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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hello, I'm a new camper owner and I just joined the forum. I've been trying to learn everything I can so I do things correctly and don't harm anything on the camper in question.

My main question today is how to use the water heater on my camper for the first time. It was winterized and I know there's either an anode rod or drain plug for the camper, but I'm not sure where it would be. I've read you need to fill the water heater tank first before using the heater so I do know that so far.

There's an electrical plug and hookup located on the water heater so I wondered if it still had to be lit using gas or if it would operate solely on electricity?

I have a pic of the water heater controls and box......I'm kinda at sea exactly how to operate it. I know where the pilot light is and how to light it, but what the electric cord is for, I'm not sure. It would be easier if I could just plug it up, but I'm not sure if it still has to be lit with propane.

Any help would be most appreciated....thank you!!

Oh, and the camper is a 2004 Gulfstream Conquest Lite.

http://s2.photobucket.com/albums/y23/kycowgirl92176/?action=view&current=IMG-20110904-00076.jpg

 

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i think that w/h has the electric element where the plug/anode goes. it should operate on electricity but i've never used one. maybe some one else that has experience with one will chime in:10220:.
 

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1. Make sure the bypass is disengaged (used to bypass the water heater when winterizing) and make sure ALL faucets are CLOSED.

2. Turn on the city water supply to the trailer. Besides the cold water coming to pressure the WH will also fill. Wait 10-15 minutes. While this is going on, turn on the COLD WATER faucets only including the indoor and outdoor showers. Allow the sputtering to occur as air and winterizing stuff is being evacuated.

3. Turn on the WH (wall panel) and this will then heat the water. Allow an hour or more.

4. Now turn on each HOT WATER faucet one at a time, closest ones first and allow them to sputter and to remove the winterizer until the water comes out hot. Your hot water heater and plumbing are now ready for use.

If this doesn't work, I have provided the steps assuming everything has gone well. If there are problems, post the best you can and we will respond.

As for your other questions, thanks for providing the picture. The wires are for the igniter and the control systems (temperature, etc.), The WH drain is at the very bottom of the WH and in the center below and behind the propane gas tube. You WILL need a wrench to remove it. You'll need to do this for two reasons - drain the tank when you are not using the trailer (in storage) and to check the anode rod. If the heater has an anode rod it will be attached to the plug. If the rod is severely corroded, then replacements can be found many places like RV stores and even hardware stores. You'll need to know the Make and Model of the unit to obtain the proper match. There is NO such thing as a universal replacement so DO NOT get one of those. It must be matched to maintain the right fit! Your WH heater may not have one, or look up the make and model and find out if there was supposed to be one.

I hope this helps!
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
First of all, thanks so much for replying to my question. Secondly, Art, the electric cord seems to plug into the drain plug you described. Does this mean that this unit can operate solely on electricity? The other section of the cord has a regular plug for electricity.

And when you say to turn on the water heater using the wall panel, do you mean inside the camper? I don't recall seeing a switch inside for the water heater, but it's possible I've overlooked it.

Thanks!!
 

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Looking at you pictures it looks like the drain is to the right of the electric plug. Is that an open hole there or does it just look that way in the picture? If it is a hole that is where the anode rod goes in or a plug. The plug to the left is for the electric element. If you can't find the rod, go to an RV store with the make and model number of yours. If it is the electric element, you will have to take it out to drain the HWH.
Your HWH will run on electric only and the gas is not needed to be on. Make sure there is water in the heater or you will ruin the electric element. Just plug the cord into an outlet.
Reading the instructions on the heater, it needs to get fired up manually from the outside. Turn the propane on and follow the instructions on the heater. It might take awhile for the gas to get there. Again, make sure there is water in it. It doesn't look like it has a electronic ignition. You might not have a switch inside. If you do it, will be around the gauges for your black and grey tanks. Probably on a kitchen wall.
The water valves are in the trailer are somewhere close to the HWH itself. There is probably an access panel or a cabinet door right in front of where the HWH is, on the inside of the trailer. There will be at least two valves. Open the line in, cold side and close the other, the bypass, which should go to the hot water line out.
Hope I explained things good and you get it figured out. Let us know.
Just thought of this. Do a search of the make and model number of the heater. You might be able to download the instructions.
 

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Like dogbone already mentioned, if you have a bypass lever it will be on the opposite side of the WH inside the trailer behind some panel or cabinet door. The former owner/user should have told you about this and in fact, how to operate everything in the rig. It appears you did not get a walkthrough on how to use all parts of the rig. There will be subtle differences that are typically discussed and learned. The WH is one of these.

