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Old 03-16-2018, 03:27 PM   #1
FloridaFlockers
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Water Heater Won't Work on Electric

Hope I am allowed 2 questions in the same day. Back in Dec took our 2017 3820FK to Charleston AFB to try it out. Wanted to give it a check out before we head out FT for a bit. One of the problems we discovered was the water heater would not heat on electric, worked fine on gas. Checked the switch under the outside cover, it was on. Cycled it and no help. So off to CW, 3 weeks later they say the heating element is bad and they needed approval from Keystone to replace it. 3 more weeks and it's back to us. Now we are checking it out again to see if everything works. Nope, the heater still does not work on electric, gas is good to go. Checked the anode and between both terminals and ground I have 115 VAC. Turned the switch and CB to off, removed one of the leads and ohm'd it out. Read about 13-14 ohms across the terminals. Would like to know what a good element reads? And that it really matters but what will a new one set me back? Depending on the replies I may just buy a new one and swap it out myself vs enduring another CW experience. Thanks Joe
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Old 03-16-2018, 04:52 PM   #2
pyoung47
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It isn't hard to replace one, but you will need a special socket wrench to get it out easily. The fitting on the element is very shallow, and most sockets will not stay on it. Any Lowes will have one. Elements are about 12 bucks or so. I'm not sure what the reading should be. If you have water in the heater, you will get some continuity.
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Old 03-16-2018, 04:57 PM   #3
rohrmann
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Before you replace anything, on the outside of the water heater, there is a black plastic cover that has two round rubber covers. These cover the thermostat high temp reset buttons, one for the gas side, 12 volt, and the other is the 120 volt side. Press both of these buttons through the rubber covers and see if the water heater works. If it still doesn't and you are sure there is power to the element, you will need the element, Suburban #520900, http://www.dyersonline.com/suburban-...n-element.html , along with the socket http://www.dyersonline.com/camco-scr...nt-wrench.html . Then, making sure every switch going to the water heater is turned off and the unit has cooled, you will need to drain the water from it by removing the anode. You might also need to remove some other parts to access the element, but once that is done, using the wrench/socket and a screwdriver, remove the element and then install the new one with the new gasket, and do not over tighten, and then reconnect the leads and install everything that you removed. BEFORE turning power back on, make sure you have filled the water heater tank with water so water comes out of the faucets inside. Only then turn on the switches to the water heater. You should now have water heating with electric.
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Old 03-16-2018, 05:38 PM   #4
FloridaFlockers
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Sirs, thanks for the feedback and input. Looks like an oversized (1 1/2") sparkplug socket. I tried the resets but didn't feel like they did anything when I pressed on them, they didn't feel popped? If the 120V High Temp Reset button was popped, would I still read 115 at the terminals? The fact that CW had it for 6 weeks to fix this just aggravates me more than I can say.
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Old 03-17-2018, 07:29 AM   #5
masterdrago
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People that hang here are just super helpful. People like Bob & Becky. Stick with this group and avoid the hassles of taking back to the dealer unless expensive warranty work. Clearly if you are reading 115vac at the terminals of the element with water in the tank and the leads connected to the element but not drawing current, then the element is open. I recall my reading ~10ohms when I took it out to inspect and clean. It was shocking how much mineral was on it in only 3 weeks of operation. I bought a replacement at AMZN https://www.amazon.com/Suburban-5207.../dp/B003G9G4X4
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Old 03-17-2018, 09:57 AM   #6
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Not sure what the wattage of the element is. But a 1200 watt element should have about 10 ohms resistance. A 1500 watt element should have about 12.5 ohms. So sounds like your element is good.

If you are measuring 115 volts at the screw on the element, then the thermostat and hi temp cutouts must be OK otherwise there would be no voltage there.

