DIY RV Water Heater Repair Advice From An Experienced Full Time RVer



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RV water heaters are generally pretty reliable.  Under normal conditions, they’ll last a good long while with very little attention.

There are a few ways a water heater can develop a leak, though the most common is due to negligence or operator error:

  • Failure to drain the water out of the tank before the first winter freeze would rank as the most common mistake.  You can empty the water tank, drain everything else, but if you forget to take the drain plug out of the water heater it won’t drain.  After the water freezes, the aluminum tank will split wide open.

 

  • Another problematic time is the first time in the spring when you’re anxious to get going on that first RV trip of the season.  If your water heater is equipped with a bypass kit (hoses and valves that stop water from entering the water heater) and you forget to open the valves allowing the tank to fill, you’re in trouble. If the burner is ignited and the water heater is empty of water, the temperature in the tank will rise to dangerous levels, possibly melting a hole in the tank.

 

  • rv-water-heater-anode-rod.jpgOne final scenario would be corrosion inside the water heater.  This can be caused by hard water.  Over time, the water eats away at the aluminum tank and eventually it will develop a leak.  This condition can be prevented by installing an anode rod.  The corrosive reaction will eat away the anode rod and leave the tank alone.The anode rod is attached to a replacement drain plug, making installation as simple as removing the plug and screwing in the new plug/anode rod combination. Plus, every fall when you drain the tank, you will be able to see how well the anode rod has been working and determine whether the anode rod is still in usable condition or not.  If it has dissolved away, you will know to buy a replacement one before the next time you use your RV.

We’ve covered the most common failures of the RV water heater’s aluminum tank, now for the cure.

 

RV Water Heater Repair

The bad news is that replacing the aluminum tank portion of your RV’s water heater generally is a cost-effective procedure.  By the time you order a tank, and have a technician completely dismantle the water heater, you’ll have as much money involved as what it would have cost you to just replace the water heater itself and start with a brand new one.

There are a number of good reasons to just dispose of the damaged unit and buy a new water heater instead:

  • Your LP burner system and all controls will be new as well, guaranteeing a safe and well-functioning unit.
  • By installing a new water heater you will gain a 2-year warranty that will be honored at all RV dealers.
  • Providing you have sufficient space, this is an excellent opportunity to up grade to a larger capacity water heater, or go from manual to automatic controls.

 

How To Replace An RV Water Heater

Removal of the damaged unit and installation of a new exact replacement is a relatively easy project.

All that is involved is:

1. Shut off the propane tanks; and remove the gas line accessible from the outside panel.

2. Disconnect any control wiring that may be involved with your specific model at the outside panel.

3. From the inside, disconnect the water lines attached to the water heater.

4. Remove the screws around the perimeter of the outside access door.  These screws are what holds your water heater in place.

5. Slide the water heater out, then clean the old butyl putty tape from around the opening.  Install a fresh layer of butyl putty tape and slide the new water heater in place.

6. Reinstall the perimeter screws.  Tighten them — alternating from one side to the other to seat the water heater into the butyl putty evenly.

7. Next, reinstall the water lines being careful to hook them to the correct port.

8. Hook up the control wiring.

9. The last step: hook up the LP gas line.  After you have installed the gas line, turn on the LP tank and spray the fittings with soapy water to check for leaks.

rv-water-heater-repair.jpgNow you’re ready to turn on the water, making sure the water tank fills with water.  After you have checked for water leaks and everything looks to be correct and ready to work, turn on the gas and light the water heater.

Monitor the water heater’s operation as it heats the water the first time.  After it has run a few minutes, turn on a hot water faucet and check that the water is warming up.  If everything looks good, let it run a full cycle to make sure it shuts the burner down as it should.

That’s about it.

One final tip: If you remember to drain your water heater before the first freeze each winter, then you will most likely avoid this somewhat costly repair.

 

More About RV Water Heaters

Curtis

I’ve been involved in RVing for over 50 years — including camping, building, repairing, and even selling RVs and motorhomes. I’ve owned, used, and repaired almost every class and style of RV ever made. I do all of my own repair work. My other interests include cooking, living with an aging dog, and dealing with diabetic issues. If you can combine a grease monkey with a computer geek, throw in a touch of information nut and organization freak, combined with a little bit of storyteller... you’ve got a good idea of who I am. To date, I've shared my RV knowledge in over 300 articles here at The Fun Times Guide! Many of them have over 25K shares.

86 thoughts on “DIY RV Water Heater Repair Advice From An Experienced Full Time RVer

  1. When I run my heater or microwave, the breaker kicks the power off after about 5-6 minutes.
    There is a “clicking” sound from the appliance, does this mean the inverter isn’t putting out the current it should and is due for replacement?

    Thank you.

    Greg

    1. Way to broad a question Greg, are you talking water heater – the article above is about water heaters, or are you talking electrical space heater? Are you talking inverter (makes 110vac from 12vdc and only comes with high end RVs)or are you talking about a converter (makes 12vdc from 110vac and is part of most RVs).Generally if a circuit breaker pops it means the appliance is faulty or is drawing more electricity than the circuit is designed to handle. This could easily be the case with an electrical space heater if you are trying to run it off an inverter. No fault of the inverter, it just can’t handle the load.

