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Old 01-08-2012, 12:56 AM   #1
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Water heater act funny once every so often

Happy new year to all,
Well folks, we just returned from an "over the first" local desert trip and I've got a weird situation with our water heater. It seems that every once in a while, when the water heater starts going through one of its cycles of heating up the water, it starts up ( as usual, it sounds like a FA18 Hornet is taking off just outside our bedroom window) but, shortly after it starts up, about 10-20 seconds of running, it shuts down.

Then, because the sensor is not satisfied that the cycle is complete, it starts up again, only to do the same thing again. It will do this several times. Finally I think it takes hold and completes the cycle. Hmmmmm. When it's doing its weird thing, the flame burn, is loud as usual, but, you can hear it taper down in both noise and burn, to the point where it has a "flame out" and all is quiet. But, it starts all over again, only to do it again. So, I'm thinking maybe some how it's not getting the proper propane pressure at some times and it sounds like it's running out of propane or, the valve in the solenoid is slowly closing for odd reason and finally snaps shut but, the sensor takes over and re-lights the system again.

Or, maybe the sensor is failing and telling the water heater to stop burning even thought it's not warm enough yet, heck I don't know, I'm just speculating here. Any ideas? Thanks
Scott
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Old 01-08-2012, 01:11 AM   #2
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Fire up.... mine has does the same thing and has of and on since new. There are lots of post on fix ...tried some but still have problem some times. The unit is not getting enought air opening the wh door will stop it. but have not a real fix .
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Old 01-08-2012, 09:56 AM   #3
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There were some models that didn't have enough air flow to keep the compartment cool enough when the water heater was run on gas. Try opening the compartment and water heater doors the next time it happens. If the heater continues to run you know what the problem is. At one time there were a set of spacers available to allow sufficient air flow through to keep the compartment cooler.
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Old 01-08-2012, 12:25 PM   #4
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Originally Posted by autofish View Post
Fire up.... mine has does the same thing and has of and on since new. There are lots of post on fix ...tried some but still have problem some times. The unit is not getting enought air opening the wh door will stop it. but have not a real fix .
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Originally Posted by Hikerdogs View Post
There were some models that didn't have enough air flow to keep the compartment cool enough when the water heater was run on gas. Try opening the compartment and water heater doors the next time it happens. If the heater continues to run you know what the problem is. At one time there were a set of spacers available to allow sufficient air flow through to keep the compartment cooler.
Thanks guys for taking the time to reply.
You know, I forgot to mention in my original post that, it does make a difference when I open the compartment door and, the heater door. It does seem to increase the flow of air and therefore, the flame continues to operated without issue. Hmmmmm. I'll have to figure out an auxiliary air input for that situation. Thanks again. I always think I'm the only one with weird problems.
Scott
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Old 01-08-2012, 04:05 PM   #5
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FireUp,
Last year I noticed my water heater not cycling too well. Seemed once it fired off and burned for a few seconds it would flame out. I opened the compartment door and watched it for many hours and couldn't repeat the flameout. That is until I closed up the exterior door again and "poof" like magic the flameout reappeared. I decided to provide more air to the compartment by adding a aluminum, circular home soffit vent (home depot) and glued it in. Haven't had a flameout since.

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Old 01-08-2012, 07:15 PM   #6
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Scott,

My water heater did the same thing when I first bought the coach new. I played around with it and found that it needed more air for a good burn especially at higher altitudes. I installed this vent by cutting about four 1 inch holes in the heater cover and then covering it with a small vent from Home Depot.

Sammie




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Old 01-08-2012, 08:23 PM   #7
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Originally Posted by Lt46 View Post
FireUp,
Last year I noticed my water heater not cycling too well. Seemed once it fired off and burned for a few seconds it would flame out. I opened the compartment door and watched it for many hours and couldn't repeat the flameout. That is until I closed up the exterior door again and "poof" like magic the flameout reappeared. I decided to provide more air to the compartment by adding a aluminum, circular home soffit vent (home depot) and glued it in. Haven't had a flameout since.

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Scott,

My water heater did the same thing when I first bought the coach new. I played around with it and found that it needed more air for a good burn especially at higher altitudes. I installed this vent by cutting about four 1 inch holes in the heater cover and then covering it with a small vent from Home Depot.

Sammie




Well Gents,
It looks like you're onto something there. As many of you have stated, opening the door enhances the burn so, for some reason, these water heaters and the compartment they're in, have a flaw in their operation. That is, they can't get enough air to run proficiently. So, by adding and auxiliary air inlet, you've done what the factory should have done. Oh well, just like other things on these nice rigs, time for a change. As Clint Eastwood says in "Heartbreak Ridge", you must "overcome, adapt and improvise" to make things work. It's the story of my life. Thanks again guys, I'll look into a grill/cover for the holes I'll cut.
Scott
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Old 01-09-2012, 11:13 AM   #8
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Scott,
I wonder if Clint E. is an RV owner? LOL, no truer words ever said. I assume you've found your WH burning better with its compartment doors open? As I said, that was the dead giveaway for me, ran perfect when open and stumbled once closed.
Note in your sig. Retired SDFD, is that San Diego? My sig. is L-792 and will retire this year after 29 yrs. Enjoy yourself!
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Old 01-14-2012, 12:25 AM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Sammie View Post
Scott,

My water heater did the same thing when I first bought the coach new. I played around with it and found that it needed more air for a good burn especially at higher altitudes. I installed this vent by cutting about four 1 inch holes in the heater cover and then covering it with a small vent from Home Depot.

