Atwood Water Heater Troubleshooting Manual

Atwood Water Heater Troubleshooting Manual

This is a complete guide on the Atwood Water Heater Troubleshooting Manual. What I will describe in this article: 

  • Common problems of Atwood Pilot Water Heater
  • Common problems of Atwood Electronic Ignition Water Heater

In short, you will find the information you need to fix an Atwood RV water heater problem regardless of their models. Without further ado, let’s dive in. 

Table of Contents

Atwood Pilot Water Heater Troubleshooting

If you have a pilot water heater model from Atwood, you can experience the following problems over time:

Your Atwood Water Heater will go through this issue because of the following reasons: 

  • Incorrect gas pressure
  • Blocked ‘U’ tube
  • Align the main burner improperly
  • Improper air adjustment
  • Weak thermocouple
  • Poor pilot flame
  • Weak gas control magnet 
  • Defective E.C.O in control 

How To Fix:

First, ensure the gas pressure is within specification. Regarding this, get a manometer to measure the gas pressure. If the gas pressure is low, adjust the pressure to reach a minimum of 11″ W.C. 

Second, inspect the U-shaped tube in the tank. If it gets clogged, the flame won’t go through it to the water heater. Release the obstructions from the ‘U” tube to resolve the pilot outage issue. 

Third, the misalignment of the main burner is also responsible for the pilot outage. Align the manifold and the main burner. In other words, rotate the gas valve at the same angle as the main burner tube. If not, turn the gas control or the orifice holder tube to let the orifice disperse gas straight down the center of the burner tube. 

Besides, ensure the spreader plate at the end of the burner should be ‘parallel’ to the end of the burner tube so the air/fuel mixture is completely ignited.

Fourth, verify that the main burner air shutter is 1/4 way open. You can watch this tutorial to learn how to adjust the air shutter perfectly: 

Fifth, check the thermocouple for dirt buildup. Clean the dirty thermocouple or replace it if it looks so fragile. 

Sixth, inspect the pilot orifice for blockage. In this case, you should remove the burner to access the pilot orifice. Then, take out the brass orifice and clean it with isopropyl alcohol. 

Lastly, you should replace the gas control if the gas control magnet is weak or the E.C.O. is defective. 

Read Also: Atwood Water Heater Gas Valve Replacement

You will experience the pilot outage issue when you release the button or knob, right? 

It happens when the thermocouple is not hot. A loose thermocouple connection is also responsible for this issue. Apart from these, a weak thermocouple or weak gas control magnet will extinguish the pilot flame when you release the knob. 

How To Fix: 

To resolve the pilot outage issue, follow these steps: 

  • Hold the pilot knob for 30 seconds before releasing
  • Inspect the thermocouple connection at the gas control and tighten it up with a wrench if required. 
  • Replace the thermocouple if it looks fragile.
  • Replace the gas control valve if its magnet is weak. 

An ignition issue will occur, or the main burner won’t come on when: 

  1. The main burner orifice gets clogged
  2. Misalignment of the main burner flame spreader
  3. Clogged main burner
  4. Improper air adjustment
  5. Blocked U-shaped tube
  6. Gas control out of calibration 

How To Fix: 

If you want to ignite the main burner again, go along with these troubleshooting steps: 

  1. Check the main burner orifice for blockage. The orifice is a hex-head brass fitting bolted on the brass manifold of the gas valve. You must remove the burner to access this part. Take the brass orifice out and clean it with isopropyl alcohol. 
  1. Inspect the alignment of the flame spreader on the main burner. You will find a dime-shaped deflector disk at the end of the burner tube. This disk spreads the flame out to gain proper heat distribution. Align the flame spreader (A) to keep it parallel to the end of the tube and position it in the center of the end of the tube. 
  1. Take a look at the main burner tube for blockage. Spider webs, sooth, or debris can accumulate in the burner tube and cause gas flow problems. Get a brush to clean the burner tube. Never use an air compressor to clean the burner tube. 
  1. Adjust the main burner air shutter to approximately 1/4 open. 
  1. Release the blockage (if there remains any) from the U-shaped tube.
  1. Replace the gas control valve with a new one.

Inconsistent main burner flame will be a result of: 

  • Improper gas pressure
  • Improper air adjustment
  • Partial blockage of the main burner or the burner orifice
  • Flame spreader misalignment
  • Blockage in the U-shaped tube
  • Poor gas supply
  • Exhaust grill gets clogged

How To Fix: 

To gain consistent burner flame, resolve the following issues: 

  • Check the gas pressure and set it to a minimum of 11″ water column with two or more appliances running.
  • Adjust the air shutter properly 1/4 way open.
  • Inspect the main burner tube or burner orifice for blockage and release the obstructions from the burner or burner orifice. 
  • Re-align the flame spreader. 
  • Remove the blockage from the U-shaped tube.
  • Ensure the unit is getting a continuous gas supply.
  • Clean the exhaust grill. 

