Leaky Suburban Water Heater. Replace with Spark Ignition?

Discussion in 'Plumbing Systems (The Fresh, The Blue, The Grey, &' started by NTL1991, Mar 24, 2018.

  1. NTL1991

    NTL1991 Member

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    Apr 30, 2017
    Rhode Island, USA
    My main project this spring is replacing my leaky, original Suburban SW6P water heater with a new one. I am torn between fitting the exact same standing pilot version with or without the Re-ignitor kit ($75), or going all out and getting the SW6D which is the direct-spark ignition with inside on/off switch to light it.

    I'm installing the unit myself, so the difference is only in the cost between units, ~$250 for the standing-pilot vs ~$290 for the spark ignition.

    Thoughts?
     
  2. Raycfe

    Raycfe Waterford Ct.

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    By all means get the spark ignition and if you camp where there is power add the electric element.
    And if it is any help, I may have a SW6 tank around for free.
     
  3. xxxapache

    xxxapache Well-Known Member

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    Absolutely get spark ignition. To save gas and wear and tear on the heater, we don't leave it on all the time. We flip it on about 5 minutes before a shower. If we shower at 10 pm, we still have warm water for washing at 10am.
     
  4. NTL1991

    NTL1991 Member

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    Thanks for the replies. Are there any issues with the spark ignition model? I like the convenience of it, but if they're prone to issues with the electronics, I'd rather go with the old school standing pilot version. Can the spark ignition version be lit manually if the control board were to fail?
     
  5. xxxapache

    xxxapache Well-Known Member

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    My camper is a 1995 and still has the original DSI water heater if that helps.
     
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  6. NTL1991

    NTL1991 Member

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    That's very reassuring! I know they don't always make them like they used to, but that's fantastic longevity.

    I'm sure mine would've lasted longer if the previous owner didn't overlook the anode rod replacement. It was just the core... nothing left to it at all.
     
  7. xxxapache

    xxxapache Well-Known Member

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    Mine is an Atwood with an aluminum tank. It has no anode rod.
     
  8. NTL1991

    NTL1991 Member

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    Rhode Island, USA
    Wonder if I should look at Atwood units. I'd have to see if the rough openings and LP entrance location are similar.
     
  9. McFlyfi

    McFlyfi Active Member

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    The dsi water heater will use electricity while in use.
    As mentioned above, we turn it on a few minutes prior to needing it, then flip it off when it's done heating
     
  10. nineoaks2004

    nineoaks2004 Every meal is a picnic and every Day is a holiday

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    There is one thing to consider, the DSI does not have an adjustable thermostat, the old style with the pilot does, the thermostat is on the front and can be adjusted as you want /need. The pilot uses very little LP only comes on when the water temp drops, My Atwood does not have an anode rod.
     
  11. f5moab

    f5moab Retired from the Federal Government

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    Somewhere in Idaho
    Per the manual, the DSI only uses electrical when the igniter sparks, and per my amp meter, hardly any current when sparking.
     
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  12. crackerJack

    crackerJack Active Member

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    I love my sw6D. It uses an unnoticeable amount of power. Someone on here calculated it once.
    Switching manufacturers would require a different door, bought separately and possibly structural changes due to a different opening dimension.
     
  13. f5moab

    f5moab Retired from the Federal Government

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    Somewhere in Idaho
    Late this spring I'll record the amp usage with the SW6D from when I switch it on to while it runs via my installed Tri-metric meter. I look at it when I run appliances but never really log them down. But I most likely be de-winterizing it until May due to where I live and the drops below freezing quite common at this altitude at night.
     
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  14. NTL1991

    NTL1991 Member

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    Apr 30, 2017
    Rhode Island, USA
    So I chose the SW6D, which should be here by next week. I already ordered the black Suburban switch/light panel and a nice big roll of Dicor 1-1/8" x 3/4" buytl tape.

    Look's like we'll have a write-up coming soon. I'd really like to do a better job at sealing the inside opening in the wallboard than Fleetwood did at the factory. Once installed, would a low-expansion spray-foam be an appropriate material to seal around the inside opening? I've read the instructions already and see they call for two separate beads of silicone caulking around the door frame.

    I'm looking for something a little better than some pink fiberglass stuffed around the opening...

    Also, where else should I be using this butyl tape on the PUP? Is it suitable for sealing the flanges on the city water inlet, water tank fill, drains, cord hatch?
     
    Last edited: Apr 20, 2018
  15. NTL1991

    NTL1991 Member

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    Apr 30, 2017
    Rhode Island, USA
    I popped up the Westlake today and decided to remove the old water heater while the weather was nice.

    It's a pretty straight-forward process. Turn off the LP gas at the tank, disconnect the water lines (mine were already bypassed for winterizing), remove the screws around the door flange, cut through the old putty, separate the flange from the heater (to give enough access to loosen the LP flare fitting), then slide the heater out through the opening.

    It took all of about 30 minutes. Most of the time was used cleaning up the old putty.

    Here's the old tank in its little cabinet. Notice the new ShurFlo 4008 pump. It's VERY quiet and gives better pressure than the original. Since I bought the pump, this cabinet was always humid and loaded with spiders because of the leaky heater.
    IMG-0586.JPG

    The door flange removed:
    IMG-0587.JPG

    The LP flare fitting disconnected:
    IMG-0588.JPG

    The opening. Notice the absence of support blocks on either side of the water heater as per the Suburban install manual.
    IMG-0589.JPG

    Cleaned up and ready for the new one to slide in:
    IMG-0594.JPG

    After getting the door off, I realized that it's missing the trim tape to match the body. I'd like to get a length of it to apply to the door for that original look.

    -Nick
     
  16. NTL1991

    NTL1991 Member

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    Rhode Island, USA
    Cut the holes in the lower galley top next to the water pump switch. Looks great! Now I'm contemplating getting a black water pump switch and bezel so it matches... lol

    IMG_0609.JPG
     
  17. Michelle Hall

    Michelle Hall New Member

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    Mar 15, 2018
    Did you take of the countertop to get to the heater? it looks like you did from the pictures. I have a leak in a newly bought used popup. I got scamed but, im pretty handy and figure ill just fix it myself. but it is in tight quarters and i cant see where its leaking.
     
  18. NTL1991

    NTL1991 Member

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    Apr 30, 2017
    Rhode Island, USA
    Mine is actually under a bench across from the dining table, so it's completely accessible just by removing the bottom cushion.

    Water Heater Location.jpg
    I wasn't able to physically see any leak with mine, but I knew it was because of the moisture in the cabinet. I checked the hoses and fittings, and pump (which is also in the same cabinet) and they were leak free, so the water heater was the only other possibility. The anode rod was completely worn through and looked like it hadn't been replaced for a long time. That's what really made me sure.
     

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