Water Heater Woes - Fiberglass RV

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Old 10-14-2008, 07:38 AM   #1
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Roger H's Avatar
Name: Roger
Trailer: Y2K6 Born Free 32RQ on the Kodiak chassis, 1995 Coachmen 19' B-van and 1996 Precision 21' Sailboat
Posts: 5,000
is a sickly, sooty yellow flame! Or, you can smell gas, and the pilot will light but you don't get a flame at all...

I took our trailer out last night after two months of sitting idle and guess what happened! I lit the water heater and got that sickly yellow, sooty flame. It's the second round with this trailer. It happened last year too!

In both cases, you have a blocked burner tube. Apparently, spiders LOVE the odorant in propane, and manage to find their way into your burner tube. Usually, they don't block the tube enough that gas won't come out, but their webs can disrupt the gas/air flow and mixture that rather than the roar of the bright blue flame, all you get is that sickly candle flame effect. This will soot up the side of your trailer, and doesn't do a very effective job of heating water.

What to do?

Remove the burner tube. Atwood has used two, three, and four screw setups over the years, but the goal is to remove the burner tube from the valve so that you can sight through it. The screws will pretty much all be 1/4" drive head sheet metal screws that require a 1/4" socket to remove. Once you have the burner tube off, you can look down the valve end and see what presents the little critters left you. A bottle brush the diameter of the tube is a VERY useful accessory as you can run it down the tube and clear the webs very quickly. Of course, even though this has happened to me a half-dozen times over the years, I'm not bright enough to acquire and keep a bottle brush for the occasion. I usually find a small, flexible twig of the correct length and run it through the tube. That seems to do an adequate job.

Return the burner to it's former location tightening the appropriate number of screws back in their respective locations, test the water heater. If you've got your robust bright blue flame back, then you're done. Congratulate yourself on saving a $60 repair, and a trip to the RV shop! If, after replacing the burner tube, you still have a problem, shut the water heater off, and head without delay to a shop where they can further diagnose what's going on.


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Old 10-14-2008, 03:22 PM   #2
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Trailer: Scamp 16 ft and Trillium 4500
Posts: 213
Good Post, Roger!

Also good to check the burner on the fridge - same thing can happen there. I had to clean mine out this year from spiders.
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