New Axis Fresh Water System and Tankless Water Heater Saga
I finally dewinterized my new Axis 24.1 yesterday. It finally got warm enough not to risk future freezing here in Ct. This is what I found:
Before filling the tank, I unscrewed the cover over the water pump and plumbing. The dump valve was left open and the three way valve to the suction of the pump was left in the antifreeze position. OK, I closed and turned them correctly. I then filled the tank.
The suction tubing to the pump, which is a rather small diameter, was pinched off at the water tank outlet. It took some moving around (nothing is tied down, everything is loose) to get enough slack to straighten out the tubing. I opened up the strainer and saw that I had good gravity flow.
I then turned on the water pump using the Rapid Camp BM Pro system. Why couldn't Thor have just put an on/off switch to do this near the pump? You have to turn the pump on using the touch screen display. So the pump ran for a second or so and then shut off.
Then I flushed out the pink antifreeze from all lines. It took just a little water, probably less than a gallon to do this, which implies next winter it will only take a gallon or so to re winterize it. All good.
Then I turned on the on/off switch to the Girard tankless water heater which is behind the outside cover and made sure the inside control panel at the foot of the bed was on. No hot water. I knew that the burner worked and the propane tank was more than half full. I knew it worked because in the dead of winter when I turned that switch on, the burner would light for about 30 seconds. This is the low temperature freeze protection feature that keeps water in the heating coil from freezing, but only if you leave the switch on and the coach battery switch on, which no one should do for winter storage. More about this later.
So I placed a call to Thor. It is now about 30 hours later and I still haven't heard from them. Good riddance anyway. I called Girard and within a minute was talking to a tech. He was quite knowledgeable about his product but less so about how my RV was plumbed. He said he gets lots of incorrectly plumbed RVs from Thor and suggested I trace out the plumbing.
So I did. The plumbing to and from the pump looked ok (after setting the valves properly), so I unscrewed the slotted panel to the right of the microwave. This gives you access to the back of the water heater. It turns out that Thor installed a useless bypass kit with three way bypass valves on the inlet and outlet to the water heater. These are appropriate for a tank type water heater but useless for this tankless type. Why? The heating coil inside the water heater probably holds less than a cup full and is easily flushed out unlike the 6 gallons in most tank type water heaters.
These valves were set to the bypass position, so the water heater was getting no water. OK, I set them correctly and when I did water gushed out of one of the connections because it was loose. So I tightened it up and some others and then tried the hot water heater again. Viola!! It worked.
The shower head at first didn't work, but then I saw that the slide shut off valve on the head wasn't totally open (it was dribbling water) but when I corrected that, the shower also worked with hot water. So all was well.
So let me talk about Thor installing the useless bypass valves. For a tank type water heater, you close those valves and then drain the water heater by removing the anode plug. But there is no way to drain the Girard heating coil.
If Thor had not first run antifreeze through the water heater before turning the block valves, once they turned them the heater coil would be full of water and blocked in. It would likely freeze and crack the coil. Girard attempts to solve this with the low temperature burner start feature, but like I said above, it takes power to make it work and no one should leave the battery switch on during winter storage.
Fortunately it does seem that Thor antifreezed that coil before shutting it off since I could find any leaks. But it could easily have gone the other way.
So we are taking my new Axis out for its maiden campout to a local place this weekend before we head to NC for a longer trip in a week or so. Wish me luck!!