Atwood Water Heater Troubleshooting Guide

If you’re looking for a gas or electric water heater for your RV, Atwood is one of the top brands on the market. It’s built a reputation for quality water heaters that deliver on performance, price, and functionality. But as with any water heater, it’s not without their occasional problems.

atwood water heater

In this article, we run down the most common problems of an Atwood water heater.

Although an Atwood water heater is a quality device, it can have its share of problems. The extent of these problems depends on how old it is, how much it has been used, and how well you’ve taken care of it. Most common issues include pilot light outages, the gas burner struggling to ignite, no/not enough hot water, and more. Below, we cover all these issues and more and give you the most common fixes.

The Atwood Water Heater – Why is my Atwood water heater not working?

In this troubleshooting guide for your hot water system, we run down the top problems and solutions you might encounter. Hopefully, you find the fix to your issue somewhere on this list.

Common Issues and Solutions

Is there a reset button on Atwood water heater?

You can solve many of the common issues with the Atwood water heater with a simple reset of the device, which is why we put this section first. The Atwood water heater (much like many other water heaters) has a safety feature that cuts power to the device when it gets too hot or detects an unexpected power surge. So, if your water heater stops working, this might be the reason, and you need to reset it.

Here’s how to do it:

  • Turn off the water heater.
  • Unscrew the junction box cover to the back of the water heater.
  • Find the red button near the heating element. Push the button until you hear a click.
  • If this doesn’t work, wait a few minutes and try again.
  • Put the junction box cover back on and turn on the water heater.

Water Heater Won’t Stay Lit – What do you do if your pilot light won’t stay lit?

The pilot light is perhaps the most common issue that users have experienced with an Atwood heater. Generally, this is the result of a defective thermocouple or a weak gas control magnet. If your thermocouple needs replacing, then that would be the only solution to this problem.

Check the pilot flame to ensure it is clean. Ensure there is no obstruction and that it is positioned correctly to keep contact with the thermocouple probe.

Otherwise, see if you have a blocked U-tube, which can also cause this issue. Check the tube to see if there are any clogs. Also, check your gas pressure to see if it is adequate and in line with the recommendations of Atwood (a minimum of 11″ W.C.).

As you can see, this issue has a multitude of causes and solutions. If you’re having trouble solving the issue or don’t know where to locate these components, contact a professional. This advice extends to all the issues below.

No Hot Water

Insufficient or no hot water can be an issue with any water heater, and Atwood is no exception. If you aren’t getting hot water, check out these common problem areas:

  • Make sure the device is getting proper power first. The problem could be as simple as a blown fuse.
  • Check the temperature selector to see whether it’s been improperly adjusted.
  • Check if the bypass valve leading to your water heater is on. If so, water will bypass the heater, resulting in no hot water!
  • Check if the U-tube has become clogged. If so, it would prevent the pilot from lighting properly and heating the water to the correct temperature.
  • Check that the thermostat is set properly. Atwood recommends it be set to HI for proper heating to 130F.
  • Check that the thermostat is making contact with the tank so that it is reading the temperatures properly.
  • See whether you are using more than one faucet simultaneously. The Atwood is a small water heater only capable of heating water to one faucet at a time.

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Gas Burner Won’t Ignite

If your gas burner won’t ignite, it could be for one of a few reasons:

  • Check that the gas valve is working properly and allowing gas to flow in.
  • There may be inadequate voltage to trigger the electric spark.
  • Check that the circuit board and solenoid valve are functioning properly.
  • Check if the burner orifice is clean. If it’s blocked, clean it out.
  • Check that the gas control is calibrated properly.
  • See whether the U-Tube is obstructed or blocked. If so, clean it out.

If any components mentioned above are defective, they’ll need to be replaced.

No Spark on Electrodes

Most of the time, this is an easy fix unless you have detective components. Here’s what you do:

  • Clean the electrodes. If they’re dirty or clogged in some way, this could be directly responsible for the problem.
  • Check the electrodes’ attachment to the burner. Make sure they aren’t loose, or they won’t be effective.
  • Check that the wires are properly connected to the circuit board. Adjust as necessary.
  • See if any wire’s insulation has cracked. If so, it will need to be replaced.
  • Check that the circuit board is functioning properly. If this is the issue, the circuit board will need to be replaced.


As is the case with any water heater, the Atwood water heater can run into its fair share of problems. Many of our solutions require detailed knowledge of electronics, gas, and the interior components of a water heater. If you find this guide too overwhelming, don’t be afraid to call a professional. A professional can quickly identify the problem, and let you know the most efficient solution. You’ll have a hot water heater back in your RV in no time!

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