Frozen holding tanks and water heater... - Page 4 - Fiberglass RV


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Old 12-26-2012, 07:15 PM   #61
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Hahaha... yeah, enough time to LEARN, but I don't feel very motivated to DO anything until it is 60 degrees out there...

And to think I spent my entire childhood growing up so close to the Canadian border that I was never sure whether my kite was in International Air Space.

Frostbite Falls, MN. They called off school if it was 40 BELOW ZERO, but not if it was minus 39.

No joke.
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Old 12-26-2012, 07:51 PM   #62
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Frostbite Falls, MN. They called off school if it was 40 BELOW ZERO, but not if it was minus 39.

No joke.


Did they have the thermometer at the bottom or at the top of the two mile long 10% grade you had to climb (barefoot) to get to school?

Oh- wait- that was an uphill-both-ways trip, right?

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Old 12-26-2012, 09:57 PM   #63
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Exactly the question I was hoping someone would pose.

The proverbial thermometer was handily positioned at the International Falls Airport. Although our humble abode was located numerous kilometers southerly, several mornings each winter we (I have siblings) would get up early, check OUR thermometer which read 43 below zero, and of course go back to bed in a celebratory fashion.

Within approximately 15 minutes, our kind and loving mother (bus driver) would holler with the most genuine tone, "It's only 38 below at the airport!"

So, off to school we'd go... uphill there, downhill home.

At those temps, up/down, left/right, early/late... well, none of that seemed to matter.

When my ear lobs or the tip of my nose began to turn white, or the front of my legs got so numb I started believing in God... THAT mattered...

So let's get back to the tankless water heater and other modifications.

Otherwise, I might not make it till spring...
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Old 12-27-2012, 07:38 AM   #64
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I had a tankless Girard water heater in my last trailer. A lot of problems because they are sooo new to the rv market. You control the temperature with water flow, low water flow is hot and increase in flow is warm. It was never consistent. In addition it came on every time you turned on the hot water, as there is no reserve tank. That got old real quick.
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Old 12-27-2012, 07:59 AM   #65
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Jim, they do have their pluses and minuses. No wasteing fuel to keep water hot when you forget to turn the unit off. I looked into one on my boat but the marine ones didnt give enough of a temp increase for real cold waterlike during the winter. Maybe they have gotten better in the last few years. I know they make on demand gas unit's for homes...not sure for rv's.


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Old 12-27-2012, 08:43 AM   #66
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i would worry mostly about the pipes. if they are clear, frozen water in the tanks as long as they are not full shouldn't be to big of a problem.
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Old 12-27-2012, 09:31 AM   #67
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I wonder if there has been any comparison of the efficiency of a tankless vs traditional water heater in an rv? If you turn off the traditional after it gets hot, it will remain hot for a good 12 hours, so 2 operating cycles a day could be sufficient. Whereas the constant on/off of the instant unit during daily use may use the same amount of fuel. The only advantage I saw in my unit was ease of winterizing in the winter, as it did not require any winterizing procedure as it has no tank. But you must purchase a "WUD" winter use device and install which turns on the unit automatically in the winter to keep it from freezing. So in the winter the traditional water tank full will help hold the heat, whereas with the tankless, it will operate to keep from freezing, again use of pump and propane when not needed.
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Old 12-27-2012, 11:15 AM   #68
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i would worry mostly about the pipes. if they are clear, frozen water in the tanks as long as they are not full shouldn't be to big of a problem.
I agree completely, but my pail of RV anti-freeze that I drained out of the grey water tank at the very end of my "skirt and thaw" project froze solid overnight. So of course whatever I did not drain out of that tank is also frozen, which, as you say, is not likely a problem. BUT, this could also mean the RVA that is currently left in all the lines and possibly in the grey water pump is frozen too. And that could be a problem.

So... today we are experiencing a temporary warm spell of nearly 20 degrees, and I feel it's time to return to my new used Scamp and see about pumping a little more RVA through the lines. I will also conduct my little test on the water heater to determine whether the tank itself is actually leaking, or if the leak I saw is from an external line connection.

My most recent thinking is that the frozen water I discovered on the rear floor area was definitely nowhere near 6 gallons worth. More like a gallon or maybe even less. That doesn't seem like enough to crack the water heater tank, although somebody did mention theirs cracked and it was not full.

