RV Tips and Tricks

Ask RV Bill - August 2018

Hot Water HeatingRV Bill

Q- Hello Bill,

We purchased a used 1997 29′ Winnebago Spirit, in 1998. Formerly a rental unit, it had 24,000 miles on it. Now we’re at 199,000. The original Atwood water heater lasted until 1999. The next one lasted until about 2003. The next one lasted until about 2008. The fourth Atwood lasted until 2015. On each of these, the pilot would not stay lit after the first heating cycle. Each of them was difficult to light, and no thermostat. We now have the fifth Atwood, Model G6A-7SPK, 6-gallon. On this one, the pilot stays lit and even after the first heating. Indeed, it stays lit while traveling. It’s easy to light and has a thermostat. Looks as if Atwood finally got it right, in our case after more than a thousand dollars worth of frustration. Just for your info . . . having seen an article by you recently re: Atwood. Keep on writing . . . your columns are helpful. Thanks, heaps for them!

Best wishes for The Season. John

A- John,  It sounds like you have had some bad luck. FYI water quality will have an effect on the inner tank during the life of your water heater and of course, maintenance is very important as well. Every water heater needs to be serviced annually. Be sure to follow your heaters owners’ manual for this process. At the very least flush the inner tank to remove sediment and contaminants every year for Atwood and Suburban models. Replace the Anode rod annually in Suburban heaters.

Leveling Fridges

Q-Bill, The very first thing that I do when I receive my copy of TrailBlazer is open to your pages of advice. I have taken and used many of your suggestions and incorporated them into the use of our TT. Your article in the Nov/Dec edition of TrailBlazer concerning the overheating of refrigerators was an eye-opener. I plan on getting the ARP unit asap as we live in Florida and can only guess at the temps that our unit experiences when summer arrives. One question that I have is you mention a 5-6 percent grade that could cause problems, assuming that to be back to front. Is there the same possible problem with a side-to-side out of grade?  

Thanks in advance for any info.


A- Michael,

Side to side level will be the same as front to rear. There may be a few degrees difference but if you use a bubble level it should always be in the circle for best results. The problem is you don’t know how much damage occurs from running the refrigerator off level. The ARP control will prevent damage while extending the life of the cooling unit.   

Electricity Issues

Q- I read your article in the TrailBlazer first with every issue and have gotten some great tips and saved lots of money on repairs. Thank you. My coach is a 2013 Georgetown 360XL and it has an interesting problem that I haven’t been able to solve. The electric in half of my coach goes dead until I start the engine and let it run for a few minutes, then everything is okay for a week or more.  It will also “reset” if I run the generator for a few minutes. However, there have been times when the generator had no power to start it. This has happened while plugged into a 50-amp outlet at my home and at different campgrounds. Setting the battery switch to “connect” or “disconnect” doesn’t solve the problem. I’ve checked all of the fuses and circuit breakers, threw the circuit breakers off and on in the coach. I did the same with the circuit breakers mounted on the generator and the breakers in my home. I reset all of the GFI outlets and nothing works except running the engine for a few minutes. The 12-volt lighting, entry stairs and the 110-volt outlets go dead in my kitchen and rear bathroom. The microwave is on the same wall and that continues to work as well as the refrigerator, lighting, and outlets on the opposite wall. Please help; I’m afraid to use the coach for fear of fire.  


A- Tony,

It sounds like you are experiencing both 120 volts A/C and 12-volt failure which makes diagnosing considerable tougher. The 12-volt side sounds like a ground problem. Trace the ground by using a digital voltmeter by clipping the positive lead to a fuse or positive wire and touch ground wires until you find the problem. Of course, there could be a multitude of other possibilities of which can be solved using a digital meter. Remember, 12 volt travels in a circle from the positive to negative posts. When a wire is broken the voltage stops. The A/C problem sounds like a bad connection on a single circuit and, depending on the load, faulty connections can build up heat and become intermittent. Most manufacturers run a single wire for multiple outlets that can reach 20 feet or more. You can purchase a testing device that will plug into an outlet and use a remote unit to trace the Romex until the interruption is found. Tip: the microwave is on its own dedicated circuit.

AC Breakers

Q- Our 98 Fleetwood Southwind started popping the ac breaker that energized the inverter. I thought it would be simple to swap it out for a similar sized unit, and then I noticed a couple of external circuit boards connected to it. I assume one charges the battery and the other? These boards are non-integrated with external resistors and what not. I now question if the inverter has gone south or one of the boards and how do I tell?

I read Ask RVBill faithfully respect your opinion.

Thanks for any help you can give.  


A- J.R.,

I believe you are referring to the converter, not an inverter, Fleetwood did not install inverters in 1996. If the converter has an external circuit board it is not likely you would find a replacement part and you would be better of using the money for a new, more efficient model converter. You may have to modify the wiring a little bit but in the long run, you will be better off. If you are correct and this is an inverter, there must be a short somewhere within the unit, which will need to be replaced if it has been installed when your coach was new.    


Replacement Windows

Q-Hello Bill, I always enjoy reading your column. I have a 2008 Damon Astoria and now have several windows that are fogging up. I want to know if there is a repair for this other than replacement. These are double paned windows. Thanks so much, I look forward to hearing back from you.

Ray Smith


A- Ray,

Replacement windows are very expensive and incur a high cost of shipping. There are companies that will remove the windows and pull them apart, remove the moisture and clean the glass before re-assembly. Keep in mind that the inner glass cannot be saved leaving you with a single pane window, but at least you will be able to see out of it clearly. Unfortunately, this process will not work on frameless style windows.

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