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Old 08-12-2015, 09:00 AM   #1
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Unhappy I don't know how to light my gas water heater...

Please don't laugh! I'm learning so much over the last couple of months, being a rookie first-time travel trailer owner...


So, if you remember from a thread I started a few weeks ago, my electric water heater is shot. I've been working on it, spending at least 5 hours over the last couple weeks on it....to no avail. I still have a few things to try in that regard. But anyway, in the meantime, I am REALLY hoping I can still use my gas to heat the water?? Right? Theoretically, that should be no problem, right?

Anyway, I tried to light it for the first time last night, and couldn't get it. I pushed the red button to turn the gas water heat on, and then outside on my heater panel, it sparked like 5 times, but never lit. It would wait 30 seconds or so, and do it again. After 3 tries (I think it was 3?), it stopped trying. So, I flipped the switch off for 5 minutes, and tried again, same thing. I got the manual out, and it was talking about 2 different types of switches or something....?? RobertShaw and something else?? I don't know. Anyway, it was saying turn a knob to 'on' if you had this or that particular type. I see NO knobs anywhere on mine. I'm getting so frustrated.

Someone told me last night that I could have air in the line, and to just keep trying to run it. That makes some sense, it took me a good 60 seconds to light my stove. It kept blowing my match out. But how long could my gas water heater take??

Any thoughts or help would be GREATLY appreciated....we're going camping TOMORROW.
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Old 08-12-2015, 09:07 AM   #2
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can you post a picture of the outside working parts and the inside controls if there are any?
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Old 08-12-2015, 09:10 AM   #3
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This may or may not help....I just found this pic online. This is exactly what mine looks like. I'll be able to take a better pic of my own here in about 2 hours and post that one too.


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Old 08-12-2015, 09:15 AM   #4
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Maybe a little clearer pic. This one looks a little newer than mine, but looks like the same setup.

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Old 08-12-2015, 09:29 AM   #5
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First thing I would do is take the orifice off where the gas comes out of the pipe near the igniter. There is a tiny hole that the gas comes out of. Do not enlarge it but blow it out and check for pipe scale and cobwebs. While it is out, blow the burner out with pressurized air to get any scale, cob webs and dirt daubers out of the burner.
Re-assemble the gas orifice tube and try again. Sounds like your igniter is working if you hear and see the spark jump between the contacts.

Did you ever figure out why the electric side did not work? Don't forget to have water in the tank.
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Old 08-12-2015, 09:52 AM   #6
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First thing I would do is take the orifice off where the gas comes out of the pipe near the igniter. There is a tiny hole that the gas comes out of. Do not enlarge it but blow it out and check for pipe scale and cobwebs. While it is out, blow the burner out with pressurized air to get any scale, cob webs and dirt daubers out of the burner.
Re-assemble the gas orifice tube and try again. Sounds like your igniter is working if you hear and see the spark jump between the contacts.

Did you ever figure out why the electric side did not work? Don't forget to have water in the tank.
Great, thank you. I'll try that after work tonight. Would you agree that I don't have any type of pilot light to turn on/ignite/etc? The spark is my pilot...right?


And I tested my fuses and thermal cut-off, and those seem to be fine. Everything seems to point to the heating element being bad. I have tried for TWO DAYS to get the heating element out....it is RIDICULOUSLY hard!! I watched all sorts of how-to videos on removing it, and 99% of them show the element being accessible from the front (from the front panel). Naturally, mine is on the bank of my water tank, which means I have to lift the bottom bunk bed and get to it that way. AND, it is angled toward the floor, so when I try to put the fitting tool (whatever it's called) on there to remove the element, the tool is touching the floor, making it difficult to get a good angle on it. Ugh. Makes me sweat again just thinking about it. I quit trying last night after 2 hours, sweating and bleeding!! haha. No, really, I cut myself twice. haha. What a pain! But we're going camping tomorrow, which is why I figured I would worry about replacing the element later, if I can just get the gas going!
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Old 08-12-2015, 11:30 AM   #7
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Another important test first:


Does the stove work? That will tell you if you have propane in the lines.


Sometimes the broken hose safety at the tanks can get triggered by opening the valve too quickly.
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Old 08-12-2015, 11:40 AM   #8
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Another important test first:


Does the stove work? That will tell you if you have propane in the lines.


Sometimes the broken hose safety at the tanks can get triggered by opening the valve too quickly.
Yeah, stove is firing right up. I'm actually AT the TT right now trying to light the gas. I've tried 4 times now...just getting sparks but no light...
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Old 08-12-2015, 11:47 AM   #9
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There could be a small (1/4") knob on the gas line at the water heater (my fridge has one).


When the heater is trying to light, can you hear the soft hiss of gas? There should also be a click/clunk of the solenoid valve opening.


If I was there, I'd undo the small screws holding the valve and burner assembly, remove it and pull the burner off the gas valve to check and possibly clear the orifice.


How handy are you?
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Old 08-12-2015, 11:49 AM   #10
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There could be a small (1/4") knob on the gas line at the water heater (my fridge has one).


When the heater is trying to light, can you hear the soft hiss of gas? There should also be a click/clunk of the solenoid valve opening.


If I was there, I'd undo the small screws holding the valve and burner assembly, remove it and pull the burner off the gas valve to check and possibly clear the orifice.


How handy are you?
I wouldn't say I'm terribly handy...but I also do not hear any hissing of the gas (I do at the stove when it's on, not the water heater though). All I hear at the water heater is the sparking trying to light.
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