More later...
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Old 12-27-2012, 02:15 PM   #69
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Okay, so both of the large tank drain valves are frozen shut, and I have the Reddy Heater blowing under the camper again. These valves will both thaw in a very short time.

Both electric pumps came on when I flipped the switches, so I'm hoping that means the RVA in the lines and pumps is concentrated enough to protect the systems until spring. That said, I have one more gallon of RVA left, and will pour a bit more into the shower drain, then pump it back into the grey water tank just to be sure.

Anyway, my new question is how does that RED plastic piece that "clamps" the water line to the top inlet of the water heater come off? It has no screw to loosen, like a regular clamp, so is it even designed to be removed? Or do you have to cut the water line in order to unscrew the brass fitting on the water heater tank, and then replace the RED clamp when reassembling?

I sure would like to do this NOW, since the temperatures are going to drop again in the coming days...
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Old 12-27-2012, 05:45 PM   #70
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Well, I try to maintain the attitude that things could always be worse, and so if something not so good happens, I immediately think of what else COULD have happened but didn't...

Today I removed the fiberglass "bench" (as was wisely suggested) so I could get a better look at the underside of the water heater tank. And, sure enough, as soon as I introduced water into the tank, I could see it leaking from the bottom. I guess my next step is to remove the entire apparatus and see about having it welded by somebody who knows about these things. If that is determined not to be feasible, I'll be making a trip to Scamp Headquarters, which is really not so far from where I live. If I stay away from the Brewhouse for a full month, I'll probably save almost enough money to pay for the new water heater... hahaha...

The things that COULD have broken or malfunctioned but did not are quite numerous... both pumps are working great, no leaks in any lines that I can see, no leaks in the black or grey water tanks... among other potential problems that did not occur.

At least I now know exactly what I am up against, instead of constantly trying to imagine all the scenarios, good and bad, and never really feeling at rest because it's all a guessing game. No more guessing. She's cracked.

I've been perusing this brilliant forum and learning all sorts of other essential information, cool modifications, and just general stuff about owning and operating one of these very cool fiberglass abodes.

Thanks to all contributors thus far.
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Old 12-27-2012, 05:56 PM   #71
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Well...I guess the 'nother bright side is that since the trailer's fiberglass, you won't have water damage to walls etc. This kind of thing can be a much worse nightmare in a wood-framed-and-finished trailer!

On that subject, though:

If the WH is sitting on a plywood base as some do in our trailers, you'd best get it out/off of that surface so you can dry the plywood out well, thus hopefully avoiding replacing the floor.

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Old 12-27-2012, 05:57 PM   #72
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Today I removed the fiberglass "bench" (as was wisely suggested) so I could get a better look at the underside of the water heater tank. And, sure enough, as soon as I introduced water into the tank, I could see it leaking from the bottom. I guess my next step is to remove the entire apparatus and see about having it welded by somebody who knows about these things...
It is possible to buy just the tank (at least for Atwood's 10-gallon size), and move the hardware (burner, controls, etc) over to it. No special tools or skills are required. It may be worth the effort to save some cost.
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Old 12-27-2012, 06:08 PM   #73
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As you say, it could have been worse and much more expensive. I'm sure some of your trouble shooting efforts have been educational for others. Certainly the water line antifreeze freezing up was an eye opener.

Two items: I'm pretty familiar with typical pipe and hose connections. I know the Scamp piping is probably Pex but I don't know how the solid plastic connectors work. I'm used to crimped fittings etc. but haven't a clue how these ones are removed or re-installed, so...does anyone know?

Actually, I didn't know the tank was aluminum. It's never been a issue for me. However, I'm optimistic that you'll be able get it welded up for only a week's abstinance from the pub. A friend does TIG welding of very thin; read paper thin; aluminum components in heat exchangers. I don't know the wall thickness of the water tank but for the right welder it shouldn't be an issue.

If you find an answer to the water line connector puzzle let us know.

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Old 12-27-2012, 08:04 PM   #74
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The RED water line connector I mentioned is a plastic "ring" made of material that shrinks as it cools down after being heated. I called Scamp just to confirm that the only way to remove it is to cut it, and they explained the general concept. Works great, but not exactly user friendly for the D.I.Y sort.

