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Old 01-15-2021, 12:04 PM   #1
btb26153
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Suburban SW12DE Water Heater Issue

Trouble shooting with LP gas is tough when you can't find something with your particular symptoms so had to come in and post here.


Well it has had some hiccups but always restarted fine until Tuesday. The light comes on in the trailer saying it needs reset. I have hit the button for the reset on the tank as well as turning it on and off in the trailer and I do believe I have strained and sprained my index finger doing this as many times as I have.


It fires up like it should nice flame going down the tube and a little more yellow than what "I" thibnk it should be but how the hell do I know. it fires and burns for 3-11 seconds and shuts off and refires itself 3 times before lockout.


I have no idea what the problem is and need some help/ideas if possible. Since I never has a problem with it I never really played with it but now I have a problem I have found some things that need addressed in the future or may need to have attention now.


I think I have a leak in the heater tube, since i do see some water laying there when the burner lights. The are some water tracks coming from there too. May need a tank replaced since the next paragraph explains more.


I have a 2" nipple and a cap where the anode should be, opened it and more rusty particles than I wanted to see poured out.


I wanted to remove the burner tube so I could check or replace the heating element but the gas line is too corroded and will break if I try and turn the nut any further. can't wire brush it any more than i have and added a bit of blaster and that was useless too. I should a new manifold out let tube and nuts around a week from now and I will not be able to go out in public unless i hose myself with febreeze.

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Old 01-15-2021, 12:31 PM   #2
JRTJH
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What I see is a 15-16 year old Suburban water heater that has not had an anode rod in it for an unknown time frame, a leaking burner tube with water in it after sitting for any length of time, a corroded electrical heating element that can't be removed, a gas burner control that won't budge and a control board/flame sensor that isn't sensing a flame, making the prescribed 3 attempts, then locking out after the 3 failed attempts....

If that's the situation, it sounds like the failed parts are:

the corroded tank with missing anode
the electrical heating element
the flame sensor/igniter system
the corroded LP gas burner control...

About the only things that appear to be "reusable" are the front water heater door and possibly the control board....

At this point, I'd think that if you're going to "chase bad parts until it works" you'll probably wind up spending a lot more than a new water heater and may, in the end, have to buy a new one anyway...

With the missing anode and "more rusty particles than I wanted running out" I'd strongly urge not spending a lot of money, time or effort trying to salvage the water heater. Even if you "patch it together" I'd ask you, "When is it going to fail again at one of the other identified questionable components" ???
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Old 01-15-2021, 12:39 PM   #3
btb26153
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Thanks for the reply! Pretty much what I already considered, has worked well except for a few hiccups like I said since we got it and moved into it it this past spring.


Well need to deal with this for 3 weeks lol spent everything the past 2 months and has to happen when the money is gone like always. Cost of the new tank complete really isn't bad and nothing compared to what was spent on the truck and car recently so I really can't complain/
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Old 01-15-2021, 01:22 PM   #4
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Stuff never seems to happen at an "opportune time" but with that said, living in a camper with some unknown service years behind her be prepared. I agree with john, it's time to put that wh to rest.

Good luck.
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Old 01-15-2021, 01:39 PM   #5
bobbecky
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Replaced our 12 gallon Suburban water heater over four years ago, and even with having to transfer the relay on the outside of the unit to the new one, it only took under three hours, by myself and having never done one before. Got the best price from Dyers at the time and it was shipped very quick. Ours was leaking from the front of the tank where the burner tube is welded to the tank, most likely a poor weld. The new one is still working great and I replace the anode annually regardless of it's condition.
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Old 01-15-2021, 01:41 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by btb26153 View Post
Thanks for the reply! Pretty much what I already considered, has worked well except for a few hiccups like I said since we got it and moved into it it this past spring.


Well need to deal with this for 3 weeks lol spent everything the past 2 months and has to happen when the money is gone like always. Cost of the new tank complete really isn't bad and nothing compared to what was spent on the truck and car recently so I really can't complain/
I thought everyone who owned an RV was rich bwhahahahaha! Just kidding. I have a 2002 so I know about limited bucks to spend on stuff. eBay has a number of replacement SW12DE for under $500 with free shipping. Some folks have installed flash hot water heaters which sound great but I have heard a lot of negative feedback. It is too cold not to have hot water!
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Old 01-23-2021, 08:25 AM   #7
btb26153
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thanks for the replies, the leak i found is slow but I did manage to get it working. Took out the old element after buying a new one and found it was in excellent condition with a little rust on it.


cleaned everything out in the burner area and put it back together, filled it with water and purged the air from the water lines, hit the switch 3 times to purge air from the gas line and has worked perfect since Tuesday so 2 more weeks and I will order a new one and replace the entire thing.


Thanks for the replies, and happy it is working. you just don't realize how good a shower feels until 4 days goes by and all you have is cold water
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