So, after implementing many potential fixes from three different sources (the technical support line for the heater, the local propane parts supply expert, and a recommended local service technician), which include things like:
- making the line from the bottle to the heater 1/2 inch (was 1/4 inch copper to the heater itself from the main gas line);
- installing a new regulator;
- connecting the bottle to the heater directly bypassing all interconnecting lines;
- installing an industrial-strength regulator;
- and finally installing the regulator directly to the bottle.
Each of these was done as an additional layer on the previous changes. Therefore the final setup was a bottle within six feet of the heater with an industrial-strength regulator directly connected to the bottle and plumbed through a 1/2 inch line into the heater.
Same symptoms. Quite discouraging and I am a bit pissed because now I am resigne4d to the fact I will be tearing the assembly down and sending it back. And it would be difficult to re-install the old water heater.
As a last-ditch effort, I called technical support again. Of course, on hold. While waiting for my spot in the queue to pop I played around with the control panel. It has information readings you can select of:
- the set temperature – 120F;
- the incoming water temperature – 75F;
- the outgoing water temperature – 57F;
- and finally the flow – 0.9GPM.
Wait, is that 75F in and 57F out? As I am rechecking this technical support picks up. During our conversation as this CSR verifies what has been done since the last call, I mention this anomaly in the incoming and outgoing water temperature. The technician then flatly states “you have your hot and cold water lines swapped.” He explains why the heater is acting the way it is with this discrepancy in the inlet and outlet temperatures.
Mike and I have gone over the plumbing several times, but I look specifically at the hot and cold routing, comparing it to what it was when the original water heater was installed (the plumbing inside the RV is not marked, so you have to follow the lines). Sure enough, we have the lines swapped.
So now I am pissed at myself for being so stupid! After letting the tech know what I found and hanging up I swap the lines. The heater works almost flawlessly! Almost, because during the previous two weeks I had tried to “fix” the problem with adjustments to the LP manifold with a manometer in accordance with the installation directions – which also was giving me fits. This resulted in me adjusting the minimum and maximum pressures all out of whack, and looking into the firebox I could see the flame profile was incorrect.
After aligning the manifold pressures with no problems and correctly, the firebox is looking good and all measurements are in spec. The heater continues to run wonderfully.
Curious, I now revert all changes (except for the 1/2 inch line from the main gas line to the heater – I am not putting the 1/4 copper line back in) to the way things were originally and voila – the system works just fine. Sigh.
I learned a lot and have now enjoyed limitless hot water several times in the shower. Wonderful! And here is the installation in all its glory (the board the heater is mounted on is painted with marine-grade paint and all appropriate edges are sealed with silicon, including steel wool (to keep small critters out) and silicon in the pipe holes).
And here are a couple of pics of the old water heater.