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Old 06-04-2020, 04:54 PM   #1
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THOR #10613
Atwood water heater question

The 110v on the Atwood gas/electric water heater quits working. I spray the contacts with Deoxit and it works for a while, then quits. Is there a more permanent fix?

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Old 06-05-2020, 01:40 AM   #2
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I see no responders to you as yet, so letís start the ball rolling. It is always a good idea to post your coach and year, plus the make/model number of the device you are having issues with. This gives readers a little more info to respond and help.


When you say you ďspray the contactsĒ, do you mean the relay contacts of a 12vdc control relay in the back of the water heater, which then connects 120vac to the water heater electric element (through water heater ECO and thermostat)?

If yes, then the relay contacts may be badly burned or pitted and the relay probably should be replaced. Filing (burnishing) relay contacts with very fine burnishing tools can clean contact surfaces from mild contamination, but when they are damaged badly replacement is the best solution. I would contact the manufacturer, Dometic (bought certain parts of Atwood and I think Lippert bought other divisions) to see if you can obtain a replacement part.
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Old 06-05-2020, 01:47 AM   #3
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Originally Posted by javelin View Post
I see no responders to you as yet, so letís start the ball rolling. It is always a good idea to post your coach and year, plus the make/model number of the device you are having issues with. This gives readers a little more info to respond and help.


When you say you ďspray the contactsĒ, do you mean the relay contacts of a 12vdc control relay in the back of the water heater, which then connects 120vac to the water heater electric element (through water heater ECO and thermostat)?

If yes, then the relay contacts may be badly burned or pitted and the relay probably should be replaced. Filing (burnishing) relay contacts with very fine burnishing tools can clean contact surfaces from mild contamination, but when they are damaged badly replacement is the best solution. I would contact the manufacturer, Dometic (bought certain parts of Atwood and I think Lippert bought other divisions) to see if you can obtain a replacement part.
He's right. Here's another option. If you have a significant other that does their nails with one of those emory boards, ask them if you can borrow it. Rub it between the contacts and see how it works, In the mean time, go buy yourself a new relay. The emory board bought you some time but that's about it.
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Old 06-05-2020, 02:30 AM   #4
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I don't know the year or model either, but when I hear of a 110V electric HWH with an intermittent problem, I suggest that you should inspect the 110V wiring within the black plastic box on the back of the tank. This box also gives access to the heater element. There is more than one report of loose 110V wiring with loose connections causing problems and potential hazards.

If the problem is with the 12V relay contacts, simply replace it.
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Old 06-05-2020, 01:30 PM   #5
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Thanks for the input guys.
The coach is a 2015 Thor Siesta, and the water heater is a model GC6AA-10E. The contacts I refer to is the multi pin connector with various colored wires plugged in. If that is the relay then the answer to javelinís question is yes. Problem is, I donít see any way of replacing that connector as it seems to be integral to entire circuit board. Iíve read that Atwood got some bad circuit boards but I hate to replace the entire thing without being sure itís necessary. Propane heater still works fine.
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Old 06-05-2020, 01:42 PM   #6
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That's the same model HWH that I have in my 2016 Hurricane. I had a problem with 110V heating. After reading a post of wiring problems I pulled the cover off of black plastic electrical box on the back side of the HWH (under the sink on my coach). The cover of the box contains a relay. There are records in this forum of faulty wiring in this box and that is what I found to be the problem in mine. I'm attaching a pic. Considering the history, I would definitely confirm that you don't have a wiring problem in this box. If there is no indication of faulty wiring, it could still be that the relay in there is the problem although spraying the control board would doubtfully have any impact.
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Old 06-05-2020, 02:17 PM   #7
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After checking the 120vac troubleshoot section of the manual (link attached) it does not look like there is a control relay used at all......just hard wired AC.


https://www.manualslib.com/products/...e-9990224.html


From your description it sounds like you are having wiring connector issues (either the removable connector or the cct board edge connector). Maybe the high heating element current has overheated those specific connectors? This causes surface oxidation and then more overheating etc. If not cleaned up it can cause a fire (or melted connector minimum). Sounds like the heater element connection opens up though, so it stops the current flow. This may not always happen in future though.


The question is which side is causing the problem? If itís the removable connector you might be able to repair/replace it with a new piece or specific pin(s). In some cases pins can be removed and replaced in certain high quality connector bodies. Probably not and easy job without proper tools, space to work and a little slack in the wiring, re-soldering etc.


I would contact the manufacturer first and advise them of your issue. There might be a recall on this, or a good will free replacement board or connector body for you.
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Old 06-05-2020, 02:32 PM   #8
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Javlin, my issue has been corrected and I concluded that it was due to poor crimp connections. When I saw that Darter1585 was having intermittent 110V HWH problems, I wanted to encourage him to look at the wiring and relay at the back of the box. I know others have had problems in this area but am not aware of a recall. Here are the images from your link of the relay that I showed in my previous post.
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Old 06-05-2020, 04:15 PM   #9
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Found the relay on the back side of the WH, but all connections and wires seem to be clean and tight. The relay is activated by the yellow wire coming from the pin connector and Iím not sure how to rest to see if itís live. I suspect itís not which leads me back to the circuit board.
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Old 06-05-2020, 04:49 PM   #10
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Well, I guess in my original post I assumed Atwood would use a relay for the heater element control, but then the on line manual AC troubleshoot section must be a simplified schematic just showing a ďswitchĒ. Then I just looked in the manual again in the schematic section at the end....sure enough a relay is used for 120vac control to the element. (Picture is attached). My bad.



