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RV Water Heater Troubleshooting: Tips and Solutions for Common Issues

Whether you’re an avid traveler or a weekend camper, a properly functioning water heater is essential for a comfortable and enjoyable experience on the road.

However, like any other appliance, RV water heaters can encounter problems from time to time.

In this article, we will explore common issues that may arise with your RV water heater and provide you with practical solutions to troubleshoot and resolve these problems.

So let’s dive in and ensure that your hot water supply remains uninterrupted during your adventures!

Understanding Your RV Water Heater

Before diving into troubleshooting, it’s crucial to have a basic understanding of your RV water heater.

RV water heaters are available in two types: gas and electric.

Gas-powered water heaters utilize propane or butane as fuel, while electric water heaters rely on electrical power.

Most RV water heaters have a storage tank where the water is heated and stored until it is ready for use.

It’s important to familiarize yourself with the specific model and features of your RV water heater, as troubleshooting steps may vary.

Common Signs of Water Heater Problems

Identifying potential issues with your RV water heater early on can save you time and frustration.

Look out for these common signs that indicate a problem with your water heater:

  • Insufficient or no hot water
  • Inconsistent water temperature
  • Leaking around the water heater unit
  • Pilot light repeatedly going out
  • Gas smell near the water heater
  • Unusual noises coming from the water heater

If you notice any of these signs, it’s time to delve into troubleshooting to address the underlying problem.

RV Water Heater Troubleshooting: Step-by-Step Guide

No Hot Water

If you’re not getting any hot water in your RV, here’s what you can do:

  1. Check if the water heater bypass valve is in the correct position.
  2. Inspect the gas supply (for gas-powered water heaters) or electrical connections (for electric water heaters) to ensure they are properly connected.
  3. Verify that the thermostat settings are adjusted correctly.
  4. If the above steps don’t resolve the issue, it’s recommended to seek professional assistance.

Inadequate Hot Water

If your RV water heater is not producing enough hot water, follow these steps:

  1. Check the water heater’s temperature settings. Adjust them if necessary.
  2. Inspect the anode rod, as a heavily corroded rod can affect heating efficiency.
  3. Examine the water heater tank for sediment build-up, as it can reduce the available hot water capacity.
  4. If the problem persists, consult a technician for further diagnosis and assistance.

Water Temperature Fluctuations

If you experience inconsistent water temperature from your RV water heater, try the following:

  1. Inspect the temperature and pressure relief valve for any signs of leakage or malfunctioning.
  2. Ensure the thermostat is set at a consistent temperature.
  3. Check the water lines and connections for any leaks or blockages that may affect the water temperature.
  4. If the issue persists, consult an expert for further evaluation.

Leaking Water Heater

A leaking water heater requires immediate attention.

Follow these steps:

  1. Turn off the water heater and water supply.
  2. Identify the source of the leak. It could be from the pressure relief valve, drain valve, or a faulty connection.
  3. Tighten any loose connections and replace faulty valves or fittings.
  4. If the leak continues, contact a professional plumber for assistance.

Pilot Light Won’t Stay Lit

For gas-powered water heaters with a pilot light, troubleshoot the pilot light issue with the following steps:

  1. Ensure the gas supply is turned on and sufficient.
  2. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions to relight the pilot light.
  3. Clean the pilot assembly to remove any dirt or debris that may obstruct the flame.
  4. If the pilot light still won’t stay lit, it may indicate a more complex problem. Seek professional help to avoid safety hazards.

Gas Smell

If you detect a gas smell near your RV water heater, take immediate action:

  1. Turn off the gas supply to the water heater.
  2. Open doors and windows to ventilate the area.
  3. Check for gas leaks using a gas leak detector or soapy water.
  4. If a gas leak is detected, do not attempt to fix it yourself. Contact a professional plumber or gas technician.

Electric Ignition Failure

For electric water heaters that rely on ignition systems, follow these steps if the ignition fails:

  1. Check the electrical connections and ensure they are secure.
  2. Reset any tripped circuit breakers or replace blown fuses.
  3. Test the heating element for continuity using a multimeter.
  4. If the issue persists, contact an electrician or RV service technician for further assistance.

Strange Noises

Unusual noises from your RV water heater can indicate an underlying problem.

Here’s what you can do:

  1. Drain the water heater tank and flush out any sediment or debris that may cause noise.
  2. Inspect the heating element or burner for signs of damage or malfunction.
  3. Tighten loose components and fittings.
  4. If the noise persists, it’s advisable to consult an expert for a thorough examination.

Faulty Pressure Relief Valve

If the pressure relief valve on your water heater malfunctions, follow these steps:

  1. Turn off the water heater and water supply.
  2. Replace the pressure relief valve if it is leaking or shows signs of damage.
  3. Test the new valve to ensure proper operation.
  4. If the issue continues, consult a professional technician to assess and resolve the problem.

Sediment Build-up

Sediment build-up can affect the efficiency of your RV water heater.

Try the following steps:

  1. Turn off the water heater and water supply.
  2. Drain the water heater tank to remove sediment accumulation.
  3. Flush the tank by opening the pressure relief valve and allowing water to flow through the tank for a few minutes.
  4. Repeat the process if necessary.
  5. Regularly flushing the tank can help prevent sediment build-up in the future.


How do I reset my RV water heater?

To reset your RV water heater, locate the reset button on the unit. Press and hold the reset button for a few seconds until you hear a click. Release the button and wait for the water heater to reset.

Why is my RV water heater not igniting?

Several factors can prevent the ignition of an RV water heater, such as gas supply issues, a malfunctioning igniter, or a clogged burner or pilot assembly. Check these components and ensure they are clean, properly connected, and functioning correctly.

What should I do if my RV water heater is leaking?

If your RV water heater is leaking, turn off the water heater and water supply immediately. Identify the source of the leak and tighten any loose connections. If the leak persists, it’s recommended to contact a professional plumber for assistance.

How can I prevent sediment build-up in my RV water heater?

Regular maintenance is key to preventing sediment build-up in your RV water heater. Flush the tank periodically to remove accumulated sediment. Additionally, consider using a water softener or filtration system to reduce mineral deposits in the water.

Why is my RV water heater producing lukewarm water?

Several factors can contribute to lukewarm water in an RV water heater, including incorrect temperature settings, a faulty thermostat, or sediment build-up. Check these components and adjust the settings accordingly. If the issue persists, consult a professional for further diagnosis.

What are the safety precautions I should take when troubleshooting my RV water heater?

When troubleshooting your RV water heater, always follow safety precautions. Turn off the power or gas supply before inspecting or working on the unit. Use appropriate personal protective equipment, such as gloves and eye protection. If you’re unsure or uncomfortable, seek professional assistance.


Maintaining a properly functioning RV water heater is crucial for a comfortable and enjoyable experience on the road.

By understanding the common issues that can arise and following the troubleshooting steps provided in this guide, you can effectively address and resolve problems with your RV water heater.

Remember, safety should always be a priority, so don’t hesitate to seek professional help if needed.

Now you can embark on your adventures with the confidence of having a reliable hot water supply in your RV!