Atwood Water-Heater Overdrive

March 16, 2006
Filed under Trailer How To

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Q. My six-gallon Atwood water heater runs on either 120-volt AC electric or LP-gas. We generally leave it on the electric mode. The water is very, very hot —hot enough to burn you, I believe. How can I stop this?

Also, is it OK to leave your hot water tank on the electric all the time?

– R.S., via e-mail

A. Your Atwood RV water heater has a thermostat just like the water heater in your home does, R.S. Remove the water heater’s exterior access cover, and you’ll see the heating-element electrical connections, along with the thermostat. Check the temperature dial, and turn it to a lower setting. If it’s already been cranked down and the unit still produces water that’s way too hot, the thermostat may have failed. In that case, it’s time to replace the thermostat.

It’s fine to use the water heater on its 120-volt AC setting, as long as you keep the unit filled with water while it’s switched on. Running it with the heating element dry can damage it. — J.J.


Jeff Johnston, TL consulting editor, started RVing at age 6. During his more than 20 years as a writer/photographer, he has worked for Truckin’ and Four Wheeler magazines before joining TL’s technical staff in 1985. Johnston also has produced an award-winning travel video and TV commercials.

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