How to Troubleshoot & Fix RV Water Heater Electrical Problem
The reason for this article having way too many photographs isn’t because it’s one of my random collections of Fun Friday Photos, but rather because it’s one of my random collections of Fun Friday Photos.With this one, I aim to be of assistance to anyone who may require assistance in troubleshooting and repairing RV water heater problems.In particular, I’ll demonstrate how to fix an RV water heater that is no longer capable of heating water.
This isn’t the first time I’ve written on the maintenance and repair of an RV water heater, either.Every RVer’s yearly maintenance checklist should include instructions on how to replace the water heater anode.I’ve even offered instructions on how to replace the water heater element if your RV’s water heater is no longer delivering hot water in the past.
However, it appears that this work is becoming more difficult with each passing day.This time around, I’ve included instructions on how to change the water heater thermostat.But, as you’ll see, it’s not all that difficult to understand.
What To Do When Your RV Water Heater Won’t Get Hot
When our hot water wasn’t very hot one day, I realized I’d gotten myself into a pickle and needed to go to work.The first step was to figure out what was causing the water to not heat up.STEP ONE: I converted the water heater from the alternating current electric supply to the direct current gas service on the DC circuit.
There’s good news!We would have hot water at the very least while I went to get the components I needed to fix the electric RV water heater by burning through the propane.Rene was leaving me to go to her Tucson performance, so I wanted to make certain that I had everything I needed to complete the task.
In addition to a new electric heater element, I chose to purchase a replacement thermostat switch for my recreational vehicle’s water heater.It was a good thing I did.But how can you tell if your thermostat is malfunctioning?What if the problem was caused by the power switch?
NOTE: Click photos to enlarge and view in Gallery mode.
Steps to Service and Repair RV Water Heater
- To diagnose electric RV water heater problems and repair the water heater if it is no longer functioning properly, follow these instructions. While you’re at it, take care of the regular water heater maintenance that’s probably been neglected in most RVs for quite some time. removing the anode from the RV water heater, replacing the electric water heater element, and diagnosing a defective water heater thermostat are all tasks that must be completed.
- Replace the thermostat control switch.
- Determine and fix a malfunctioning power switch
1. Maintain your RV water heater with regular servicing.
Make sure your water heater is not generating any power.Check to be that both the gas and electric switches are in the OFF position, and then wait for the water to cool down a little further.Locate the bypass valve for the water heater, which is normally situated inside the RV behind the heater.
Turn the valve to the closed position to prevent water from getting into the tank.While doing your service and repairs, you will be able to utilize (cold) water to keep yourself cool.When you’re not inside your RV, remove the vented panel to gain access to the water.
To relieve pressure from inside the tank, turn the pressure release valve lever to the left or right, depending on your preference.WARNING: This water might be quite hot!Remove the anode rod from the water heater in order to drain the water from the tank.You will need a 1 1/16′′ socket with a wrench extender to complete this task.For more information on what the anode does – and why it needs to be replaced on a regular basis – see my earlier piece on how to replace the RV water heater anode and why it has to be replaced.
Allow all of the water to drain out of the tank.See the previous paragraph for information about possibly hot water.This step should be completed before removing any of the electrical component coverings that I will detail later.
Connect the end of your hose to a wand for cleaning the water heater tank.Insert the wand into the tank and turn on the water to fully clean the tank and remove sediment that has accumulated at the bottom of the RV water heater’s reservoir.I’ve found that rotating the wand 360 degrees while holding it all the way in, then pushing it in and out again allows the built-up water pressure to take particles away is the most effective method.
Allow all of the water to drain out and remove any debris from the anode opening threads.
2. Replace Electric Water Heater Element
IMPORTANT: You must first disassemble the gas supply manifold and burner assembly in order to have access to the electric water heater element.When dismantled, this component comprises a large number of tiny pieces that are easily misplaced or reassembled improperly.You avoid this, make sure to remove the complete assembly in one piece.
See my previous post on how to replace the electric water heater element for additional information and step-by-step instructions.Continue reading for information on electrical component diagnosis procedures, and then obtain a complete service manual and troubleshooting guide for the Suburban RV water heater from the links provided.Check to see that the gas and electric power switches are not turned on or off.
Obtain a hold of the retainer nut at the other end of the gas supply manifold tubing.Remove the nut that is keeping the burner assembly in position.Replace the nut on the burner retainer bolt loosely so that you don’t lose it, and then set the unit away.Using a flathead screwdriver, pry up the lid to gain access to the electric water heater element.To detach the wire from the water heater element, use a Phillips screwdriver to pry it apart.
A Hot Water Heater Element Wrench will be required in order to remove the element.Placing the socket over the element’s head is recommended.Insert a screwdriver into the holes on the end of the wrench to tighten it down further.
To remove the element, turn the knob in the opposite direction of the clock.(Turn the new element clockwise to tighten it.) Ensure a tight seal on the threads of both the water heater element and anode by applying silicon plumber’s tape to the threads.Replace the anode rod and element with a new set.
Reconnect the water heater element’s alternating current power cables.It makes no difference whether color wire is used to connect to which screw.Never tighten more than a quarter turn past hand tight; one quarter turn past hand tight should be plenty.Replace the cover to ensure that the electric heater element is properly sealed.
DOWNLOAD: Suburban RV Water Heater Troubleshooting Guide and Repair Manual
It is quite beneficial to have a Suburban water heater repair manual on hand while troubleshooting the electrical power circuit in order to pinpoint any faults.Follow the instructions in the manual for tracing power through the system in order to detect any shorts or breaks that may be causing the element to not heat up properly.A word of caution about using the electric water heater element ″dry fire.″ Before turning on the electricity, check to see that the tank is completely filled with water.
I didn’t bother because I was going to replace the element anyhow, and I just switched on the power for a brief while to test the components.
