Why Atwood Water Heater Won’t Light [Reasons + Solutions]

Your Atwood water heater won’t light because of the defective thermocouple, faulty circuit board, and malfunctioning ECO.

Besides, a damaged or dirty igniter, blown fuse, and tripped circuit breaker can also be the culprits behind your RV water heater not lighting.

atwood water heater won't light

First, try cleaning the igniter or replacing the thermocouple, and fixing the blown fuse may bring your heater to life and ignite it again.

But, if these efforts don’t work, then go on reading to know the details of all the factors and their simple solutions. Plus, by reading our today’s Atwood water heater troubleshooting guide, you will also know why your heater clicks but does not ignite and has no spark. So, let’s get started…

Why My Atwood Water Heater Won’t Light [5 Reasons To Fix]

There are several issues behind why your Atwood Rv water heater doesn’t ignite. In this chapter, we break down every possible cause and provide the solution as well. 

1. Bad Thermocouple

A thermocouple is a device that senses the heat of a pilot and lets the gas flow to the burner. If the thermocouple is malfunctioning, it doesn’t allow the gas to run through the pilot and the burner. In return, the pilot light goes out repeatedly and would not stay lit. 

 atwood water heater bad thermocouple

Fortunately, you can replace the thermocouple with a new one without mechanical knowledge and ignite your electric water heater again. Here is how you can light the water heater pilot light again:

Step 1: Make sure you have the following equipment at your fingertips:

  • Wrench set
  • A screwdriver
  • Adjustable wrench
  • Thermocouple
  • Dish soap
  • Long matches

Step 2: Turn the shut-off valve and the control valve off. Then, pull the burner access cover out and use your screwdriver to unscrew the nuts on the thermocouple lines, gas, and pilot. 

Step 3: Break down the assembly by pulling out the pilot light burner. Next, remove the thermocouple and get a new one that fits the old one in size and length. 

Step 4: Install the new thermocouple and set the assembly back. Then, attach the control valve and the shut-off valve. Make sure you tighten the nuts evenly with the wrench. 

Step 5: Finally, test the leak. To do so, open the shut-off valve again and relight the pilot light also. Next, turn on the control valve. Afterward, make a mix using 50% water and 50% dish soap, and then apply it to every screw joint. The bubbles indicate there is a gas leak. 

2. Faulty ECO

Faulty ECO is also responsible for preventing your water heater from firing up. If you can’t hear the gas valve click when turning the switch on, then discern it is for the ECO.

atwood water heater ECO

The Eco switch wires up between the control board and the gas valve. It is also attached to the thermostat. If it gets faulty, no power will pass to the gas valve. In return, your RV water heater will not ignite. 


Firstly, remove one of the wires on the ECO and check its continuity with VOM. Make sure it shows you 12 volt on the meter. It should be a short circuit.

If it doesn’t show the exact volt, then it’s time to replace the new ECO. Also, you should get a new thermostat as the manufacturer sells them as a pair. 

3. Bad Circuit Board

Atwood Rv water heaters are famous for their faulty circuit boards. The design of it is horrible. If there is a problem with your circuit board, it won’t allow the gas to pass. 

atwood water heater circuit board

The best way to check whether your circuit board is functioning well or not is by using a VOM to see what volts you get on ECO. 

The meter will show you the volt lower than 12 if the circuit board is malfunctioning. In this case, it will be best to replace the circuit board to get rid of the ignition lockout fault.

4. Defective Igniter

Another possible reason behind the Atwood water heater igniter not lighting is its defective igniter. Now, you may ask- how can I understand the igniter is faulty. 

atwood water heater igniter

Well, if you hear the click of it but see no spark, then know the broken ignitor is responsible for this.  


To fix the issue, first off, remove the igniter by unscrewing the nut that holds it. Then, take a wire brush and clean the probe and the area where it sparks.

Afterward, set the igniter back where it was and turn your water heater on to check whether it is lit or not.  

5. Fuse or Circuit Breaker Get Tripped

Check your circuit breaker and make sure it doesn’t get tripped. It is also a reason that may prevent your igniter from working. How can you understand the fuse of the unit is defective?

 atwood water heater fuse

 The fuse may get tripped for these three potential causes:

  • A bad thermostat
  • Problem with the breaker
  • Water drops on the electrical lines

As a remedy, we recommend replacing the thermostat as it is the most common issue for a tripped fuse. Therefore, it would be best if you also change the RV water heater fuse or breaker. Further, every leak that allows water to drip on the electric lines should be repaired. 

Other Troubleshooting Guides

From the chapter, you can learn other common issues responsible for a malfunctioning water heater. 

1. No spark On the Electrodes

You may face the issue of no spark on the electrodes of your Atwood water heater.

no spark on the electrodes of atwood water heater

Well, for the followings reasons, this issue happens including: 

  • Clogged Electrodes
  • Loose wire connection
  • Defective circuit board

To get rid of the problem, clean the electrodes and suck away every dirt from them. Secondly, attach the electrodes to the main burner securely.

Make sure there is no loose wire connection on the circuit board. Also, change the board if it is faulty. 

2. Atwood Water Heater Clicks But Won’t Ignite

The possible reason behind this is a faulty control board. To confirm this issue, check for power on the wire that goes from the board to ECO. Or, check the wire that goes from the ECO to the gas solenoid while the igniter is clicking. 

atwood water heater clicks but won't ignite

If the VOM doesn’t show you 12 volts on the wire, know your control board is defective. In this case, replacing the board will be your best solution to get rid of this problem. 

