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Old 08-15-2019, 10:16 PM   #1
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Using & Maintaining the Suburban Water Heater

Reading the manual for my new to me Suburban SW6D water heater in my 2009 Escape 19, I see that I am supposed to replace the propane gas orifice to suit the elevation I am camping at. The purpose is to maintain the efficiency of the heater and to minimize the production of carbon monoxide gas. The heater is currently factory equipped with a size 61 orifice, which I presume is the correct one for use at sea level.

I cannot find any references to this in any of the forums (I freely admit to incompetence here), so does anyone actually do this, and if so, how; and where do you find the requisite orifices?

Thanks in advance for any advice you can offer. Alternatively, mebbe I should just quit reading owners manuals...

George
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Old 08-15-2019, 10:20 PM   #2
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The purpose is to maintain the efficiency of the heater and to minimize the production of carbon monoxide gas. George

I've never done anything to the water heater other than replace the anode once.

Not sure why carbon monoxide would be an issue since combustion takes place outside the trailer.
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Old 08-15-2019, 10:30 PM   #3
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We had a 2010 19 with suburban water heater. We camped from sea level to 8,000 feet. Never changed anything and never had a problem. Never noticed that it was taking an especially long time to heat the water at higher elevations. We usually turn the heater in when we get up in the morning, let it make temp and shut it off for the day. Then do the same at night and take showers and then off before bed. YMMV.
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Old 08-16-2019, 12:33 AM   #4
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Not sure why carbon monoxide would be an issue since combustion takes place outside the trailer.
Yes, that's important, but the exhaust still comes out low on the side of the trailer, so it can come in an open window. It's just not good to be around anything producing carbon monoxide.
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Old 08-16-2019, 07:45 AM   #5
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Yes, that's important, but the exhaust still comes out low on the side of the trailer, so it can come in an open window. It's just not good to be around anything producing carbon monoxide.
What percentage of Escape members have died or been sick from this happening? A leak into the camper from the seat is theoretically possible, but normal operation? If that's the case then Escape should not have placed a window above the water heater.

Enjoy,

Perry
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Old 08-16-2019, 08:23 AM   #6
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What percentage of Escape members have died or been sick from this happening? A leak into the camper from the seat is theoretically possible, but normal operation? If that's the case then Escape should not have placed a window above the water heater.

Enjoy,

Perry
It doesn't take much of a leak for CO to get into the trailer. I have a wall mounted CO detector with a digital readout, and found that even with the windows closed, if the wind is blowing against the water heater side, the CO detector starts to climb, and sometimes got high enough to alarm.

I found that there was a small gap around the gas line & electrical wiring. I filled it with electrician's duct seal & the problem got much better.
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Old 08-16-2019, 12:33 PM   #7
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It doesn't take much of a leak for CO to get into the trailer. I have a wall mounted CO detector with a digital readout, and found that even with the windows closed, if the wind is blowing against the water heater side, the CO detector starts to climb, and sometimes got high enough to alarm.

I found that there was a small gap around the gas line & electrical wiring. I filled it with electrician's duct seal & the problem got much better.
I was talking about an open window, not a leak into the trailer.

Enjoy,

Perry
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Old 08-16-2019, 01:03 PM   #8
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What percentage of Escape members have died or been sick from this happening?
Probably zero. The fact that an incident hasn't occurred doesn't mean that an activity is perfectly safe. If you walk across the nearest major road with your eyes closed, you probably won't get hit... but I don't recommend trying, and if you do get away with it, you won't have proved anything.

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A leak into the camper from the seat is theoretically possible, but normal operation? If that's the case then Escape should not have placed a window above the water heater.
There are degrees of risk in anything. I certainly don't fault the appliance manufacturer for recommending actions to operate the appliance optimally, minimizing risk in the operation. In this case, the risk is so small that I wouldn't worry about it (either the window placement or the burner orifice), but it exists.
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Old 08-16-2019, 08:18 PM   #9
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Probably zero. The fact that an incident hasn't occurred doesn't mean that an activity is perfectly safe. If you walk across the nearest major road with your eyes closed, you probably won't get hit... but I don't recommend trying, and if you do get away with it, you won't have proved anything.

There are degrees of risk in anything. I certainly don't fault the appliance manufacturer for recommending actions to operate the appliance optimally, minimizing risk in the operation. In this case, the risk is so small that I wouldn't worry about it (either the window placement or the burner orifice), but it exists.


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Old 08-16-2019, 08:20 PM   #10
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I've never done anything to the water heater other than replace the anode once.

Not sure why carbon monoxide would be an issue since combustion takes place outside the trailer.
re-jetting for high elevations is as much about maintaining combustion efficiency as anything. sea level jets will be too rich at higher elevations where there's less air, and running too rich tends to promote carbon fouling.
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