RV Info

How to Maintain Your RV Water Heater

By Chelsea Gonzales

Avoid Turning On When Empty

You can tell if the tank is full by running the hot side of a faucet. If the water comes out without spitting, the tank is full. If it’s spitting, it's not.

Avoid Turning On When Empty

Put a piece of painter’s tape over the water heater switch any time you empty the tank, so you don’t accidentally turn it on.

Drain Water When Not in Use

Water that sits for more than two weeks or so can become stale, stinky, and unfit for consumption—not qualities you want the water in your RV plumbing system to have. 

Install Water Heater Bypass Valve For Winterization

Your RV water heater does require some preparation for the winter season. To make these preparations, you will need a water heater bypass valve.

Install Water Heater Bypass Valve For Winterization

While some RVs already come equipped with such a valve, others do not. 

Empty and Clean Before Winter

Turn off the heater, let the water cool, empty the tank by removing the plug, wash the heater using a water heater cleaner, and rinse the tank out. 

Clean Tank Before the First Spring Trip

The aforementioned RV water heater rinser product can be used again, and everything can be rinsed out with the pressure from the water hose. 

Clean Burner Tube in the Spring

If your RV hot water heater has a gas mode (and most do), you’ll need to clean the burner tube. This is the tube that carries propane to the burner. 

Replace Anode Rod as Needed

Anode rods must be replaced when they are 60-75% consumed. Check the rod at least once a year. 

"Water Heater Anodes" (CC BY-NC-SA 2.0) by Kevin Standlee

Inspect Before Each Trip

Last but not least, you will want to visually inspect your water heater during your walkaround before every trip.

Get an in-depth look with the extended article version on Camper Smarts.