Water Heater Maintenance – Continued

There are some more tasks that need to be completed on an annual basis.  Most of them can be done when you pull the unit out of storage and before you start it for the season.  If you are full time then perform them when you do the cleaning of the storage tank for calcium.

BUGS, there are several kinds of bugs that love the smell of propane.  If your water heater does not have a bug protector on the exhaust, spend the money an put one on it.  They look like a heavy duty screen over the exhaust vent.  Each year you want to make sure this is secure and in good condition.

Electric Heating element check.  It is probably a good idea to check the condition of the electric heating element.  You probably cleaned the tank which should clean the element as well.  Over time these heating elements break down and require replacement.  The easiest way to check an element is with a VOM (Voltage Ohm Meter or Multi-meter).  With power removed from the water heater, measure the Ohms of the heating element.  It should be slightly more than 10 Ohms.  If it is less than 10 ohms, you will want to replace it.

Safety Valve Check.  On the outside of the water heater is a pressure and maybe temperature safety valve.  This is used to prevent the pressure in the water heater from exceeding 150 PSI.  When water heats it expand and can cause the tank to rupture.

Over time the valves will corrode or become clogged with deposits.  That annual cleaning I talked about should help prevent this, but just in case.  Each year you want to open this valve.

Note:
A. Be careful, the water inside the tank may be hot.
B. Only do this when you are going to drain the tank for cleaning or for storage.

To relieve the pressure in the tank before removing the plug or anode rod, operate the safety valve by lifting up on the little lever on the valve.  WARNING: the water may be hot and some of it will come out of the valve.  Wear appropriate protection.

Air in tank check.  Some of you may have heard about burbing the water tank.  This practice is not required and in some cases may damage the water heater.  When you fill the water heater for the first camping trip of the season.  First make sure that everything is back in it place.  The plug or anode rod are installed, the water is turned on and fills the tank.  Then go inside and make sure the by-pass has been closed so that water now flows through the water heater.  Open a hot water faucet furthest away from the heater and and let it run until the air is out of the system.  This will provide the proper amount of air in the water heater to allow for expansion of the water when it heats up.  You can perform the same steps at each faucet to get the air out of the lines.

Next article will be about the Aqua Hot and On Demand System Maintenance.

 

Water Heater Maintenance

There are currently 4 different water heater types you might find in an RV.  The two most common are from Suburban and Atwood.  New to the RV world are the On Demand Water Heaters and in higher end motor homes you might find a system that provides both heat and hot water called Aqua Hot.

Maintenance on Atwood heaters is pretty simple.  About once a year usually when you winterize, you want to clean out the water heater holding tank really well.  The best way is to take out the drain plug.  Caution here:  Make sure the tank is cool and that the power and propane are off to the water heater.  You do not want the heater to begin trying to heat the water when the tank is empty.

Once you have removed the drain plug, flush the tank with plenty of water to remove the loose calcium.  Next you will need some white vinegar.  About a gallon for the 10 gallon water heater.  This is a good time to also clean the water holding tank on the RV.   Perform the same basic steps, drain the water in the holding tank, flush to remove the calcium and then using a ration of 1:10 (vinegar to water) fill the holding tank.  If you are doing the holding tank at the same time it will make it easier to do the how water system.  Fill the holding tank with vinegar and then pump it into the hot water tank (make sure you put the plug in the water heater before filling).

Once the vinegar and water are in the tank(s) let it sit for a couple of days.  The acid in the vinegar will loosen the calcium.

After a couple of days, drain and flush the system(s).  If you are working on a Suburban Hot Water system, now is a good time to replace the Anode Rod.

Then Anode rod is to protect the insides of the steel tanks used in Suburban water heaters from rusting due to chemical reactions in the water.  The Anode rod is made of a mixture of Zinc, Magnesium and Aluminum.  Which reacts quicker to the chemicals in water that can rust the steel tank.  Failure to replace the anode rod as needed results in the water tank rusting out and having to replace it sooner than needed otherwise.

That is it for the normal water heaters found in most RVs.  I am still researching the maintenance of on demand and Aqua Hot systems.  Those will be covered in the next article.

 

 

Delamination – What is it?

If you read Facebook RV Groups at all or any RV Forums you will see many articles or questions about delamination.  Many of us know little about the issue but maybe would like to know more or you need to know how to fix it.

I recently chatted with Andrew Newton of Composet Products L.L.C.  Composet offers a product for fixing delamination.  I asked Andrew about delamination and what causes it.  Here are some of the questions and his responses.

What is delamination?

Many RV walls are a “composite”, meaning different materials are bonded together in layers. Typically, a thin fiberglass sheet forms the outer layer, followed by luan plywood*, Styrofoam, and an inside panel. Framing elements are also incorporated into the wall. The materials are glued together creating a composite structure. Delamination occurs when the bond between one or more layers fails. This happens in isolated segments, or throughout the entire panel.

Why does delamination occur?

In many cases a leak forms allowing water into the wall. Typically this happens at windows, vents, lights, roof lines, etc., where caulking is sometimes the only barrier to outside elements. Age, workmanship, vibration, maintenance, and environmental exposure are factors. In my opinion, most delamination occurs when the water breaks down the glue used in the manufacture of the luan plywood and results in the plies separating.

How can you spot delamination?

Look at the wall from an angle and check for bulges. Most sidewalls are not perfectly flat, so this can be tricky, however, the bulge will be worse when the wall is in direct sunlight due to the de-bonded materials expanding at different rates. Next, tap lightly on the wall with a plastic screwdriver handle, solid areas and delaminated areas sound different.

How is delamination fixed?

The most comprehensive way to fix delamination is by replacing the entire wall, requiring major reconstruction. Sometimes sections of walls are cut out, with a seam or joint created where the patch panel is installed. I have seen cases where the layers are re-bonded one at a time. Another process, developed by our company, Composet Products L.L.C., utilizes an injection process to saturate the affected area with a proprietary catalyzed composite bonding adhesive, followed by clamping. Every situation is different with your expectations and budget guiding the definition of a successful repair.

*Luan or Lauan plywood is made from the wood of the Lauan tree from the South Pacific Rim. Lauan wood is usually referred to a medium-grade Philippine mahogany. This produces a very lightweight wood that is softer than most softwood plywood. The surface finish of Luan plywood is very smooth, mostly without defects. The small defects that are found are filled and sanded smooth with the surface. However, because of these defects, Luan is generally only used for projects that will be painted.

Thickness

Luan is typically only manufactured in 1/4 inch thickness, although you can find it as thin as 1/8 inch at times.

Next week, I will go over the process of repairing delamination using the products that Andrew’s company offers.  It is an inexpensive kit that fixes a very expensive repair.

If you need more information or want to learn more about how to fix delamination, contact:

Composet Products L.L.C.
801-821-0964
http://www.delamrepair.com

 

Just wanted to let you know about the Facebook Page

I also have a Facebook Page that is used to support this site.  You can access it at Facebook Page.

I am starting to work on the video series.  It will cover the complete inspection process from roof to frame and everything in between.  Not sure how long this is going to take, probably a few months at least.  Also haven’t figured out what or if I will be charging for this.  I do plan on having a manual that will go with the videos.

Please let me know if you have any ideas or special interests.