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Topic: Water Heater, How long do they last?

Posted By: subtroll on 12/20/13 08:48am

The Atwood hot water heater in our 2004 National Coach no longer heats with the electrical element. The propane system heats the water fine. Access to replace the heater element will require first removing the washer-dryer. Does it make more sense to consider replacing the entire unit since it has been in operation for ten years?


2004 National Tropi-cal Sterling 396
2003 Jeep Liberty


Posted By: newman fulltimer on 12/20/13 08:51am

Might be easier to. Pull it out and fix it but no Ned to replace if it is not speaking


Posted By: ScottG on 12/20/13 09:12am

No, it will last many years more. Generally the only reason the electric heating part fails is because it was turned on dry.


Posted By: mike brez on 12/20/13 09:16am

20 years and still going.


1998 36 foot Country Coach Magna #5499 Single slide
Gillig chassis with a series 40
02 Ford F250 7.3 with a few mods
2015 Wrangler JKU


Posted By: DutchmenSport on 12/20/13 09:19am

You don't need to replace the water heater. Sounds like only the electric heating element is dead. This is caused by 2 things. The same is true in your home electric water heater.

1. The heater was turned on when there was no water in it, and it only took about 10 seconds (or less) to burn out the element.

2. Calcium build up on the bottom of the tank is now touching the heating element, causing it to short out, which means, it's dead and needs to be replaced, but the calcium build up needs to be clean out too. This is true in your home, the bottom heating element is usually the first go because lime builds up on the bottom of home water heaters and over several years, it gets deeper and deeper, until it touches the element. The top element will keep heating, so this could go for a long time before you realize the bottom element is not working, if you don't have high volume hot water usage in your home.

But, RV water heaters only have 1 element. So when they go! There's no second back-up!

Keep the heater, change the element.


Posted By: Ramair on 12/20/13 09:42am

One other think that you could look at is the t-stat that controls the element, I have had to replace mine once, there should be 2, one for the electric side and the other is for the propane side, should be under the black cover. Hope this helps..


Andrew & Donna Reyes
2012 Georgetown 378 XL


Posted By: J-Rooster on 12/20/13 10:58am

Of course it's your call on what you want to do? My water heater is 10 years old and still working.


Posted By: doxiemom11 on 12/20/13 11:03am

Our electric element went out and quit heating - we replaced it cheap and now works very well. Keeps water hot enough we don't even need to turn on the propane even in 30 temps. 13 years old and going strong.


Posted By: Wills6.4 Hemi on 12/20/13 11:07am

19 years and never used the propane just the electric and it is going strong.


Posted By: JimM68 on 12/20/13 12:00pm

I'm thinking you may be incorre t about access to the electric elements and control.
In my experience, all of this is accessable through the outside access door.

In most, the electric element is more or less an addon, and easily accessable through the outside panel.


Jim M.
2008 Monaco Knight 40skq, moho #2
The "68"
My very own new forumfirstgens.com

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Posted By: John&Joey on 12/20/13 12:13pm

Are you sure you're getting power to the HWH? Could be the switch.


Posted By: Old-Biscuit on 12/20/13 12:19pm

Ramair wrote:

One other think that you could look at is the t-stat that controls the element, I have had to replace mine once, there should be 2, one for the electric side and the other is for the propane side, should be under the black cover. Hope this helps..


Atwood uses one set of t-stats for BOTH electric & gas operation.
Suburban uses two sets-----one 120V AC set for electric and one 12V DC set for gas.

JimM68 wrote:

I'm thinking you may be incorret about access to the electric elements and control.
In my experience, all of this is accessable through the outside access door.

In most, the electric element is more or less an addon, and easily accessable through the outside panel.


Atwood t-stats are in outside compartment but electric element is accessed from the backside of tank (inside rig)
Suburban t-stats and electric element are accessed in outside compartment.

Provided they are dual heat water heaters.

Aftermarket heating rods are installed via drain holes....a whole different set-up with different ideas/opinions on their use.




OP........
Electric heating quit.
Check AC circuit breaker....turn it fully off and then back on to reset if it has tripped.
Your year/model also uses a 12V DC power (to ON/Off switch and then to a relay to allow 120V AC power to element)
Access to relay and element are on backside of WH tank under a protective cover.
Element is cheap and easy to replace once you gain access.
No need to replace WH. (You'd have to access the backside to disconnect plumbing, wiring etc in order to replace a perfectly good WH----$$$$$/PITA)
Just replace the element---1400W (Atwood #92249) $18
[image]


Is it time for your medication or mine?