I still think the center plug is the drain, but agree that it looks like there are 2 pins coming out of it. Maybe the heater does not have an anode and the pins are for power to use a different method to protect the WH tank when there is no anode. I just don't know on this one. All trailers I've had used an anode.

On closer examination it looks like there's a cap behind the propane inlet that might fit over what I've called the drain plug. But I don't know if this is for a heating element (I doubt it) or an electrical connection to protect the tank if there is no anode rod (I don't know). It may have been disconnected since the rig was winterized and this had to be removed as part of the draining and winterizing process.

A better picture from bottom (and top) angles might help us to identify more. The current picture with the propane lines in front are obscuring what else is behind it.

The WH COULD be a 2way system. A 2way has an electric element that can be enabled when connected to shore power to help heat up the water quicker than just on Propane. It could also be used if you want to conserve propane (for winter furnace use, for example). It's hard to tell without a better picture.

Even with the involved instructions sometimes a manufacturer can rig a trailer for use with an interior panel, but the instructions are pretty clear and common on the how to light the WH. But you must flush the water heater and RV plumbing thoroughly to remove any winterizing solution and to make sure the water heater has water.

I hope we get this figured out. If you post the make and model maybe we can help you find the instructions. You'll need to know more about the WH besides turning it on, like turning it off, draining, maintenance, problem solving, and winterizing.

BTW - I did scan through your pictures looking for more water heater pictures and saw that you've met the "Good Ole Hazard Boys", (Beau and Luke? names?). You might want to find them. Didn't they know how to fix pretty much everything? Or was that Uncle Jesse?
 

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Art, I just zoomed in on the drain plug, I see the two prongs. I'm thinking it is an after-market heating element. The original owner might have put it in where the drain plug goes/went. It's a possibility that the original element burnt out and they didn't want to go through the expense to fix it. That would explain why, the new owner said, it had a regular plug at the end of the wire. Usually the heating elements are hard wired in to 110, with a switch somewhere. My electric switch is on the outside of the unit, behind the propane lines. It's a bear to get to.
It's just a thought. It is hard to tell. I would like a better look and a look at the electric cord itself, preferable one showing both ends.
 

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Maybe that is a dual purpose plug. The prongs might be for the heating element AND the plug is removable so that the wires can be disconnected and this plug removed to drain the tank.

There should be a switch somewhere that turns this on and off. This would operate off 110v and only be available when connected to shore power. Otherwise use propane which is controlled by the square box, wires and knob to the left of the flue.

Here's a thought. How about calling the makers of Gulf Stream and either getting information or ordering a manual? I realize this won't solve the immediate problem of using the WH, but it will help in the long run or help get things started.

From the picture, the WH has a boatload of labels. Clean these off carefully to locate the make and model. I'm guessing the label with the information we need is on the rightmost edge of the water heater on the side. This one is up high so water doesn't impact it and the label doesn't look like it's made of paper so it lasts longer to preserve this information.
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 · (Edited)
I spoke to some people at a camper place and sent them the pic as well. They said that someone put in an electric heating element at the drain plug. They said to put one end of the cord in the prongs and plug the other end in an outlet. However, they never said anything about a power switch....is it possible there isn't one, it just needs to be plugged in?

I need to look inside to see if I can locate the bypass valve. There's a grill near the floor just under the refrigerator that can be unscrewed and taken off....maybe it's there?

I do have a manual for the water heater, but the instructions are so unclear and vague and there's nothing there about the electric cord, which obviously didn't come with it originally.
 

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You need to measure where the WH is located on the outside then estimate where it is on the inside - behind a panel, inside a cabinet, behind a wall. The wall location of the fridge may help if they are on the same wall. The fridge will have two outside panels (one at top and one at bottom) these are used for ventilation. Then measure sideways from the WH. Then go inside and compare the locations. The bypass is typically on the inside of the WH location. You can get an idea of the whereabouts of the WH bypass from that, if they are on the same exterior wall. I don't think it's under the fridge since stacking a fridge and a WH are not usually done.

It is a BAD idea to NOT have a switch for the heating element. Since after market heating elements can be sold separately maybe this is what you have. If you don't have a separate switch for this then you need to look at the Power Distribution panel. See if you can find a circuit breaker labeled WH or water heater. It's need to be about 15 amps since these heating elements can be from 1,000 to 1,600 watts!

This is an item of concern!!! If the tank gets emptied and you don't have a switch to guarantee the element is turned off, and someone accidently plugs the trailer's cord into shore power, the heating element will also turn on and will overheat and break (you hope) without any water in the tank. Even worse, if the element does not break it can cause so much overheating in the tank it can start a fire.

Since the picture shows a cord not plugged in, maybe the thing is fried and this is done since there is no switch. Whatever the case, and it replaced the drain plug, there's a lot more to be aware about, when you are using the WH.

