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  • Leaking/Cracked Hot Water Check Valve Nipple

    In an effort to keep this short I will post this as an alert....
    This post is for my 2017 Solitude 310GK. About a week ago I noticed some carpet segments I had laid in the basement were wet. And a day and two days later they were more wet.... drenched. I pulled everything out, opened up the access panel, and immediately saw that water had been leaking for some time in this area. Edges of the floor covering had peeled up and the plywood underlay had turned black.
    Fortuntely the wood was wet and had not softened, but will still need some preventive maintenance.
    When I looked over at the mass of spaghetti behind Nautilus panel I wondered how I would ever tind the leaking joint. For some reason I looked up at the water tank and saw that drips of water were coming off of the hot water outlet check valve nipple, steadily dripping faster than a drop each second
    I twisted the fittings a bit to see if an o-ring or something like that was not sealing properly. A couple times there was a steam of water and I could see this was pretty serious. I shut down the water, drained the system, and disconnected the tube fitting end.
    When I took a wrench and tried to twist the nipple out of the hot water heater the nipple broke off, leaving the threaded in inside the hot water heater. Holy cow!!
    I made calls to Suburban/Airexcel customer service and found an RV dealer close to me was an approved service center. I could take the RV to them and leave it for 5-6 weeks for repair, take the heater out and take it to them, etc. Well, am living in the RV full time right now so also tried a mobile RV repair guy I knew. In the end I found I had a qualified plumber living in the RV park I am in and he spent several hours cleaning out the plastic threads.
    Since then we have been trying -- without success to this point -- completing the repair. There are several problems found in all of this, so far....
    1. I had a leak fixed at a GD dealer last summer. I thought the repair was made properly. When i first saw the leaking nipple before breaking it off, someone had "smeared" plumber's putty around the base of the nipple. When I looked at the fracture surface of the part after I broke it I could see there was a crack in the nipple where the leaking had come from. There was NO WAY the plumber's putty was going to fix this.... n so it just kept leaking for the past 5 months.
    2. When the nipple was originally installed there was some kind of cement used to seal the nipple in the hot water heater.
    3. The Suburban service center sold me a brass replacement nipple/check valve. Great... and much better! Except....
    4. The male thread on the nipple is a 1/2 NPT thread. After cleaning out the female thread on the hot water heater we discovered it is an M20 thread.
    5. I spent all day today running to the GD dealer, plumbing supply stores, and Lowe's trying to find a solution. The only parts the GD dealer had was the old plastic nipple with the 1/2 threads. I can only conclude that when the RV was assembled the 1/2 thread nipple was basically jammed into the m20 thread. It CAN be done.
    If that nipple had fractured completely, which over time it surely would have done, water would have blasted out of the hot water heater into the basement. It would have been a disaster. If I had any idea of what materials had been used, and how they had been used, I would have replaced the nipple/check valve LONG ago.
    After the weekend I will contact Suburban CS in Tennessee for help. In the meantime I am 4 days with no running water..... RVing CAN be fun!!

  • #2
    I am not doubting you but I can not believe that the threads are M20, I replaced my plastic check valve with the 1/2" brass check valve with no issues.

    Brian
    Brian & Michelle
    2018 Reflection 29RS Oct.2017 build date, EMS-HW50C , Lippert Remote
    630 ah battery, Victron Multiplus 2, 800 watts solar, 100/50 SCC
    2015 Chevy 3500HD CC LB Duramax , Reese Elite 18K

    Comment


    • #3
      Originally posted by Dave & Laura View Post
      In the meantime I am 4 days with no running water..... RVing CAN be fun!!
      Why not just shutoff the hot water bypass so at least you have cold running water in the camper? According to the Parts Lookup website (link on menu bar above) your trailer has a Nautilus v2. https://www.granddesignrv.com/owner-...s/detail/27818

      Turn the red handle on the Nautilus panel as shown in the diagram below.

      Click image for larger version

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      For the other woes...yes, RV'ing can be "fun".

      Howard

      Forum moderators are not GD employees--we are volunteers and owners presumably just like yourself. Unless specifically mentioned otherwise, we have nothing to gain should you choose to purchase a product or engage a service we discuss on this forum.

