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Old 05-21-2018, 08:10 AM   #1
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Join Date: Mar 2017
Location: Vermont
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Thumbs up Replaced the water heater in our XT200

So, this past week, having nothing better to do, I decided to play "fun with water heaters". The water heater in our 2008 XT200 heated fine, but we had practically zero flow from any of the hot water outlets. It's kind of a well-known issue in RV water heaters that the check valves (usually cold) often fail and restrict the flow. I was able to punch out the check valve in my hot water outlet, but the cold water inlet was inaccessible.

I tried to convince myself I could live with the super low-flow hot water, but my OCD finally won out and I decided to pull the water heater completely and see if I could repair/replace/remove the cold water check valve.

Since there are about 10,000 YouTube videos on this, I won't go into that. I did learn a couple of little things that I'll share though-

1) I knew that a 10-year-old water heater was probably ready for replacement, so I wasn't surprised when I turned it over, peeled off the styrofoam insulation and found a very tender spot right near the bottom/front seam. It wasn't leaking, but I knew full well that if I went to the trouble of re-installing the water heater, it would probably pop on our first real outing. I bit the bullet and purchased a new one from Dyers Online. They are great to talk to on the phone, and their prices are super-competitive. Three days after I ordered it, the water heater arrived. I also ordered 2 new check valves, and plenty of sealant.

2) Upon installation, I got a bit confused, as the A/C and Wtr Htr circuits were mis-marked on the circuit breakers. Not a huge deal, just a short-lived head-scratcher.

3) The factory water heater installation was slapped together in a hurry. It worked okay for 10 years, so it was clearly "good enough", but the workmanship just wasn't there.

4) The water heater I bought was a direct replacement Suburban 6 Gallon Gas/Electric Water Heater SW6DE for $384.96. Before it would fit though, I had to make a couple of small adjustments:

a) The styrofoam insulation made it just a tiny bit too large for the opening. I fought with it for a while, then decided to shave some off from the top and bottom with a long rasp that I had. That added about 10 minutes to the whole job. No biggie.

b) The electrical junction box was mounted in such a way that it wouldn't fit in the RV's opening. I removed the two mounting screws, repositioned the box, and reattached it to the casing. Another 10 minutes, maybe.

5) After much thought, some deliberation, and one can of beer, I decided to NOT replace the check valves. The directions from Suburban don't call for them, and since I have a bypass installed for winterizing, I could not think of a single reason for one, let alone TWO restrictive check valves. The actual brass fittings are needed though, so I took a 3/8" drill and bored out the centers of each check valve, wire-wheeled the fitting threads, wrapped them in teflon and tightened them to German torque specs (Guten-Tight).

Finally, I slid the new water heater into position, attached the water, lp, and electrical lines, turned on the gas, electric, and water, and gave it a go. There were nearly tears of joy as the burner lit, the heater heated, no water leaked, and best of all, I once again had GREAT water flow in both hot and cold faucets.

Excitedly, I made my ever-patient wife come out and TRY it, just TRY it. She was pleased of course, but no tears of joy from her. Only a patient smile. She gets me.
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-- 2008 XT-200
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Old 05-21-2018, 03:28 PM   #2
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Nice job. That's one of the items that I haven't had to do a lot to on our rig (although I did flush six years worth of crud out as well as replace the anode and OPV).
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Old 05-23-2018, 07:33 PM   #3
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Thanks for the post and tip on where to buy. I'm at 10 years on mine and due for a new one. Mine still works but I'm worried about the tank leaking. Also every now and then I get a gas smell in the trailer even with the windows closed and breezy outside so I'm worried the burner box is leaking into the trailer. Not good to fill trailer with CO.
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Old 05-24-2018, 06:50 AM   #4
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Well done!
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