Aliner leaking water heater

Bartolino

Member
Jun 19, 2020
27
Portland, Or
I noticed on my last campout thatI had a small drip coming from the rear of the camper. Upon bringing it home and moving the mattress to expose the entire water system, I attempted to locate the source of the leak. Here's what I know so far.

When I have the water filled and water pump turned on, there is NO leak. I ran the faucet to make sure it wasn't coming from that part of the system. I then fired up the hot water heater. Once that was fully engaged I started to see a not-so-small drip (maybe 2-3 drips every 20 seconds)

Has anyone had similar problems with their water system leaking? Just trying to generate some ideas. Thanks


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Dave2514g

Active Member
Sep 2, 2019
263
Ontario, Canada
Are you having the drip when you are still drawing from the freshwater holding tank, or were you connected to the city water connection at that point?

I had an interesting leak that I was chasing for awhile. Started ripping everything apart only to discover that there was a leak from the where the hose connected on the EXTERIOR of the trailer. It would run straight down and then follow the frame of the trailer making it appear that it was coming thru the floor.

Your drip area is mimicking what I saw so I thought I'd throw that out there...
 

Bartolino

Member
Jun 19, 2020
27
Portland, Or
I'm not connected to city water with this drip. I can't visually see any of the connection leaking water, and it seems to be coming from the back of the unit (by the hot water tank). On the other hand, it could be traveling down the outside corner and dripping from the very end, so it's hard to tell. Tear this thing out seems light a daunting task. ;-/
 

Dave2514g

Active Member
Sep 2, 2019
263
Ontario, Canada
The water heater will pressurize as it heats. My guess is either a lose connection on a fitting on the tank, or the tank itself may have a small pin hole that only begins to leak under pressure.

You can buy a fitting that screws onto the city water connection and attaches to an airline. If you open faucets and purge all the water using low pressure air, perhaps you could then close all the faucets and listen for an air leak to give you clues as to where the leak is. Make sure you keep the air pressure low to not cause further damage. If you use air at least you won't fill your trailer with water while troubleshooting
 

Dnodoz

Active Member
Apr 15, 2020
118
How old is the water heater/trailer? Is it a Suburban water heater? If so is the anode rod good and had the water heater been drained and flushed? Suburban’s have tanks that can rust out if not maintained. That would be worst case. Hopefully just a loose fitting. There are several in that compartment.
 

Bartolino

Member
Jun 19, 2020
27
Portland, Or
The unit is 2011 - so about 11 years old. I bought from the 2nd owner about 2.5 years ago and replaced the anode rod right away. I also flushed with bleach mixture this spring. I'm not seeing any leaks on the fitting that I can visually see from inside the trailer. Are there some out of sight that could be going bad? Honestly, if it's a pinhole leak, it's probably better to pull the unit and replace now before it gets any worse. The model is Surburban SW6 D. I'm seeing replacement unit going for $400-$500 online. Thoughts?
 
Dec 3, 2017
24
I'm not connected to city water with this drip. I can't visually see any of the connection leaking water, and it seems to be coming from the back of the unit (by the hot water tank). On the other hand, it could be traveling down the outside corner and dripping from the very end, so it's hard to tell. Tear this thing out seems light a daunting task. ;-/
It's difficult to track down minor leaks. My own experience has had a hot water tank develop a tiny split and started leaking. A replacement tank was nearly as expensive as a new heater which I chose to replace. Just a few days ago, I fired up my pup water heater and saw water dripping from the access door. The pressure relief valve was slow dripping. I popped it open for a second and released it. The leak stopped. Finding the source as others have mentioned can be a pain because water tends to migrate wherever gravity will allow.
 

awsandlin

Super Active Member
Mar 3, 2008
1,338
It is not uncommon for the Temperature and Pressure Relief valve to release some water while the water heater is in the heating cycle. You should be able to find the user's manual on line. There is a section in there that talks about this. You may want to check that out because if that is what is going on, you have no issue to really worry about.
 

Sjm9911

Super Active Member
May 31, 2018
12,205
Nj
For hard to find leaks, I dry everythibg well, and then put paper towels under the fittings. Check back to see if you have anything wet. It takes a bit of time but it narrows down when you have to look.
 

Dnodoz

Active Member
Apr 15, 2020
118
If fittings aren’t leaking you may need to pull the tank. Before buying a new water heater maybe pull and set it on a outdoor table and hook it up to water under pressure and see if you can find a tank leak. If no leak you can reinstall and at least know the tank is good. Being a 2nd owner you have no way to know what kind of maintenance was done previously.
 

Dave2514g

Active Member
Sep 2, 2019
263
Ontario, Canada
I wouldn't pull the trigger on a new water heater until you know for sure it's the culprit. You could have a $2 plastic fitting with a hairline crack that will still leak after dropping big bucks on a new/used water heater. Definitely find the smoking gun first, then correct the issue as needed
 

Dubbya

Wherever you go, there you are...
Aug 2, 2011
6,153
Steinbach, MB
I’ve chased those problems too.The previous owner had given up trying to find the leak and just stopped using the onboard tank.

