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Truma Water Heater would not start after period of storage


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My wife and I pickup up our LEII, Hull 990 on 2/17/22.  We spent the nearly a week at or near Oliver's operations in Hohenwald shaking down the systems before returning to our home in Dallas.  Our Truma water heater worked as expected and we marveled at how it was "just like out tankless water heater at home".  

I winterized the trailer upon our return home, including installing the antifreeze option for the Truma water heater.  Our LEII spent the next 6-7 weeks in our driveway while I made additions to it.  On April 23, I moved the trailer to an enclosed storage facility approximately 30 miles north.  We have three Lithionics batteries, for which I followed the recommendation to turn OFF the batteries during storage for 30 days or less.

On approximatly May 8, I retrieved the trailer from the storage facility to prepare for departure on May 11 to South Carolina.  Everything appeared to be in order prior to our departure, although I did NOT test the Truma water heater.  After a full day of travel, late on the night of May 11 I discovered the Truma water heater would not operate.  We had two full 20 lb. propane tanks, the stove easily lighted verifying the flow of propane.  I verified the power switch on the Truma unit was ON, however, the interior control located to the right of the pantry did NOT display an amber light. No hot water.

I contacted OTT Service the next day and was advised to check the fuse, which proved to be OK.  I was also advised to check for 12 volts DC at the rear of the Truma remote control.  Today I removed the access portal from the forward interior wall of the pantry to discover the Truma remote is apparently epoxied to the hull.  A black cable with an RJ11 type telephone connector plugs into the rear of the Truma remote, making testing for 12 VDC difficult.  I again called OTT Service, and after four hours have still not received a call back.

I searched Google for "Truma service near me" (now Paris Mountain State Park, near Greenville, SC) and found the Truma Dealer Partner Locator on Truma.net.  The first listing was for Retromodern Campers, in Pickens, SC.  I phone them and spoke with Scott Whitmire, who indicate his company had recently become an authorized servicer for Truma and he had been installing Truma units in refurbished trailers, many from the 1940s and 1950s.  After describing the symptoms of our Truma unit, Scott indicated he had encountered the same symptoms twice, once as recently as two weeks ago.  He said he would call Truma for guidance.

In about 10 minutes I received a return call from Scott, saying he had spoken with Truma and received the following directions:

  • Power ON the Truma unit at the main power switch.
  • On the interior mounted remote control, turn the dial to OFF
  • Wait a few seconds, then turn the power to ON at the remote control
  • The remote control unit should now display the amber light on the dial.

I was pleasantly surprised the amber light came on.  I went outside to the external shower (not wanting to fill the gray tank) and ran the water for less than a minute, when hot water began to flow.  I then verified hot water was available at both the bathroom and kitchen faucets.

Scott said as long as the power is not shutoff to the Truma unit, it should work just fine on the next trip.  I point out that I expect it to be common practice for Oliver owners, many of whose  whose trailers are equipped with lithium batteries, to power the batteries OFF between trips.  This will necessitate performing the Truma re-boot process described above after each storage period in which the lithium batteries are turned OFF.

I can find no reference to this re-boot process In the Truma section of the 2022 Oliver Optional Features Component Manual.  I hope others with lithium batteries and Truma water heaters will recall call this procedure after they have turned OFF their lithium batteries during storage.

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North Texas | 2022 LEII, Hull #990, delivered 2/17/22 | 2014 BMW X5 35d

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1 hour ago, Caddymv said:

I have to finalize my order in the next few weeks and still can’t decide on the Truma

I’m glad you found a solution. It sounds like Truma was pretty responsive.  I know the on-demand units have advantages. The Truma option was not available when we ordered our Oliver in 2015 so we have the suburban 6 gallon hot water tank.  It is simple and reliable.  If I were ordering today, I would go with the traditional tank.  Mike

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13 hours ago, Mike and Carol said:

If I were ordering today, I would go with the traditional tank.

Yep - $1,000 (or whatever) is a high price for instant happiness - particularly when camping.

Bill

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We also chose the traditional water heater. Price and added complexity were the deciding factors. But thank you to @dhaig for providing useful info for those with Trumas and lithium!

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Stephanie and Dudley from CT.  2022 LE2, Hull #1150: Eggcelsior.

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16 hours ago, dhaig said:

I can find no reference to this re-boot process In the Truma section of the 2022 Oliver Optional Features Component Manual.  I hope others with lithium batteries and Truma water heaters will recall call this procedure after they have turned OFF their lithium batteries during storage.

Perhaps Oliver should provide a Lithionics battery power off sequence that includes following individual manufacturers instructions for properly powering up and down the various DC appliances.  Had the AquaGo been powered down prior to turning the batteries off and on, it would have powered up without issue.

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You said that you winterized the trailer when you got home and installed the Truma anti-freeze option.  I am assuming you mean the 12 volt powered electric heating element into the Truma.  I have installed the same option.  If I am understanding you correctly, when winterizing the water system, you closed the water valve to the Truma and left normal water in the Truma to be protected with the electric antifreeze option (which is nothing more than the equivalent of a 12 volt dipstick heater).  If that is in fact what you did, turning off the batteries would have cut power to the electric antifreeze dipstick heater in the Truma and it would not have protected the Truma against freezing.

The electric antifreeze option in the Truma is really designed to protect the Truma while in transit during freezing weather when the propane is turned off while towing.  To gain full protection from the electric option, you need to also install the provided plug into the exhaust port of the Truma when using the option, or cold air can enter the Truma combustion chamber while driving and potentially overpower the weak electric antifreeze heating element.  

If you later de-winterized the trailer and tried to start the Truma on propane before actually turning the propane on, and/or removing the plug from the Truma exhaust port, then the Truma would have tried to ignite a few times, and then it would have locked out.  Just like the Norcold refrigerator, if the unit tries to ignite on propane when the propane is turned off, the unit locks out and must be turned off and then on again to reset the error codes.  Same thing if the Truma senses a blocked exhaust port.

When winterizing the trailer, it is probably best to follow the winterizing instructions in the manual that basically call for closing the water inlet valve to the Truma and then draining the water out.  It only takes a minute or two.  The electric antifreeze option will also work when winterizing, but then you will need to ensure that the batteries provide continuous power to the trailer over the winter to run the electric antifreeze option.  Simply draining the water from the Truma when winterizing is a safer approach.

 

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Steve and Lornie

LE II Standard  Hull #657  2004 4Runner 4.7 L V8

Oregon

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  • 2 weeks later...

In response to @Chukarhunter, my prior description may not have been clear on a few details..  We took delivery of Hull #990 on 2/17/22.  I installed the Truma 12 VDC powered anti-freeze option immediately following delivery, while at the Oliver factory campsite.  Since the nighttime temperatures were then in the low 20s and we planned to be in transit over the next 10 days or so, I expected the DC powered "anti-freeze" option to protect the water heater.  I was not previously aware of a plug for the exhaust port of the Truma water heater.  I separately purchased the antifreeze unit, which I understood to be the same as installed by Oliver.  I don't recall any mention of a plug in the installation instructions.

When we returned home to Dallas, the temperatures were still below freezing during nighttime, so I fully winterized the water system, following the instructions in the Oliver owners manual, including draining the water from the Truma water heater.  I did close the water inlet valve to the Truma, to prevent the RV antifreeze from entering the unit.

Following the winterization, several weeks later I moved the trailer to an enclosed storage facility, where I turned OFF both the propane and lithium batteries.  Since the water had been drained from the Truma water heater, there did not appear to be any reason to continue to provide 12 VDC power to the Truma antifreeze unit.

At the start of our recent road trip, I flushed the RV antifreeze upon arriving at the campsite for our first night.  I turned on the propane, then turned on the Truma water heater, first at the external switch on the unit, then at the internal/remote control inside the trailer.  As described above, the internal/remote control did NOT show an amber light and the water heater would not operate.

Based upon my interaction with the Truma authorized service provider, who conveyed instructions from Truma, I don't believe the reason the water heater would not operate had anything to do with winterization processes.  Truma indicated the problem was the result of completely shutting down power to the water heater control circuits by turning OFF the lithium batteries.  In the next week or so, I plan to again put the trailer into the storage facility and turn OFF the propane and lithium batteries.  When I retrieve the trailer from storage for our next trip, I expect I will encounter the same issue, where the Truma internal/remote control does not show an amber light without repeating the steps listed in the prior post.

I appreciate your comments and will investigate the plug for the exhaust port of the Truma water heater.

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North Texas | 2022 LEII, Hull #990, delivered 2/17/22 | 2014 BMW X5 35d

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You should already have a plug clipped into a holder on the inside of the Truma door.  It looks like every Truma comes with an exhaust plug even if no electric antifreeze kit is ordered.  See picture below from the electric antifreeze instruction manual.  I used the electric antifreeze kit several times before I realized that the plug existed and was supposed to be used.  Oliver should really make a point of explaining how to install and use the antifreeze kit upon delivery.  I had to teach myself.

 

 

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Steve and Lornie

LE II Standard  Hull #657  2004 4Runner 4.7 L V8

Oregon

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One other caution concerning the electric antifreeze kit that is not really explained in the manual is that the electric antifreeze module should never be energized if water has been drained from the Truma.  It would be like turning on the heating elements in a home hot water heater that was emptied of water.  The heating element would overheat and fail.  There is no need to remove the electric antifreeze module when draining the Truma, but to be safe, one should probably unplug the 12 volt wires into the antifreeze unit when winterizing, so it cannot be accidentally energized after the Truma has been drained.

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Steve and Lornie

LE II Standard  Hull #657  2004 4Runner 4.7 L V8

Oregon

COIDKSMOORTNUTWYmed.jpg

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On 5/16/2022 at 6:01 PM, Caddymv said:

Thank you for that story. I have to finalize my order in the next few weeks and still can’t decide on the Truma

We have on demand hot water Rinnai at home, love it.  We are very happy with the Truma and have never looked back. Super easy to winterize and easy to clean and very efficient. The new 2023 Olivers will have Truma furnaces, Truma AC, and the option for the Truma water heater. Just something to think about.

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