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No 110 volt heat in Atwood 10 Gallon Water Heater GC10A-4E


Dwight Lindsey
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I've just lost the 110 volt heat in the Attwood 10 gallon GC10A-4E water heater in my 2005 Knight.

I suspect the 110 volt heating element is dead.  The propane side of the water heater works fine.

It seems that the heating element is in the rear of the water heater, which won't make it easy to repair.

Has anyone done this replacement in a Knight or a Diplomat?  Does the water heater need to come out to do the replacement? Or is there some magical access to the rear of the tank when it's in place?  If the water heater needs to come out, then I guess the plumbing needs to be disconnected.  How to get access?

We're using the coach constantly, so I don't want to have the water heater down for long.  Therefore any suggestions about how this is done would be most welcome, so that I can be prepared for the repair.  

Dwight L
05 Knight

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On 6/25/2020 at 12:53 PM, Dwight Lindsey said:

How does one get at the rear of the water heater?

Dwight L
05 Knight

Dwight,

It is almost always necessary to remove the water heater to replace the heating element. It is usually not very difficult. You must drain the water and disconnect the water lines behind the unit. On ours there is an access panel in the bay next to the water heater that allows one to reach in and operate the by-pass valve for winterizing. We are able to use our hand to unscrew the the water line connections thru that access. The 110 VAC power is applied thru a standard wall outlet and you just unplug it. There will also be a 12 volt control line that needs to be unplugged. The water heater can be removed and replaced in a few hours.

Your problem may not be the heating element. First plug a lamp into the duplex outlet behind the water heater to make sure that AC power is present. Next use a meter to make sure that the 12 VDC control signal that energizes the relay that turns on the heating element is working. You should be able to unplug the connector and have someone cycle the switch a the control center to check this. If that is in working order then the relay is another possible point of failure. My experience with RV electric water heaters has shown that the most likely failure is a high resistance connection in the 110 VAC circuit that has overheated due to the large current flow required for the heating element. Sometimes this is a wire nut or relay contact. Often it is not even in the water heater itself and could be in a electrical junction box between the duplex outlet for the water heater and the circuit breaker in the main distribution panel. Don't forget to check that circuit breaker and its connection inside the distribution panel.

The high amperage demand of the water heater will heat these connections and over time they can become so resistive that the heater will not function. Another big point of failure is, if you have one, the power management board located inside the main distribution AC panel. We once lost power to our rear air conditioner because of the power management board. The electric heating element in the water heater is one of the items that the power management system will shed. Examine these connections for signs of overheating. Use a multimeter on the AC range to check both sides of the screw terminals for each shedding relay. There should be AC power on each side. If not then one or more of the relays has failed. I make it a point once a year to go thru and tighten all the screw terminals in the AC distribution panel, the transfer switch, and the power management board. This is very important in an RV because they have a tendency to get loose and cause overheating. The overheating is a snowball thing and the longer it persists the more resistive the connection becomes.

 

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