I removed the whole tank and filled it to the brim to find where it was cracked then plastic welded around the threaded drain port using a soldering iron.
 
For hard to find leaks, I dry everythibg well, and then put paper towels under the fittings. Check back to see if you have anything wet. It takes a bit of time but it narrows down when you have to look.
I agree on the paper towels - put them in between the fresh water tank and water heater as well as under the water pump. Then stuff paper towels down low in between the water heater Styrofoam and the rear of the camper.
I would then raise the rear stabilizers and then jack up the trailer tongue so everything is sloping to the rear. If the paper towels are dry between the water tank and water heater as well as the water pump then you know its not any of those and its not coming from anything forward of that either.
Just a thought. Good luck regardless.
 

Bartolino

Member
Jun 19, 2020
27
Portland, Or
I filled the tank again and turned on the water pump. I have the trailer on a slope and the back is lower than the front. The water is definitely coming from near the water heater portion. It's dry above that towards the front of the trailer.

Question:
When I pressurize the system, both the main water tank AND hot water reservoir are pressurized?

I thinking that the hot water tank has a small leak in it. I've gone over all the hose connections and cannot find anything with water seeping out of ends. Is this a fair assessment?

Is the next step buying a new hot water tank and replacing?
 

Dave2514g

Active Member
Sep 2, 2019
263
Ontario, Canada
If fittings aren’t leaking you may need to pull the tank. Before buying a new water heater maybe pull and set it on a outdoor table and hook it up to water under pressure and see if you can find a tank leak. If no leak you can reinstall and at least know the tank is good. Being a 2nd owner you have no way to know what kind of maintenance was done previously.
I think this is great advice.

Like I mentioned earlier, I wouldn't pull the trigger on buying something until you're sure you need it. Either way you will have to remove the tank, whether to inspect or replace
 

Senor Mule

Member
Aug 16, 2022
15
Mine doesn't have a water heater, I planned on just buying a small tankless one and mounting it inside with a couple of surplus water jugs (5 gal @ 10 bucks each) and small pump (like a 1.2 gmp) to supply it (for primitive) and adding a tee with 1/4 turn ball valves for city water (if hooked up).

If your tank is leaking and has to be replaced, this might be a viable and cost effective option.
I used these when I was a deep sea commercial diver on inland jobs to heat our suits while working down to about 120' in the middle of winter under 10' + of ice. I was the only guy warm on the job.

I was happy with my Aliner that didn't have a potty or shower, much less hot water, but sadly the women in my life ( wife and daughters) have to complicate things, and now have to install these.
 

JimPH

Member
Jul 19, 2018
23
Apple Valley, MN
I noticed on my last campout thatI had a small drip coming from the rear of the camper. Upon bringing it home and moving the mattress to expose the entire water system, I attempted to locate the source of the leak. Here's what I know so far.

When I have the water filled and water pump turned on, there is NO leak. I ran the faucet to make sure it wasn't coming from that part of the system. I then fired up the hot water heater. Once that was fully engaged I started to see a not-so-small drip (maybe 2-3 drips every 20 seconds)

Has anyone had similar problems with their water system leaking? Just trying to generate some ideas. Thanks


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I have an Aliner Classic and also had a leak. Mine came from a few of the places where the hoses connected. They have plastic connections and 2-3 had worked themselves loose just by traveling. That took care of my leaks. Hope you’re as lucky. Now every spring when I drain the antifreeze I tighten down all the connections.
 
I filled the tank again and turned on the water pump. I have the trailer on a slope and the back is lower than the front. The water is definitely coming from near the water heater portion. It's dry above that towards the front of the trailer.

Question:
When I pressurize the system, both the main water tank AND hot water reservoir are pressurized?

I thinking that the hot water tank has a small leak in it. I've gone over all the hose connections and cannot find anything with water seeping out of ends. Is this a fair assessment?

Is the next step buying a new hot water tank and replacing?
From my limited understanding, any pipes / tanks out of the water pump gets pressurized and anything going into pump does not so the fresh water tank isn't pressurized but hot water heater is. It also gets pressure from heating the water up - which is why I ALWAYS turn off pump, open sink hot water tap and flip up pressure release valve on outside of water heater before removing anode rod. Otherwise it is like a bullet - ask me how I know :(
Anyways - if all fittings are tight and not leaking then I would remove the tank and inspect further prior to ordering another one. There may be tear down / rebuilds on you tube that would avoid replacement (I found one for my water pump when I had issues). Failing that, I'd suggest getting a new one of the same model so you can still salvage the old for spare parts. Or look at tankless propane/elec options if comparable price/performance (I know very little on those)
If you still plan on camping soon, just connect the hot water flex hose to the cold so at least you have fresh water on board, even if just cold. Cheers.
 

rmihalcin

Member
Jul 30, 2013
17
I concur with Dave2514g, drain the system of water, pressurize with say 30# of compressed air, use a spray bottle with dish soap/water. and look for air bubbles. I used to use Mr. Bubble liquid when my kids were still young.

 




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