
Why not just put the anode back in when you winterize?
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Old 06-18-2020, 02:11 PM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Larry-NC View Post
The water system in a travel trailer has no capacity for expansion. There's six gallons in the water heater and maybe another 1/2 gallon in the pipes and hose to the pedestal. When you load the heater with cool water and heat it to 120 F, the water expands and has no place to go. Pressure builds up, is released by the TPV and drips down the face of the water heater.
That's exactly why I put an expansion tank in my house and trailer. In my house, my normal 60 PSI would rise to over 120PSI when the water heater would be heating the water with no water flow.
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Old 06-18-2020, 03:48 PM   #14
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Our 2013 CC 5er had the same problem over the last few years.....Most screws are #8's I went up one size to #10's and they are holding better...Most of them at 1"long...NO NEED!! Cut back to 3/8 or 1/2". I even replaced some with short stainless steel bolts and nuts.!
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Old 06-18-2020, 04:12 PM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Larry-NC View Post
Sloppy thinking on the part of park operators and city inspectors is responsible for some of the water heater problems. They put backflow preventers in ill-advised places causing the Temperature/Pressure Valve (TPV) on the water heater to drip continuously.

The water system in a travel trailer has no capacity for expansion. There's six gallons in the water heater and maybe another 1/2 gallon in the pipes and hose to the pedestal. When you load the heater with cool water and heat it to 120 F, the water expands and has no place to go. Pressure builds up, is released by the TPV and drips down the face of the water heater.

The justification for backflow preventers at RV pedestals is questionable. Are you really scared that someone else's trailer might feed a few ounces back into the pedestal? That somehow their water is toxic?

Same thing at your residence. Do you really stay up late at night worrying that the neighbor's plumbing, installed and subsequently flushed for twenty years, might contaminate yours?

But they do put these preventers on, and water heater drips are the consequence. If you have room for a two-or-three gallon expansion tank, someplace, you can prevent the drip, but they can be hard to winterize.
Larry, the backflow preventers at the pedestal are there because its code to have them. You should have one on the hose spigot at your house, too. At a campground, people use the spigot to connect their black tank flush and to clean their sewer hose. Iíve seen a campground have a water main break and that can cause a vacuum in the water lines sucking water from whatever is attached to the spigot. The risk is low but its real, and based on historical cases of water main contamination, people get very sick and even die from it. I always spray the spigot with Lysol and rinse it before connecting my hose.
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Old 06-18-2020, 04:20 PM   #16
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Originally Posted by Jan Gerstner. View Post
Maybe I am missing something here (distressingly more often), but that is NOT an anode. Someone replaced the required Suburban sacrificial anode with a plug and drain cock.

This is BAD because a Suburban water heater (appears to be Suburban from photo) requires an anode to prevent rust from ruining your hot water heater.

Herk
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Old 06-18-2020, 05:46 PM   #17
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Maybe I am missing something here (distressingly more often), but that is NOT an anode. Someone replaced the required Suburban sacrificial anode with a plug and drain cock.

This is BAD because a Suburban water heater (appears to be Suburban from photo) requires an anode to prevent rust from ruining your hot water heater.

Herk
For some reason he uses a different plug during the winter. For what reason, I sure don't know.
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Old 06-18-2020, 07:35 PM   #18
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Rusty hot water heater

This is mainly to sticks and bricks in all the years I have had an rv I have never had the pressure relief valve drip or leak if yours is it should be replaced they are there for a reason so if for some reason you have a pressure build up it has some place to go instead of blowing up which they can do.
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Old 06-18-2020, 08:30 PM   #19
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Maybe...

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Originally Posted by babock View Post
For some reason he uses a different plug during the winter. For what reason, I sure don't know.
Maybe he hasn't mastered the trick of getting the heavy anode rod threaded in straight on the first try. The short plug has less tendency to cross-thread.

I actually put the anode rod back in, with teflon tape, as soon as I have drained the heater in the fall. A few drops of water inside make no difference and that way I don't have to mess with it in the spring.
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Old 06-18-2020, 08:36 PM   #20
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Absolutely--the TPV is important.

Quote:
Originally Posted by johnlochbuie View Post
This is mainly to sticks and bricks in all the years I have had an rv I have never had the pressure relief valve drip or leak if yours is it should be replaced they are there for a reason so if for some reason you have a pressure build up it has some place to go instead of blowing up which they can do.
No argument here. The TPV is important. The backflow preventer on the pedestal (RV park) or meter (residential) is not. We lived for decades without them. Some apartment-dweller in Washington decided we needed them. My pressure at home is around 70 psi. If I bring cold water into the trailer's heater and let it heat, the TPValve WILL LEAK because there's no place for the expanded water to go. This is true at the RV park and was true at home until I installed an expansion tank.

The pressure at our RV park is around 50 psi. We have water in the trailer until we get hard frosts. We have backflow preventers on the pedestal. Why do you think that we wouldn't have a drip from the TPV? Is your experience limited to Florida, maybe?
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