water heater pilot - Fiberglass RV


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Old 09-13-2006, 12:18 PM   #1
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On the first day our recent 4 day trip, when I went to light the water heater, I thought that it would not light. Actually what was happening was that the flame looked to be only and 1/8" long and I didn't see it at first. I finally got the main burner to come on and we had hot water. Probably, just holding my lighter to the thermocouple got it hot enough. Next morning, I noticed it was out again. I think the pilot is losing it's flame when the main burner comes on. Again, the next few days it happened again but finally the last day, the water was still hot the next morning.
Never had this problem before and I thought the pilot flame was much bigger (maybe several shoots of 1/4" to 1/2" long?). Does my pilot need cleaning and how do you do that? Years ago, my pilot of my home furnace needed to be cleaned and I used a toothbrush and blew it out but I'm not sure about this one. Does the pilot tube come loose from the body to allow cleaning or just bend a brush and hit the end or what? Thanks for any help.
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Old 09-13-2006, 01:48 PM   #2
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If you get the DIY channel, RV Roadtrips is airing an episode and during the how too part they show refrigerator and water heater maintenance and cleaning tips. This episodes main topic was about California State Fair and according to the DIY website, it airs again on Friday the 15th.

RV Roadtrips Show Web Site on DIY
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Old 09-13-2006, 03:52 PM   #3
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If you get the DIY channel, RV Roadtrips is airing an episode and during the how too part they show refrigerator and water heater maintenance and cleaning tips. This episodes main topic was about California State Fair and according to the DIY website, it airs again on Friday the 15th.

RV Roadtrips Show Web Site on DIY
I don't have cable TV but tried to page thru your link. Didn't see anything about cleaning the pilot but hope to go back thru someday since it is interesting. Thanks, Chris
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Old 09-13-2006, 04:36 PM   #4
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It may be possible that you need a new thermocouple. That is the thing the pilot heats up.

I've changed them several times on several campers and at home also.

Check with Camping World.
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Old 09-13-2006, 06:29 PM   #5
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2005 is pretty new for a thermcouple to go. but then i had to replce the gas regulator on my 05 casita . is the refigerator working on gas?
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Old 09-14-2006, 07:02 AM   #6
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Seems to me that I should have a larger pilot flame. I thought it used to be bigger. I did get the main burner to come on but I'm thinking that it did so because I had my "butane match" in there for so long that the thermocouple finally got hot.
I guess my main question is how do I clean the pilot light line?
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Old 09-14-2006, 07:59 AM   #7
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Chris, I would give Casita a quick call. They probably can give you some guidance.

I just adjusted mine, but I have a very old unit so I can't be any help. Did you get a water heater manual with your trailer?
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Old 09-14-2006, 08:04 AM   #8
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Chris, I found a website where you can type in your zip code and it will give you a nearby service center for Suburban water heaters. Might help...

Suburban Service locator
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Old 09-14-2006, 11:15 PM   #9
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You might want to make sure your L.P. regulator is putting out the right amount of pressure from the propane bottles. Have RV center measure the gas pressure coming from the regulator with a Manometer, it should be 11 inchs. If it is less then 11 inchs the regulator can be adjusted to bring it up to 11 inches or if is is non-adustable will need to be replaced.

On adjustable regulators, the adjustment screw is behind the black cap as shown circled in red in the picture. This is something you don't want to adjust without a manometer to measure the actual pressure.

Typically they will hook up the manometer at the gas stove due to easy access for hooking up the manometer.

The manometer can also be used to see if you have any propane leaks.
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Old 09-15-2006, 12:43 PM   #10
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Hi Chris, I'm likely one of the oldest or earliest RVers here and have quarreled with nearly every mechanism in older ones. The experiences I have had with pilot lights, though, is still often a problem with the newest ones. If the tiniest spider can adopt your gas supply area, it will create a home in a heartbeat and the smallest bit of web will hinder the flow of gas. If it has had a meal or two it would mean more "tiny stuff". Before you consider "disaster plan" try to blow it out with the smallest vacuum pipe, on blow. If you do not have access to this program find someone who does. Air costs little! You may have to close some holes around the vent to get the most pressure into it. There is also a spider spray which will keep them at bay for several weeks if you can use it outside of RV living area. It requires very little.
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Old 09-17-2006, 08:26 PM   #11
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Re: water heater pilot, how to get more flame?

Wake up the Water Heater earlier, tell him to use dry wood!
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