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Water Heater Woes

Water heater overflow pressure relief

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#1 tinkerbell245

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Posted 25 August 2014 - 01:15 PM

Just took my new-to-me 2002 17' Liberty Deluxe on her maiden voyage this weekend.  Had no water coming out of the hot water faucet in the galley, so I followed instructions that said to tap a metal thingy by the WH under the seat and voila, water flowed from the faucet.  But the WH still had to be lit from the exterior hatch; it's propane only.  Several times I depressed the knob for about 30 seconds and tried lighting the pilot to no avail.  Checked some forums and found out that, in addition to holding down the knob, the knob sometimes needs to be turned slightly while depressed.  Bingo!  Apparently that worked and I got the pilot lit.  However, when I switched the knob to the on position, a big whoosh of quick flame shot out - scared the daylights out of me.  I turned on the hot water faucet in the galley after a few minutes and lo and behold had hot water - but I also had a waterfall gushing out of the (overflow?) (pressure relief valve?) (thingamajig?) above the knob outside.  Quick online searches found info about water dripping from this area, but nothing about water gushing.  I turned off the city water at the standpipe, and the waterfall slowed and eventually stopped.  My friend read the Suburban manual, which referred to the WH needing an air pocket, so we followed the instructions to create an air pocket - but I was too afraid to try lighting the pilot again.  My questions are, (1) what caused the whoosh of flame, and (2) what caused the waterfall?  Were we on the right track with creating an air pocket?  I have an appointment at my local RV service shop Wednesday to have the WH checked out and serviced.  Just curious if anyone else experienced this?  THANKS! 

#2 tractors1

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Posted 25 August 2014 - 02:31 PM

The whoose experience is normal - yours might have been a bit more exciting if you'd been trying to light the pilot a while, as the propane would have collected in the exhaust tube. Air pocket is a good thing in the tank as the compressed air helps store pressure so your water pump doesn't cycle as often - BUT it is not required for the water heater to work; as hot water leaves, cold water comes in to replace the lost water volume. Sometimes people crack open the pressure relief valve handle to help drain the tank, then forget to flip it back down. No damage done.

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#3 Wally Z

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Posted 25 August 2014 - 08:27 PM

Make sure the lever on the T&P valve is flipped down on the HWH as stated above.  If it is down and it is still opening up you may have a problem with high temperature or pressure.  If it is down try flipping it up and rotating it to clean it out.  I have also found tapping the stem of the lever in toward the valve will make it stop.  If it had dirt in it or hasn't been used for a long time it may need to be exercised a few times.

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