But curious. You say you measured 115 vac between both heating element (you said anode) terminals and "ground". What did you use for ground? Frame? If so that may point to the problem. A meter would measure 115 vac from the hot terminal to the frame. But there should be zero volts from the ground terminal to frame. A problem that has been reported more than once on here was a bad neutral (loose wire) in the junction box on the back side of the water heater. And that would show the same voltage measurement problem you are seeing if measuring to frame.
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Old 03-17-2018, 10:51 AM   #7
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Sir,
This might be it. Yes I said anode, had a Homer Simpson moment. I did measure 115VAC from both terminals to the frame. You mention ""A problem that has been reported more than once on here was a bad neutral (loose wire) in the junction box on the back side of the water heater." Going out on limb, ass-u-me the neutral is black? Black to brass to cover your ????. Raining now so kind of on hold, I don't see any junction box under the cover, just the black and white wire coming out and attaching to the terminals. Is the junction box accessed from outside, do I have to pull the outside apart or is it inside somewhere? We have a 3820FK. Thanks Joe
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Old 03-17-2018, 11:36 AM   #8
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I have not had to get into mine. But pictures in the link below show the J box to be at the top left behind the front panel. Depending on your location you may or may not have access to the back without removal.

https://www.pplmotorhomes.com/parts/...heater_09.0073

Also, mine is older and doesn’t have an inside switch. If you have an inside switch for electric then your WH will have a 12 v relay to switch on/off the 115 vac. The pictures in the next link appear to show additional wiring for that.

https://www.amazon.com/Suburban-SW10.../dp/B00FA4J8A4
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Old 03-17-2018, 01:46 PM   #9
FloridaFlockers
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Update, I give up. Got to the back of the heater from under the sink after removing one panel. Found the 115 running into some kind of a plastic splice box. Not sure why they didn't just use wire nuts? Inside the splice box measured 115 on the hot (black) to ground and 0 on the return (white) to ground. So all is well to this point. Then the power runs out of the plastic splice box to another metal box mounted on the top left (looking from outside the rig) of the heater. Exactly where the link posted above shows it. Looks like it could come off and be opened but not sure how without pulling the heater out or being a contorshinist. Just to make sure I hadn't jostled a connection into working checked at the heater element again. Measured 115 on the black to ground and 115 on the white to ground. At this point I am calling uncle and going to return to CW. I would prefer a sharp stick in the eye or root canal vs going back to CW. Thanks for the help, regardless of the outcome, learning has occurred. Joe
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Old 03-17-2018, 04:37 PM   #10
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You don't have to go back to your selling dealer for service - you can always try somewhere else that services Keystone.
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Old 03-17-2018, 11:36 PM   #11
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FloridaFlockers-- As AZ Traveler stated " You don't have to go to your original dealer to get service." Give Keystone Customer Service a call and explain the problem and ask them if CW has actually set up an account for your unit. Also ask them for another dealer that you can take your unit to for service. Some CW's have gotten a bad name for their service and you may have purchased your unit at one of them. If Keystone will not give you another dealer for service ask if they will pay for a remote service tech to check out your unit and fix the problem. This has happened in some cases. Good luck and keep us informed on the progress and final result.
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Old 04-03-2018, 07:45 AM   #12
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Update, spoke to Keystone and they would not approve me going anywhere else accept for another approved service provider 80 miles away. So I caved in and took it back to the N. Charleston CW on 03/24 and told them we needed it back soonest because we were headed out FT mid April. The lady that checked us in said she'd try to get it back the next week. I also emailed the Service Manager of our past woes and low and behold on 03/29 after having it only 4 days we got a call it was ready for pick-up. I nearly had a heart attack. Now for the good info........ when we picked it up I was able to speak with the Shop Foreman. They found an open Neutral Line on the side of the water heater under the sink. Think this is exactly what BB_TX posted a few posts earlier. Wish I could have had time to see verify their fix before I left but I was pressed for time. Should be able to know within 5 min if it's a good fix once we take it out, fill it and put a meter on the hot/neutral lines. Thanks for the help and ideas, Joe.
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