I think the manual is terse since the operating instructions are on the water heater. Since your WH heater has been modified this might be why you are having questions. I hope you get this figured out.
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
Well, from what I can tell the cord to the heating element is completely separate from the trailer power.....meaning it plugs in independently or separately from the trailer. You see, not only is the cord not plugged into the drain plug, but the other end isn't plugged into anything either.

The folks at the trailer place said all I needed to do was fill the water heater tank, then just plug the cord into a power outlet. However, I forgot to ask where the bypass lever was located. It's dark outside right now.....I'll go out in the morning and see what I can find inside.
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
That might be it. The people at the camper place were looking at the same photo and seemed familiar with it. I don't think the power source is coming from the camper......it looks like a completely separate cord. That makes sense, I guess, if it were added later to the camper.
 

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Discussion Starter · #15 ·
Oh, by the way, Art, I think Cooter was the one that could fix anything on the Dukes of Hazzard.....that being said, the Duke boys were as nice as can be and they both can still sing well!
 

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It is an aftermarket heating element and won't have a switch. You just plug it in.
I think you will find that the grate your talking about is the furnace's air intake.
The bypass will be at the opposite side of the external access panel. If it's behind a panel, on the inside of the trailer, there should only be a few screws hold it in place. You will need a square head screw driver to get them out. They don't usually make them to difficult to get at. I explained how to change the valves in a previous post. You can also open up the sink cabinet to get an idea which way the water lines run.
I'm thinking, the previous owner had a problem, that his why they put in the electric heating element.
I would try to fire it up on propane, once you get water to it. Just to see if it worked and to see what your dealing with here. Follow the instructions on the WH. They where on the outside. The pilot light is one of the two tubes going into the bottom of the WH. Use a bbq lighter. It might take some time for the air to bleed out. Again make sure the heater has water in it.

Do you live around Tom Wapat? He lived not far from me awhile back. I don't know if he still lives there, in Northern Jersey.
 

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Discussion Starter · #17 · (Edited)
I found the bypass lines. They were behind a grate under the refrigerator. I unscrewed the grate and found a hot and cold line. Both have a twist valve. Since the camper is currently still winterized, they were tight when you try to twist them clockwise. To open the valves I guess I twist counterclockwise?

The previous owner was a bachelor who used the camper to stay in while he was away working. He might have been too lazy to worry with lighting the propane part of the WH. Then again something might have been wrong. But at least it has the electrical element regardless.

The stove doesn't even look like it has been used so I'm guessing he might have been lazy.....who knows.

No, I don't live near Tom Wopat. He lives in New York right now I believe since he does shows on Broadway occasionally. I met he and John Schneider some time ago down here in Nashville, TN where I live. They are super nice guys and I chatted with Tom for quite a while.
 

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Ok, my bad. I wouldn't have thought they would have been there. I found this little video on how to winterize. It shows you the valves that need to be turned. I know it is winterizing, but it gives you a look at the valves you need to find. They say a picture is worth a 1000 words. You just have to do what is done, backwards. Hope it helps. The valves you found might not be the bypass valves.
Winterizing Your RV - Basden's American RV Center, Evansville, IN - YouTube
I hope you get it figured out. Without actually looking at something its tough to explain things.
 

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They should be right by the heater on the hot and cold lines. It is possible that you don't have a bypass. I/we, assumed that because of the year of the trailer there was one. You know what happens when you assume.
You mentioned two valves on the hot and cold lines behind the grate. Is there a line connecting the two with a valve on it there or near by? If not open them. Remove the drain plug from the heater. Hook up the hose to the city water intake and turn it on. You should get water coming out of the heater, if there is no bypass. Turn the water off and replace the drain plug/heating element in your case. Open the pressure valve at the top of the heater. It has a lever on it and it is spring loaded. Lift the lever till it stays straight out, like they did in the winterizing video. Turn your water back on. Your heater will fill up. When the water starts to come out of the pressure valve put the lever back down. Your tank is full. Open the faucets in the trailer. Start with the hot closest to the heater. Just crack it. You will hear air and some antifreeze come out. When it runs smooth and no color,close the faucet. Do the same to the cold side. Just work your way down the lines the same way. Flush your toilet as well. Make sure your gray and black tank drain valves are shut or you will have water all over.
It would be better if you had someone to keep an eye on things, in the trailer, to make sure there are no leaks, when you turn the water on.
It is also possible the previous owner never put anti freeze in the trailer. He might have just blew the lines out with air for the winter.
Good luck and let us know how you make out. I wish I could have been able to look at it, to see what your dealing with. I was kinda hoping you where close by when you talked about Luke. It would have been a lot easier.
 
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