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Old 06-12-2021, 05:49 PM   #1
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Electric Water Heater Problem

Hi. Iíve got the dual, electric/gas, water heater in my 2017 17B. Since several months Iíve noticed that the electric side doesnít heat (after waiting 20 minutes), but as I usually use propane, no biggie. Still, Iíd like everything to be tip-top as Iím looking to sell it soon. Iíve turned off the LPG at the bottles and am only turning on the electric heater switch outside on the unit itself. I am testing using the internal water tank and pump. Iíve flipped the ĎHWí 15 amp circuit breaker (actually, all the breakers) several times, have always had it on shore when testing it. The power controller shows ďE 0Ē (no errors), 121 V. Because I know nada about the circuitry, I checked all the blade fuses, too, and theyíre OK. Iíve got 121V at several internal AC sockets.

Dustin at ETI said itís often the water heater element, so I replaced that. On shore with the outside heater switch on, no volts at the two heater element terminals (with the wires attached).

D. thinks that it might be the reset switch assembly itself thatís gone bad, but thatís pretty uncommon he says. Dear colleagues, any ideas otherwise before I pop for a reset switch?
Thanks!
Jonathan
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Old 06-12-2021, 09:10 PM   #2
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I just heat water with propane in the morning, half an hour before a shower and shut it down unless we need to wash dishes after dinner. In that case, I'll turn it on again for 15 or 20 minutes.
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Old 06-12-2021, 09:12 PM   #3
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Yep, propane for us, too. But the heaterís got that electric element and Iím tryiní to get it going. Wonder whatís wrong?
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Old 06-12-2021, 09:39 PM   #4
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Originally Posted by drjp View Post
Yep, propane for us, too. But the heater’s got that electric element and I’m tryin’ to get it going. Wonder what’s wrong?
One easy thing to check is the state of the newly installed heating element.

First, disconnect the trailer from shore power. This is to keep you alive.

Second, disconnect the two wires from the element. This is to keep anything from influencing your measurements.

Third, use your ohm meter to measure the resistance between the two terminals on the element. It should read about 12 ohms. Anything close is good. Zero or infinity is bad.

Let us know what the reading is.
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Old 06-13-2021, 12:21 AM   #5
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The circuit for the 120V operation is pretty simple. You can ohm out the element although it’s probably not that since you have no voltage at the element terminals. Check that the reset is pushed in. The one for 120V operation is on the left when facing the hot water heater. You have to feel under the black rubber cover piece and make sure nothing is sticking up under it which would be a popped reset. I haven’t heard of the thermostat/ hi-limit unit going bad but it’s possible. I have heard of the small on/off switch going bad. It’s tough to replace apparently. Be safe when dealing with electrical!
This video should help:

Also this troubleshooting and repair guide put out by Heartland for Suburban water heaters is good:
https://manuals.heartlandowners.org/...ban%20V1.3.pdf
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Old 06-13-2021, 09:11 AM   #6
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It is possible that the thermal reset has opened - there are 2, one for the propane side & the other for AC. Pushing them in will reset them.

If you have replaced the heater element & with the breakers on & the trailer plugged in, and the EMS readout doesn't show a voltage drop (or current increase) as you turn on & off the water heater breaker, it likely the off/on switch on the outside of the water heater is bad or the terminals connecting to it have failed). This is a common problem since the switch is working close to its rating and is fairly low quality.
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Old 06-13-2021, 11:24 AM   #7
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Thanks to you all for your kind replies.
1. MMeter showed 0-infinite ohms across elementís terminals after replacing it.
2. Yep, Iíve carefully insured multiple times that the reset buttons are pushed in. Solid, but I didnít remove its cover to consider replacing it.
3. Vermilye opines that the more likely culprit is that the power switch has failed as itís a cheapo. And even I can seeóas one of you saidó that itíd be tough to get out.

But the heater works fine on propane so Iíve put it up for sale (with disclosure to be sent extra to interested parties) on the forum and at ETI classifieds. Thanks again for your informative help. It just shows why this forum is a go-to source for RV owners of many various makes and types!
Best, Jonathan
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Old 06-13-2021, 02:29 PM   #8
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Thanks to you all for your kind replies.
1. MMeter showed 0-infinite ohms across elementís terminals after replacing it.

...
The resistance of the heating element should be in the range of 5 to 20 (actual number is not important). A reading of zero or infinite indicates trouble - and could explain why no hot water (but is not explaining having no voltage: that's either switches or wiring).
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Old 06-13-2021, 02:31 PM   #9
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The resistance of the heating element should be in the range of 5 to 20 (actual number is not important). A reading of zero or infinite indicates trouble - and could explain why no hot water (but is not explaining having no voltage: that's either switches or wiring).

Yep, doesnít indicate where the circuit is stopped. Suspicion lies with a switch failure.
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Old 06-13-2021, 02:32 PM   #10
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Is it "0" or infinity? If the multimeter shows infinite ohms across a disconnected new element, it is bad. It should have between 10 & 20 ohms of resistance. Some meters are not very effective measuring a low resistance & might show "0" ohms when it is actually 10 - 20 ohms...
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