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whisperwhillow 10-15-2015 02:58 PM

Hot water heater, sw6de, please help
This is the first of many, many posts asking for help. I thank you for your patience, knowledge and understanding.

I'm going on day three of no shower here because I can't for the life of me figure out how to get the hwh to work/light/heat the water.

My husband is in the Army and is going to be deployed, and my family and I are going to be staying in a 2014 Forest River Cherokee Toy Hauler, 377V, that we purchased from a private party. I have been camping literally twice in an RV, and that was as a child. I feel like I know nothing going into this, and that's very unnerving for me, but we're doing it to save money.

So here's the scoop on the hwh. From my research, and please correct me if I'm wrong, the d-e part of the model number means it can run off of electricity or propane, right? So I went to turn it on the hwh the other day, and since I don't know what to look for, I didn't realize that the rod wasn't in it. After much research, I discovered that I need a rod to hold the water in. I bought a rod, and then a day later discovered that I have to find a bypass knob. Finally found that as well.

So here are the steps that I'm doing to turn the hwh on.

1) Make sure propane is on. Check.
2) Make sure we have propane. I'm getting flames from my stove -- check.
3) Make sure there's water in the hwh. I hit the pressure release thingy and water comes out -- check.
4) Go inside and flip the hwh switch. Here's where stuff gets hairy. So the first time I did that, I got a flame -- I heard it; I saw it -- in the hwh. Then a bit later, I had hot water for all of about two seconds, then it was cold again. I haven't been able to get it to light since; however, when I turn on the hot water inside my rig, I get cold for about three to four seconds, then hot for about two seconds, then right back to cold.

Anyone out there had this problem before?

Also, I have read that there should be a switch inside my rig for either electric or propane. I have seen no switch.

TURBS 10-15-2015 03:06 PM

You didn't get one by pass knob turned.
There should be three.

Cold knob inline
Hot knob inline
Bypass knob turn 90 degrees from inline

08 duramax tuned n modded
2015 columbus 320RS
2015 camping "30 nights"

TURBS 10-15-2015 03:07 PM

1 Attachment(s)
Water heater may not come on because water is already hot.
Attachment 91640

08 duramax tuned n modded
2015 columbus 320RS
2015 camping "30 nights"

R3Jones 10-15-2015 03:20 PM


Originally Posted by whisperwhillow (Post 1010550)

Also, I have read that there should be a switch inside my rig for either electric or propane. I have seen no switch.

Usually there are two electric switches. One of the switches is on a control panel inside the rig and the other is behind the hwh panel on the outside of the rig.

Nitro 31FQSL

R3Jones 10-15-2015 03:21 PM

1 Attachment(s)
Attachment 91645

Nitro 31FQSL

wmtire 10-15-2015 03:23 PM

Howdy whisperwhillow, the suburban water heater can seem confusing at first, but here is a detailed FAQ on it's operation...including where the electric heating element switch is located and assessed from outside the trailer (the switch inside is just to the propane usually)

You sound like you still may have the bypass valves not turned correct.

If you have three valves on the backside of the water heater (assess to which will usually be thru a fake panel, cabinet, etc from INSIDE the RV. Once you have gained access to these valves, and have three like in the pic Turbs posted... you need to make sure the inlet valve is open to the water heater, the outlet valve is open from the water heater.... but the by pass valve (which is the valve/line tying the cold water and hot water lines together) is CLOSED.

You want the handle parallel with the line it's on to for it to be Open...and the handle crossing the line for it to be CLOSED. Since the bypass water line usually runs vertical, it's easy to not pay attention and actually have the handle in the OPEN position, not the closed position. You want your handles turned like the pic that says normal use.

If you have that bypass valve OPEN, then it's going to allow cold water to mix into the hot water line before it goes into the water heater. So you will be sucking hot water out of the heater initially, then sucking cold water very shortly afterwards...with the bypass valve not fully CLOSED.

wmtire 10-15-2015 04:46 PM

Just an addendum. Not all RV's have the three valve bypass system. They can also just have two or even one valve systems...and thus use internal one way check valves in the inlet/outlet lines to the water heater. The three valve system seems to be the most common though, and unless you state yours is different, then the advice is going to be based on that assumption.

whisperwhillow 10-15-2015 11:48 PM

Hi, y'all! Thank you so much for the responses! So, I opened up the wall behind the cargo area again to access behind the hwh. I turned the knobs the way I think TURBS was explaining and the picture displayed. Going to try to attach a photo of what the knob configuration looks like now.

