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Old 09-19-2019, 05:29 PM   #1
Hedgehog
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Did I ruin my waterheater

I just went outside to install the anode rod in my water heater to get ready for the next trip when I felt heat coming out of the drain hole. Well I guess I forgot to shut off the electric water heater switch when I left the last campground 3 weeks ago but I did drain the water. Did I damage the water heater or is it still good since it was warm inside? I don’t want to put water into it until the element cools off. It is the 12 gal waterheater in a 2016 montana.
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Old 09-19-2019, 05:32 PM   #2
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Ps, if the element is damaged, can it be replaced or do I have to replace the whole waterheater?
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Old 09-19-2019, 05:54 PM   #3
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I'm surprised you could run the heater for three weeks with no water and still feel heat. Fill it with water and give it a try. If it doesn't heat, just go to the hardware and get a new element. You may (probably) will need a large socked to remove the element. Take a look at youtube on how it is done. Really pretty simple, and I doubt you damaged the tank.
Good luck.
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Old 09-19-2019, 06:07 PM   #4
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Is there any other components other than the element that could have been damaged from this such thermostat?
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Old 09-19-2019, 07:03 PM   #5
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I seriously doubt you did any harm to your water heater except burn up the electric heating element. Which should have burned out in a matter of a few minutes at most. What I don’t understand is the heat you felt when you removed the anode rod. How much heat and how hot was it? Would it have burned your hand or felt uncomfortable or was it just warm? How hot was the space where the water heater is?
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Old 09-19-2019, 07:05 PM   #6
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Hmmm, not sure. I would fill the tank and give it a try. For what it is worth, this is nothing new.
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Old 09-19-2019, 07:09 PM   #7
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Yea, im sure you burned up the heating element. But that can be replaced
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Old 09-19-2019, 07:56 PM   #8
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Since there was heat coming out the hole, the heating element must have been still working. But I would not trust it to last long. I would replace it before it fails in the middle of a trip.
I don’t think it would have damaged any thing else.
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Old 09-19-2019, 08:33 PM   #9
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I stuck my finger in the hole and it was just warm air in the water heater. I will go pick up an element tomorrow. Should I get the suburban one or can I buy one at Lowe’s or Home Depot?
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Old 09-20-2019, 08:54 AM   #10
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First off was the trailer plugged into 120volt power since you left the campground? If not then all you felt was the summer heat.
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Old 09-20-2019, 09:06 AM   #11
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I never drain my water system till I park my camper for the winter. I always use a filter to fill my water system. Replace that every year. I always turn off the gas and unplug it if I am not going to use it. I also installed a battery disconnect to make sure the battery isn't being mysteriously drained.

I hope you don't have to buy a heating element and everything is working fine.
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Old 09-20-2019, 09:47 AM   #12
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To answer your question about replacement water heater element ... yes a replacement from Home Depot or Lowe’s or Ace would do just fine...

However.... be sure to get the 120 VAC.. not 240 and make sure the Watts rating is no more than 1500 ....

The stock Suburban element is 1440 watts at 120 VAC

https://www.homedepot.com/p/Everbilt...5024/205681007
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Old 09-20-2019, 10:57 AM   #13
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I have done the same thing but not for long . I drain my tank after every trip. Could be a few weeks before we head out anywhere and I would think your water in tank would go stagnet if you didn't empty
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Old 09-20-2019, 11:30 AM   #14
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I’ve had the water go stagnant. You do NOT wont that.
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Old 09-20-2019, 06:21 PM   #15
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Our entire system (as much as possible) gets drained out throughout the ride home. The water heater, low point drains/fresh tank drains are all open for the ride home, along with all fixture's to let air in and promote draining. Water sitting in the pipes etc. is a recipe for all kinds of nasty stuff to grow.

Its just too easy to drain every time. Hell, there are people that leave the RV fridge running 24/7 just to keep the condiment's left it there cold WTF.
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Old 09-20-2019, 07:08 PM   #16
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If my next trip is within 3 weeks, I leave it plugged in with fridge on, anything more than that and I shut it down and empty the fridge.
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Old 09-25-2019, 06:40 PM   #17
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Try filling it up and turning the heater on to check it.
If it works, it’s good. if not look at YouTube , it’s easy to replace, UNPLUG THE CAMPER FIRST.
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Old 09-25-2019, 07:53 PM   #18
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I replaced the element just in case.
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Old 09-26-2019, 06:50 AM   #19
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Burning out the heating element is easy to do and I think everyone who does their own maintenance has done this. I have. There is an on-off switch at the water heater, and I learned the hard way that when you are draining the tank, turning this switch off should be step one. The switch controls both gas and electric and prevents accidentally heating an empty tank. The electric element burns out quickly in an empty tank, and I don't want to think about what happens if the gas flame is accidentally turned on. BTW, new heating elements are cheap (less than $20), just about any 110 volt heating element will work, they are easy to replace, and an unusually large socket is needed.
PS: The new heating element should be similar in wattage to the old one.
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Old 09-26-2019, 07:21 AM   #20
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I think it is time to trade it in.
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