The Atwood Water Heater won’t heat the water sufficiently if the temperature selector goes out of place. This problem can also occur due to an improperly positioned bypass lever. 

Other reasons responsible for insufficient water temperature are: 

  • Improper air adjustment
  • Partial blockage in the main burner
  • Improper main burner adjustment

How To Fix: 

First, check the place of the temperature selector if you get insufficient hot water out of your RV Water Heater. If required, reset the temperature selector knob to a desired position. Second, reposition the bypass levers. 

Apart from these, go along with the following troubleshooting steps:

  • Adjust the main burner air shutter approximately 1/4 way open
  • Release blockage from the main burner
  • Re-align the main burner and the main burner orifice holder

Atwood Electronic Ignition Water Heater Troubleshooting Manual & Guide

Some common problems you may experience with your Atwood Electronic Ignition Water Heater are: 

Your electronic ignition water heater will go into lockout mode due to one of the following reasons: 

  • Gas pressure is incorrect
  • Low voltage
  • Clogged main burner orifice
  • Loose wires on E.C.O
  • Loose wire connections on solenoid valve
  • Loose valve wire on wiring harness
  • Defective E.C.O
  • Faulty circuit board
  • Bad solenoid valve
  • No gas to solenoid valve
  • Dirty connector on circuit board

How To Fix: 

To bring the unit out of the lockout mode when there is a spark but no gas, follow these steps: 

  • Check the gas pressure and set the inlet gas pressure at an 11″ water column with two or more appliances running.
  • Correct the power supply and ensure the unit is receiving at least 10.5VDC. 
  • Clean the burner
  • Clean the burner orifice with a toothbrush instead of using an air compressor.
  • Secure the wire connections on E.C.O.
  • Tighten up the wire connections on the solenoid valve.
  • Repair the wire on the edge connector or replace all the wiring harnesses connected to the circuit board.
  • Replace the E.C.O 
  • Replace the circuit board. You can read this guide on Atwood Water Heater Circuit Board Testing to learn how to test and replace the circuit board. 
  • Replace the solenoid valve.
  • Correct gas supply
  • Clean the edge connector. 

Gas is flowing to the burner, but no spark is present. If this is the issue you are experiencing, I bet the following culprits are responsible for this problem:

  • High-tension lead wire comes loose
  • You attach the electrodes loosely to the main burner
  • Improper electrode gapping
  • Dirty electrodes
  • Wires loose in electrode porcelain
  • Cracked porcelain on the electrode
  • Defective circuit board

How To Fix: 

You can resolve this issue by following these troubleshooting steps: 

  • Inspect all the wirings attached to the circuit board and secure the wire connections.
  • Secure the electrodes to the main burner
  • Reposition the spark gap to 1/8″ and into the path of the flame
  • Check the electrodes for dirt and clean them if required
  • Replace electrodes
  • Replace electrodes
  • Check the circuit board electrically and replace it if needed

It happens when: 

  • Poor electrical ground
  • Electrodes out of flame pattern
  • Electrodes near screw
  • Dirty electrodes
  • Flame spreader out of adjustment
  • Defective circuit board
  • Improper gas pressure
  • Low voltage

How To Fix:

Here are the troubleshooting steps you should follow to resolve the issue:

  • Secure the electrical ground
  • Reposition or readjust the electrodes
  • Clean the electrodes
  • Adjust the flame spreader so that it’s square to the end burner tube 
  • Replace the circuit board
  • Set the gas pressure at 11″ W.C.
  • Ensure your RV water heater is getting 10.5VDC

Your RV Water Heater will provide excessive hot water or deliver insufficient hot water due to one of the following reasons:

  • Bypass kit valves not set properly
  • The thermostat is not seated against the tank
  • Defective thermostat

How To Fix:

First, ensure you place the valves in the proper position. Second, verify the thermostat is seated against the tank. If these two troubleshooting steps don’t work, I bet the thermostat is at fault. It means you should replace the thermostat. 

The absence of gas and spark is due to:

  • Improper voltage
  • Dirty edge connector on the circuit board
  • Defective thermal cut-off
  • Faulty on/off switch
  • Bad circuit board
  • Defective thermostat

How To Fix:

To resolve the problem, what you should do: 

  • Correct the power supply and verify the unit is getting at least 10.5 VDC.
  • Clean the edge connector on the circuit board
  • Replace the thermal cut-off
  • Replace the On/Off switch
  • Replace the circuit board
  • Replace the thermostat


Atwood is a reliable name for every RV owner for heating the water.   However, this water heater can go through some problems like other appliances. 

Fortunately, this guide on the Atwood Water Heater Troubleshooting Manual describes everything you need to know to resolve an issue. 

If you fail to resolve a specific RV water heater issue by following this guideline, don’t hesitate to contact a professional. 

Similar Posts

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *