Water heater not using electric side of heater

I purchased my 2011 north trail 31bdss this weekend and I don’t believe the electric part of the water heater is working. The gas side works good, but yesterday before work I turned off the gas switch to see if the electric worked and when I got home the water wasn’t hot. I’m not sure if something isn’t turned on properly or not. By the way this is my first camper so I’m not 100% on where everything is at or how it works completely. Thanks
 

danemayer

Moderator
Staff member
Hi MichealWag,

Congratulations on the new-to-you RV and welcome to the Heartland Owners Forum.

First thing to do is remove the exterior water heater cover on the outside wall of the trailer and see what kind of water heater you have. There's probably a simple twist-retainer that will let you remove the cover without tools.

Heartland has used water heaters made by Atwood and Suburban. If you have a Suburban heater, look under that exterior cover, in the lower left corner, for a small black rocker switch. Usually if the top of the switch is pressed in, it's ON. In addition to the switch inside the coach, Suburban heaters have a secondary switch under the exterior cover. Make sure it's ON.

Other things to check would be the main circuit breaker panel inside the trailer. If not sure which breaker powers the water heater, flip all the breakers OFF and back ON.

Beyond that, if you have a Volt-Ohm meter, use our Water Heater Troubleshooting Guide to figure out exactly what's wrong. Unfortunately, that guide will only help with Suburban water heaters. Atwood water heater electric operation is very different and is a bit more complicated.
 
Thank you! I do have the switch on the bottom corners and it is on and the breaker is also on. My next step will be checking the continuity of the element to see if it’s any good, I didn’t know if there may be different switches I need to turn in or what. Thank you for the reply!
Hi MichealWag,

Congratulations on the new-to-you RV and welcome to the Heartland Owners Forum.

First thing to do is remove the exterior water heater cover on the outside wall of the trailer and see what kind of water heater you have. There's probably a simple twist-retainer that will let you remove the cover without tools.

Heartland has used water heaters made by Atwood and Suburban. If you have a Suburban heater, look under that exterior cover, in the lower left corner, for a small black rocker switch. Usually if the top of the switch is pressed in, it's ON. In addition to the switch inside the coach, Suburban heaters have a secondary switch under the exterior cover. Make sure it's ON.

Other things to check would be the main circuit breaker panel inside the trailer. If not sure which breaker powers the water heater, flip all the breakers OFF and back ON.

Beyond that, if you have a Volt-Ohm meter, use our Water Heater Troubleshooting Guide to figure out exactly what's wrong. Unfortunately, that guide will only help with Suburban water heaters. Atwood water heater electric operation is very different and is a bit more complicated.
 

danemayer

Moderator
Staff member
Thank you! I do have the switch on the bottom corners and it is on and the breaker is also on. My next step will be checking the continuity of the element to see if it’s any good, I didn’t know if there may be different switches I need to turn in or what. Thank you for the reply!

I'd suggest checking voltage first for 120V at the heating element. Put the voltage lead on one of the screws for the heating element, and the ground lead on a known good ground. If no voltage, the reset button may need to be pressed. There are other possible causes of a loss of voltage.

The troubleshooting guide will step you through all of this.
 

NWILSON

Kentucky Chapter Leaders - retired
If you have the Suburban heater, don't overlook the possibility that the switch on the heater has failed. When this happened to me I made a jumper to tie the two wires together until I could get a new switch.
 

JohnDar

Prolifically Gabby Member
The Hi-limit switch is another possibility. On mine, it was the 12V one for propane operation that quit. Easy to replace.


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Silverado23

Iowa Chapter Leaders
My 2010 NT 31BDSS had multiple switches required to be on for the water heater to work on electric. Most likely your 2011 would be similar.
1. The switch on the water heater itself. Accessible via the outside cover small black rocker switch
2. The electric water heater switch in the bathroom on the tank monitor panel also had to be on (two switches on that panel for water heater, gas, and electric)
3. The light switch next to the front door on the end of the counter must be on. This one is easy to over look as it is to the left of the electrical outlet and looks like a regular lighted household light switch. The photo shows a corner of switch next to the electrical outlet.

2010 Northtrailwaterhtrswtch.jpg
 
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JohnDar

Prolifically Gabby Member
Not sure about your monitor panel, but on earlier versions like mine, that little switch was to operate the water heater on propane. It does not need to be on for electric operation unless you need a faster reheat when using a lot of hot water.


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