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RV Hot Water Heater Dripping from Relief Valve

Are you experiencing the frustration of a dripping hot water heater in your RV?

The constant drip can be not only annoying but also wasteful.

In this comprehensive guide, we will explore the common issue of an RV hot water heater dripping from the relief valve.

We’ll provide you with insights, troubleshooting steps, and expert advice to help you resolve this problem and get back to enjoying your RV adventures without any leaks.

So, let’s dive in and uncover the solutions to this pesky issue.

RV Hot Water Heater Dripping from Relief Valve: What You Need to Know

Before we delve into the troubleshooting steps, let’s first understand the mechanics of an RV hot water heater and why it may start dripping from the relief valve.

An RV hot water heater typically consists of a tank, a heating element, a pressure relief valve, and various plumbing connections.

The relief valve is a safety device designed to release excessive pressure from the tank.

Common Causes of Dripping from the Relief Valve

High Water Pressure

One of the primary reasons for a dripping relief valve is high water pressure.

When the water pressure exceeds the recommended levels, the relief valve opens to release the excess pressure.

If this occurs frequently, it can lead to a persistent drip.

Temperature and Pressure Relief Valve (TPR Valve) Malfunction

The TPR valve plays a crucial role in preventing the hot water heater from exploding due to excessive pressure or temperature.

If the TPR valve is faulty or damaged, it may not function properly, resulting in a constant drip.

Sediment Buildup

Over time, sediment and minerals can accumulate inside the hot water heater tank.

This buildup can interfere with the proper functioning of the relief valve, causing it to leak.

Thermal Expansion

When the water inside the hot water heater heats up, it expands.

This expansion can create excess pressure, which triggers the relief valve to open and release the pressure.

If the expansion occurs frequently, it can lead to a drip from the relief valve.

Faulty Plumbing Connections

Loose or faulty plumbing connections around the relief valve can also contribute to leaks.

Check for any signs of loose fittings or damaged pipes that may be causing the issue.

Troubleshooting Steps to Fix the Dripping Hot Water Heater

Now that we have identified some common causes, let’s explore the troubleshooting steps to fix the dripping hot water heater in your RV.

Remember to turn off the power and water supply to the heater before performing any maintenance or repairs.

Safety should always be the top priority.

Step 1: Check Water Pressure

Start by checking the water pressure in your RV.

You can use a water pressure gauge to measure the pressure.

The ideal range for an RV hot water system is typically between 40 to 50 PSI (pounds per square inch).

If the pressure exceeds this range, you may need to install a pressure regulator to bring it down to the recommended level.

Step 2: Test the Temperature and Pressure Relief Valve

To determine if the relief valve is the culprit, perform a simple test.

Place a bucket under the valve and carefully lift the lever to manually open the valve.

If water flows freely and stops when you release the lever, the valve is functioning correctly.

However, if water continues to drip after releasing the lever, it indicates a faulty relief valve that needs replacement.

Step 3: Flush the Hot Water Heater

Sediment buildup can affect the performance of the relief valve.

Flushing the hot water heater can help remove any accumulated sediment.

Follow these steps to flush the system:

  1. Turn off the power and water supply to the hot water heater.
  2. Attach a hose to the drain valve located at the bottom of the tank.
  3. Place the other end of the hose in a suitable drainage area or container.
  4. Open the drain valve and allow the water to flow out, carrying away any sediment.
  5. Close the drain valve and remove the hose once the water runs clear.
  6. Turn on the water supply and let the tank fill completely before restoring power.

Step 4: Install an Expansion Tank

If thermal expansion is causing the relief valve to drip, installing an expansion tank can alleviate the pressure.

An expansion tank acts as a reservoir for the expanded water, preventing it from triggering the relief valve.

Consult a professional or refer to the manufacturer’s instructions for proper installation.

Step 5: Inspect and Tighten Plumbing Connections

Carefully examine the plumbing connections around the relief valve and tighten any loose fittings.

If you notice any damaged or worn-out pipes, replace them promptly.

Ensuring a secure and leak-free connection is essential to prevent dripping from the relief valve.

Step 6: Seek Professional Assistance

If you have followed the troubleshooting steps and the dripping issue persists, it’s recommended to consult a professional RV technician.

They have the expertise and specialized tools to diagnose and repair complex hot water heater problems.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Here are some frequently asked questions about RV hot water heaters dripping from the relief valve:

Why is my RV hot water heater relief valve leaking?

The relief valve may be leaking due to high water pressure, a malfunctioning TPR valve, sediment buildup, thermal expansion, or faulty plumbing connections.

Can I ignore a dripping relief valve?

It is not advisable to ignore a dripping relief valve. Persistent dripping can lead to water wastage, increased energy consumption, and potential damage to the hot water heater.

How can I measure the water pressure in my RV?

To measure water pressure, use a water pressure gauge. Attach it to an external water source, such as a spigot or faucet, and check the reading on the gauge.

Should I attempt to repair the relief valve myself?

Basic troubleshooting steps, such as flushing the system and checking plumbing connections, can be performed by RV owners. However, for more complex issues or valve replacements, it is recommended to seek professional assistance.

Is it possible to prevent sediment buildup in the hot water heater?

Regularly flushing the hot water heater and using a water softener can help minimize sediment buildup. Additionally, installing a sediment filter on the incoming water line can provide additional protection.

How often should I replace the relief valve?

It is advisable to replace the relief valve every three to five years, even if it is not leaking. Regular maintenance ensures the safety and proper functioning of your RV hot water heater.


Dealing with a dripping hot water heater in your RV can be frustrating, but with the troubleshooting steps and expert advice provided in this comprehensive guide, you are well-equipped to resolve the issue.

Remember to follow the safety precautions and consult a professional if needed.

By taking prompt action, you can eliminate the drip and enjoy a leak-free hot water system in your RV, ensuring a comfortable and enjoyable journey on the road.