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Help Needed With Sd 17 Water Heater


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#1 Scotsman

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Posted 29 August 2018 - 02:39 PM

Hi,

I live in Medford, in Southern Oregon and this is my first attempt at posting, and I have a new to me 2002 Spirit Deluxe that I am troubleshooting to get it ready for it's maiden voyage.  It must have had several maiden voyages already but not with me.

My water heater (WH) has a couple issues that I can't resolve on my own.

The first one is pretty straightforward in that the WH bypass valve drips water slowly but surely, from the lever and maybe from a water connection too so I believe I just need to replace that valve?  Should I replace the hand-tightened fittings and or pex if it leaks too?

Secondly and more confusing to me is the lack of any water from any of the hot water knobs in the rv.  This lack of water flow exists even when the bypass valve is horizontal, bypassing the WH. Should I be getting water to my hot water knobs when this bypass is in that position?  And when the lever is vertical my wh tank fills until water comes out of the pressure relief valve outside but still there is no water going to any faucet.

The cold knobs all work fine.

I assumed this might be a stuck check valve where the hot water comes out of the tank so I tapped it quite a few times, sometimes pretty hard, to no avail.  Does this mean that check valve is toast?

Can anyone shed light on my problems?

Thanks for a great forum and all the terrific info you have all provided over the years.

Scotsman

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#2 Meadowlark

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Posted 29 August 2018 - 04:19 PM

I'm no plumber, but I will say that you have to have the pump running for water..hot or cold...to get to the faucets. Is it ONLY the hot water that's not coming out of the faucets?

I do not know where your pump is in relation to the hot water heater. The plans for my 2011 SD are incorrect. The plans show the pump to be in the middle of the 'kick board'..where your feet go if you're using the back part as a table and two beds. In reality, the pump in my SD is right next to, and upstream of, the HWH.

 

If the bypass valve is set to horizontal, meaning it bypass the WH then no water should be getting into it. Looking at your picture, I wonder..do you think the thumb knob itself is bad? Maybe it's turning but the ball inside the valve is NOT?

 

 I would check the pump, its filter, and if it seems to be working okay, then I would hazard a guess that there is some sort of obstruction in the lines downstream of the water heater.

Have you checked the anode? DOes it appear as if it had ever been changed? If you flush the HW out with a hose ...from the outside, and a bunch of white water comes out, it means that at least once an anode deteriorated (as it's supposed to) but the HWH was never flushed.

It can't hurt to change out the valves, especially if there's some sort of gunk in the lines. Flushing the lines may work, too, although again, I'm not sure how to put enough pressure on them to blow whatever is obstructing them out. And again, I may be full of baloney...I'm a biologist, not a plumber and maybe I'm advising you wrong. I do hope someone out there on the Forum can help and I don't mind being told I'm wrong. I don't want to give you bad advice.

 

Maybe the worst is that the WH is kaput. I'm not certain how to replace one, but I believe I recall somewhere on this forum where someone had done so.


These are the voyages of the small ship, "Grus Egg".

2011 17" Spirit Deluxe, "Grus Egg"

 

"Civilization began when we stopped eating horses and began riding them."


#3 Scotsman

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Posted 29 August 2018 - 05:04 PM

Thanks for the reply Meadowlark. 

I did leave some info out of my post, by accident.

The water is currently hooked up to city water and not the onboard water tank.  That test is still forthcoming.

It is only the hot water that is not flowing, the cold runs fine.

I did just replace the anode and flushed out all the gunk in the bottom of the wh...there was quite a bit.  The anode was completely gone, down to the steel rod, and I would guess the previous owner, a very nice lady, never even considered that sort of maintenance in her 5 years of ownership.

The bypass lever does work because in the off position no water enters the tank.

I absolutely detest plumbing.  I can't connect a water hose without it leaking:(


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#4 Euphoria

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Posted 30 August 2018 - 07:08 AM

FWIW, in order to get hot water flow out of the WH, the bypass valve handle must be in the vertical (straight up-and-down) position, or else it is in by-pass mode. If your handle is even slightly off of full vertical, you won't get a proper, if any, hot water flow. I see in your 3rd photo that the bypass valve handle is clearly in the closed (bypass) position.

 

If you still get a little bit of a "trickle flow" into the WH even when it's closed, you're not alone, as most of them have a small amount of leakage that comes up the "back side" of the system through the check valves which are not known for having good seats in them, (they are just metal to metal with no "O" ring or gasket,) and they will often allow some water to enter the WH reservoir.

