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If your motorhome has been in storage for a season or more, this is likely what you’ll find when you remove the cover — dirt, dust and spider webs. In fact, there was still a spider present when we took this photo.
Use a piece of fine-grit sandpaper or emery cloth to clean the igniter electrode and ground wires. Make sure to hold the igniter assembly by the two wires as shown, not by the white porcelain, as it can crack if you’re not careful. If the porcelain is cracked, the igniter must be replaced.
If you have access to compressed air, blow out the burner tube as shown to clear any spider webs or other debris. If compressed air isn’t available, you can remove the slotted burner tube cover (held in place with one screw) and run a flexible brush through the burner tube. Some spiders and many insects are attracted to the smell of the odorant in LP-gas. Their fine, silk-like webs will impede the proper flow of LP-gas. Use a burner brush to clean out the burner. When reassembling an Atwood burner, adjust the shutter, which is the sliding vent on the burner tube, one-quarter of the way open to start, so the flame is mostly blue with a very slight orange tint here and there. When you walk away a few feet, the sound of the water heater should quiet down. A “roaring” water heater is too lean (too much air going in) and a lazier orange flame is too rich and needs more air. Sooting from the exhaust is an indication of a rich air setting and/or a blocked tube by a spider web. A Suburban burner is not adjustable.

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