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Old 06-13-2021, 05:05 PM   #1
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Join Date: Oct 2020
Location: Saint Charles
Posts: 11
Girard GSWH-2 Tankless Water Heater Leak Repair

I just completed a water leak repair on my tank-less Girard tankless water heater this week due to a frozen broken inlet pipe assembly that occurred last fall that I wanted to share.

(Event)

During the fall last year (2020) while camping the camp ground host advised all of us campers to disconnect from the city water supply hoses for the evening due to the forecast of the temperature were expected to drop well below freezing that night.

The next morning when I re-connected to the city water supply I noticed a leak coming out of the outside access door of my tank-less heater.
During a closer inspected I had discovered a small water leak that appeared to be coming from inside the heater on the right side and in the back of the unit. NOTE: The heater did continued to function properly but now with a obvious small water leak outside.


(Cause and Determination)

Myself being new to this type water heater I was unaware at that time that this could/would damage the tank-less water heater by causing the unit or it's internal piping to freeze up.

I was unaware that the heater's normal safety function during freezing temperatures is designed for the unit to cycle itself on and off as needed and recirculate the water in the tank thus keeping it from freezing while connected to water supply.

This safety function however will not work when it is not connected to a water inlet source as I now understand. Unfortunately this is what ended up being my issue that I inadvertently caused.


(Research Repair)

I contacted Girard's parts division of water heater company and described the problem that just had occurred. They advise me that it may only be a loose inlet pipe fitting that may have pushed out from the connection caused by the freezing and may only need to be pushed back in and re-tighten the set screw.

(Removing the unit from the camper)

Taking that advise, I proceeded to remove the unit by first removing the exterior door that is held on by (4) small screws. Next I removed all of the frame/unit screws that are fastening the unit in place to the campers framing. Some of the screw heads were covered in a black sealant that I had to scrap away to gain access to them. I believe that there were about (20) screws that I had to remove before the unit could be pulled out.


(First attempt to repair)

After all of the screws were removed I was able to now pull the unit out from the camper. I had to disconnect the following connections. 1) Unscrew that Cold water inlet, 2) Unscrew the Hot water outlet, 3)Unscrew the Gas connection fitting, 4)Disconnect the electric wire spliced connections.

I recommend that you mark your hot and or cold water line so you can I identify them during the reinstall. I additionally marked all of the wires that were connected so I knew which ones were connected with each other.

Having the unit out of the camper now I then removed all of the housing screws that held the cover on so I could gain access to the internal fittings. I located the referenced "inlet pipe assembly" in the back right corner area and noted that it appeared to have pushed back off of the inlet water supply connector fitting which it just slips over the water supply fitting. That fitting has an O-ring seal and a set screw that keeps it in place. I loosened the set screw and then pushed the inlet pipe back tight onto the fitting and screwed the set screw back in firmly.

I reassembled everything back together in reverse order making the proper water, gas, and electrical connections then sliding the unit back in it's place and screwing the unit and it's frame back in the original screw holes. I re-caulked around the frame against the camper to seal everything up tight with silicon.

(Winter Storage)

This was getting to be late fall and my camper and I had winterized for the winter season. I had not had the chance to test my repair. So it would not be until the following year that I would know if I had successfully repaired the leak or not.


(Testing my repair 2021)

Now this year (2021) June was our first opportunity to get our camper out for the year. Arriving and setting up the camper I anxiously connected and turned on the city water supply and waited just a minute or two......ugh to my dismay, it now was leaking more than it had previously had done prior to my attempted fix!

(Second attempt and sub-sequential repair success)

I recontacted Girard manufacturing after further research and was able to find an online parts diagram that listed and shown all the replacement parts that could be ordered direct from Girard. Armed with this information and further assistance my their parts manager I ended up ordering the "new" replacement inlet water pipe that now has a newer designed water pressure relief valve assemble.

My process of removing the heater was identical to my original process. This time of course I was more familiar so the process went much faster. After removing the unit and disassembling the heater's cover I was able once again to have unrestricted access to replace the old inlet pipe fitting with the new one I just purchased.

On a closer look at the old leaking inlet pipe fitting I could now see a notable crack in at the fitting hub that connects onto and over the unit's water supply fitting.

The new replacement inlet fitting pipe along with the new style pressure relieve value installed with no issues other than my added modified use of flex tubing to connect to the relief's valve discharge that I ended up exiting out towards the front in the case of a over pressure discharge.

(Final Testing)

Lessons learned I decided to bench test my repair prior to the reinstall. I needed to pressurize the system and check for leaks. I purchased tubing and a couple water connectors and a cap to build my testing station. I used a connector fitting that let me connect my tubing to a garden hose fitting to be my water supply.

(Successful repair and reinstall)

I tested my newly installed fittings by pressurizing the system with water proved to be a success! Now I only had one more things to do, my reinstall, once again.