On the other hand, if you get 12 volts, we recommend hiring a qualified technician to solve the issue for you. 


How does an RV furnace work?

An RV heater is a forced-air heater. It forces hot air through the vents and into the living space when the RV air falls below the thermostat temperature. A flame fed by propane creates the hot air and a blower fan forces them out of the vents.

Can I replace my RV water heater with a tankless one?

RVs come with various-sized water heater tanks. A standard water heater tank size is either 6 gallons or 10 gallons, although you can go up to 12 gallons or more. Tankless water heaters are designed to replace the existing water heaters. They can fit in the same space as your existing water heater.

Can I run my RV water heater on gas and electricity at the same time?

A propane heater or Gas Furnace is the best RV water heater choice for those who like dry camping and wish to conserve electricity. Yet, you can use both gas and electricity at the same time to heat the water faster.

How does the RV Gas Water Heater work?

A Gas Water Heater requires to be ignited manually. You can use a long match or striker for this purpose. There are also some heaters available with automatic ignition where you just need to touch the switch inside the RV. This heater has a burner assembly that ignites and maintains the flame and creates heat.

What is a Hydro Flame Furnace?

The Hydro Flame RV Furnace is a compact model Furnace that is lightweight. It weighs just 23 pounds with dimensions of 8-3/8″ wide,11-3/8″ high, and 20-1/2″ deep. It is very useful to owners with smaller cars.

How long does Piezo ignition last?

If the matches and lighters are replaced or refilled regularly, match-free ignition systems can last a lifetime. An average piezo lighter lasts for a minimum of ten years although some malfunctions do occur.

Which model of Atwood burner should I buy?

The Atwood Black Dv20-b is a fantastic burner to buy. It provides the following features:
1. Propane Gas Burner fired 1- 7200 BTU Burner
2.1- 5200 BTU Burner
3. Match Light ignition
4. Requires less space 

Do Atwood RV water heaters need anode rods?

Atwood water heater uses an Aluminium tank. It doesn’t face corrosion problems. So it does not require anode rods.

What size is the drain plug on an RV water heater?

The size of a drain plug depends on the water heater brand. In a Suburban water heater, the drain plug is 1 & 1/16th. And, in an RV hot water heater, the drain plug is 7/8ths or 15/16ths.

How do I reset my Atwood RV Furnace?

Sometimes you might need to reset your Atwood RV Furnace for troubleshooting purposes. For doing that you should go to the basement storage and look for some red and blue wires. You will find a little switch located right behind those wires. It is the reset switch for your Atwood Furnace.

How to light up Atwood RV Gas Cooktop?

Here’s how you light the Atwood RV Gas Stove Cooktop: Turn on the LP tanks & the knob to light up. Then adjust the pilot flame using the knob. If your stove doesn’t support an ignitor, use a match lighter by turning the knob.

What is a burner orifice?

It is a hole, drilled in the orifice plug. This is the place where gas from the piping escapes and enters the burner.

How to bypass a tankless water heater?

To bypass a water heater you need to put a pipe between the hot and cold water pipes. Two types of valve setups are used for this. They are-three-way valve setup & three bypass valve

Where is the thermal fuse on a water heater?

The thermal fuse of a water heater is usually located in the main panel. It is a safety device that cuts power to the water heater when the heat level reaches its safety limit. If the fuse blows or trips, you have to replace it with a proper installation process.

How do I know my Flame Sensor is not working?

There are some signs to determine if your flame sensor isn’t working. These are- a) The gas burner lights up and goes down immediately. b) There is dirt, dust, etc. that covers the flame sensor tip. c) The ceramic area of the sensor is cracked or broken.


In the above, we have explained all the possible issues why your Atwood water heater won’t light. Plus, we also elaborated on the remedies to those problems. So, apply all the solutions we suggested above until your Rv water heater ignites. 

If you fail to light your Atwood water heater after trying all the tricks, we recommend you call the Atwood support team. Alternatively, you can hire a qualified technician to solve the issue for you.

Finally, we can help you with a serious issue. If you find your Atwood water getting hot, to fix the issue, simply reset your Atwood water heater. You will instantly get the solution.

Still, if you have any more struggles with your RV heater, you can let us know in the comment box. Our experts will be happy to help you.

About William

William is the founder of Fireplacehubs.com. He has real life practical skills in fixing smoker & heating appliance issues. He loves to share his knowledge & helps others in fixing their appliances & saving their money. William firmly believes that anyone can repair his or her unit with the correct guidance & knowledge. See more at about us.

2 thoughts on “Why Atwood Water Heater Won’t Light [Reasons + Solutions]”

  1. My Atwood water heater had a burnt wire on the right side sensor of the thermostat, I replaced the wire and still there’s no power. Has a new circuit board, igniter too! Should I replace the thermostat? Checked fuses etc. Just no juice. 1997 Holiday Rambler.

    • Hi Bo Perry

      As the igniter and circuit board are new and fuses are ok, now check the ECO & thermostat. Infact,the Eco switch wires up between the control board and the gas valve. It is also attached to the thermostat. If they get faulty, no power will pass to the gas valve. In return, your RV water heater won’t ignite.

      Well, if you get any one of them is faulty, you should replace that one to solve the issue. You should get a new thermostat & a new ECO in a combo pack as the manufacturer sells them as a pair.

      Hopefully, you will get a solution.

      Wish you all the best. 


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