 

Which brings up another common problem with those check valves. They often corrode shut to where the flapper valve in the check valve gets stuck due to a build-up of mineral deposits from the water. They often get "crudded shut" from these deposits. Often, by rapping on the check valves, while under city pressure, can get them to pop loose from the mineralization grip on them. If that doesn't work, then taking them out, (last resort,) and disassembling/cleaning them is in order. Generally, several good thumps on them with a big wrench or a small hammer will dislodge the flapper and allow the water to flow again. Don't be afraid to rap it pretty good. Not so hard that you bust it off the threads, but don't tap it like its a Swiss watch either.

 

If the bypass valve itself is dripping, you need to determine if it is a bad stem seal under the valve lever, a loose threaded PEX end fitting that just needs to be tightened, (and do not try to tighten it under pressure!,) a possible cracked PEX fitting, a split in the PEX hose, a leaking (broken) PEX ring clamp, etc. before you can determine what you need. If the problem is related to the fittings or piping, then replacing the valve itself won't fix your problem. If the PEX and associated fitting are good, then maybe swapping out the valve with a new one would be your answer. You must find the actual leak first and go from there.


Edited by Euphoria, 30 August 2018 - 07:26 AM.

"If I have seen a little further, it is by standing on the shoulders of giants."

Sir Isaac Newton

 

Greg & Brenda

2008 17' Casita Spirit Super Dooper Deluxe

2016 Chevy Silverado, Crew Cab 5.8L V-8, 4X4

2004 Nissan Frontier, Crew Cab, V-6 2WD

Casita Club # 2754


#5 Meadowlark

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Posted 30 August 2018 - 07:45 AM

Thanks, Euphoria, I was hoping you'd step in. You know a lot more than I do.

 

As for plumbing, I'm like you Scotsman. I'd rather scrub floors on my hands and knees than dink around with plumbing.

 

If the anode has completely deteriorated, then I wonder about the integrity of the lining of the water heater itself. As I said, I don't know much but if I recall my chemistry correctly, the anode serves as a sacrificial element,  where the water bonds to it rather than the lining of the tank. Once the anode is gone, the water has nothing else to react with other than the lining. Maybe the gunk from the anode gunked up the valve, like Euphoria surmises.

 

How this would affect actual flow of water into and out of the tank, I don't know.


Edited by Meadowlark, 30 August 2018 - 07:52 AM.

These are the voyages of the small ship, "Grus Egg".

2011 17" Spirit Deluxe, "Grus Egg"

 

"Civilization began when we stopped eating horses and began riding them."


#6 Scotsman

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Posted 30 August 2018 - 09:51 AM

Thank you both for your help!

So if I understand you correctly, Euphoria, if the valve is in the closed position for letting water into the WH, water is also not passing straight through that bypass, allowing cold water to flow through the hot water lines?  That seems counter-intuitive to me since the cold water line does continue out the other side of the valve and reconnects to the water lines.  I won't try to understand this....

Also, is the packing in the bypass valve replaceable or adjustable?  Or does the whole thing need replacing?

I did rap on the side of the check valve but maybe just not hard enough, being afraid of damaging it.  I will try that again.

The anode was very very gone.  When I bought the trailer, the woman told me the water systems were completely drained and I believed her and I believe she believed that, but, when I took out the anode, the tank was full of water, so that was overlooked by whoever last winterized it.

Meadowlark, I love your comment about scrubbing the floor!!  Me too!  Maybe even getting a root canal.

 

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#7 Euphoria

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Posted 30 August 2018 - 11:27 AM

Thank you both for your help!

So if I understand you correctly, Euphoria, if the valve is in the closed position for letting water into the WH, water is also not passing straight through that bypass, allowing cold water to flow through the hot water lines?  That seems counter-intuitive to me since the cold water line does continue out the other side of the valve and reconnects to the water lines.  I won't try to understand this....

Also, is the packing in the bypass valve replaceable or adjustable?  Or does the whole thing need replacing?

I did rap on the side of the check valve but maybe just not hard enough, being afraid of damaging it.  I will try that again.

The anode was very very gone.  When I bought the trailer, the woman told me the water systems were completely drained and I believed her and I believe she believed that, but, when I took out the anode, the tank was full of water, so that was overlooked by whoever last winterized it.

Meadowlark, I love your comment about scrubbing the floor!!  Me too!  Maybe even getting a root canal.

 

Not true, Scotty. The bypass valve, when in the horizontal (closed) position, will just reroute the cold water flow so that you should still get cold water out the hot tap, but it won't be heated, because it will not be coming out of the water heater reservoir. It just routes the water flow through the water piping distribution system, "bypassing" the WH. Think of the internal water path as a letter "L" that either flows one way or the other, while blocking off the opposite port. When it's in the non-bypass position, the cold water supply line to the water heater is then diverted to run through the water heater reservoir, where it will be heated and then distributed on demand by opening any hot water faucet.

