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Mivy

Ontario

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Posted: 09/12/19 07:03pm Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

Hi all, We recently purchased a new to us 2013 Rockwood 5th wheel trailer. We have a panel of switches and there is one marked “tank heater” and the other is marked “hot water heater”. Do both have to be switched on in order to get hot water? We tried that and cannot get hot water. We are presently plugged in at home to 110 15 amp and cannot figure out this hot water heater.

ScottG

Bothell Wa.

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Posted: 09/12/19 07:14pm Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

The tank heater is there to keep the fresh water holding tank from freezing in cold weather. It has no relation to the WH.


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DFord

Near St Louis, MO

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Posted: 09/12/19 07:19pm Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

Many hot water heaters have "by-pass" valves for winterizing. In by-pass mode, cold water by-passes the water heater and goes straight to the faucets. This allows the hot water tank to be drained for the winter and saves on the cost of the pink anti-freeze that's pumped through the water lines to keep them from freezing and cracking over the winter. It makes it a lot easier to flush out the system in the spring to purge the pink stuff before you begin using it too.

Check to make sure your water heater isn't by-passed.

Many hot water heaters have both an electric heater element and of course the propane heater that comes with all of them. The two different heater have separate switches and can both be used at the same time for a quicker warm up.

Sorry I don't have anything specific for your RV though.


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midnightsadie

ohio

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Posted: 09/12/19 07:41pm Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

and if you turned on the hot water heater while it was empty? you burnt out the heating element.

Mivy

Ontario

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Posted: 09/12/19 07:50pm Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

Thanks for suggestions Good to know what the tank heater switch is used for. We did not turn the hot water heater on while empty as it was frilled after we flushed it and we are quite confident the bypass valve was not engaged. Could it be that it will work at 30 amp once we get to campground?

wopachop

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Posted: 09/12/19 08:10pm Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

Like mentioned you can heat with propane and/or with electric. On my trailer the Water Heater switch inside the trailer is to turn on the propane.

For the electric there is a switch on the water heater itself. Open the cover on the outside of the trailer and look for that switch. They often break and people end up running wire to the inside of the trailer. So that you can turn on the electric element without going outside.

There is also a breaker for the water heater to run in electric mode.

DavidandDayle

Guelph, Ont

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Posted: 09/12/19 09:12pm Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

We have two water heater switches. One is for electric, the other for propane. For that, the propane tank has to be turned on.
On ours, there is a red trouble light that sometimes comes on.
We have had the heating bits (circuit board +) replaced.


David and Dayle


pianotuna

Regina, SK, Canada

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Posted: 09/12/19 09:17pm Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

Welcome to the forums!

Some water heaters have a 2nd switch located some where in the area under the water heater cover.

Mine doesn't have that 'extra' switch, and it works fine on a 15 amp circuit.


Regards, Don
My ride is a 28 foot Class C, 256 watts solar, 556 amp hours of AGM in two battery banks 12 volt batteries, 3000 watt Magnum hybrid inverter, Sola Basic Autoformer, Microair Easy Start.

pianotuna

Regina, SK, Canada

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Posted: 09/12/19 09:19pm Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

The tank heaters are often on the waste tanks (black and grey water).

My fresh water tank is in the heated area of my class C, so it would not require a tank heater.

happy2rv

Huntsville, AL, USA

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Posted: 09/12/19 10:07pm Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

As ScottG said. The "TANK HEATER" switch should be for anti-freeze heaters on your holding tanks. It is not related to heating water for use and will not noticeably warm water in any tank, only (hopefully) keep it above freezing. It should only be on when needed to prevent freezing.

The panels in many RVs are poorly labeled and to make things worse, there is usually more than one water heater switch. Sometimes they install switches for both gas and electric on the inside panel. Usually when they install both switches on the same panel, they do a slightly better job of labeling them. Some Fleetwood panels have both switches and some don't. If it just has one switch labeled "Water Heater" it is almost always the propane water heater switch.

