Water Woes

5 04 2013
Leaking Fresh Water Connector

Leaking Fresh Water Connector

When we originally picked up the Wildcat in Spokane we had problems with the fresh water connection.  It was very difficult to connect (without dripping) and appeared to have a slow leak on the inside of the connection panel. It didn’t appear that this could be corrected except by replacing the connector and one-way-valve so I purchased the necessary components before we left on our Spring trip to Texas.  This turned out to be an easy replacement that solved the difficult connection and interior leak.

Somewhere along the way we also noticed that the hot water heater was running just fine on propane, but apparently wasn’t using the electric heating element.  Not a big deal, but when you are on full hookups, and have prepaid electricity  there’s not much sense in burning propane to keep water hot.  We visited an RV parts store in Harlingen that had the electric element and special installation wrench.

The only “trick” to the hot water electrical element replacement was getting the gas burner pipe out of the way.  Loosening the jet connection first, followed by the nut on the burn chamber and wiggling things around eventually got it to slip out of the way.  Of course the water heater needs to be drained and the water, gas and electrical supply shut off.  Removing the black connection cover and the two wires along with the element was easy.  I was surprised to find the element very corroded, more so than the anode that I’d reinstalled during de-winterization a few weeks ago.  The new element went into place easily followed by the burner pipe.  The first test was with just the electrical – success!  Followed by the gas (including a leak check with soapy water).  All works well now – we can heat our water quickly with gas AND electric, or just use the electric to save a bit of propane.

NOTE: Do not use a tank cleaning wand through the element hole of a Suburban heater.  The element mount is not attached to the front panel causing any water that is not completely expelled to the front of the heater to end up inside the mounting area  – and in my case, on the kitchen floor.  If you want to clean the heater during an element replacement, you must insert the new element and remove the anode rod to clean the tank just as you normally would.

Gas Pipe with Element Cover (black) behind

Gas Pipe with Element Cover (black) behind

Gas Pipe and Cover Removed

Gas Pipe and Cover Removed

Replaced Element

Replaced Element

After de-winterizing during our first stop in Trinidad,  we also discovered a small leak at one of the hot water heater bypass valves (or it’s crimp connection).  We found an Ace Hardware store in Ft. Davis with a good supply of plastic pipe and fittings.  Armed with a newly acquired pipe cutter and a couple of  sharkbite couplers, I cut the old valve and crimps out and simply reconnected the pipe.  This stopped the leak, but also removed our ability to bypass the water heater during winterization.  I found a true “bypass” valve in Del Rio to replace the valve that I removed plus 1 more that might go bad at some point. (leaving 2 valves instead of the original 3) Installing the new bypass valve was a fairly simple matter of adjusting the pipe lengths a bit (after draining the entire water system), removing one additional valve and moving the sharkbite connector.  The brass connectors are much easier to use than the plastic valve, but after a face full of water and some wet clean-up we now have a bypass valve installed, without leaks, that will let us winterize when necessary.

Leaking Valve

Leaking Valve

Replacement Valve

Replacement Valve

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