 

If the valve is no good, I'd just replace it. They're only about $20 or so. Really not much to rebuild in them to make it worthwhile. And if you do, be sure to install it in the same orientation with the operating lever towards the tank. 

 

https://www.amazon.c...rv bypass valve

 

If you were to install a new bypass valve with the handle facing outward, (thinking that it would be easier to get to,) it won't work right. The flow must be as plumbed, and the valve must route the flow just the way it is installed. Operating lever to the back.

 

FWIW, you don't have to be overly gentle when rapping on the check valve. Not saying use a full blow swing, but don't be afraid to whack it pretty good. Hit it like you were mad at it.


Edited by Euphoria, 31 August 2018 - 10:05 AM.

"If I have seen a little further, it is by standing on the shoulders of giants."

Sir Isaac Newton

 

Greg & Brenda

2008 17' Casita Spirit Super Dooper Deluxe

2016 Chevy Silverado, Crew Cab 5.8L V-8, 4X4

2004 Nissan Frontier, Crew Cab, V-6 2WD

Casita Club # 2754


#8 Scotsman

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Posted 30 August 2018 - 12:06 PM

Thanks Euphoria,

That certainly makes sense that when the bypass lever is horizontal it would allow the cold water to pass through into the hot water lines. 

Unfortunately, when mine is in either position, horizontal or vertical, I get nothing from the hot water knobs.  Maybe I'll start by replacing that valve.

I looked at it after getting your last input and it does not look like it can be repaired, like a faucet can.  And it does have a steady, slow drip coming from that lever so it needs to go anyway.

And I can replace that part without having to mess with the lines, hopefully.

You are in Kitsap county?  We used to live on Vashon Island.  keep clam!


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#9 Euphoria

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Posted 30 August 2018 - 12:17 PM

Also, I neglected to mention that the WH bypass valve should never be moved while there is pressure in the water lines. Very important! Always release any system pressure before moving the bypass handle from one position to the other. Since yours is leaking, I have a hunch that somebody probably ruined it by changing its position while the water system was pressurized.


"If I have seen a little further, it is by standing on the shoulders of giants."

Sir Isaac Newton

 

Greg & Brenda

2008 17' Casita Spirit Super Dooper Deluxe

2016 Chevy Silverado, Crew Cab 5.8L V-8, 4X4

2004 Nissan Frontier, Crew Cab, V-6 2WD

Casita Club # 2754


#10 Meadowlark

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Posted 30 August 2018 - 01:45 PM

Oh,dear. I can only imagine the mess a blown valve can cause.

 

I think I'd draw the line at a root canal. The last one I had failed......... :(


These are the voyages of the small ship, "Grus Egg".

2011 17" Spirit Deluxe, "Grus Egg"

 

"Civilization began when we stopped eating horses and began riding them."


#11 Scotsman

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Posted 31 August 2018 - 08:56 AM

Well, that person who turned the valve while the system was pressurized was me, but who knows if it happened in the past too, it's 16 years old with an unknown number of owners before me.

Once again this plumbing stuff baffles me.  If you can't turn this brass valve on and off when there is pressure, how come we can do that with all our household fixtures?

It never occurred to me, as a retired engineer, that 40 to 50 psi of water pressure could damage a solid brass valve.  That's why plumbing and I don't get along.

Thanks to you both, Euphoria and Meadowlark for your help.



#12 Meadowlark

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Posted 31 August 2018 - 03:46 PM

It's okay, Scotsman.  Maybe I've been lucky, I don't turn the valve with water pressure on it but it's not through brains, just dumb luck, I guess. I didn't know one shouldn't until Euphoria taught me. We drain the tanks after every trip and only shut the valve off when we've put the egg in drydock for the winter and winterize it. For that matter, maybe a former owner of your camper DIDN'T winterize the water system and maybe it froze!!

 

You already know the previous owner neglected the hot water heater. Who knows what else he or she did or didn't do.

 

realize that Casita doesn't use the very best of materials. Maybe your valve was a cheap import or a bad one. I know we had many problems with our 2011 SD, so many we began to believe it was a Friday Camper...you know, the guys building it say, what the hell, just throw it together and call it good, it's Friday. We've fixed a lot of bugs, but even so, it's just the nature of the industry, I guess. But they CAN be fixed. If you can find a reputable RV dealer who says he can fix or even replace the water system, go for it. I bet you could do it yourself, but.......no, that is why there are plumbers. In the interest of a happy marriage, my husband and I allow the experts to fix the plumbing in our house. And he's an engineer, too.


