This is a question from a reader to Chris Dougherty, Certified RV Technician, when he was our technical editor
My automatic ignition hot water heater in our motor home ignites but won’t stay on. It tries several times and then quits. Any suggestions? —Don
This is a result of the control board not sensing the flame, which could be the result of a number of things. It could be a dirty or broken igniter, a corroded connection, the flame could be out of adjustment, there could be insufficient LP pressure, or the control board could be bad.
From a user standpoint, I would remove the igniter, and with a small piece of emery paper, clean the tip of the igniter. Remove the wire connections and make sure they are clean as well. Check the burn tube for obstructions or spider webs. When ignited, the flame should be blue with a hint of orange, and not making a loud roaring sound. If the flame is too yellow and is lazy, it is burning too rich and will be sooting the heater, as well as operating inefficiently. If it’s too lean, it makes a loud roaring sound and can burn back into the u-tube. If you have an Atwood water heater, this video by Gary Bunzer will show you how to adjust the flame. If you have a Suburban, the gas air mixture is fixed. In this case, I recommend the system be checked by a Certified RV Technician.