RV Hot Water Heater Troubleshooting And Parts

RV Owners

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?


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.

An RV hot water heater with letters spelling "HOT"

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.

people having a campfire with an RV behind

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.

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 the pressure that is inside. Open the handle of the temperature and pressure valve until the water stops. Close the valve, then close the faucet, and 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.