3. Troubleshoot Electric Water Heater and Replace Thermostat
- NOT INCLUDED IN THE PHOTO: To check for correct voltage on either side of the water heater element, connect one probe of your multimeter to each screw, while connecting the other probe to common ground on your multimeter. Remove the square black cover on the RV water heater to reveal the thermostat switches on the unit. By interrupting the electrical circuit, these components help to avoid overheating. It is possible that damage will not be evident. In addition, the two thermostats are practically identical. The numbers imprinted on them are not visible until you look very carefully at them. For my convenience, I labeled which one was the 120 volt AC thermostat (on the left) and which one was the 12 volt DC switch (on the right) (Right). As a courtesy, I’ve validated the following part numbers for your reference: In addition to the Suburban T-Stat/Limit Switch 232306, the company also offers the Suburban 232282 Switch Assembly, which operates at 12 volts DC.
Keep in mind that the location of your thermostat switches may be different from mine.Set your meter to DC for the purpose of checking the voltage on both sides of the 12v DC thermostat.Set your meter to the alternating current mode in order to check the voltage on both sides of the 120v alternating current thermostat.
Please keep in mind that a good voltage measurement does not always imply that the switch is still in excellent working order.I checked the voltage for both of our switches and found them to be correct.I decided to replace it nonetheless because I had the replacement on hand.
Especially in light of what transpired after that.WARNING: When checking switch voltage, do not short the thermostat!In the process of taking another reading to ensure that both ends of the thermostat were showing adequate voltage, I accidentally touched the probe of my multimeter to the base of the switch while still in contact with the overlimit sensor tab – or whatever you want to call the business end of the thermostat.Fortunately, no one was hurt.This should not be done.
So, this is an example of what a malfunctioning thermostat may look like.And the voltage decrease that would result from this would be clear.REMINDER: Make certain that the power switch is switched off.
Remove the wire clips from the tabs of the switch connector.Remove the retainer nut from the thermostat base connecting post with a 3/8-inch socket.Install the new 120v thermostat switch assembly onto the post and reconnect the electrical connections.
If you do not have a tiny enough socket wrench, you can use your Trusty Leatherman to hold the little retainer nut in place.Caution: That little nut has the potential to quickly come loose from the socket and fall into the aperture and within the water heater casing, where it will be lost forever.Fortunately, I am not speaking from personal experience.Don’t forget to rejoin the gas manifold and burner assembly that you removed previously to ensure that electrical components are properly sealed after restoring the lid.Insert the burner retention bolt into the manifold tubing once it has been properly aligned with the manifold.Hand tighten the manifold retainer nut until it is snug.
- Tighten both nuts to the maximum extent possible.
4. Inspect and Repair Faulty Water Heater Switch
- Now, there were a variety of things that may have gone wrong with our cold water heater that I considered.
- It was most likely caused by a faulty electric heating element.
- It’s possible that the thermostat switch on the air conditioner was faulty.
- After I shorted it out, it was unquestionably true.
- I was able to obtain a decent voltage measurement at the AC wall switch located within the unit.
- However, have a look at what I discovered when I looked at the final remaining electrical system component.
Because I was already inspecting the entire electrical system, I decided to examine the toggle switch on the front of the water heater, which is placed on the front of the water heater.I’m pleased I went forward with it.If you use a little flathead screwdriver, you should have no trouble prying this small switch loose.I realized that one of the connections had become faulty.Regardless of whether or not this was the source of our problem, it needed to be addressed.
For this reason, having a decent range of connectors and fuses, as well as a thru electrical connection kit, is a good thing for every RVer to have on hand!When everything was finished, including removing and repairing the broken blade connector as well as reinserting the switch, it was time for the big reveal…Open the pressure release valve on your water heater if it is not already open.Turn the bypass valve on the interior of the tank to allow water to flow back into it.
- Allow water to fill the tank until it begins to flow out of the release valve.
- Close the pressure release valve if it is open.
- Wait until the electrical power to the water heater is turned on.
- We were back to having hot water in less than an hour!
Parts Needed to Service and Repair RV Water Heater
Anode rod for water heater tank rinsing wand for water heater Electric Water Heater Element Wrench Suburban 120v T-Stat/Limit Hot Water Heater Element Wrench Switch 232306 12 volts direct current Suburban 232282 Switch Assembly digital multimeter electrical connection kit (Suburban 232282 Switch Assembly)
Related Reading to Repair RV Water Heater:
Note to Self: Inspect the anode on the water heater. How To Service An RV Water Heater, And Why I Fought My RV Water Heater, And Won! How I Fought My RV Water Heater, And Won! The Art of Taming the Sewer Cow Read All of Our RV Water Heater Articles Read through all of our RV Maintenance posts.
RV Water Heater Troubleshooting & How To Fix It
- RV water heater troubleshooting is a pretty straightforward process if you understand how the equipment operates at its most basic level.
- A book could be written to detail everything that may go wrong with an RV water heater, but this item will provide a quick review of water heater functioning and the most common and easily resolved issues.
- After all, camping without access to running water isn’t much fun.
- By being familiar with the fundamentals of RV water heaters ahead of time, you may be able to avoid the hassle of having to break camp and travel to an RV repair shop.
- Although it is not impossible to survive without warm water, it might be quite difficult if you haven’t prepared for it ahead of time.
- Taking a cold shower is undoubtedly one of the most effective ways to wake up on the wrong side of the bed, especially on those already chilly summer mornings,″ according to the majority.
RV Care’s Art explains.Disclaimer: Working with propane and electricity may be extremely hazardous to your health.If you are not familiar with the proper methods of working with these two types of energy, take your RV to a service facility.
Types of RV water heaters
- This post will focus on the most popular types of water heaters used in recreational vehicles, which consist of a tank that is predominantly heated by the combustion of propane gas as its primary source of heat. Some models will additionally have an electric element that may be used in place of or in conjunction with the propane to heat water more quickly than the propane alone. Manual Gas Valve: As the name implies, the manual gas valve that regulates the flow of propane is operated by the user. Located on the exterior of the RV, this valve makes use of a standing pilot light that must be lighted from the outside of the RV in order to function properly.