These are the voyages of the small ship, "Grus Egg".

2011 17" Spirit Deluxe, "Grus Egg"

 

"Civilization began when we stopped eating horses and began riding them."


#13 Euphoria

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Posted 01 September 2018 - 06:57 AM

Cheer up Meadowlark,

It could be worse. A "Friday" trailer is still better than buying a "Monday" trailer, when they all come back to work with a hangover or still "half in the bag" from partying all weekend... :unsure:


Edited by Euphoria, 01 September 2018 - 06:58 AM.

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"If I have seen a little further, it is by standing on the shoulders of giants."

Sir Isaac Newton

 

Greg & Brenda

2008 17' Casita Spirit Super Dooper Deluxe

2016 Chevy Silverado, Crew Cab 5.8L V-8, 4X4

2004 Nissan Frontier, Crew Cab, V-6 2WD

Casita Club # 2754


#14 Meadowlark

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Posted 01 September 2018 - 07:43 AM

I didn't think of that............thanks, Greg!


These are the voyages of the small ship, "Grus Egg".

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"Civilization began when we stopped eating horses and began riding them."


#15 Scotsman

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Posted 02 September 2018 - 10:13 AM

Hi fellow Casiteers!

Well, one thing leads to another so they say, and they are correct in this case.  The bypass valve was a cinch to repair after I took it out and looked at and disassembled it.  It just needed a thorough cleaning, and a new o-ring.  I soaked it is Evaporust which cleaned it back to bare brass.  It should work without leaking now, but we'll see...

After repairing the WH bypass valve I decided to blow air through the hot water line to see if it comes out of the faucet.  I made sure my air tank had no more than 50 psi in it and even then I introduced the air pressure very slowly at first so as not to cause any further problems.

Well, it did blow air out of the faucet but then there was a light “thump” as if something was pushed through the line and suddenly stopped. 

So, in my usual ocd  manner I decided to remove the faucet to see where that thump came from.

Of course this lead immediately to the problem of trying to get into that teeny doorway under the sink and then contort to get to the pex fittings on the faucet.

No way.  The sink had to come out first to allow working access to the faucet fittings from above.  Go figure.  At least I did not have to remove the fridge.

The four wing nuts that hold the sink down are on extra long screws attached to the sink, and so trying to remove them while pinched through that little door opening proved very difficult for me.  I am not a skinny kid anymore.

So I made a tool to help me remove the wing nuts, and that helped a lot. I just had to have an arm extended into the door opening and not my body.

So, the sink and the faucet were removed and I took photos of what I found.

Overall, like the bypass valve, the products used in this Casita are of pretty good quality and everything I found could be repaired instead of discarded and replaced.  Even the faucet, which I assumed would be glued-together and disposable, could be completely disassembled and repaired very easily.  No force was required anywhere to disassemble anything.  One problem with my faucet though:  the nut that holds the brass gosseneck or tap to the faucet base screws onto a plastic collar and that collar was deteriorated so that when I unscrewed it, it just crumbled.  I suspect it was a bad cast part to begin with and even though it would be very easy to replace, I doubt if I can find just that part only so I will probably just replace the whole faucet with one that has a taller gooseneck. 

That impresses me (so far) about the materials used on my Casita.  The design and or workmanship is another issue, however, in a couple different areas.

That is the problem with have an engineering background and being ocd too.

When I designed and built industrial tooling and equipment I looked at every detail to the tenth decimal place, from the point of view of manufacturing and also taking into huge consideration the end user.

These Casitas are terrific little rv’s but sometimes little things could be engineered or built just a little differently and make a huge difference in user-friendly maintenance and repair at little or no additional cost to Casita.

Now I will climb down off my soap box and continue the saga of my original quest: to find out why my hot water heater wasn’t working.

So at this point I think I can start reassembling everything but there is still one obstacle: the hot water check valve.  Early on I had tried tapping on it to free it but now I see that the problem was possibly downstream from there, a wad of stuff clogging the line.

But, if there was that much stuff in the line, how dirty or corroded could that check valve be?  I don’t want to put it back together and then find that the check valve is bad so before I start reassembling I think I will investigate what it will take to cut the hot water pex line at that valve and replace it.  The sticking point is cutting that pex line and the repairing it.  This is where my plumbing ignorance and ineptness really shows up and I am afraid of the next step.  If it’s a machine or a mechanical part I can fix it.  Water lines are my nemesis.

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