RV Hot Water Heater Troubleshooting And Parts

Last updated on May 14th, 2021 at 03:05 pm. Originally published on April 28th, 2015

RV Hot Water Heater: Troubleshooting and Parts

RV hot water problems are an inconvenience, so check out these RV hot water heater troubleshooting and parts tips and hints to help you figure out what is going on.

No Hot Water

If you have no hot water, check to see if the bypass valve is in the correct position. The bypass valve is used for winterizing. Perhaps you forgot to switch the bypass valve back?

Photo Credit: Forest River

Check for open faucets. If you have more than one faucet open at the same time, cold water will flow from one and hot from the other. RV hot water heaters are small and cannot handle having two faucets open at the same allowing for hot water to flow to both.

Noisy Propane Burner

Does your propane burner make loud noises? An improperly tuned propane burner will make a “roaring” sound. Too much air mixing with the propane will cause this sound.

An insufficient flame will also cause soot around the exhaust area. If you have a weak yellow flame, your burner isn’t getting enough air. An ideal flame would be one that has a blue flame with yellow tips.

Propane Won’t Light

Check to see if the burner nozzle is clogged. Spiders and other insects like the smell of propane and they will get inside the gas supply tube, this will cause the burner not to light. Check to be sure the exhaust area is clear too.

If your RV has been in storage you may need to bleed air out of the line. This takes time, so be patient.

If you have an electronic ignition for your hot water heater and it’s clicking, you should check for corrosion, or check to see if it’s loose or has loose wires.

Hot Water Odor

Does your hot water have a rotten egg smell? Bacteria in your tank will cause the smell, especially if the water is stale from sitting too long. Yes, water can go stale, but it is easy to remedy.

Turn off the hot water heater and let it cool off. Drain and flush the tank. Flushing the tank first will get rid of any loose sediment. Use household bleach to sanitize the tank. Use 10 gallons of water to 5-6 ounces of bleach. This should sit for a bit while it’s doing the work. Flush out the bleach until the smell is gone. This most likely will need to be repeated a few times. Close up the tank and fill up the hot water tank again.

Slow Hot Water Flow

Mineral deposits can build up on the little screen that is inside of the faucets, which will cause slow water flow. A vinegar soak will help take care of this. Soaking the faucets in vinegar should dissolve the calcium deposits. Heat the vinegar in the microwave so it’s warm, not boiling. Repeat if necessary.


Check the exhaust area on the outside of the RV for sooting. The following could result in a soot problem; LP gas pressure, dirty orifice, dirty burner, misaligned burner, and a blocked exhaust grill. You may need an expert to check into these to ensure proper repairs.

Temperature and Pressure Relief Valve

The temperature and pressure valve helps release pressure when it reaches 210 degrees or when the pressure inside the tank reaches 124 to 150 PSI. It’s a safety feature. You may see dripping from the valve. With age, the air is absorbed inside of the top of the tank, and you will need to replace that air to prevent the valve from dripping. However, if the valve drips while the tank is being heated, it does not necessarily mean the valve is defective.

Photo Credit: RVNet

To replace the air do the following:

Turn off the water heater and let the water cool down. Check to see if the tank and system are full. Turn off the water supply. Open a faucet to release pressure that is inside. Open the handle of the temperature and pressure valve until water stops. Close the valve, then close the faucet, finally turn the water back on.


Draining the tanks on a regular basis will alleviate some of the above-mentioned problems. Drain the tank every 6 months if used constantly. Annually, if used only for occasional outings. Drain the tank if you are storing your RV for long periods. Winterize before the first freeze.

Following these simple RV hot water heater troubleshooting and parts tips should offer you some of the help you’ve been searching for.

What do you think?

How much can you make renting your RV?

See How Much You Can Make

How much can you make renting your RV?

See How Much You Can Make

Similar Articles

The 10 Best RV Parks for Retirees

You’ve done the time. You’ve worked hard, saved up your nest egg, and have more than earned a lengthy, luxurious…

Read More

Vanlifer’s Guide to Sleeping, Camping, and Overnight Parking with AsoboLife

Sleeping! Exciting, isn’t it!? Well…on second thought… While where one sleeps overnight may not be the most interesting vanlife topic,…

Read More

Must-Have Accessories for RVing With Kids with Project Trek

According to this article from TIME, an astonishing 4.2 million women returned to the home between February 2020 and April…

Read More

Why Winterizing your RV is So Important, Plus What NOT To Do

How our vacation was frozen Picture this. You’re RVing within 40 miles of the biggest sandbox that exists in Southern…

Read More

The Ultimate Guide to Ice Fishing in an RV

There’s something special about reeling in a fresh catch and whipping it up for dinner any time of year —…

Read More

Traveling with Two Dogs in a Fifth-Wheel RV: Wander Free and Queer

Did you know that nearly half of all RV travelers have at least one pet along for the ride? We…

Read More