I said usually a lot in that first paragraph. Unfortunately, not all water heaters are the same. Pretty much every RV water heater has propane heat. Most newer ones, and a lot of older ones, also have an electric heating element. Again, unfortunately RV manufacturers sometimes put an electric water heater switch on the control panel and sometimes they don't. Fleetwood has done it both ways. IF it has an electric element, and being a 2013 it very likely does, and it doesn't have a switch on the panel labeled "ELECTRIC WATER HEATER", then the switch is probably located inside the access cover on the outside of the water heater. It's often not labeled and is just a black electric switch, possibly with a 0 and 1 or on and off. It's also often hidden at the bottom if the unit tucked away next to the gas valve partially hidden by the burner tube.

As others have suggested, its important to make sure the heater's tank is full and has not been bypassed before turning it on. Turning on the electric element without water in the tank will likely burn out the element very quickly. The easiest way to verify the tank has water is to either turn on the water pump if not connected to pressurized "city water" or make sure the pressurized water is hooked up and turned on. Then release the OTP (over temperature pressure) valve on the outside of the water heater. It will have a metal tab handle that you lift to release. If water comes out, your tank is full. If you hear water running in and air comes out, hold it open and let the tank fill until it runs out then release it. If no water or air comes out, the tank has been bypassed.

Once you verify the tank is full, ensure the propane is on and the lines have been purged of air. You can ensure the lines have been purged by lighting a burner on the stove and letting it burn for a minute. If it burns steady, the line is cleared of air. Now turn on the "Water Heater" switch on the panel. You should hear the igniter sparking and the flame should ignite and stay lit. If it tries to light and goes out, it should try again. After some number of attempts to ignite it (usually 3) , if the flame doesn't light and stay lit there is a problem with the heater. There should be a red LED near the water heater switch labeled "DSI FAULT". After the per-programmed number of attempts and failures to light/stay lit, this LED should lite and the heater will not try to light again until it is switched off and back on. This lockout is a safety mechanism to prevent excess propane from building up and suddenly igniting. If it is locking out, there is something wrong with the heater and more troubleshooting is necessary.

Assuming the RV is equipped with an electric element and you can find the switch, you can turn it on (don't forget to turn it off before draining the heater). This will take longer to heat the water than gas, but not excessively long. Some units will an indicator light or lighted switch to show when the electric element is on but many don't. You may or may not be able to hear something as the element heats but there are no other indications that the electric element is working other than waiting and testing the water temperature. We almost always use only the electric element although I try to run the propane occasionally to keep things working.

You can use both propane and electric at the same time or either one independently.

Mivy wrote:

Could it be that it will work at 30 amp once we get to campground?


See above for detailed description of how to check things out. Specifically with regard to this question, the switch you referenced is for propane operation so should not rely on 110V electric at all. It will require 12V power for the control board and spark ignition to work. This is provided by the batteries when operating without AC power and/or power converter when plugged into AC power.

For the electric element, assuming it's so equipped and you find the switch, it will require roughly 13 amps to operate. If you are powering your RV using a standard 110V extension cord from a typical 15A outlet, it should still work although it wouldn't work if you tried to power anything else like the microwave or air conditioning. If it doesn't work, you will know because it will trip the breaker feeding the outlet and you will no longer have power for any 110V items (TV, microwave, air conditioner, etc...). For RV's with 30A service, there's no difference (other than the amount of current available) between powering it using an adapter cord to plug into a 15A outlet and plugging into 30A. For RVs with 50A service, there are some technical differences, between 50A and adapting to 30A but for the purposes of your question there are no practical differences. If the breaker doesn't trip it should work as well as it will in an RV park.

* This post was edited 09/12/19 10:24pm by happy2rv *


2018 Forrest River Salem Hemisphere 282RK - 2017 RAM 1500 TV

Previous RVs and TOADS
2004 Fleetwood Bounder 32W on WH W20
2000 Four Winds 5000 21RB
1986 27' Allegro
TOADS
2005 Ford Ranger XLT 2WD
2004 Suzuki Aerio
1988 Chevrolet Sprint

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