- The DSI (Direct Spark Ignition) kind of water heater is the most popular type of water heater found in RVs nowadays. These types allow the user to turn on the propane burner on the water heater from the interior of the RV by just flipping a switch. For further information on how DSI works, please see this page.
- In addition to the submerged electric element mentioned above, RV water heaters can be provided with an electric element that can be used to heat the water within the tank.
RV Water Heater Troubleshooting
- Before you can begin attempting to repair your RV water heater, you must first discover why it is not functioning as it was intended. To begin, make certain that the problem is not caused by a lack of supplies. Here is a list of the things you will need to look for: The input of the water heater is being supplied with pressurized freshwater. The most straightforward way to check this is to open the pressure relief valve, which is situated towards the top of the water heater. If water is leaking, it does not indicate a problem with the supply. When opening the valve, proceed with caution since scorching might occur if hot water is present.
- Propane: Check to see that your propane cylinders are operational and that all other appliances are functioning properly. After that, try to fire the water heater and check for any evidence of propane escaping via the gas valve by looking or smelling around. The next step is to ″crack″ open the gas line where it enters the gas valve to check for propane fleeing the gas line by smell, sound, or soapy water poured on the fitting if you are not sure whether you have propane flowing to the water heater (and there are no nearby ignition sources present). When you’re finished, tighten the fitting and check for leaks with soapy water poured directly onto the fitting. Click here to find out what might happen if you leave a gas line open for an extended period of time.
- 12 Volts Direct Current (also known as battery power): If you have a DSI water heater, you will need to make sure that when the water heater switch is switched on inside the RV, a full 12 volts DC is delivered to the water heater to ensure that it operates properly. A wiring diagram may be found in the water heater owner’s handbook
- 120 Volts alternating current (also known as shore power): If your water heater is equipped with an electric element, check to see that the switch(s) that controls the electric element is switched on and that 120 volts is present by using a volt Ohm meter in a safe environment.
RV Water Heater Repairs
If you were unable to identify a water supply problem using the techniques outlined above, the following are the most typical problems encountered by RV water heaters, as well as suggestions for how to resolve them.
Manual Valve Water Heaters
Problem: Pilot won’t stay lit
- Check that the thermocouple is clear of soot, that it is centered in the flame of the pilot light, and that it is screwed into the control valve securely.
- B) Disassemble and clean the pilot burner, pilot orifice, and pilot tubing (if applicable).
- Only use compressed air to clean an orifice because drill bits and other sharp objects might cause the aperture to become larger than necessary.
- You may learn more about how to test a thermocouple using a volt-Ohm meter by visiting this page.
- If the two actions listed above do not resolve the issue, you most likely have a faulty thermocouple or control valve on your hands.
- Gas valves cannot be repaired or replaced.
It is never recommended to try to repair something.
Problem: Pilot stays on, but main burner won’t light
Ensure that the valve is switched to the ″On″ position in step one. B) Inspect the aperture for clogs and, if necessary, clean it. C) The pilot is activated, but no gas is released from the valve when the valve is switched to the ″On″ position. The valve is most certainly in need of replacement.
DSI water heaters
Problem: Won’t ignite (Nothing happens when the switch is turned on inside the RV)
- Check to see that 12 volts is being delivered to the control board.
- The thermostat or high limit switch, both of which have a reset button, can be used to interrupt voltage.
- A) Three things should happen when 12 volts is applied to the board (assuming the board is correctly grounded): 1) The board will start discharging high voltage to the igniter as soon as it is turned on.
- 2) The gas valve will be supplied with 12 volts by the board.
- 3) If a flame is detected, the board will continue to supply 12 volts to the gas valve until the flame is extinguished.
- If there is no flame detected, the board will turn off the electricity to the gas valve.
If problems with items 1 and/or 2 do not occur, check the fuse in the circuit board, if one is provided.If the fuse is in excellent working order, the board is most likely damaged and has to be repaired or replaced.The majority of RV repair shops are equipped with a circuit board tester that can test all three functions of the circuit board.
Problem: Sparks appear at the igniter, but won’t ignite
- A) There is no gas coming from the valve – check that 12 volts are reaching the valve and that it is grounded.
- It is possible that the valve is stuck if 12 volts are available; otherwise, the valve will most likely need to be replaced.
- If 12 volts are present, softly tap the valve as it may be jammed.
- B) The valve opens, but there is no gas to the burner.
- Make sure there are no impediments in the orifice.
Problem: Ignites, but won’t stay burning
A) Inspect the wire connections for the igniter, since the signal indicating the presence of a flame may not be reaching the control board. B) Check to see that the igniter is centered and that it can ″feel″ the fire. If necessary, make the necessary adjustments. C) Remove any soot or rust from the igniter’s surface.
Both manual and DSI water heaters
Problem: Main burner “roars” excessively, causes soot around the exhaust port, or has a yellow flame
A) Check to see that the burner tube is free of impediments such as spider webs, wasp nests, and so on. Clean as often as necessary. B) The air-to-gas combination is not proper. Adjust the air flow according to the manufacturer’s recommendations until the flame is a bright blue hue..
Problem: There is no hot water when operating the water heater solely on electric
- A) Verify that the element is receiving 120 volts alternating current.
- The thermostat or high limit switch, both of which have a reset button, can be used to interrupt voltage.
- The element’s resistance should be checked using a volt-Ohm meter after the power has been turned off and the cables have been detached from the element.
- The right resistance value may be discovered in the owner’s handbook of the device.
- If there is no resistance, the element is faulty and must be replaced immediately.
- Take note that while using an electric water heater, you must ensure that the electric element is completely submerged in water.
Otherwise, the element will rapidly burn out.Check out this informative video that explains the major components of RV water heaters, what they perform, where they are situated, how to maintain them, and some other RV water heater troubleshooting hints.Water heater troubleshooting in an RV may be accomplished quickly and easily with a little prior knowledge and a few simple instruments.Hopefully, the information you’ve gained will assist you in being more prepared going forward.