Finalizing this project I re-caulked the door frame up against the camper exterior wall once again with silicone. One final touch I decided to do was to repaint the heater exterior door as it had started to fade and discolor due to exposure. I believe that it looks even better than when it rolled off the assembly line!

(Lessons learned)

If you decide to make a first time repair on your RV and you have a pretty good knowledge base or skill in repairs and or an understanding making these type of repairs. I offer up this advise, don't be intimidated but know your limitations or comfort level, take your time, research your issue, find a source for replacement parts and make sure that they are available to purchase, and finally when all possible "test your repairs prior to reinstalling".

In addition, I have recently purchased and will use a heated water supply hose to use for now on during questionable temperatures.

(SEE ALL ATTACTCH PHOTOS OF MY REPAIR)
Attached Thumbnails
Door hinge.JPG   Frame screws.JPG   Rear unit connections.JPG   Heater cover removed.JPG   Inlet pipe crack.JPG  

Inlet water supply valve.JPG   remove inlet pipe fitting.JPG   New Inlet pipe fitting installed.JPG   Silicon.JPG   Silicone edged of door frame.JPG  

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Old 01-19-2023, 02:40 PM   #2
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Great post!

D Faulker, thanks for the great post, it was helpful for me when I have a similar issue. We had a crazy cold storm and even though I had a heater going, the water supply line froze up. Now I realize the water heater is a weak spot as it's more exposed to the cold and the water passes through narrow brass fittings.

In my case the water was only leaking from the water flow sensor. The lock screw broke. Once I got the unit out and cover off, it was a simple matter of replacing the screw.

I didn't need to remove the door with the door frame. I also found it easy to slide back in and hook up the hoses to test.

Thanks for carrying the torch!
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Old 01-19-2023, 03:40 PM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Airwave503 View Post
D Faulker, thanks for the great post, it was helpful for me when I have a similar issue. We had a crazy cold storm and even though I had a heater going, the water supply line froze up. Now I realize the water heater is a weak spot as it's more exposed to the cold and the water passes through narrow brass fittings.

In my case the water was only leaking from the water flow sensor. The lock screw broke. Once I got the unit out and cover off, it was a simple matter of replacing the screw.

I didn't need to remove the door with the door frame. I also found it easy to slide back in and hook up the hoses to test.

Thanks for carrying the torch!
Airwave503,

Thanks for your comment. I was compelled to do a detailed repair post because I was unable to find out very much information on this issue online and I wanted to help the next person(s) who may have the same or similar issue. I’m glad you found my post relevant and helpful in you being able to figure out how to fix your heater. PS: I also purchased a 25’ heated water supply hose that I now use during cold weather camping.
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Old 07-12-2023, 05:38 PM   #4
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This was immensely helpful - thank you! I have the exact same situation. Talked to Lippert after finding your post and ordered the parts. Parts arrived today and there's no set screw included in the packaging or with the flow sensor (set screw on original flow sensor sheered off with almost no pressure, I have a feeling it was over-tightened and already failing). Any idea what size/type of screw can be used to replace this? I can't find any specs in the manual or any online reference. The set screw isn't even listed in the parts inventory from Lippert. Very strange.
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Old 07-12-2023, 09:42 PM   #5
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OK I don’t know what just happened but I just typed out a long, detailed reply and posted it and it’s not showing. So in a nutshell I do not know what size screws those are, but I guessed at the size and went to Lowe’s and bought Stainless Steel screws that look close to the size I needed, unfortunately they weren’t the exact thread type of the fitting, but I did end up using a little WD-40 on the screw and then screwing it in back-and-forth slowly it ended up working fine, and it was snug. If you over, tighten that screw you will end up with a leak because it doesn’t allow that O-ring to seal properly , I had that happened to me but I just backed off the screw and it sealed up fine. I was kind of in a bind to get it fixed quick because this happened on day one on a 10 day camping trip. Otherwise I would have got my thread taps and would attempt to re-tap the fitting to match the screw that I had. Good luck!
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Old 07-13-2023, 11:35 AM   #6
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Again - very helpful, thank you. I'll take the flow sensor into Lowes/Ace/HD with me and find a thread match. It's very odd that Lippert/Girard doesn't provide the set screw. I did call them and they list the set screw as stainless steel, M4 .7 x 8mm. Had no explanation for why the set screw is not included with the sensor.
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Old 07-13-2023, 12:24 PM   #7
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Good to know

Iím glad that they were able to at least give you the size of the screw. It is very odd-disappointing that they donít include it. I must have forgotten that the screw wasnít in the replacement parts. I think that I must of used the original one in the new manifold on my first repair possibly resulting in its untimely failure resulting in my emergency leak repair last week at the campground.
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