      2017 Ford F-350 DRW, '19 315RLTSPlus

      Comment


      • #4
        I can certainly understand that finding a metric pipe thread fitting anywhere in the US would be a challenge. If the female thread on the tank is indeed metric, I would try re-threading it with a NPT tap. It is possible that the threads are already NPT (perhaps cross threaded). In either case, because pipe threads are tapered, you may be able to thread deep enough to get a water tight connection.

        Rob
        Last edited by Cate&Rob; 02-19-2022, 02:30 PM.
        Cate & Rob
        (with Border Collies Molly & Angel)
        2015 Reflection 303RLS
        2022 F350 Diesel CC SB SRW Lariat
        Bayham, Ontario, Canada

        Comment


        • #5
          Firstly, I think ALL of you for your responses.... And for doing so on such a timely basis. Let me try and address my comments and questions here.
          1. If I had not seen the M20 thread myself I would not have believed it. GD has no nipples to use that are M20. All are 1/2 NPT. I worked in automotive manufacturing and quality for many years and personally witnessed many times where impossible things happened. I hope to find out more from Suburban when I talk to them on Monday. But trust me, a male M20 thread went in and, once the female threads were cleaned up, there was no way a male 1/2 NPT thread would go in.
          2. If I do the hot water shut off option on the Nautilus panel will it shut off the water input -- and pressure -- to the hot water tank? If not I will still have leaking. And I have to ask.....Are you sure the Nautilus documentation is right? When I got my RV I got 2 different sets of Nautilus documentation: One in the GD Owner's Manual and another from a booklet from Nautilus. And they are very different, except for the appearance of the panel in the pictures.
          3. It would not be possible to re-tap the thread. The major diameter of the two different threads is very close, so re-tapping the threads would make a real mess. The thread tolerances are very close, and I actually thought I found an M20 male/1/2 NPT adapter at a plumbing supply place, but the brass M20 was just a tiny bit larger and would not start in the hot water heater.
          Again, thanks to all of you for your help and input!!
          Best regards,

          Dave

          Comment


          • #6
            Originally posted by Dave & Laura View Post
            If I do the hot water shut off option on the Nautilus panel will it shut off the water input -- and pressure -- to the hot water tank? If not I will still have leaking. And I have to ask.....Are you sure the Nautilus documentation is right? When I got my RV I got 2 different sets of Nautilus documentation: One in the GD Owner's Manual and another from a booklet from Nautilus. And they are very different, except for the appearance of the panel in the pictures.
            Yes, I'm sure the red knob shuts off water to the water heater. The exact plumbing may be different, but this thread shows how the water flows: https://gdrvowners.com/forum/operati...abled-disabled

            Out of an abundance of caution, remove the drain plug from your water heater. Turn the red knob on the Nautilus to bypass the appliance. Now apply city water pressure as normal (except leave the red knob in the bypass position). If your camper happens to be the one that is plumbed to not bypass the heater, water will quickly come pouring out the drain and down the side of the camper (no harm in that).

            More info on the Nautilus panels here: https://gdrvowners.com/forum/operati...el-information Follow the links to the manuals and you'll find the version of the Nautilus in your camper on the bandbmolders website. (Post a pic!)
            Forum moderators are not GD employees--we are volunteers and owners presumably just like yourself. Unless specifically mentioned otherwise, we have nothing to gain should you choose to purchase a product or engage a service we discuss on this forum.

            2017 Ford F-350 DRW, '19 315RLTSPlus

            Comment


            • #7
              Good evening!
              I did pull out the Nautilus manual and tried your bypass suggestion this morning. It did work fine today for getting cold water to the RV! Thank you!
              I was not able to pull the drain plug -- which I must still do to replace the anode rod -- but it does appear the HW heater IS isolated on my model.
              Tomorrow I will contact GD CS and Suburban CS and will post what I am able to learn or figure out.

              Dave

              Comment


              • #8
                Did a search and think this thread is where I need to be for some advice.
                Suburban SW10DEL water heater.
                Found a bit of water dripping from underneath the RV and traced it to the water heater so turned the water off right away - lots of fun emptying out the basement area and removing panels - and then had a buddy drop by so we could pinpoint what was leaking and fortunately it was the plastic nipple and not the actual tank.
                Bad news is the nipple broke off the moment I tried to remove it - question is, will an easy out work without damaging the tank?
                Any suggestions or advice welcomed!
                Chris
                2019 Solitude 3740BH
                2019 Chevy 3500HD Duramax SRW

                Comment


                • #9
                  TheNescios
                  Hi Chris,

                  A left hand thread “easy out” should work. They make these specifically for pipe . . . but, probably not inexpensive. This should go quite easily because you are removing a plastic part from steel female threads.