Track your RV maintenance
Make use of an internet application such as Maintain My RV to keep track of all of your RV’s maintenance requirements. The ability to maintain all of your maintenance records and documentation in one place, as well as receiving timely alerts via email when maintenance is needed, can help you prevent a costly repair or major accident in the future, among other benefits.
Love RVing? You’ll Love RV LIFE Pro
- It’s the desire to travel, the freedom of being on the open road.
- It is not the goal that is important, but rather the trip.
- It is on a journey around the world.
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- That’s what it’s like to live in an RV.
- The difficulty is that organizing an epic RV vacation is a complicated process.
We at RV LIFE think that life should be straightforward.As RVers ourselves, we understand the process and have assisted millions of RVers in achieving their travel goals by gaining confidence and completing their journeys.RV Vacation Wizard assists you in planning the perfect trip, and our RV GPS software transforms your phone into an RV Safe GPS, ensuring that you arrive at your destination safely.Join the discussion in any of our fantastic RV forum groups if you have a question regarding ANYTHING connected to recreational vehicle travel.Step 1: Go to this page to learn more and join up for a free trial.
Step 2: Step 2: Make a plan for your ideal RV vacation.Step 3: Take pleasure in the wonderful recollections!Follow Dave’s RV travels as he explores the American West in quest of forgotten and unusual locations to visit.For Dave, home is wherever you park your car, and the more isolated the location, the better!
RV Water Heater Troubleshooting Made Easy
- The fact that you can only get cold water when you attempt to wash off the dirt from a hard day’s play may quickly ruin a wonderful vacation.
- If the water heater in your recreational vehicle is not operating correctly, nothing can ruin a vacation faster.
- This is made much more aggravating if you are new to the mobile vehicle lifestyle and have no prior experience with RV water heater troubleshooting procedures or an understanding of how your hot water system operates.
- RV water heater troubleshooting does not have to be tough, regardless of your degree of mechanical expertise.
- You may even take pleasure in the gratification of a hot shower while also knowing that you identified what was causing your RV water heater to malfunction in the first place with the aid of this expert-taught, step-by-step video.
- Best of all, you won’t have to worry about driving your RV to a repair and waiting days to hear back on your decision.
You may complete the task in your driveway, and most likely for a lower cost!The entire process is discussed in detail and is simple to comprehend, from ensuring that your system has the fuel and power it requires to ensuring that all connections and components are in correct operating order.This video will explain how the water heater system on an Atwood RV is supposed to operate in just a few short minutes of your valuable time, and then proceed to assist you in diagnosing your problem in a safe and efficient manner.
How to Diagnose Your Water Heater’s Issue
- RV maintenance and repair specialist Dave Solberg leads you through a brief inspection and explanation of each component in order to assist you in getting your water heater system back up and working like new.
- First and foremost, you should ensure that gas is being delivered to your appliances through the proper channels.
- To begin, turn on the stovetop burner and watch for a constant flow of water with a firm flame.
- Using a voltage meter, check the input to the heater, which should be at least 10.5 volts to ensure that it is working properly.
- After confirming that this is the case and that you are receiving sufficient voltage, you will use a test light to work your way backward from the thermostat to the coil.
- In this video, Dave discusses what you should do if the thermostat is not receiving electricity (e.g.
replacing a broken fusible link).Consider the following scenario: you turn on your computer but do not hear a click.This most likely indicates that the coil has been damaged and must be fixed or replaced.If you hear a click but do not see a flame, it is possible that you have a clogged orifice or a faulty valve.These are readily cleaned and/or replaced if necessary.
Last but not least, switch off the LP system and look for a spark to complete the RV water heater troubleshooting method.If you don’t receive a spark, it’s possible that your system has a bent electrode or carbon grounding.Once again, a simple repair and a quick solution.Okay, but what happens if you go through each of these procedures and are still unable to determine what is wrong?
- Please send us a note or send us an email with your problem!
- We’ll be pleased to talk it through with you and come up with the best solution possible.
How RV Repair Club Makes Maintenance Simple
- Using this clear and simple video and conversation, you can quickly decide which replacement component or repair work will be required to restore complete operation to your water heater.
- To quickly discover the information you want, pause and restart this RV water heater troubleshooting video at critical moments, or go back and forward in it.
- During your system examination, you may even use your smart phone or tablet to view this instructional movie so that you can quickly distinguish between the numerous components, wires, and connections while referring to the screen at each step of the way.
- You could also look through the RV Repair Club archives to find other troubleshooting ideas for your water heater and other important components of your vehicle.
- All bases are covered, and new films are released regularly to answer all of your RV maintenance and repair issues, such as in-depth guides to understanding your RV plumbing and water systems, which are available on our YouTube channel.
- Furthermore, unlike some lower-quality RV water heater repair films, you will not be subjected to irritating advertising or efforts at comedy when all you really want is a hot shower.
Prepare to troubleshoot the hot water system in your recreational vehicle right now!
RV Water Heater Troubleshooting Tips
- Water heaters in recreational vehicles (RVs) function in a similar manner to those found in a house, with the exception that they have a lower capacity.
- It is recommended that you use the same methods you would take when troubleshooting your home’s water heater while troubleshooting an RV water heater.
- Although there are a few more procedures to take when troubleshooting, they are not difficult to remember.
- The Suburban water heater is a 12-gallon appliance that may be used with either propane or electricity to heat the water.
- To begin conducting your RV water heater troubleshooting procedures for this unit, you will need to identify where the control panel is located.
- Look for the DCI lights on the panel to confirm this.
To restart the water heater if the pilot lights are illuminated, you will need to walk outside and press the reset buttons.More extensive RV water heater troubleshooting will be required if this does not resolve the problem.Remove the heat element cover from the bottom of the water pump to get a closer look at the water pump.To begin, you must ensure that there is 12 volt battery power available and that the LP is turned on and giving power to the machine.By just turning on the cooktop within the device, you may determine whether or not the LP system is working.