Checking the schematic it seems the only wire to the circuit board related to the electric heating element, is the yellow wire from the relay coil, as mentioned. Possibly the relay coil ground connection should also be checked if it just bolts to the water heater chassis. So if the yellow wire connection at the circuit board is flaky it would stop the relay from operating and connecting 120vac to the water heater element.


You are out of warranty (extended?), so if the circuit board connector cannot be fixed, you could attempt to solder a new similar gauge wire to the circuit board (copper trace side in the correct location of course) and hard wire splice connect it to the yellow wire leading to the relay coil. (Essentially jumpering the yellow connector junction). Removing the circuit board might be a bear though. If you do this though disconnecting the connector would be a hassle in future if required.
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Old 06-05-2020, 04:53 PM   #11
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Originally Posted by javelin View Post
Well, I guess in my original post I assumed Atwood would use a relay for the heater element control, but then the on line manual AC troubleshoot section must be a simplified schematic just showing a ďswitchĒ. Then I just looked in the manual again in the schematic section at the end....sure enough a relay is used for 120vac control to the element. (Picture is attached). My bad.



Checking the schematic it seems the only wire to the circuit board related to the electric heating element, is the yellow wire from the relay coil, as mentioned. Possibly the relay coil ground connection should also be checked if it just bolts to the water heater chassis. So if the yellow wire connection at the circuit board is flaky it would stop the relay from operating and connecting 120vac to the water heater element.


You are out of warranty (extended?), so if the circuit board connector cannot be fixed, you could attempt to solder a new similar gauge wire to the circuit board (copper trace side in the correct location of course) and hard wire splice connect it to the yellow wire leading to the relay coil. (Essentially jumpering the yellow connector junction). Removing the circuit board might be a bear though. If you do this though disconnecting the connector would be a hassle in future if required.

Or just go buy a Dinosaur replacement board. Too many people with problems from Atwood controller boards.
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Old 06-05-2020, 08:32 PM   #12
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One last "cheap" suggestion before you buy new, is to remove the circuit board and inspect the solder joints where the card edge connector is located. Over the years I have seen many otherwise "working boards" (in other electronics) with intermittent, cracked or cold solder joints where the connector is soldered on. A place of strain and flex, especially if you are removing the connectors often.
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Old 06-05-2020, 10:24 PM   #13
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IF you have a voltmeter and know how, you can use it to test the yellow wire to ground (green). You should have approx 12VDC if the circuit board is calling for 120V to the HWH. This DC voltage could be read at both the board and inside the plastic relay box.

When testing in the box, I caution you, there is 110VAC present at all times on the black wires and present on the white wires when the relay is closed.
Working around AC voltage can be dangerous and even deadly. Don't do it if you aren't confident with it.

However, since all of the connections are good, you could just do as 16ACE27 suggested and replace the board. It is the most likely problem at this point.
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Old 06-07-2020, 10:51 PM   #14
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Well, Iím convinced the circuit board is bad. I have 12v coming to the board when the switch is turned on, but nothing at the pin for the yellow wire going to the relay. Now the propane circuits have quit working as well. Iíve written to Dometic in hopes that this was one of the defective boards and they will replace it, but Iím not optimistic. Thanks for everyoneís input and ideas.
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Old 06-10-2020, 06:28 PM   #15
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Originally Posted by 16ACE27 View Post
Or just go buy a Dinosaur replacement board. Too many people with problems from Atwood controller boards.
Do you know where to find the side of the hwh that is not accessed from the external hatch? I have similar issue with the hwh working on LPG but not VAC. Iíve been told the element must be accessed from inside the coach. We have slide out ont the passenger (starboard) side and HEH on drivers (port) side.
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Old 06-10-2020, 06:33 PM   #16
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On my Siesta 24st, the back side of the wh is accessed thru a panel under the bed.
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Old 06-10-2020, 09:55 PM   #17
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Sorry, I don't know how it is accessed other than it will be exactly behind the outside HWH panel, except on the inside of the coach. I see that you are relatively new to the forum so I will share a piece of advice that I rec'd here that has helped me with these issues:
Go to this link: https://www.thormotorcoach.com/owner-login/
Register with your VIN and then go to the list of documents. There is a drop down menu with "schematics" listed. See what is in there. If there isn't a lot of electrical and layout drawings, then send Thor an email (not chat) with your VIN. Request all schematics they have on your coach. Wait a week or two and you should receive them.
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Old 06-13-2020, 01:29 PM   #18
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Originally Posted by darter1585 View Post
Well, Iím convinced the circuit board is bad. I have 12v coming to the board when the switch is turned on, but nothing at the pin for the yellow wire going to the relay. Now the propane circuits have quit working as well. Iíve written to Dometic in hopes that this was one of the defective boards and they will replace it, but Iím not optimistic. Thanks for everyoneís input and ideas.
Have you resolved this yet?
As you were checking voltages, were you able to check if the circuit on wires BRN1 & BRN3 is complete (see wiring diagram)? If the t-stat or cut-off sw is open, the control will not function.
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Old 06-14-2020, 06:18 PM   #19
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Confirmed bad circuit board. $82 for direct replacement from Boat and RV accessories. Plugged the new one in and everything is 100%.
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Old 06-14-2020, 07:25 PM   #20
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Originally Posted by darter1585 View Post
Confirmed bad circuit board. $82 for direct replacement from Boat and RV accessories. Plugged the new one in and everything is 100%.
Great, glad itís all working.
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