Since you’re reading this, it’s likely that you own an RV fitted with different kinds of Atwood branded equipment. It’s always handy to know DIY troubleshooting and repairs of the various components of your recreational vehicle (RV) or campervan, especially when you’re on the road or campsite on your own, and help is miles away. Here’s a very straightforward guide to troubleshooting your Atwood LP gas water heater.
1. Prepare Your Tools
These are the things you’ll need:
- Power source – could be RV battery or 120 volt AC outlet
- Philips screwdriver
- Wire brush
2. Identify the Problem(s)
Your water heater will have different kinds of issues. It could be pilot outage, poor ignition, lack of heated water, or bad smell. It’s important to understand the underlying problem in order to know how to solve it.
3. Troubleshoot Pilot Outage
- Replace weak thermocouple or gas control magnet.
- Clean or replace orifice if pilot flame is poor.
- Clear U tube if blocked.
- Adjust gas pressure to manufacturer’s setting to correct reading.
- Adjust to solve improper air and burner alignment.
- Tighten connection at gas control if thermocouple is loose.
4. Troubleshoot No Sparks on Electrodes
- Tighten electrodes to main burner if loose.
- Adjust electrodes to maintain proper gap.
- Clean electrodes if dirty.
- Tighten wire connections on circuit board if loose.
- Replace electrodes if insulation is damaged.
- Replace circuit board if damaged.
5. Troubleshoot Poor Ignition
- Replace electrode insulation if cracked or damaged.
- Replace thermostat if fluctuating.
- Tighten ground wire if loose.
- Tighten electrode if having poor ground.
- Tighten or replace circuit board, solenoid valve if gas valve doesn’t open, no spark, or when defective.
- Replace gas control when out of calibration.
- Align flame spreader.
6. Troubleshoot Insufficient Heated Water
- Clear burner and U tube from obstructions.
- Adjust air shutter, burner and orifice accordingly.
- Set gauge to preferred temperature.
- Replace defective thermostat.
- Adjust bypass lever and flame spreader if misaligned or misplaced.
7. Troubleshoot Dripping (Establish Air Pocket)
- Turn off water heater and water supply.
- Open the RV faucet.
- Drain all the water through the pressure relief valve.
- Release the valve handle.
- Close the faucet and fill the tank with cold water.
- Allow air pocket to develop. Repeat process as needed.
- Consider installing bigger tank if issue persists.
8. Troubleshoot Sooting
- Remove obstructions from main burner, U tube or exhaust.
- Adjust burner alignment, air shutter or flame spreader.
- See if you’re using the recommended gas supply.
9. Troubleshoot Rotten Egg Problem.
The rotten egg smell aka hydrogen sulfide or sulfur water, comes from the reaction between the hydrogen in the tank and sulfur in the water. To solve this, you’ll need to flush water heating system.
- Drain heater tank by opening the drain plug or opening pressure relief valve and cleaning obstructions.
- Flush your water heating system with either 2 parts vinegar and 1 part water, or 3% hydrogen peroxide (1 part hydrogen and 160 parts water), or bleach (1 part chlorine and 230 parts water).
- Let the solution stay for several hours and then rinse it thoroughly with water until the smell is fully removed.
Always refer to the manual when troubleshooting, so you’ll know the best replacement parts to use, where to buy them, and how best to take care of your water heater.