Cruisers Forum

Main Forum => Tips and Tricks => Topic started by: mikeh on October 18, 2021, 12:30:07 am

Title: DON'T Lose Your Water Heater Vent
Post by: mikeh on October 18, 2021, 12:30:07 am
I may be the only PC owner to have experienced this problem (haven't seen it mentioned anywhere in the forum), but I think it applies to many (most?) of the units out there--mine is a 2019 2552.  It cost me $35 and several days to fix it (waiting parts) once it happened--but it can be prevented with two minutes time and a pair of pliers.

Most PC's using the Dometic/Atwood 6-gallon water heater have a water heater door with an inserted vent like the photo below

( ( ( by Michael Henry (, on Flickr

In the OEM condition, this is a stable unit that probably rarely gives a problem.  However some of you may have installed external insect screening to your units--just like I did after I cleaned out two red wasp nests from the hot water compartment, and "dirt-dauber" (or mud-wasp) build-up from inside my furnace compartment and refrigerator upper vent area.  I even experienced fridge malfunction on propane from the dirt-daubers obstructing my burner flue.  The screens are inexpensive, and install over the water heater vent with small stainless steel springs--as in the photo below:

( ( ( by Michael Henry (, on Flickr

The problem arises because the water heater vent is simply clipped into the water heater door very lightly with two clips on each side.  I didn't bother to check how it was attached when I installed my insect screen--that was easily done externally, and I didn't even open the door to look.
I immediately noticed it when I returned from my first trip after installation, though, and found a gaping hole in the side of my RV--with the vent (and attached screen) long gone.  The extra tension of the three springs I used (small as they were) was enough to cause the vent to pop out of the door--perhaps when I hit a bump extra hard or the coach was otherwise jarred.  Since the screen was attached to the vent, it went with it--no damage to the actual door thank goodness.
Of course one could fabricate some type of new vent, but if you want to just buy one--you'll have to purchase the entire door (which is sold with the vent attached) because you can't buy a vent separately.  The best price on the door cost me $35 delivered--and most sources were much higher than that.  It was a simple matter to press the vent out of the new door (with only very light finger pressure) and install it in my original door.

The solution to keep this from happening in the first place takes only a couple minutes and a pair of pliers.  As seen in the photo below, simply open the water heater door, and from the inside bend the two tabs on each side of the vent from their original vertical position to a 30-45 degree angle.  They don't have to be bent flat--the tabs are quite stiff, and just a small amount of bend will be plenty to eliminate the possibility that the vent can pop out.  Knowing now how easily it does so, I think I would make this simple mod to my unit now even if I weren't using screens.


( ( ( by Michael Henry (, on Flickr
Title: Re: DON'T Lose Your Water Heater Vent
Post by: Ron Dittmer on October 18, 2021, 07:56:57 am

That is an "Excellent" tip.

I just went down into the garage to inspect my hot water heater vent panel and sure enough, it was exactly as you described.  90 seconds later it is now as you advised.

Mine was that way for 14 years, hanging on by a tiny bit of a crimp.  Now it will never come off without me first bending back the 4 tabs.

I can see how you lost yours after adding your very nice insect screen that happens to introduce outward pressure.

These simple tips are awesome.  Thank You!
Ron Dittmer
Title: Re: DON'T Lose Your Water Heater Vent
Post by: jim.godfrey on October 18, 2021, 07:45:37 pm
Thanks Mike! I installed the same screen and never checked either. Will be taking care of that shortly!
Title: Re: DON'T Lose Your Water Heater Vent
Post by: LRUCH on October 19, 2021, 06:36:40 pm
About a year ago I resecured mine when I covered the vent in metal screen.  I had a scrap lying around and some nickel plated wire to sew the edges around the vent.   Since it is so close to the door on my 2900 I didn't want it sticking out to get hit. I also read about people losing them on the highway. The tabs on the vent were easy to bend with pliers to make it stay on.
Title: Re: DON'T Lose Your Water Heater Vent
Post by: DKCruzser on October 19, 2021, 09:22:56 pm
In addition to bending the tabs on the cover I also placed a stainless steel screw just above the pull out latch.  Sometime ago someone mentioned they did this to ensure the water heater door was secure and not accidentally open while traveling.  It seem like a reasonable trick without any downside.

Title: Re: DON'T Lose Your Water Heater Vent
Post by: Cropduster on October 20, 2021, 06:09:59 pm
Excellent idea to keep flying insect nuisances from taking up residence in your water heater.  For those who might perfer a low-tech aproach, I have found that a padded mailing envelope can be cut to size and placed inside the heater access door.  Advantage is that there will be some benefit towards insulting the heater -- while simultaneously preventing insect infestation.  Disadvantage is that one needs to remember to remove the padding before using the heater -- when operated by propane.