Quote:
It is possible to buy just the tank (at least for Atwood's 10-gallon size)
I will definitely look into this, thanks for the tip. I suppose Atwood has a phone number I can find online, and if so I'll give them a call tomorrow.

Quote:
get it out/off of that surface so you can dry the plywood out well
Another good suggestion. The floor IS some sort of "wafer board", or OSB, but has a good coat of paint on it... I dried that whole area of the floor a couple of days ago when I discovered the ice sheeting to the rear of the water heater, and then dried it again today when I finally confirmed the leak in the tank. If the weather tomorrow is not TOO vicious, I think I'll just drill the rivets, disconnect the gas and water lines, and pull it out as you suggest. Might as well keep plugging away at this project, so I can go Scamping around right away in the spring.
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Old 12-27-2012, 08:16 PM   #75
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I suppose Atwood has a phone number I can find online, and if so I'll give them a call tomorrow.
Atwood Mobile - water heaters
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Old 12-27-2012, 09:54 PM   #76
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The RED water line connector I mentioned is a plastic "ring" made of material that shrinks as it cools down after being heated. I called Scamp just to confirm that the only way to remove it is to cut it, and they explained the general concept. Works great, but not exactly user friendly for the D.I.Y sort. .
Thanks for clearing that up. That's what it looked like but getting the word directly from Scamp confirms it. Thanks. If I have to remove one I think I'll try heating it with a hot air gun and wiggleing it off. Maybe it can be re-heated and reinstalled. Who knows, if not then I'd use a compression fitting or a crimp ring. In case like this I always figure, what have I got to loose?

If just replacing the tank at a lower price is an option, great. If not, another option would be to just use an aluminum patch and blind rivets. It'll be interesting to see what the damage looks like.

Ron
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Old 12-27-2012, 11:14 PM   #77
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if I had to replace my water heater, I'd put in a DSI one. Having the option of gas or electric hot water heating can be kind of nice sometimes. BUt I hope for your sake that a shop can weld or braze it.
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Old 12-28-2012, 12:26 PM   #78
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Well, I know I've drilled out a few rivets over the years, but never on such an expensive piece of "equipment"... so do you just use a drill bit that is the same size as the O.D. of the rivet shaft? That way the whole rivet basically gets "eliminated" and therefore the ends become irrelevant? Or do you use a bit large enough to just drill the outer head away, making sure not to allow the drill bit to dig into the metal casing behind it?

I ask only because I have drilled one rivet as a test, and the outer head is not coming loose. Should I assume I need to keep moving up to slightly larger drill bits until the outer head comes off?

Seems like an incredibly easy thing to do, and sort of silly to even ask... I just don't like the idea of drilling a bunch of holes in this camper body that are bigger than absolutely necessary.

Also, I've evaluated the "layout" from the inside too, and it almost looks possible to pull the tank INTO the camper... maybe not...???

The strange thing is, even with the bench seat out of the way, and the insulation jacket removed from the tank, I still cannot see or feel any crack.

Oh well, I guess I'll just keep drilling until the first rivet lets loose and then the rest of this portion of the project should be pretty quick. Oops, I should NOT have said that...
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Old 12-28-2012, 12:37 PM   #79
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I'm no pro in the rivet department, but trial-and-error has taught me to use a bit slightly bigger than the rivet "dimple", which will cleanly sever the head of the rivet from the shaft. When it pops off, it usually climbs the drillbit...

Quick work with a sharp bit is required, since prolonged application of a dull/too large bit will likely set the rivet to spinning, rendering removal more difficult. Loose rivets must have their heads ground off unless the blind side can be gripped/cut somehow.

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Old 12-28-2012, 12:58 PM   #80
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Thanks for clearing that up. That's what it looked like but getting the word directly from Scamp confirms it. Thanks. If I have to remove one I think I'll try heating it with a hot air gun and wiggleing it off. Maybe it can be re-heated and reinstalled. Who knows, if not then I'd use a compression fitting or a crimp ring. In case like this I always figure, what have I got to loose?

If just replacing the tank at a lower price is an option, great. If not, another option would be to just use an aluminum patch and blind rivets. It'll be interesting to see what the damage looks like.

Ron
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