RV Water Heater Care & Maintenance PT I

It's recommend that RV'ers maintain their water heaters once a year, especially in areas where the water has a high mineral content. Unfortunately, many neglect this basic yet very important part of RV ownership and eventually suffer the consequences in poor operation and high maintenance costs. Fortunately, maintaining your RV's water heater isn't very difficult, but it does take a little forethought and planning.

To Drain the RV Water Heater

  1. Turn off power to the water heater at the switch or the main breaker.
  2. Shut off the gas supply and the water pump.
  3. Open all fixtures, both hot and cold throughout the unit.
  4. Place the bypass valve (if equipped) in the by-pass position.
  5. Remove/open the exterior access door to the water heater.
  6. Remove the anode rod from the tank. Water will drain out tank.

Draining & Storage RV Water Heater

When not using RV water heater for long periods such as storing the RV during the winter months, the water heater should be drained to avoid damage from freezing during the winter and / or deterioration of tank life from mineral content in water supplies.

Water Supply & Odor

Water supplies sometimes contain high levels of sulphur, which causes an unpleasant smell, similar to rotten eggs. While unpleasant, the water is not harmful. Sanitizing the water system, as described earlier and allowing the sanitizing solution to remain for a few days, should eliminate the odor. Remember to thoroughly flush the system after sanitization. Adding a filtration system will help reduce such occurrences.

RV Water Heater Pressure Relief Valve

Weeping or Dripping As in residential water heaters, the water heater equipped in recreational vehicles contain a pressure relief valve that is designed to open if the temperature of the water within reaches 2 0 degrees F or if excessive pressure is built up. When pressure reaches 50 pounds, the relief valve will open and water will drip from the valve. The valve will close automatically once the pressure falls below 50 pounds. This dripping is normal and does not indicate a malfunctioning or defective valve.

Also, as water is heated it expands and with the closed water system in a recreational vehicle, water expansion will cause weeping at the pressure relief valve. One way to minimize this weeping is by maintaining an air pocket at the top of the water heater tank. The air pocket forms naturally by design but will reduce overtime through normal use.

Replenishing the RV Water Heater Air Pocket

  1. Turn off water heater.
  2. Turn off cold water supply.
  3. Open a faucet in the RV to relive pressure.
  4. Allow time for water to cool and Pull out handle of the Pressure Relief Valve and allow water to flow from the valve until it stops.
  5. Release handle on valve... it should snap shut.
  6. Close faucet and turn on cold water supply, as tank fills, the air pocket will be replenished

For more tips about RV maintenance and service, contact Mike at mikeb@rvglass.com

or call (800) 551-9149 ext. 2030