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Suburban SW6DE Water Heater Issue


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So I have been living in my trailer for the last year and everything has been fine except for recently. A few days ago my water heater stopped working. My wife did some research and found that we probably needed a new anode rod and maybe even a new solenoid. But we were led to believe that we actually had to replace the small circuit box and we had to replace the igniter because a piece of it snapped off. We have 2 circuit boxes and they both tested fine but our water heater won’t work. I replaced the igniter and quadruple checked EVERYTHING to make sure it was connected right. And still nothing. We haven’t replaced the anode rod yet or the solenoid. We are hoping we don’t have to replace the whole water heater and I don’t want to keep buying replacement parts if a new water heater would be a better option, money-wise. Does anyone have any tips or ideas as to how to fix the problem. (By the way, I mean the water heater doesn’t work as in, there’s no spark, the water heater light doesn’t turn on, there’s nothing. Please help)

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First of all, the anode is there (if you have a Suburban water heater as Atwood doesn't use one) has nothing at all to do with the electrical operation of the water heater. They should be replaced annually but that is to extend the life of the water heater's tank, by preventing galvanic corrosion.

As to needing a new solenoid, I have no idea what you are thinking of unless you mean the propane supply valve and in many years of working with RV water heaters, I can only remember replacing 2 of them so that is not a common problem. 

What I do not see in your post is an indication if you have used a volt/ohm meter to verify that there is 12V-dc electric power to the water heater? That sounds like a strong possibility of being your problem. If the ignition probe never sparks then it isn't possible to get any heating so that is the first thing to see why it don't happen. The spark probes do fail and are one of the more common items to need replacement, but if you don't have 12V then nothing will ever work, not even a new water heater. That problem could well be something as simple as a fuse in the supply to the water heater. In my experience as a service technician, randomly changing parts is a very expensive way to troubleshoot and it usually isn't successful. You need to start by verifying that you have a 12V supply (somewhere between 11V & 14V) and then if you do not have one, get a copy of the service manual for the water heater that you have from Bryant RV Service, where you can download a copy. 

If you were to give us more information, starting with the make and model of the water heater in question and verify that yours is getting 12V power, we may be able to give you some help. 

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  When the water heater tries to ignite the gas valve has to open. You can test this by hearing it open with a soft thud sound. And by putting a finger on it, it should have a small amount of movement internally and be able to be felt with the finger.

  At the same time the igniter should spark.

  You state that the light does not come on when the heater is switched on. 


  With those statements I would suggest to replace the fuse to the water heater. Then if that does not work there is a reset for both gas and electric control thermostats. They are under the rubber seals at the upper area of the water heater on the outside.


  If that does not work you need a volt meter. Turn the electric water heater breaker off as there is 110 volts under that cover. Remove that cover. Put your meter on ac voltage and test the thermostats for ac voltage. Just to make sure.

  Then switch the meter to dc voltage and test both wire ends on the thermostats. Those thermostats actually have a operating temperature thermostat and a high limit thermostat. They are both on the same metal base. With a wire connecting them.


  Just a start,   Vern


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  • 6 months later...

DaveL, there is no evidence that HeaterMan has been back to see what was posted in response back in February, but you are correct on the videos. Let's hope that he got it working by now.   🤪

Welcome to the Escapee forums! It is great having you with us so don't be a stranger and come back often.

Edited by Kirk W
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  • 9 months later...

My suburban sw6de works but the flame is very orange and alot of sut has built up inside the burn chamber.  It doesnt have that blue flame that sounds like a jet engine.  It heats the water but i know something isnt right.   Just bought this used and we are going out on tripnin 2 weeks.   Please help!!!

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58 minutes ago, Jason mcmanus said:

 Just bought this used and we are going out on tripnin 2 weeks.

Welcome to the Escapee forums! We will do our best to help.

It sounds to me like you do not have a proper air/fuel mixture and probably something is restricting the air into the burner. If you have access to a shop vacuum I would use it to suck out all of the foreign debris that you can from the burner tube and also the burner area.


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