RVs are wonderful. They offer an escape for the weekend, a place to retreat when nothing seems to be going right, and they’re vessels we use to explore the world around us. Any machine that provides such a high return on investment often requires regular maintenance, and your RVs water heater is no exception. Below are a few tips from us on how to keep the water heater in your RV running at its fullest!
Water Heater Maintenance for Your RV
It’s important to know that RV water heaters function similarly to those in stationary homes. To put it simply, a heating component heats the water that’s pumped into the tank. Once you turn on a hot water faucet, hot water travels from the tank and out of the faucet you turned on. As hot water exits the heater, more cold water is pumped in.
RV water heater basics
As far as general maintenance, most heaters require it to prevent any kind of deterioration due to build-up. Remember to turn off the heater and let it cool down before you begin. A good idea is to flip the breaker switch. If you’re removing the drain plug, anode rod, or attempting this, it’s especially important that the heater is off and cooled down. Most water heaters also have a pressure-release valve that needs to be opened. Of course, if none of this feels comfortable to you, take it to your local trusted RV dealer!
How often should I flush my water heater?
Flushing your water heater is an important step to prevent the buildup of minerals like calcium. If you’re traveling in your rig pretty regularly, we recommend flushing it out at least twice a year, maybe more. If you store your RV for the winter, you can knock this step out when you winterize your RV.
To start the process, take out the drain plug or anode rod to drain all the water out. It’s critical to not start this step until the tank is cool. Then, you’ll use a water heater rinser or city water to flush any dirt or debris out of the tank. Reinstall your anode rod or drain plug once the water and debris have been drained.
Electric heater element
Before tackling this step, read your manual and ensure you aren’t voiding the warranty by tinkering with it. Checking the heater element is a bit more difficult than simply removing the anode rod because you need to remove the LP gas burner and wiring to reach it. You can watch an online tutorial if you’re able to find one for your specific model. Most RVers attempt this step about twice a year.
Check the vents
This is a minor step that can be done more frequently – maybe weekly or monthly, depending on how often your RV is used. Check around the water heater for venting. And wipe it down while checking for any loose debris or build-up.
Clean out the burner tube
If your water heater uses propane, it will have a burner tube or a flue tube. This is where the propane enters the heater and creates heat. It’s a good idea to grab a can of compressed air to clean out the tube if your rig has been in storage for a while. Dust, cobwebs, and other bugs might be lurking inside! Any amount of dirt can cause a fire and blow your thermal cut-off. If this happens, you’ll more than likely need a new water heater. Take a few minutes to clean the tube unless you want a cold shower!
We hope this helps you along your journey to a maintained water heater. It’s a component many RVers overlook or forget, but it’s just as critical of a step as anything else in your rig! It’s difficult to live without one while out traveling, so it’s important to ensure it gets cleaned and checked regularly. If you have any RV-related questions, don’t hesitate to reach out to us or your local dealer who you trust. Keep coming back for more RV tips and tricks. Happy RVing!