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Old 01-04-2019, 05:50 PM   #1
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Water Heater

I was in Flagstaff last week and it was very cold, 21 overnight temp. First night I was in an RV park with full hook ups. I switched the little hidden switch in the outside WH heater compartment ( I think it was in ON position)(and turned on Tank Heat) and had hot water all night. No problem.
Next day I went mobile, returned the switch in compartment , and camped off the grid in Mojave Nat'l Park. At that point I got a fault indicator on the panel when I tried to use WH on generator.
Did I freeze the regulator? Ive been home in Long Beach for two days and it still shows a fault when I try and turn on WH while on generator.
AM I doing something wrong?
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Old 01-04-2019, 06:09 PM   #2
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DSI/FLT is Direct Spark Ignition Fault. That's for when Propane doesn't light after 3 tries. IF it lights, then the DSI light goes out. That light has zero/nada/nothing to do with the electric hot water element which is ON/OFF, one or 'tother.
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Old 01-04-2019, 06:16 PM   #3
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This thread will help explain how to operate your Suburban water heaters electric and propane heating sides.

http://www.forestriverforums.com/for...ore-36197.html

Also the tank heater you described, is most likely to your holding tanks, not your water heater.
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Old 01-04-2019, 06:19 PM   #4
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you also don't have to physically turn 'off' the 'little switch' for the electric element of the Water Heater since it would only be available when you are plugged into Shore POwer, or are using the generator, anyway... some will only turn it off when they've winterized and drained their water heater tank.

otherwise it will work off of propane when you are 'off grid', if you have propane, of course, and if you have enough battery level to provide the 'spark' to the igniter...

you mentioned 'tank heat'... are you referring to that as the 'water heater', or are you just mentioning that you also turned on your waste/fresh water tank heater?
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Old 01-04-2019, 07:00 PM   #5
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I recommend you always turn off the electric switch on the WH at the end of each outing. It is correct that if you go off grid, it will use the propane when turned on regardless of the position of the switch. The downside of leaving it on is if you drain the WH and then connect to shore power at home to clean or stock the element will burn out.
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Old 01-05-2019, 10:59 AM   #6
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lived in huntington beach for over 40 years so i'll try to help. long beach is just up the road.

read the post that wmtire sent. you are mixing up three different concepts.

the switch labelled tank heat is most probably for your tank heaters (fresh, black, gray) and has absolutely nothing to do with the water heater. so let's eliminate from the discussion.

the water heater operates off two independent heating sources, electric or propane. obviously the electric hating element requires 120 volt power from either shore power or a generator. the switch to turn the electric heating element is the little 'hidden' switch on the face of the water heater that you mentioned.

the fault light that you mention is a failure to ignite indicator. it will come on when you turn the water heater on to run on gas and it does not ignite. normally the switch used to turn the gas on for the water heater is right next to the fault indicator light on the inside control panel. this switch does not operate nor require the generator or any 120 volt power. the gas side of the water heater is totally powered by the 12 volt batteries. so being hooked up to shore power or having the generator on will have no effect on the gas side of the water heater.

from what you say it appears the electric side of the heater is working ok. all it needs is 120 volt power and the 'hidden' switch to be turned on.

the fault indicator says the propane burner in the water heater is not igniting. as mentioned are the propane tanks open? do the stove burners work? if they do this would indicate that you have propane going through the lines and into the water heater. the propane igniter needs good 12 volt power to provide the spark. are the batteries fully charged? there have been many posts about insects (spiders) getting into the water heater igniter tube and building a nest that blocks the propane flow. i don't know if this is the case. but an inspection of the igniter tube may be needed. there have also been reports of the water heater control board failing. i believe that this control board is only used to control the propane ignition process and is not used for the electric side, but i am not sure of this.

