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Old 05-31-2015, 03:13 PM   #1
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Atwood Water Heater - Electric Troubleshooting

I see another thread on this currently that is discussing similar problem on an Adventure. Some of the suggestions do not seem to apply so I thought I would start a new thread with my problem.

My Atwood WH works fine on LP with temps of about 116. But the electric seems to not be working. I left it on for hours last night with the temps starting at 116 and by late evening the temps were below 90 and falling. Today with the electric on for a couple hours the temp is 75, but the cold side is 64.

So would this mean it is working poorly or just still cooling from the night before? I did refill the tank first before turning it on.

In the other thread they mention a solenoid, I don't hear any solenoid when turning on the electric. The red light comes on and that's it.

On this 05' Journey 34H, is there a way to access the back of the WH without pulling it? How can I check the heating element without yanking it? Is there any thing to check behind the One panel when the switch is turned on? Any other trouble shooting ideas? I looked at the WBGO diagrams a little, and will dive into them in greater detail tonight.

I have a warranty with a $100 deductible, so I probably will not be pulling it myself.
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Old 05-31-2015, 04:17 PM   #2
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If you have a multimeter you can test the resistance of the electric element and if electricity is being supplied to the element. Is the switch for electric heat a 12 v switch or like a 120 v wall switch? If the latter, it probably has no relay. You might find that the thermostat that shuts it off is bad. It looks like about a nickel sized disk on the water tank with two wires coming out of it. If the element is bad, it's only held on by a couple of bolts. Access can be the issue.

Besides the excellent documentation from Winnebago, you can Google the troubleshooting/service manual for your WH.
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Old 05-31-2015, 04:56 PM   #3
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Nomad Mike Your water heater has 12VDC on/off control which means there is a relay in the back. You will have to gain access to the back of it to check thinks out. Could not fine a drawing showing if there is access.
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Old 05-31-2015, 06:53 PM   #4
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Here is the link to the Atwood Service Manual, page 25 shows the combo electric/gas wiring schematic http://manuals.adventurerv.net/Atwoo...er-Service.pdf

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It is often difficult but you can almost always get to the backside of the water heater. Sometimes it is a vent panel that needs removed or kitchen drawers. Locate the outside access panel, then look inside in that same area.


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Old 05-31-2015, 07:11 PM   #5
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Silly, but start simple. Make sure it's not a circuit breaker popped.
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Old 05-31-2015, 07:19 PM   #6
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Is there a storage switch to cut off the AC when winterizing?
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Old 05-31-2015, 07:37 PM   #7
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Mike, you've not identified the specific Atwood model you have. Looking through a number of Atwood manuals available on line, many manuals are dated 2003 and I know you have a 2005 RV. The high temperature thermostat shouldn't shut down until the water reaches 130 - 140. Your highest recorded temperature was only 116. I also see a couple of electric element styles, it could be a screw in element or a 4 bolt style element.

A 1400 watt element, at 120 v, (Atwood changed to this size in 1996) should show an ohm reading of ~10 ohms. (This is measured with power off!) If it shows no ohms, the element is burned out.
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Old 05-31-2015, 11:45 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by BFlinn181 View Post
Mike, you've not identified the specific Atwood model you have. Looking through a number of Atwood manuals available on line, many manuals are dated 2003 and I know you have a 2005 RV. The high temperature thermostat shouldn't shut down until the water reaches 130 - 140. Your highest recorded temperature was only 116. I also see a couple of electric element styles, it could be a screw in element or a 4 bolt style element.

A 1400 watt element, at 120 v, (Atwood changed to this size in 1996) should show an ohm reading of ~10 ohms. (This is measured with power off!) If it shows no ohms, the element is burned out.
The sticker says GCH10A-4E

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Old 05-31-2015, 11:46 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by shiggs68 View Post
Here is the link to the Atwood Service Manual, page 25 shows the combo electric/gas wiring schematic http://manuals.adventurerv.net/Atwoo...er-Service.pdf

Attachment 95819

It is often difficult but you can almost always get to the backside of the water heater. Sometimes it is a vent panel that needs removed or kitchen drawers. Locate the outside access panel, then look inside in that same area.


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Thank you, that is very helpful.
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Old 05-31-2015, 11:48 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by BFlinn181 View Post
Mike, you've not identified the specific Atwood model you have. Looking through a number of Atwood manuals available on line, many manuals are dated 2003 and I know you have a 2005 RV. The high temperature thermostat shouldn't shut down until the water reaches 130 - 140. Your highest recorded temperature was only 116. I also see a couple of electric element styles, it could be a screw in element or a 4 bolt style element.

A 1400 watt element, at 120 v, (Atwood changed to this size in 1996) should show an ohm reading of ~10 ohms. (This is measured with power off!) If it shows no ohms, the element is burned out.
The issue for me now is getting to it. I can't figure out why they would hide this in the rear or at least have an access door.
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Old 05-31-2015, 11:53 PM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by nothermark View Post
Is there a storage switch to cut off the AC when winterizing?
You mean a switch on the WH? If so, it's on the back and unreachable for storage or otherwise.
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Old 06-01-2015, 06:52 AM   #12
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Originally Posted by Nomad Mike View Post
You mean a switch on the WH? If so, it's on the back and unreachable for storage or otherwise.

An Atwood does not have a switch for service/storage in the water heater itself. Only Suburban models have that switch and still not all models.


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Old 06-01-2015, 07:21 PM   #13
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My friends relay for the 110 vac element, located on the back of the water heater, shorted out, allowing the element to be unregulated. He smelled the electrical smoldering in time to flip the breaker. His water heater blew the pressure/temperature valve.

A problem, IMHO, with these units, is there is no tstat or eco between the 110 VAC input and the element.
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Old 06-01-2015, 08:26 PM   #14
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Quote:
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The issue for me now is getting to it. I can't figure out why they would hide this in the rear or at least have an access door.

Mike, on my 2006 Winnebago Journey 36G there was an access plate that could be removed on the bottom of my coach. There were several screws that had to be removed, but after removal you could access the back side of the water heater. I had a similar problem as yours and it ended up being a broken ground wire on the back of the tank.

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Old 06-02-2015, 05:34 AM   #15
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Quote:
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You mean a switch on the WH? If so, it's on the back and unreachable for storage or otherwise.
I mean an unexplained switch under the sink or similar to cut off the AC near the heater. There are several threads about people finding them. Some have one and some do not.
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