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RV Hot Water Heater Not Heating

As an RV enthusiast, there’s nothing more frustrating than not having hot water during your adventures on the road.

Whether you’re planning a weekend getaway or a long-distance journey, a functioning hot water heater is essential for your comfort and convenience.

In this article, we’ll dive into the common causes of an RV hot water heater not heating, provide step-by-step troubleshooting methods, and offer expert solutions to get your hot water flowing again.

So, let’s roll up our sleeves and explore the possible issues you might encounter with your RV hot water heater.

RV Hot Water Heater Not Heating: Common Problems and Troubleshooting

1. Gas Supply Issues

If your RV hot water heater is not heating, the first thing to check is the gas supply.

Insufficient or interrupted gas flow can prevent the water heater from heating properly.

Here’s what you can do:

  1. Check the gas valves: Ensure that the gas valves, both at the propane tank and the water heater, are fully open. Sometimes, valves can accidentally get closed during maintenance or while traveling.
  2. Inspect the gas lines: Look for any visible signs of damage or leaks in the gas lines. Use a soapy water solution to check for bubbles, which indicate a leak. If you detect a leak, it’s crucial to address it promptly for safety reasons.
  3. Verify propane level: Check the propane level in your tank. An empty or low propane tank can cause the water heater to malfunction. Refill or replace the tank as needed.

2. Electrical Connection Problems

Another common culprit behind an RV hot water heater not heating is electrical connection issues.

If your RV has an electric hot water heater option, follow these troubleshooting steps:

  1. Check the power source: Ensure that your RV is properly connected to a reliable power source. If you’re using a generator, make sure it’s functioning correctly. A weak or unstable power supply can prevent the electric heater from working efficiently.
  2. Inspect the electrical connections: Inspect the wiring connections on the back of the water heater. Look for loose, corroded, or damaged wires. Tighten any loose connections and replace damaged wires as necessary.
  3. Reset the circuit breaker: If the water heater is connected to a circuit breaker, check if it has tripped. Reset the breaker by switching it off and then back on. If the breaker continues to trip, it indicates an underlying electrical issue that requires professional attention.

3. Faulty Heating Element or Igniter

A faulty heating element or igniter can also be the cause of your RV hot water heater not heating.

These components can wear out over time and require replacement.

Here’s what you can do:

  1. Inspect the heating element: Locate the heating element, usually located inside the water heater tank. Check for any visible signs of damage or corrosion. A damaged heating element will need to be replaced with a compatible one.
  2. Test the igniter: If your water heater has an igniter, test it for proper functionality. Consult the manufacturer’s manual for specific instructions on testing and replacing the igniter if needed.

4. Sediment Build-up

Sediment build-up is a common problem in RV hot water heaters that can lead to inadequate heating or even complete failure.

Over time, minerals and debris can accumulate at the bottom of the tank, insulating the heating element and reducing its efficiency.

Here’s what you can do to address sediment build-up:

  1. Flush the water heater tank: Follow the manufacturer’s instructions to flush out the sediment from your RV hot water heater tank. This process typically involves connecting a hose to the tank’s drain valve and letting water flow through until it runs clear.
  2. Regular maintenance: To prevent future sediment build-up, consider performing regular maintenance on your water heater. Flushing the tank annually or as recommended by the manufacturer can help keep the heating element clean and improve its performance.

5. Thermostat Issues

Malfunctioning thermostats can also result in an RV hot water heater not heating properly.

The thermostat regulates the water temperature and ensures the heater operates within the desired range.

Here’s what you can do to troubleshoot thermostat issues:

  1. Check the thermostat settings: Verify that the thermostat is set to the desired temperature. Sometimes, accidental adjustments can cause the water heater to appear non-functional.
  2. Test the thermostat: Use a multimeter to test the thermostat for continuity. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions and compare the readings with the recommended values. If the thermostat is faulty, replace it with a compatible replacement.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Why is my RV hot water heater not heating even when the gas supply is fine?

If the gas supply is not the issue, it could be a faulty heating element, thermostat, or sediment build-up.

Check these components and follow the troubleshooting steps mentioned earlier.

How often should I flush my RV hot water heater to prevent sediment build-up?

It’s recommended to flush your RV hot water heater annually or as per the manufacturer’s guidelines.

Regular maintenance helps prevent sediment accumulation and ensures optimal performance.

Can I replace the heating element in my RV hot water heater myself?

Yes, you can replace the heating element yourself if you’re comfortable with DIY repairs.

Refer to the manufacturer’s instructions or consult a professional for guidance on the specific replacement procedure for your water heater model.

What should I do if I’m unable to troubleshoot or fix the issue with my RV hot water heater?

If you’re unable to resolve the problem through troubleshooting or if you’re unsure about performing the repairs yourself, it’s best to seek professional assistance from a certified RV technician.

Are there any safety precautions I should take when working on my RV hot water heater?

When troubleshooting or repairing your RV hot water heater, always ensure the gas supply is turned off, and the power source is disconnected.

Additionally, exercise caution when working with hot water and be aware of potential electrical hazards.

Why is regular maintenance important for my RV hot water heater?

Regular maintenance helps prolong the lifespan of your RV hot water heater, prevents issues such as sediment build-up, and ensures optimal performance.

It also allows you to identify and address potential problems before they escalate.


A malfunctioning RV hot water heater can put a damper on your outdoor adventures, but with the right troubleshooting steps and solutions, you can quickly get it back in working order.

In this guide, we’ve covered the most common causes of an RV hot water heater not heating and provided you with expert tips to resolve the issue.

Remember to check the gas supply, inspect electrical connections, troubleshoot faulty components, address sediment build-up, and verify thermostat settings.

If you encounter any difficulties or feel unsure about performing the repairs yourself, it’s always best to seek professional help.

Don’t let a cold shower ruin your camping experience.

By following the steps outlined in this guide, you’ll be well-equipped to tackle the challenge of an RV hot water heater not heating and enjoy hot showers wherever your adventures take you!