Sammie




Sammie,
First off, thanks to you and others I'm off to an experiment of the same caliper. I could not find the same exact style of vent cover you have at a local ACE hardware store or, even the Home Depot so, I got a small, 3" round aluminum , louvered vent cover. Tomorrow, Saturday, I'll do the install and see what kind of difference it makes. Thanks again for the idea.
Scott
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Old 01-14-2012, 12:42 AM   #10
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This has been a well documented problem. I solved it on my coach shortly after I got it in 2003 by bending the water heater door out at the bottom about 1/4 inch. Others have put a spacer behind the hinges.

That's a simple fix that works well if your coach is like mine with another compartment door covering the water heater door.
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Old 01-14-2012, 08:40 PM   #11
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Well Gang,
I cut a 3" hole in the water heater door, about a inch or so low and to the right of the inspection hole. I installed my little round, 3" vent cover there and proceeded to do a test. I lit off the water heater with the water heater door closed, and the compartment door closed and, it never stopped burning. So far, that seems to have cured this situation. Thanks again for your assistance in this problem. Very much appreciated.
Scott
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Old 01-14-2012, 10:55 PM   #12
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Scott,

I'm glad it worked out for you. My only concern was that I might be creating some sort of a fire hazard by installing another vent but so far so good. The water heater has worked good up at Mammoth Mountain so altitude seems to have no ill effect either.

Sammie
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Old 01-15-2012, 04:06 PM   #13
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Scott,

I'm glad it worked out for you. My only concern was that I might be creating some sort of a fire hazard by installing another vent but so far so good. The water heater has worked good up at Mammoth Mountain so altitude seems to have no ill effect either.

Sammie
Sammie,
You know, being an ex-fireman, I kind of think of those things once in a while too. However, I'm sure you, and most here on the site that understand the operation of the water heater in the first place, realize that the flame is "directed" up and into the tube that heats the hot water tank and is expelled out the top where it's supposed to. It's also creating a "venturi" effect as it grabs the low pressure propane to burn it with a per-determined amount of air. If you put your hand in and around that operating area near the flame as it's burning, you almost feel no heat what so ever. I made sure there was no concern. Thanks for the concern and the mention of it. So far, so good. Yahoo, I like when I fix something and it works!
Scott
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Old 01-15-2012, 05:41 PM   #14
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Scott,

My 20 plus years of installing fire sprinklers has given me the knowledge to allways question anything that may relate to potential fire. That's the main reason that I recently replaced the cooling unit on my Norcold 1201 refrigerator with an Amish Built cooling unit and Halon Fire Extinguisher.

Here's a little video I made showing the work involved for the conversion.

Sammie

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Old 01-16-2012, 10:29 AM   #15
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I had the same problem on our Adventurer 35U. I rebent the hinge rods on the bottom of the door to space it out enough w/o affecting the closure of the outer cover. It worked fine after that. Everyone seems to be on the same page with the extra air intake.
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Old 01-16-2012, 11:49 AM   #16
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I too have the dreaded "flameout" of the the hot water heater. I must have a better burning version as mine only has issues at higher elevations, and seems to be better with age.

On a side note, Clint Eastwood does not RV sorry to say. He does however own a home in the area that my FD serves so he can play golf with his buddies. He will fly his A-star B2 into our airport from his home in Carmel, CA. Our fire station sits on airport property and right next to where he parks his helicopter during visits. He often visits us to use the facilities. Attached is a picture from one of his latest visits. He is just as crusty as his movie characters, but a nice enough guy. I am the one in the uniform, which I will hang up this June to full-time. I can't wait.
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Old 01-16-2012, 12:06 PM   #17
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Chief, congrats on your pending retirement. I did it 14 years ago then began a second spin-off career in the Oil and Gas safety industry. 18 more months of that and we are outa here!
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Old 01-16-2012, 12:41 PM   #18
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Chief, congrats on your pending retirement. I did it 14 years ago then began a second spin-off career in the Oil and Gas safety industry. 18 more months of that and we are outa here!
Thanks very much. I will miss the fire service immensely but look forward to the next phase.
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Old 01-16-2012, 01:17 PM   #19
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I too have the dreaded "flameout" of the the hot water heater. I must have a better burning version as mine only has issues at higher elevations, and seems to be better with age.

On a side note, Clint Eastwood does not RV sorry to say. He does however own a home in the area that my FD serves so he can play golf with his buddies. He will fly his A-star B2 into our airport from his home in Carmel, CA. Our fire station sits on airport property and right next to where he parks his helicopter during visits. He often visits us to use the facilities. Attached is a picture from one of his latest visits. He is just as crusty as his movie characters, but a nice enough guy. I am the one in the uniform, which I will hang up this June to full-time. I can't wait.
Greg,

I had a 2000 Winnebago Adventurer before the coach I now own and at higher elevations (8000 ft plus) I would have to leave the water heater enclosure open in order for it to work at all.

Sammie

PS Cool picture of you guys and Clint.
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Old 01-16-2012, 01:41 PM   #20
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Chief,
That's way cool. A picture with the ole' Clint. Who'd a thunk it, all those parts in "Rawhide", then, "The Good, the bad, and the Ugly" and finally all the Dirty Harry sequences. Yep, that's a picture I'd cherrish. The fire service is/was a great career. It's pretty hard to get into now. You have to be a college grad, paramedic, and score pretty darn high on the entrance test just to put fires out. Oh well, that's the way it is. After over 35 years, and (4) different fire departments, it was time to leave. I barely miss it. Life's too short. I now have fun EVERY day.
Scott
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