                  Rob
                  Cate & Rob
                  (with Border Collies Molly & Angel)
                  2015 Reflection 303RLS
                  2022 F350 Diesel CC SB SRW Lariat
                  Bayham, Ontario, Canada

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    TheNescios Rob is right on, I used to use one of these when working with broken PVC nipples on my sprinkler system:

                    https://www.amazon.com/Armour-Line-R...ps%2C83&sr=8-2
                    Neil Citro
                    2018 Reflection 28bh
                    2019 F350 6.7L Long Bed Crew Cab

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Will be looking for the left hand thread easy out tomorrow - was able to get the water bypassing the water heater so have a way to flush a toilet and make coffee, but tomorrow is going to be interesting trying to work on the water heater while having my 4 year old granddaughter in tow? She's staying with me this week as her daycare is closed for renovations.
                      On another note, does anyone know where I can find a parts diagram/exploded view of the water heater? It looks to me like where the check valve nipple seats it's shouldered down a little ways inside. From what I'm seeing it looks metal vs plastic so assuming some care will be needed to avoid damaging what looks like a shouldered area for the check valve to seat. Either that or my tri-focals need updating??
                      Chris
                      2019 Solitude 3740BH
                      2019 Chevy 3500HD Duramax SRW

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        When they installed the check valve they probably seated it too deep, reason why it cracked and leaked. The fitting on the tank is standard with no shoulder or step.

                        Brian
                        Brian & Michelle
                        2018 Reflection 29RS Oct.2017 build date, EMS-HW50C , Lippert Remote
                        630 ah battery, Victron Multiplus 2, 800 watts solar, 100/50 SCC
                        2015 Chevy 3500HD CC LB Duramax , Reese Elite 18K

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Update: Searching for a "left handed easy out" wasn't getting any results, but stumbled across what Harbor Freight and others call the kit "Pipe Nipple Extractor" kit that's pretty inexpensive, and it worked like a charm! Highly recommend having one on hand for times like I just encountered.
                          Original check nipple was plastic, from what I've been able to gather it's because of the disimilar metals/corrosion issue and was a decent idea except the plastic check nipples have a high failure rate.
                          Went with brass for the replacement with the idea I'll replace the brass fitting each time I replace the anode or every 2 years.

                          On another note, have never been all that happy with how the basement walls attach to each other and have been searching for a simple solution - on my way to pick up some PEX fittings I walked by a display of piano hinges and thought, "why not?". Had been thinking about some sort of aluminum angle but the angles aren't 90 degrees and getting custom pieces bent can be expensive. If they seem to move around I'm thinking an angle or "U" shaped extrusion which is easy to come by will be the fix to keep them in one place.

                          Thank you everyone for the responses and advice!
                          And for a chuckle, keep in mind my repair efforts were done with my 4 yr old granddaughter in tow as she didn't have daycare available this week so has been staying with me...... no such thing as a fast trip to the parts or tool places with a 4 yr old! (but I wouldn't have traded a minute of the time I've been having with her!)
                          Chris
                          2019 Solitude 3740BH
                          2019 Chevy 3500HD Duramax SRW

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Had this problem also. Water leaking where the fitting is at the top of the tank. When attempting to back fitting out, sheared off flush to the tank, Upon suggestion of a mobile tech, removed water heater from unit, took pictures of wiring. I have a plastic handle that holds a hacksaw blade where an end protrudes about 3 inches. Cut inside of the fitting that was left carefully. Used screwdriver and hammer to turn edge of fitting inward so it was able to be turned counterclockwise to unthread it. Had gotten a metal fitting locally, so with thread compound it threaded in and sealed. Need to get plastic one to avoid another worse problem down the road.
                            2020 Solitude 2930RL S-Class

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                            • #15
                              Just a reminder on the brass check valve fitting, the pressure fitting on the front of the water heater is also brass so I am not sure about the dissimilar metal theory for the brass check valve.

                              Brian
                              Brian & Michelle
                              2018 Reflection 29RS Oct.2017 build date, EMS-HW50C , Lippert Remote
                              630 ah battery, Victron Multiplus 2, 800 watts solar, 100/50 SCC
                              2015 Chevy 3500HD CC LB Duramax , Reese Elite 18K

                              Comment

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