When the item is first turned on, you will hear a clicking noise.A clog or obstruction in the system may be the cause of the clicking but no flame when the device is turned on.When troubleshooting an RV water heater, be certain that the area around the water heater has been well cleaned and is clear of dirt.The flame is the last thing to take a close look at.
- You’ll want a good blue flame that’s lighter in the middle and doesn’t move about as you’re burning.
- In the event that you are not obtaining a spark, it is possible that you have a faulty electrode or other board difficulties.
- Following these troubleshooting procedures and doing some simple maintenance can assist you in getting your water heater back up and running.
5 Common RV Water Heater Problems and how to solve them
- The most recent update was made on November 23, 2020.
- When traveling in an RV, it is inevitable that difficulties may develop in one form or another.
- RV water heaters are one of the most often encountered issues.
- This article will discuss some of the most typical problems that RV water heaters encounter, as well as some troubleshooting techniques.
- The following are a few of the most often reported RV water heater issues for various types of travel trailers and recreational vehicles.
Common Problem 1: Water Will Not Heat Up
- There might be a variety of factors contributing to the water not heating up in the RV.
- Sometimes all it takes is a simple change of a valve on the water heater itself to solve the problem.
- This type of valve is referred to as a bypass valve.
- This valve controls whether or not the water flowing into the water heater will enter the water heater itself and begin to heat.
- This is how it is configured for a procedure known as weatherization.
- During the warmer months, a bypass valve will keep other liquids such as antifreeze from leaking into the water heater and inflicting unneeded harm to the system.
It is recommended that the valve be in the open position during the winter or when heating is required, and closed when not in use (i.e.when the RV is in storage, or it is determined that hot water wont be necessary for a particular trip.) If this is the case, you now know to close the valve and to keep this in mind the next time.Another issue to consider is whether or not you have a tankless RV water heater, as opposed to one that has a storage tank.Whether it is fueled by electricity or by natural gas.Those who have a tank-style water heater that is fueled by gas should pay close attention to the pilot area, where they can see the flame that is started and generating heat for the water heater.
In the flame, it should be blue in color with yellowish points on the ends.If the flame is yellow, it is possible that there is debris trapped inside the tube, which you would need to remove before continuing.A tankless water heater that is fueled by gas should be inspected to determine if there are any broken parts within the water heater’s casing before using it.Check your owner’s handbook for instructions on how to cleanse the gas and water pipes to remove any debris that may have accumulated.
- Look for any corroded or broken operating parts that need to be replaced.
Checking the Thermostat
- It is necessary to utilize thermostats in order to regulate a certain temperature that may be set for the simultaneous heating and cooling of the water that travels through the RV’s water heater.
- Because thermostats are one of the most common causes of insufficient water heating or no hot water at all, it is suggested that you do this initial check first.
- If the thermostat is not working properly, the control circuit board will not be able to complete the process of turning on the heat for the heater as intended.
- By wriggling the wires between the thermostat sensors and the control circuit board, you can determine whether or not the thermostat is problematic.
- If the light on the control circuit board blinks on and off, you know you have a malfunctioning thermostat.
- When inspecting the cables, look for Emergency Cut Off or E.C.O connections, which are also known as E.C.O connectors.
Check the connectors for loose terminals or filthy terminals, as well as to make sure they are not damaged or malfunctioning.If the terminals that link to the sensors are loose, you may need to compress them with a tool to ensure that they are a tight fit.If the E.C.O terminals at the ends of the wires appear to be worn or troublesome, it may be necessary to replace them, too.Using an electrical cleaner, you may clean the terminals if they are clogged or unclean.Immediately following the inspection of the emergency cut off connections, inspect the thermal cut off fuse.
Utilize a tool to ensure that the fuse is connected properly.The fuse does not need to be replaced as long as the meter records the presence of a fuse.Attention should be directed towards the thermostat sensors.Purchase some sensors from either the dealer who sold you the RV or a second-hand repair business that specializes in RVs.
- It is essential that you be aware of the make and model of your RV, as well as the make and model of your water heater, in order to ensure that you have the correct parts.
- Since you are already in the process of fixing your thermostat, it isn’t a terrible idea to replace the sensors at this point.
- That way, if another problem emerges, you will know that it is most likely not related to the thermostat or any sensors associated with it.
- Once you’ve obtained the necessary components, you may begin replacing the old sensors with the new ones.
- Consult your owner’s handbook or conduct some research on the internet to find out exactly how to accomplish this.
- After you’ve double-checked everything, switch on the hot water in the RV and make sure the thermostat is operational.
- Also keep in mind that there are a variety of various RV water heater types and variants available.
- As a result, the specific tests, troubleshooting, and replacements will vary from one to the next.
- Make sure to specify the strategy that will be used to solve the problem so that you can carry out your plan of action without difficulty (Note: adjust maintenance checks for electric powered and gas powered water heaters)
Common Problem 2: Water Has A Pungent Odor
- When the water in your RV starts to smell nasty, it might be because an anode within the heater has rusted and has to be replaced.
- This is something you should look into.
- The anode gathers bacteria that has made its way into the water heating system and has the potential to accumulate over time.
- All of the bacteria that has accumulated is a sort of sulfide, which is what is responsible for the awful odor.
- To counteract this, remove the anode and examine it to see whether it can be cleaned or whether it has to be replaced entirely.
- Follow up by flushing the water heater and the tubing with water that has previously been placed in it to remove any calcium and other buildup that has become loose that may have happened.
There are a variety of methods that are effective in removing the buildup that has accumulated inside the water heater system.The first is hydrogen peroxide, and the second is vinegar.Pour these liquids into your water heater system, or if you have discovered another liquid solution to utilize, pour those into your water heater system and allow them to sit for a time so that the liquids may begin to eat away at and loosen up the calcified regions in your system.Remove any remaining liquids and loose debris from the water heater system and flush it with clean distilled water or water that is readily available once it has been cleaned.Continue to do so until you are satisfied that there is no more loose debris or buildup inside the system, then stop.