2007 DODGE 3500 QC SRW 5.9L CTD In-Bed 'quiet gen'
2007 HitchHiker II 32.5 UKTG 2000W Xantex Inverter
US NAVY------USS Decatur DDG31


Posted By: wa8yxm on 12/20/13 01:30pm

A water heater can easily last 20 years if it is well designed and properly treated.. Or six months if you forget to drain the water out of it in Michigan in the Winter...

Rumor has it the heat element is easy to replace, you may even be able to get one in a different size. That is one area where they missed the boat.

They should have put in two elements.. One full power, one half (or quarter) power so you could keep it hot on 30 amps without tripping anything.


Home was where I park it. but alas the.
2005 Damon Intruder 377 Alas declared a total loss
after a semi "nicked" it. Still have the radios
Kenwood TS-2000, ICOM ID-5100, ID-51A+2, ID-880 REF030C most times



Posted By: Golden_HVAC on 12/21/13 03:47am

My RV is 17 years old. The water heater still works, but has cracks in the aluminum tank, that cause it to drip a bit. So I would say you can get 16 years out of them.

What savings will you get by replacing the heating element? Propane is about $3 per gallon where I live and electric to run the heating element about $0.10 per KW. It takes 22 KW to make the same amount of heat as 1 gallon of propane, so you would save about 80 cents compared to burning a gallon of propane in my area. Since my 11 gallon propane tank will last 4 weeks full timing in the summer, my guess is the refrigerator used 1/2 that propane, and then the water heater 4-6 gallons in 4 weeks, or about $5 per week. Either way, it is not worth it to say "I will save $40 a year in propane by replacing the electric element."

But buy and have a $465 water heater installed if you are happy with that decision. The heating element is about $45, and as you said will take a bit of time to install. You are not sure that it will be leak free once completed, however most of the time it all installs quickly without problems.

I would just leave it alone, and burn propane for the next 6 years, replace it then, if you have not already traded it in on a newer model.

Fred.


Posted By: John&Joey on 12/21/13 05:27am

All you have to do is check the element for continuity to see if it's good or really the problem. At this point it sounds like you're assuming it's the problem.

My HWH is currently 16 years old and running strong. Well I take that back, last season it stopped working and I thought it was the element. Checked it for continuity and it was OK. Checked to see if power was getting to it and no it wasn't. The 15 amp switch on the 20 amp circuit went bad. Seems like the lighted switch only comes in 15 amp so we'll see how long the replacement lasts.


Posted By: donsuefuggrwe on 12/21/13 09:51pm

I am on my third WH in my 2001 Tradewinds. Full time 13 years, 123000 miles on it. Access is by the outside panel on mine. Washer machine should not be in the way. $600. a pop.


Posted By: Old-Biscuit on 12/21/13 10:12pm

donsuefuggrwe wrote:

I am on my third WH in my 2001 Tradewinds. Full time 13 years, 123000 miles on it. Access is by the outside panel on mine. Washer machine should not be in the way. $600. a pop.


Did the other two WHs have cracked tanks?

Otherwise....why are you replacing the whole unit (unless you upgraded in size or for dual heating)?

Just doesn't make cents......


Posted By: BigRabbitMan on 12/22/13 11:11pm

My Atwood is 37 years and counting. It is only gas, but the water heater itself is the same if is only gas or dual fuel. It is also heated by engine heat when traveling.


BigRabbitMan
Gas to Diesel Conversion project
76 FMC #1046, Gas Pusher became a Diesel Pusher
Discussion thread on this site
"You're never too old to learn something stupid."



Posted By: spacedoutbob on 12/22/13 11:43pm

I have one in my old camper, it's 38 years old and still works, I also have one in a 25 Year old Lance camper that still works fine, it's a direct ignition one.

Bob


Good Sam Club Life Member



Posted By: donsuefuggrwe on 12/23/13 12:43am

One was a cracked tank, one a corrosion problem.


Posted By: Red-Rover on 12/23/13 01:49am

My 20 year old Atwood has a thermal reset button. On two occasions in the past ten years , the water heater has been turned on with no water in the tank. It has a bi-metal, oilcan type switch that shuts down the electricity before the element self destructs. This heater has a sheet metal box, about 4 inch by 4 inch, mounted on the side of the heater. This box has a 3/4 inch hole in the side. Put your finger in the hole and push until you feel/hear a click. It takes a certain act of faith to stick your finger into a blind hole in an electrical box but that's what it takes.
Hope this helps. I may have the only surviving heater of this type in the world but it doesn't hurt to share my experience.


2014 Cougar 313RLI
2017 F250, 6.2L Gas, Crew Cab, Short Bed


Posted By: joeprinter on 12/25/13 04:24am

Try flushing the water heater, see if it will then heat. Might need to just replace the element, sounds like the tank is still doing OK if its heating with propane an not leaking.


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"Ford V-10"
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