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Old 04-19-2019, 08:44 PM   #1
Kellie Henkel
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Water heater -sparked a fire

We are dry camping. We turned on water heater. We heard it click to light pilot and then we saw flames so I turned it off. Whatís wrong?
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Old 04-19-2019, 08:57 PM   #2
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How/where did you see flames? Inside the trailer (the hwh should probably be sealed in some sort of compartment)? Standing outside the vent and saw it ignite? Dry camping won't have anything to do with it - it's just an ignition/heat source - unless you let a bunch of mud daubers get in there - or somehow you're set up where the flames of the burner come right back into the trailer???
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Old 04-19-2019, 09:16 PM   #3
Kellie Henkel
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I saw the flames in the Atwood compartment on the outside of the trailer
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Old 04-19-2019, 09:50 PM   #4
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We had one do the same thing years ago .It must of been plugged with bugs ours had the flame coming out the air adj.hole.wife smells something burning went out side of coach was black and the control with the old red button you had to hold down to light it was melted. The next day I took the water heater out and replaced the whole thing. I don't know how it did it or why but I couldn't trust it so it was replaced. It. Might of had something to do with how the air adjustment was set.
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Old 04-19-2019, 10:14 PM   #5
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open the compartment and look what might be in there. I use a flashlight. May be some sort of blockage. I know my S&B hwhs blow back a lot of flame when they ignite and that's why they all have a shield on them at the entry point. Would it be that simple? Have you seen the flames before or is this just a happenstance occurrence? I also have bug screens installed over the exhausts of my heating appliances.
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Old 04-20-2019, 04:48 AM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Eastham View Post
We had one do the same thing years ago .It must of been plugged with bugs ....
Had the same issue. A spider had woven its web in the flame tube. Had to disassemble the heater to clean it out. Now I always drop the outer panel before using gas. You are fortunate the thermistor didn't "pop"; it is there for just that reason - to protect the circuit board in the event of a backflash.
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Old 04-20-2019, 05:47 AM   #7
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The burner tube on Atwood and Suburban water heaters is not much more than a curved 3" pipe that directs the propane flame in a circular motion from the burner orifice to the exhaust port. If there is a "large flame" caused by a delayed ignition or a "blocked tube" caused by insects or debris, then you may wind up with a "fire in the hole". If, what you saw, was a flash, that may be perfectly normal. In some lighting conditions, if you're looking at the exhaust port, you may see the reflection of the flame appear to be a "flash". If, on the other hand, you saw a "sustained flame" emitted from the exhaust, that's not normal.

I'd suggest cleaning the burner tube, then try again.

Chances are there's nothing wrong that a little "housekeeping" can't fix.
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Old 04-20-2019, 12:29 PM   #8
Kellie Henkel
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I hear clicking like itís trying to light. It stops then I hear clicking again. It doesnít want to light now
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Old 04-20-2019, 01:45 PM   #9
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https://www.dropbox.com/s/pcxadmjuca...%20PM.jpg?dl=0
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Old 04-20-2019, 04:36 PM   #10
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I don't know what to say except turn off the gas and the heater until a technician can fix or replace it.
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Old 04-20-2019, 05:56 PM   #11
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Take a 1/4Ē socket, loosen the screw that holds the part of the tube with the slots.

Slide the tube towards the gas valve to allow more air.

Have to taken that burn tube out and inspected it?
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Old 04-20-2019, 07:23 PM   #12
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It looks like you have propane "burning at the air inlet ports" on the mixture sleeve. I'd guess the burner jet is blocked or corroded and the gas is "flowing from the valve, but can't get through the burner jet, so it's backing up and burning in the tube.

Easy fix, but you'll need to disassemble the air mixture tube, burner tube and ignitor, clean all the parts and put it back together again. After reassembly, you'll need to adjust the air mixture to get a clean burning flame.

There are a number of U-tube videos on how to take it apart, clean it and reassemble.

Don't keep using it like it is, you'll melt insulation from the wires, plastic parts and wind up with a "it's cheaper to replace it than repair it" water heater.
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Old 04-21-2019, 03:51 AM   #13
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Kellie, you've gotten good advice here. This situation is not uncommon and after your first experience it will be old hat to you. And you will dislike wasps and spiders even more than you right now.
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