Replacing any items that have been removed will leave you clean and ready to go!
Common Problem 3: Soot Build Up
- Soot accumulation is a concern regardless of whether it is a common one or a rare one.
- You could argue that soot buildup is not a serious issue and that it is typical for soot to accumulate while a gas-powered heater is in use.
- We disagree.
- However, this is not totally correct.
- Smog buildup might indicate that there are loose or misaligned parts in your RV’s water heater, which could indicate a problem with the water heater.
- Things like loose wiring or broken insulation on those cables are examples of what I’m talking about.
It is possible that failing to pay attention to these specific occasions can result in an unintended fire.If the functioning elements of the water heater are misaligned and the problem is not addressed immediately, a subsequent failure of the water heater system is almost certain to occur.Soot buildup on the main burner can be caused by blockages in the burner.In this situation, it is possible that the primary burner is not properly oriented, and soot buildup may be the least of your concerns in the long term.The primary burner is misaligned and not burning what it is meant to be burning.
What is it actually burning is a mystery.To put it another way, consider of soot buildup as a sort of warning or check light, alerting you to the fact that you need to conduct some regular maintenance on your water heater.A clogged U tube, also known as the burner tube, appears in the majority of remedies for issues with a water heater on a consistent basis.It, too, might be a contributing factor to soot buildup in the vicinity of the water heater.
- Soot buildup on the air shutter for the main burner might indicate that the shutter itself is not correctly set, which would indicate that the shutter itself is not properly adjusted.
- While a faulty air shutter may appear to be a minor inconvenience, keep in mind that every component of the RV’s water heater system is working together to fulfill the duty for which it was built and installed.
- As a result, if one element of the system is out of sync, it will produce a ripple effect throughout the entire system.
Common Problem 4: Pilot Not Lighting
- Referring back to problem number one, it is possible that this is the apparent cause of your water not heating up.
- Here are a few conditions to keep an eye out for if you want to go more into this issue.
- If you have an obstruction in the U tube (burner tube), there is an aperture in the tube that will allow you to insert a tiny wire brush and clear away any impediment that may be in the way.
- Alternatively, if you have some compressed air and a nozzle, you may spray pressurized air into the tube to clean it out.
- The thermocouple is weak; it might be rusted, or it could simply need to be replaced.
- Uneven air pressure adjustment These are a some of the items that might be interfering with the operation of your pilot.
Common Problem 5: Erratic Main Burner Flame
This is referred to as an intermittent flame, or simply the fact that the flame comes on and off periodically.While there might be a variety of factors contributing to this, the most typical is a blockage of some form.Whatever the source, whether it is in the burner tube or in the main burner itself.You should also be aware of the location of the gas supply pipe.
- This item may have been twisted and should be replaced as soon as possible before future usage.
- Clear away any obstructions, just like you did with the prior solutions.
- Make use of the tools essential to complete the task, and remember that if you are unsure of what to do, switch off the system and get assistance from a technician.
- Maintaining equipment on a regular basis will very certainly prevent the most, if not all, of these issues.
- It is impossible for maintenance to take place if the property owner does not put in place a plan.
- It is totally your responsibility to ensure that your magnificent RV or Travel Trailer is kept in good condition.
Doing the maintenance
Take into consideration the fact that these are concise descriptions of difficulties and answers to frequent situations.Maintaining your vehicle properly and thoroughly should be done two weeks before departure, one week and a day before departure, and the day before departure before departing for your vacation.This gives you enough time to gather pieces and address any issues that may have arisen without your knowledge or consent.Because of the excitement, it’s easy to forget, but performing an RV water heater maintenance check ahead of time will save you a lot of difficulty and, even more importantly, money!
- Always remember to bring the owner’s handbook for your RV as well as any mechanical functioning components with you on your vacation.
- If you are not confident in your ability to do these inspections, schedule time before your travel to have your RV inspected by a licensed technician in the trade.
- They will go over the system checks with you and make sure that the car or trailer is ready for the journey ahead of you.
- In addition, request that the technician demonstrate some frequent difficulties that may arise when driving the RV or trailer, and request that he or she demonstrate how to counter these problems with appropriate remedies.
- A mechanic would be more than pleased to offer you with the information and graphics that you requested.
- You will feel lot more at ease knowing that you can provide a nice environment for you, your family, and friends while on your trip.
Here’s one more bit of guidance.When you or a professional performs a pre-trip maintenance check, you may be able to purchase spare parts to have on hand in case it becomes essential to replace certain components during the voyage.Once again, it will save you time and money by eliminating towing costs and storage expenses for your RV while it is being kept in a yard someplace.Following this advice will almost certainly result in a seamless transition from home to vacation destination and back home again, while remaining safe, comfortable, and sound on the journey.
How To Change Water Heater Element In Rv
How To Replace The Element In A Water Heater In A RV.When it comes to the position of the switch that switches on the electric heating element of an RV water heater, there are several options.Changing the heating element in your water heater is the finest thing you can do to improve the performance of the unit.As it turns out, it will be located behind the gas line assembly, which will need to be loosened and pushed out of the way in order to obtain access to the existing element, which will then be removed or replaced.
- Remove the nut that is keeping the burner assembly in position.
- Unplug the two wires that are connected to the element.
Remove The Door Of The Water Heater By Removing A Couple Of Screws At The Hinge, Then Slide The Door Off.
Some RV water heaters are powered by electricity (not all). Fortunately, once again, this is a cheap and simple remedy, as the most of them are just screwed in. There hasn’t been any leakage from the hoses, has there?
Rv Water Heater Troubleshooting Simple Maintenance Will Save You How To Select And Replace Water Heater Element Replacement Electrical Heating Element For Atwood Gas Electric Rv Replacing The Water Heater Element In An Rv By How To Bob You Replacing Water Heater Element On Atwood Gas And Electric Rv How To Fix Noisy Rv Water Heater Replace Electric.