After doing this, it seems that the water stays warmer for a little bit, but not hot and not for very long. What could this mean?

whisperwhillow 10-15-2015 11:58 PM

Hmm... not sure why, but I can't seem to upload a photo of the knobs.

wmtire 10-16-2015 12:40 AM

The site has been experiencing problems with photo uploads, and the tech team is working to find the problem. You may can try a couple of times, and the upload will take.

I also sent you a PM with my email, that you can send the pics to, and I will upload them to this thread.

arpipeliner 10-16-2015 04:02 AM

Have read on the forum about have having the outdoor shower turn on but the no water coming out depending on the attachment. They say the hot water can mix with the cold water. Others can explain better than I can.

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whisperwhillow 10-16-2015 06:35 AM

Just wanted to respond to let everyone know that the issue was not having ALL bypass knobs turned. Thank you for the pic of what it should look like. YAY!! We have hot water!

Bama Rambler 10-16-2015 06:52 AM

I'd like to thank you very much for coming back and letting us know that you go it fixed and what the fix was. So many times people will come asking for help and when they get it working, they never come back and let us know how it turned out.

So a great big thanks.

wmtire 10-16-2015 07:00 AM


Originally Posted by whisperwhillow (Post 1010996)
Just wanted to respond to let everyone know that the issue was not having ALL bypass knobs turned. Thank you for the pic of what it should look like. YAY!! We have hot water!

Good deal, glad it's all working now.

Even though your hubbie is in the Army, you may need to take Navy showers. With a limited 6 gallon water heater, you won't be able to shower for long times like in a house with a 30 gallon or larger water heater.

The Navy style shower usually requires you to turn the water on and adjust to your liking, and initially spray off (wet yourself and hair down). Then turn the water off with the control on the shower wand itself. Soap up and shampoo your hair. Now turn the wand back on and rinse off. Then turn off all the water at the taps.

Harkerr 10-16-2015 12:01 PM

Also check your outside shower. Make sure both knobs are turned off. If not cold will get into the hot water.

hankpac 10-16-2015 01:02 PM

Looks like you have all the proper information above for you to solve your problem. If you use the electric switch (as shown on the photo of the outside of your heater) you shouldn't ever have to use any propane. It goes FAST using that method.
I am sure the problem is the bypass valves.
Where are you located? If you are at the Fam Camp on any base, I am sure there would be a kind retired military camper who would help you. Their wives spent a lot of time waiting for their warrior to come home, and would jump at the chance to make life a little easier for a young warrior's wife.
If you are at Randolph AFB, or Ft Sam, let me know, and my wife and i will come by.
Hope you have this solved by now.
PS: If you are in really cold country, look into what you have to do to preserve heat. Some pipelines (people who work the pipeline projects) spend long times in their 5th wheels. and use straw bales around the bottom of the RV to keep things unfrozen. Works great. Others buy rigid insulation (an expensive project for a young soldier). For sure I use pipe insulation (soft stuff) and a heat tape on all my hoses, and insulate the stand pipe (the water pipe) where it comes in from the ground, and apply a heat tape there too.

wmtire 10-16-2015 01:14 PM

Uhh guys, she got it all fixed up and let us know in post #12.

whisperwhillow 10-16-2015 10:40 PM

Haha, wmtire, I remember "Navy showers" all too well. Thank you for the heads-up. ;)

Hmm, heat tape, huh? We're in Colorado right now and just a couple of days ago I was looking at the sewer hoses thinking of the mess if they were to freeze.

asquared 10-16-2015 10:52 PM

there are a ton of ideas on here on how to camp in the winter. First things first, realize that as it gets cold in Colorado, you will go through a good bit of propane. Depending on how the park you are staying at runs electricity, you may want to get a portable space heater to help. You will want to insulate your pipes, including sewer. Remember also not to keep the black tank open but instead empty it when its 2/3 or more full. Always keep at least a couple gallons in the black tank. You may want to look at the geo method for black tank management. Remember there is always help here on the forums. Thank your husband for his service and thank you for letting him serve. I grew up an Army brat so I know how hard it is to let them go do their calling and how special it is to be their family. Remember just as there are support groups through the base if you need them, This forum can be a great support group too.

whisperwhillow 10-18-2015 10:15 AM

Thank you, asquared, for the added info! ;)

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