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Old 02-05-2024, 03:02 AM   #1
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Default Suburban water heater

Recently I've begun experiencing the following when I switch on my water heater (sorry for this description):

[standard click-click-click] then {whump+no light]

and this sequence repeats several times before it finally starts up and runs normally.

I'm concerned about the [whump] which has gotten louder over time. Don't want to experience a catastrophic whump. But I've noticed that, unlike the LP fridge, there is nothing about cleaning burner, etc. Instead saying that it should be taken to a qualified tech periodically. Bear in mind 27yrs old and no service in past. Ideas/recommendations?

thx.glenn
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Old 02-05-2024, 09:00 PM   #2
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Quote:
Originally Posted by GallenH View Post
Recently I've begun experiencing the following when I switch on my water heater (sorry for this description):

[standard click-click-click] then {whump+no light]

and this sequence repeats several times before it finally starts up and runs normally.

I'm concerned about the [whump] which has gotten louder over time. Don't want to experience a catastrophic whump. But I've noticed that, unlike the LP fridge, there is nothing about cleaning burner, etc. Instead saying that it should be taken to a qualified tech periodically. Bear in mind 27yrs old and no service in past. Ideas/recommendations?

thx.glenn
can you put up a video of this? i am sure many know hat you are talking about but I would be curious as to how load it actually is. you might get some better feedback
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Old 02-05-2024, 11:06 PM   #3
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Considering it's a 27 year veteran with no service, it's amazing that it's still struggling! A louder "grunt" can actually indicate problems with the gas supply or ignition process, which can lead to incomplete combustion. It's similar to a water heater snoring - funny at first, but then indicating that something is wrong.
Before you find yourself singing "catastrophic wheeze" to the whole neighborhood, it's worth having a qualified technician come out. They can clean and inspect the burner, igniter and other components that may be part of the orchestra. This is also a good opportunity to assess whether your trusty appliance is hinting at retirement and seeking a peaceful transition to Valhalla.
Remember, it's always best to eliminate these sounds before your water heater decides to perform its swan song. And who knows, it may just be asking for a little attention.
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Old 02-06-2024, 06:33 PM   #4
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My Suburban water heater has been pretty reliable but I have replaced a couple parts on it. Fortunately, it is a fairly simple appliance and it is pretty easy to work on since you can access it easy through the outside panel. There are also some good youtube diagnostic videos that will help troubleshoot it.

I had to replace the inside circuit board (module board) once on mine. It was sending false signals to the gas valve. I remember that when I ordered the new part, they had upgraded the board to a much more robust circuit board probably because the older one was problematic for many. It was a simple plug and play board that took a couple minutes to replace.

I think I may have replaced the gas valve once too. As I recall it was a simple solenoid plunger type valve that was easy and safe to replace with the gas turned off. There are parts diagrams online as well as troubleshooting guides. I am no expert but it was fairly easy to work on.

I would also just make sure the gas tube and burner orifice is clean. It would be easy for this to get gummed up with carbon deposits or even insect debris.

All this van stuff is the same, you either do your best to repair things with the help of the internet or you pay someone a lot to fix it for you.
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Old 02-06-2024, 10:45 PM   #5
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Just a guess. The propane flow is reduced making it too lean to light reliably or burn properly. The heat of the temporary light increases the flow.

Clean the burner and jet. Remember, just a guess, but I agree it should be addressed.

Don’t want a whump to become a boom.
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Old 02-07-2024, 03:50 PM   #6
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Thank you all for your replies. I think that I'll clean the burner/jet and test the gas pressure at the unit. Then try some startups while I'm here at home and see if the "thump" recurs. Incidentally I believe that the thump occurs as a result of gas finally igniting; meaning that it should have ignited sooner when there was less gas in the chamber. In that case I suspect it could be the ignitor or the board but would need to find a qualified tech to check.
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Old 02-07-2024, 07:01 PM   #7
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I think it was too lean to ignite till the gas accumulated. Cleaning the jet should fix it,
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Old 02-13-2024, 03:17 AM   #8
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Pull the electrode igniter out. Do a YouTube if you don't know how. I would replace it, but as a check, you can lightly sand it. While you have the burner assembly out, get a can of air and blow everything out. Spiders love propane and there may be a web blocking the flow of propane. It's just a couple of screws, if I recall, to remove the assembly.
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Old 02-16-2024, 09:45 PM   #9
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I've begun disassembly and cleaning of WH. Burner tube appears to have orifice as integral piece. New ones on line look exactly like this but claim to have "61" stamped on them to identify orifice but mine doesn't.

burner.png

Here's what the tube connects to. There's a removeable tip (silver) and when removed appears to show a compression fitting ring on the tubing. No orifice markings anywhere on these items. I didn't show it in the photos but once the tip is removed from the line, the line appears to have an opening that is the full inner diameter of the line.

tip1.png
tip2.png
tip3.png
tip4.png

Seems like a redundancy to me. I cleaned out the burner tube (not much of anything in it) and plan to replace the ignitor (it's cheap). Orifice end of burner tube and tip now soaking in alcohol. Will blow out when done.

Anyone encounter the tip portion before? Any comments/suggestions welcome.

thx.glenn
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Old 02-16-2024, 09:48 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by GallenH View Post
I've begun disassembly and cleaning of WH. Burner tube appears to have orifice as integral piece. New ones on line look exactly like this but claim to have "61" stamped on them to identify orifice but mine doesn't.

Attachment 14562

Here's what the tube connects to. There's a removeable tip (silver) and when removed appears to show a compression fitting ring on the tubing. No orifice markings anywhere on these items. I didn't show it in the photos but once the tip is removed from the line, the line appears to have an opening that is the full inner diameter of the line.

Attachment 14563
Attachment 14564
Attachment 14565
Attachment 14566

Seems like a redundancy to me. I cleaned out the burner tube (not much of anything in it) and plan to replace the ignitor (it's cheap). Orifice end of burner tube and tip now soaking in alcohol. Will blow out when done.

Anyone encounter the tip portion before? Any comments/suggestions welcome.

thx.glenn

Normally, the jet sizes are not a dimensional number as such but refer to a drill size of all things. A number 61 would be .039 diameter and you would clean it with a #61 drill bit normally, but use the shank end so you don't muck up the size or flow.
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Old 02-16-2024, 11:51 PM   #11
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Replace the igniter electrode and you'll most likely call it a day. Did you try cleaning it as a test? All these things you're trying and frankly 9 out of 10 times it's the igniter electrode. I actually carry a spare

Seems like a redundancy to me. I cleaned out the burner tube (not much of anything in it) and plan to replace the ignitor (it's cheap). Orifice end of burner tube and tip now soaking in alcohol. Will blow out when done.

Anyone encounter the tip portion before? Any comments/suggestions welcome.

thx.glenn[/QUOTE]
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Old 02-20-2024, 06:41 PM   #12
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That tip itself is the orifice. I don't have much experience with camper water heaters other than my own Suburban, but I recognize that part from working on residential gas heaters. For pilot light assemblies, they use an orifice like that one, also located at the end of the aluminum tube right at the ferrule.
I suspect the other hole is not a gauged orifice and thus, no "61" indicating the gauge.

See here:
https://www.partstown.com/montague/m...E&gclsrc=aw.ds
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