I recently replaced the heating element in my recreational vehicle’s water heater. Atwood rv water heater heating element location; Disconnect the propane line coming in on the left side of the water heater;
Replacement Heating Element For A Suburban Sw6De Water Heater;
Suburban water heaters are equipped with a switch that is positioned on the water heater itself, to the left of the drain plug/anode rod assembly.I was hoping anything in the vicinity of 500w might suffice.Being able to complete this task on your own will save you both time and money, as well as provide you with a sense of accomplishment in knowing that you have completed something vital for your RV on your own.
Ask The Experts A Question >>.
In an RV, replacing the water heater element is a simple task. Make sure you have a bucket handy in case the following step involves draining the water heater. Using a, remove the lid to gain access to the electric water heater element.
The Best Thing To Do For The Performance Of Your Water Heater Is To Replace The Heating Element.
3 ) Unplug the wires from the heating element and place an ohm meter across the two screws (with the setting between 20 and 100 ohms).As it turns out, it will be located behind the gas line assembly, which will need to be loosened and pushed out of the way in order to obtain access to the existing element, which will then be removed or replaced.If your water heater is not producing enough hot water, or if it is taking an excessive amount of time to heat water, it is possible that it has been dry fired.
RV Shower Getting Cold? RV Water Heater Troubleshooting Tips
If your RV’s water heater fails unexpectedly, you might be in for a nasty surprise on your hands.There’s nothing more frustrating than getting into the shower and realizing that there is no hot water!There are a few frequent causes of water heater problems to be aware of.Every one of them will be discussed in detail, so you can become a specialist at RV water heater troubleshooting in no time!
Is Your RV Water Heater Not Heating Water?
Of course, when it comes to RV water heater troubleshooting, the most typical problem you’ll run across is cold water that isn’t being heated properly.There might be a number of factors contributing to your water not heating up.If your propane supply valve is not turned on, one possibility is that it is.Another possibility is that a fuse in the electrical system blew.
- If you accidentally shut off your propane and forgot to switch it back on (for example, after de-winterizing your RV for the season), the solution is straightforward – simply turn on the propane again!
- Additionally, if you blow a fuse, replace it immediately and you should have hot water in no time at all.
- If you bypassed your water heater during winterizing your RV and then failed to turn the supply valve back to the ″normal″ or ″open″ position, this might be another reason why your water is not heating.
- Unless you remember to re-open the valve throughout the de-winterization procedure, your water will be extremely hot…
- However, none of it will make it out of the tank of the water heater!
RV Water Heater Troubleshooting Tips
After discovering that your RV’s water isn’t heating up, you may take the following sensible actions to remedy the situation (we’ll start with the most basic solutions and work our way up from there):
Refer to Your Water Heater Manual
You knew we were going to tell you this, didn’t you? “Refer to your owner’s manual” is ALWAYS step1 for any troubleshooting problem, so we had to include it here. If you don’t have the manual for your specific water heater, you should be able to find it online. It will have troubleshooting tips specific to your make and model of RV water heater. Pro Tip: we highly recommend downloading electronic/PDF copies of all the manuals for your RV’s equipment and appliances… because you may have trouble when you’re remote enough that you don’t have internet access. Trust us. You’ll thank us later.? Not all water heaters are the same, and what works for one may not work for another. That’s why having your water heater manual handy is so helpful. You’ll see where each part is located, and that will make the process of checking and possibly replacing parts much more straightforward. Go ahead and find yours… we’ll wait.
Check Bypass Valves
If you’ve recently filled your fresh water tank, sterilized your water lines, or winterized your RV for the season, it’s possible that you’ve shut off the bypass valves for your hot water heater.Whenever you’re troubleshooting your RV water heater, we recommend that you always start by checking the bypass valve.Although it’s easy to overlook the bypass valves, it’s also one of the most basic solutions.Imagine having spent hours on RV water heater troubleshooting only to learn that the bypass valves have been shut off!?!?!?
Check Your Outdoor Shower
Yup!Yes, you read that correctly.Showering in the fresh air.The shower handle/wand should include the shutdown valve that can be rotated to turn off the water flow, which is especially important.
- If it does not continue to drip from the wand, you may not know that the valves on the faucet are still turned on.
- When they are open but the shut-off on the handle or the wand is closed, the hot water might mingle with the cold water.
- And even if you merely switch on the hot valve at the faucet that you’re now using, the water will only ever be tepid throughout the rest of your RV.
- Once again, the water heater is operational, but it is mixing with cold water at the outside faucet, making it impossible to supply hot water to the remainder of the RV’s plumbing.
- Our experience with this occurred early in our RVing career, and it sent us scurrying about the RV, attempting to fix anything else we could think of that may be causing the problem.
- So put your faith in us.
If you’re having trouble getting hot water to flow from any of the faucets in your RV, take a short stroll outside and double-check that both the hot and cold knobs on your outside faucet are completely depressed.
Check Your Propane Levels
If you’re struggling with a shortage of hot water, it’s easy to forget to check your propane levels, which is another simple task to overlook.It’s impossible to have hot water if your propane tank is empty (or even extremely low), which is the case if you’re trying to heat with propane.If your propane tank is running low, simply refill it with more propane and you should be able to heat water once more.Alternatively, if your propane tank does not have a gauge, there are two straightforward methods for determining if you have propane in your tank:
- Try turning on your cooktop burner and allowing it to run for a brief period of time. In this case, if the burner remains lit (and the flame seems to be as large as it typically is), you may be confident that there is still propane in the tank (and that the propane tank valve is open). Just make sure you don’t keep it running for too long. or that you don’t walk away without shutting it off.
- Watch this video to learn how to check the level of your propane tank.