hope this helps. i know it can feel intimidating but the good news is that these water heaters are pretty simple and generally easily corrected.
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Old 01-06-2019, 09:20 PM   #7
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I have propane and stove and frig are working . i willcheck next trip/this week and play with the WH heater switch and see what happens. Thank you for all the great intel!
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Old 01-06-2019, 09:46 PM   #8
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I make it a point to turn the outside switch off whenever I'm rolling, just as a safety measure.
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Old 01-25-2019, 10:20 AM   #9
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Just returned from a week in Lone Pine with LOTS of wind, two days of snow, then two days of rain. It finally cleared but was cool and windy. Im still getting a fault indicator light when i turn on the water heater switch on the panel. So for some reason propane is not igniting.
Does the WH automatically switch to from gas to electric (running generator) if gas wont ignite? With the fault light on, i ran generator a long time and it did not seem to warm the water at all. So it should have heated up on electric, right?
I also used the "tank heat' switch to prevent holding tanks to freeze, but even then using cold water faucet the water was very cold. I did not hink the tank heat would heat holding tanks (fresh, black, grey) to Hot but thought I could detect a difference. But obviously not.
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Old 01-25-2019, 10:27 AM   #10
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if you are plugged in, or on the generator, then YES, the ELEC water heater element should be heating your tank water, IF.... the Elec water heater switch is ON, and the water heater BREAKER is not tripped in your circuit panel, and/or the Generator's own breakers are not tripped, AND the water heater is not 'bypassed' in your wet bay.
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Old 01-25-2019, 10:47 AM   #11
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I think those conditions were met. When I get home from work Ill fire up the genny and double check all switches and make sure Im not doing something screwy (a possibility!).
Thanks for the info, Ill report back.
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Old 01-25-2019, 10:52 AM   #12
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You asked “Does the WH automatically switch to from gas to electric (running generator) if gas wont ignite?” The answer is No. A refrigerator will but a water heater will run gas or electric or both simultaneously but each fuel mode is user selectable and not automatic.
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Old 01-25-2019, 01:29 PM   #13
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Makes sense. So if gas wont ignite, causing fault indicator, then I need to run genny and turn the on/off switch by gas tube/pilot in outside bay to ON.
Right?
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Old 01-25-2019, 01:31 PM   #14
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yep, just leave it on all the time, and all you have to do is use the generator without having to go 'outside'...

the only time you need to worry about switching it 'off' is if you are going to drain the tank...
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Old 01-25-2019, 04:08 PM   #15
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Old 01-25-2019, 08:40 PM   #16
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if you ran the generator for a long time and the water heater electric switch was on you should have hot water. ours produces hot water in a hour or so when on electric. so why didn't yours?
generator not supplying power (probably not or you would have said so)
water heater circuit breaker tripped in distribution panel
water heater switch not on
burnt out electric heating element

as far as the gas side can you get somebody to help run a test. have them go next the internal gas switch, you go outside and listen / look at the gas igniter. when they turn the gas switch on do you hear / see three sparks from the ignitor trying to light the gas in the burner. if you have spark the issue will be with the gas supply. if no spark then either no 12 power to the water heater (there is probably a 12 volt fuse to check) or bad control board.

i truly don't know how much the tank heaters would warm the fresh water tank, but my suspicion is that it would be very little.
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Old 03-02-2019, 10:23 AM   #17
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Water Heater Update: The repair guy said it was the circuit board. $400 parts and labor. Warranty (ive had the coach under a year) only paid half of it. Something about a "deductible". That sounds like BS. Anyway, has anyone here had the same problem and replaced the board themselves? Difficulty? Time to Youtube.
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Old 03-02-2019, 10:45 AM   #18
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Contact suburban and or Forest River/dealer. They have had many problems with these module boards and are replacing them free.

As far as you doing it, it's just two connections and is an easy plug and play. I have a post on this. Let me find it for you.
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Old 03-02-2019, 10:49 AM   #19
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Here is the thread/post I was referring to above:

http://www.forestriverforums.com/for...ml#post1906134

Now remember the module board ONLY affects the gas/propane side of your water heater.

If the electric heating element is not functioning, that has nothing at all to do with this module board. It's a separate issue.

That link above also has some other troubleshooting things you may want to try, so you may want to read the whole thread from the beginning.
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Old 03-02-2019, 10:53 AM   #20
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how much will the labor be?

i'll offer this but cannot make a recommendation as i have not used the product nor done the task of replacing it.

dinosaur electronics makes replacement control boards. i looked on-line and the price for a replacement igniter board seems to be around $75. you would have to perform the labor to remove the existing board and replace it. this may or may not be difficult and/or accessible depending on how your unit is configured.

$400 for a replacement board seems awful high. see what a replacement suburban board would cost on-line. perhaps the reason the warranty will only cover half is that they see it as an inflated price.

and i believe that the control board is only used on the gas side of the water heater. the electric side should still run just fine as it does not use the control board. this assumes that you have 120 vac available either through shore power or generator.
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