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Old 07-03-2020, 08:18 PM   #1
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Brand: Dutchmen
State: Tennessee
Posts: 38
THOR #18972
Atwood water heater issues

We I out and about in the Dutchmen and have come across another issue. My Atwood gas water heater Works great very hot water. But after a few hours the light kicks on and it stops working. I can restart it at that point without issue.

Now what I have found is that the light does not go out the heater kicks on periodically but the water isn’t really hot.

I’m thinking it’s probably the Tstat & or the ECO.

Any thoughts??

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Old 07-04-2020, 01:21 AM   #2
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Brand: Thor Motor Coach
Model: 2013 ACE 30.1
State: Alberta
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THOR #2631
I see no responses to you so far, and I note your coach is a 1994 model. If its the original water heater, it might be time for a good cleaning of the unit?
Just to clarify your description, you said now the water heater switch lamp does not go out, but the heater cycles occasionally. Does that mean you leave the water heater switch on and it fails to light.......but after some time it tries to re-start and succeeds.......but does not run long enough to heat the water properly?
Can you manually start the water heater now at all and if yes, does the lamp go off when the water heater is working? Both the thermo and the ECO elements need to be closed to enable the control board to start the heating cycle. Can you hear how far into the cycle it gets (sparking, but no start; no sparking at all; smell of gas; if there is a red lamp on the water heater control board, does it light up at all when you call for hot water startup? ). Need a bit more information about how far you get into the call for hot water cycle.
If it turns out to be either the thermo or ECO, I believe that both the elements can be purchased in pairs for Atwood units, just be sure you get the correct temp values (but not sure about 1994 heater parts being the same as more modern tank water heaters though). There are videos on YouTube describing how to change both the elements....and troubleshooting water heaters.....again though not sure if the videos will apply to your 1994 coach.
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Old 07-04-2020, 02:26 AM   #3
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The way this heater works according to the manual is you throw the switch to on. The light goes on. If the heater ignited the light goes off. If the heater over works it goes into a safety mode. When this happen the red light stays on and the heater shuts down. I then must turn the switch off, wait 5 minutes then reignite.

I looked at the condition of the ECO & TSTAT & the tape over the top is lifted & the switches move. They appear not to be firmly attached to the tank.

If I let the system rest off I can fire it up until hot but then after a few hours she shuts down. Going to check sensors with multimeter next. Replacing them seems simple and the pair are cheap.
Oh I did do a thorough cleaning last season when I bought it as it did not fire initially
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Old 07-04-2020, 02:49 PM   #4
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If you just have a 6 or 10 gallon typical RV gas water heater, I am wondering why you would leave it on for long periods (like a standing home tank water heater.).....unless you have a large group taking sequential showers etc.? I think typical use is to turn it on about 15 minutes prior to need and then turn off again after the need is completed to save gas and wear and tear on the appliance......but each to his/her own of course.
From your description it sounds like it works fine (starts and hot water) for the cold start situations and only fails (or locks out) for the long term “left on” operation. Maybe what happens is that when you leave it on for long periods, the water heater cycles as normal to maintain water temp (low point for reheat is approx 115F I think), but perhaps it fails to restart once at some point (for some reason) and the control board locks out. It probably will not re-try to start until you manually turn off the water heater (on/off switch), which clears the lock out and it starts the heating cycle again. The one time or random “fail to start” situation could be caused by many things.....including control board, loose or bad connections, flame sensor adjustments; old gas valve, etc.


If your thermo and ECO sensors are not solidly mounted in place (especially thermo) that could result in erroneous temperature levels in the hot water. I would “guess” though if the thermo was not touching the tank it might run the burner longer than normal to reach the typical 140F and you would potentially get hotter water than normal. It does not hurt to change the sensors because I think you also get a new retention seal cover etc to hold them solidly in place. You definitely want the ECO and thermal cut off device working as designed.
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Old 07-04-2020, 03:14 PM   #5
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Ok a lot of good info here. From what I have read testing the hot water heater like a a home unit (leaving it on) it not supposed to harm it as it cycles to keep water at a certain temp.
Now yes initially I would fire it up and leave it running. In a few the water would heat up to the temperature of molten lava. In a few hours it would lock out ( unit switch on/ switch light on / unit fire off water tepid. Now it has not gone into lockout but the water is not really getting hot as the unit shuts down prematurely .
The thermal tape on the Tstat & eco is shot & loose. I know the burner is clean & working as this the igniter.
It can only be the sensors or the control board. I will start with the sensors first as they are inexpensive
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