- Without a Gauge, it’s impossible! It’s simple
If you’ve confirmed that your gas tank contains enough of propane but your water heater STILL won’t turn on, there’s another option to consider.In this case, it is possible that the OPD (Overfill Protection Device) inside the tank recognized a rapid, high-flow discharge of propane.When this occurs, the flow is interrupted, and no propane is emitted, despite the fact that the tank’s valve remains open.The possibility of this occurring arises if a propane-powered equipment was left on when the tank was cut off, or if it has been long enough since you last used propane that all of the lines have become de-pressurized, as described above.
- In the event that you reopen the valve, the sudden influx of propane into the system may cause the safety mechanism to be activated.
- Fortunately, the solution to this problem is really straightforward.
- As soon as the gas tank valve is closed, be sure that any propane-powered appliances are switched off as well.
- Open the propane tank’s valve once more after that!
- Isn’t it simple?
Check The Anode Rod (If Your RV Water Heater Has One)
OK.It follows that this has nothing to do with whether or not you are receiving hot water from your water heater.But, while you’re busy double-checking everything, why not try performing some preventative maintenance as well?An anode rod is not always present in RV water heaters.
- Water heaters with a steel tank (such as the Suburban brand) are more likely to have them since the anode rod helps to prevent corrosion of the tank’s metal surfaces.
- Although it is possible that a former owner installed a water heater with an aluminum tank (such as the Atwood brand), this is not always the case (for several reasons).
- The anode rod is effectively giving up its life to keep corrosion from forming in your water heater.
- It is constructed of metals that will corrode before steel, so extending the life of your tank.
- The anode rod should be inspected at least once a year, if not more frequently.
- They are likely to live longer than that (depending on how frequently you use your RV and whether or not you remember to drain the water heater tank before storing your RV for the winter), but checking them once a year is a good practice to get into.
Additionally, while troubleshooting an RV water heater, you may find it essential to inspect the anode rod as part of the procedure.It is necessary to replace an anode rod once it has lost around 80% of its original bulk.The process of replacing the anode rod is straightforward and reasonably priced.To learn more about checking and replacing an anode rod, please see our video.
If Electric, Check The Heating Element
- If you have an electric water heater, you should also check the heating element to make sure it is working properly. These elements have the potential to corrode and deteriorate over time. Furthermore, if you make the mistake of turning on your water heater while there is no water in it, the heating element may even melt. It is possible that you may need to replace the heating element in order to resolve your water heater problems. This will mostly certainly be accessible from outside your RV. As well as standard tools, you will require certain specialized equipment, such as a heating element wrench. There are several options available at most hardware stores and on Amazon, and they are reasonably priced: The RV Water Heater Element Wrench 6″, Hex Socket Wrench Removal Tool, and Tube Spanner are all useful tools. 1-1/16″ x 1-1/2″ x 6″ Overall Dimensions Products are available in two sizes: one end is 1-1/2″ hex compatible with all Anode Rod 3/4″ NPT and the other end is 1-1/16″ hex compatible with all Anode Rod 3/4″ NPT
- Fits brands such as Camco, GE, Rheem, Rudd, Richmond, Montgomery Ward, Sears/Kenmore, State, Norge, Westinghouse, Reliance, Noland, and Bradford
Other Common RV Water Heater Issues:
A problem with the thermostat, on the other hand, is something that may be more difficult to detect.The temperature of the water is controlled by the thermostat on your water heater.Many of the earlier problems were readily apparent.However, from the outside, a malfunctioning thermostat may not appear to be any different.
- The best approach to detect whether or not your thermostat needs to be replaced is to examine it using a multimeter.
- Unless your thermostat passes the test, it is necessary to have it replaced.
- Make careful to turn off all of the electricity before beginning this project!
- Afterwards, take off the wiring clamps and pull out the old thermostat switch, which you will then replace with a new one.
- Finally, reconnect everything and test for electrical power again.
- Click here to watch the step-by-step video instruction we made while replacing the thermostat on our water heater!
RV Water Heater Check Valve Malfunction
Low water pressure is a common problem with RV water heaters, which we cover in our last troubleshooting advice.If your hot water is only coming out in a trickle, it’s possible that the check valve is to blame.Water backflow is prevented by the check valve, which ensures that cold water does not return to the water heater.If it fails, you’ll usually be able to tell because the water pressure while running the hot water will be minimal or non-existent.
- You may need to get your check valve replaced if this is the case for you.
- The check valve must be unscrewed from the inside of your recreational vehicle.
- Then you may remove it and replace it with a new check valve if necessary.
- Make certain that the tank of your water heater has been drained prior to doing this!
- If you don’t, you can find yourself with a flooded RV.
- There are a plethora of excellent sites on YouTube that provide instructions for your specific water heater brand.
Still No Hot Water? Hire a Mobile RV Tech or Head to a Service Center
Unfortunately, certain RV water heater problems necessitate the use of a professional’s services.Other issues can arise while working with propane and electricity, in addition to the ones listed above.Even if you’ve tried all of the suggestions above and your water heater is still not working, it may be necessary to bring in the professionals.Having a mobile technician come out to your location or having to bring your RV in for servicing is never a pleasant experience.
- These specialists, on the other hand, are well-versed in dealing with a wide range of challenges.
- Having performed your RV water heater troubleshooting and still not having hot water, a skilled expert should be able to resolve the issue in no time, especially because you’ve already eliminated a number of potential causes.
- You may need to replace your water heater if the worst case situation occurs.
- However, this is usually only necessary when the tank has rusted out and the heater is leaking water from the bottom.
The majority of the time, having an RV allows you to have a nice camping experience.However, much like a house or a vehicle, an RV will require routine and (sometimes) unexpected maintenance.Maintaining your equipment ensures that everything continues to operate smoothly.If you find yourself in a pool of chilly water while traveling in your RV, don’t worry.
- Try out these RV water heater troubleshooting ideas to see if they work for you.
- And, if in doubt, consult with a professional.
- Are you looking for further information?
- To learn more about some really useful RV water heater ideas, read this text in its fullest form.
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