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Thread: 2020 Big Country 3902 fl - electric water heater not working

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    2020 Big Country 3902 fl - electric water heater not working

    First time RVír. Been using electric water heater for about 2 months with no issues. Stop working recently but LP side still works great. Getting 12 ohms from my heating element. 120V on the heating element and high limit switch. Black rocker switch next to the element is On as well as the inside touch-screen switch is ON. Not sure what else to try. Any advice would be so appreciated.

    Thank you
    Shaul

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    Moderator danemayer's Avatar
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    Re: 2020 Big Country 3902 fl - electric water heater not working

    Hi Kosmo,

    Welcome to the Heartland Owners Forum.

    You might find our Water Heater Troubleshooting guide helpful. It's in this folder. It's for Suburban units, which it sounds like you have.

    Playing back what you've said, you have power at the heating element and the heating element measures 12 ohms, which argues it's not electrically "open".

    I'm going to assume that you measured the voltage at the heating element with the common lead of the meter on a known good ground. And I'll assume you measured the resistance of the element with at least one wire disconnected.

    That being the case, and assuming it's a Suburban unit, I would say you either have a bad element, or the neutral wire is open on the way back to the circuit breaker panel. You might check for loose wires on the back side of the main circuit breaker panel inside the coach (do this with power disconnected). If that's ok, it's possible the wirenut connection between coach wiring and water heater wiring has come loose. It's in a junction box located on the front inside corner of the water heater. If that's good, you should replace the heating element.

    Practically speaking, the most likely cause is a defecting heating element. So before you invest a lot of time and effort, you might just spend $15 on a new element.


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    Re: 2020 Big Country 3902 fl - electric water heater not working

    Thank you Dan for the quick response. Here are more details


    Suburban Water Heater (LP side works great) - Electric side just stopped working

    120V at the element and HighTemp Switch

    The element is now out of the water heater and still reading roughly 2 ohms (sorry Dan I had a type when I said 12 ohms). I ordered a new element a couple days ago and it measures roughly 2 ohms as well. I installed it early this morning and still no hot water. It is now out of the water heater and still reading roughly 2 ohms. The new element was delivered UPS......what are the chances I was delivered a bad element. Now that I know a good element should read between 10-18 ohms I probably shouldnít of installed the new one because it was actually bad, correct??? I am still thinking all signs still point at a bad element.

    Thank you
    Shaul

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    Moderator danemayer's Avatar
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    Re: 2020 Big Country 3902 fl - electric water heater not working

    2 ohms doesn't sound right. You might visit a local hardware store and look for a comparable element - about the same wattage and length.


    Dan and Ann Mayer & fur baby Callie the Rally Dog
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    Re: 2020 Big Country 3902 fl - electric water heater not working

    Quote Originally Posted by danemayer View Post
    2 ohms doesn't sound right. You might visit a local hardware store and look for a comparable element - about the same wattage and length.

    Hi Dan
    Back at the Homestead and here is an update. Bought a new multimeter and both elements (original and new) read a steady 10.6. Installed a new thermostat this morning to eliminate that possible issue. Getting 120 volts on both sides of the thermostat. Water heater as been in heat mode for about 2 hours and still no change. What would you try next?

    Thank you
    Shaul

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    Moderator danemayer's Avatar
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    Re: 2020 Big Country 3902 fl - electric water heater not working

    The 120V goes from the Thermostat/ECO directly to the heating element by way of the black wire on the heating element (usually). If you have 120V (to ground) where the wire from the thermostat attaches to the heating element, and the element tests ok, I would say the return or neutral path must be open. You need a complete circuit for it to work.

    With power OFF, disconnect the white lead from the heating element. That's the return wire. Check continuity from that wire (disconnected from the element) to the neutral pin (the long pin) on the nearest outlet (probably in the UDC). This is described with a picture of an outlet, on page 9 of the Water Heater Troubleshooting Guide.

    If you don't have 0 ohms, the next place to investigate would be the junction box on the front, inside corner of the water heater. You'll have to take down the rear wall of the passthrough basement storage next to the UDC to get to it.

    Turn off power before touching the box.


    Dan and Ann Mayer & fur baby Callie the Rally Dog
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    • Hensley BD3 TrailerSaver Hitch
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  7. Print this Post   #7
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    Re: 2020 Big Country 3902 fl - electric water heater not working

    Quote Originally Posted by danemayer View Post
    The 120V goes from the Thermostat/ECO directly to the heating element by way of the black wire on the heating element (usually). If you have 120V (to ground) where the wire from the thermostat attaches to the heating element, and the element tests ok, I would say the return or neutral path must be open. You need a complete circuit for it to work.

    With power OFF, disconnect the white lead from the heating element. That's the return wire. Check continuity from that wire (disconnected from the element) to the neutral pin (the long pin) on the nearest outlet (probably in the UDC). This is described with a picture of an outlet, on page 9 of the Water Heater Troubleshooting Guide.

    If you don't have 0 ohms, the next place to investigate would be the junction box on the front, inside corner of the water heater. You'll have to take down the rear wall of the passthrough basement storage next to the UDC to get to it.

    Turn off power before touching the box.



    Just wanted to share the results from all the troubleshooting advice that was given. First, thank you to all that read and respond to this site. I benefited from it with new knowledge and saved 100ís of dollars. After taking the steps to troubleshoot why my water heater wasnít heating on the electric side it was determined I lost neutral. I found no continuity on the white wire between the junction box behind the water heater and the manufactured junction box on the side of the water heater. I attached a picture showing the results of what happened inside the manufactured junction box on the side of the water heater. Not sure what failed but not good for the reputation of AMERICAN MADE.

    My 2020 Big Country now has hot water being produced from the electrical side....fist pump!!!!!Yess!!!!

    Shaul


    CE6AEA22-2351-4A8D-A9D0-45730EDD38C3.jpg

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    Re: 2020 Big Country 3902 fl - electric water heater not working

    Hey Shaul,

    I'm glad you were able to take care of it. If I can help with anything else feel free to call. Have a good rest of the week.

    Chuck
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    Senior Member mlpeloquin's Avatar
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    Re: 2020 Big Country 3902 fl - electric water heater not working

    You might want to check the junction boxes under your slides as well. Glad I did mine. Most fifth wheels are ok, but some like mine needed tending to. I also had to replace the 120V wiring going from the slide junction box into the slide wall via under side bottom edge. Mine was eaten up by a metal backing just past the sweeper seal. I use tin snips to shorten the metal that look like it was just bent backwards to make clearance for the cord. It did not clear the wire and thankfully only ate 90% through the outer insulation and green ground and its center conductor. Just be prudent and make sure.

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    Senior Member wdk450's Avatar
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    Re: 2020 Big Country 3902 fl - electric water heater not working

    The wirenut connection in this heater connect box has been a frequent posted cause of heater problems on Heartland rigs. I had it happen to my rig years ago. It seems that on quite a few they were cutting the romex a little short, putting too much stress on those wirenuts, along with the wirenuts not being screwed down tight enough and maybe vibrating loose due to road vibrations. All in all, I would have been much happier with a screw connector terminal strip for making the external 110 VAC connections to a high current device like a water heater. But this decision is on Suburban, not Heartland.
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