      1. hello curtis i recently purchased a used rv it didnt have a water heater i put one in and it has electric stuff to hook up to two switches could u help me how to hook this up and maybe send me a picture of what wire go were thanks bobby

        1. bobby, Sorry but there are many different water heaters.  I would have no idea what wire goes where.  Your best bet is to get the make and model number off the water heater and do a search for information specific to what you have.

  2.  Henry, Sounds like a problem in the gas valve/thermostat.  As that item will cost you towards $150 (Not including installation) I’d appraise the age of the water heater and overall condition.  It might be worth your while to just install a new heater and gain the 2 yr warranty that comes with it.

  3. my rv water heater has a leak and there’s an oozing sound. i shut the main water supply off and drained the faucets.  What caused the problem? 

  4.  Dkellum74, Way too little information for me to be accurate but here’s a guess.  If you mean last fall you shut off the water supply and only drained the faucets the water heater was still full of water all winter and likely the tank froze and burst.  Other possibilities if the heater is old the tank corroded through and sprung a leak.  No matter what caused the it, if the tank is split your best bet is to buy a new water heater because it isn’t cost effective to replace the tank.   

  5. i have a fema camper, my hot water only stays hot for a few minutes, could you tell me what would be the cause of this,

  6. Egnors, About the only way I can think of for the water to turn from hot to cold would be emptying the hot water tank.  FEMA trailers generally were designed with the bare essentials in mind, hence you probably have a 6 gallon water heater.  If you shower with the water running continuously that 6 gallons will disappear like you say in a couple minutes.  You just don’t have the capacity.

  7. Just dropped by to check the site out, I just bought an RV and it needs some repairs I think that what curtis was saying about the water tank is what is going on with mine, I am going to go outside and see how big the hot water heater is. If it is too small I will go to my  rv repair melbourne   and see if I can get a bigger tank installed!

  8. How do you begin to remove a hot water heater from a 1988 super chief winnebago motor home? Will I have to remove my cabinets.

    1. Misty, All water heaters are removed from the outside of the RV. There is a ring of screws around the lip of the water heater that when removed the whole water heater slides right out. Of course you also need to disconnect the gas line and any electrical wiring.

  9. Hello Curtis, What’s your opinion on putting a continuous water heater in an apartment bathroom, fueled by propane, like an RV ?? If you think it would work, what brands have you worked on?
    Thanks, Ellen

    1. Ellen, By continuous I think you mean tankless water heater, the flame kicks in when water flow is sensed. I own one of these tankless water heaters: http://tiny.cc/s56gpw

      It’s suitable for outdoor use only, It works well for what it’s designed to do,but is not something you could plumb into a house. Here’s an example of one designed to be installed in a permanent structure: http://tiny.cc/z96gpw Obviously quite a bit more expensive plus don’t forget the plumber cost to install.

      Here’s an electric tankless water heater that might be practical for a small apartment if you only use a modest amount of hot water: http://tiny.cc/nd7gpw If you’re looking for the most inexpensive route, this is probably it. As to which brands I’ve worked on, sorry but I’ve never worked on any of them.

  10. Hi Curtis, I live in a Keystone Bobcat 294 EBS travel trailer, and I want to hook up my 20 gal electric hot water heater, without tearing anything up. There’s nothing wrong with the HWH that is on the trailer, except that it’s only 6 gal. I had it hooked up to a 5th wheel that we had taken the old 6 gal out of, so getting to the connections was easier. Any suggestions?

    1. Brenda Osburn, No reason why you can’t disconnect the water lines going to the gas water heater and hook them into the electric one. You’ll probably have to buy some fittings and hose material to get it done. I’d recommend shutting off the gas to the 6 gal one to make sure no one lights it. I’m assuming the electric one is 110VAC, not many places would have 220VAC available.

      1. Thank you for your quick reply…..gonna get underneath the trailer, and see if there’s some way to connect underneath…..ok, here’s what I see…The underneath, is covered with some sort of vinyl, so no water lines are visible, except 2 hoses coming out of the bilge pump. If I look under the kit sink, I can see the back side of the HWH, but the hoses are soooo close to a (decorative) panel, under the oven, I don’t think I can get to them w/o taking that panel off and possibly ruining it. The HWH, sits right over the top of the tandem wheels. Do I cut the vinyl, and go in thru underneath????

        1. Brenda Osburn, I would say no. Likely the only way you’re going to get better access to the water lines is to remove the ring of screws that hold the water heater in place from the outside. Then you can slide the water heater out enough to get better access to the fittings from the inside. The other choice would be to remove the gas water heater all together then the plumbing would be wide open..

      1. Richard, I am now…This isn’t a live forum, feel free to leave your question and I will answer as soon as I can.

  11. Hi Curtis. I’m trying to remove my old Atwood water heater and install a new one. Everything was going ok until I tried to remove the old water lines from the back which are very tight….which way should I be trying to undo them? is there any tricks for loosening them up? Thanks. Andy

    1. Andy, Left — Loosy. All plumbing fittings are pretty much standard. Counter clockwise loosens them. No tricks involved that I know of.

  12. Hi, we had our water heater in our travel trailer working two days ago, and turned it off to conserve propane. Today we turned it on, and after a few minutes it was spewing water, not just dripping. Turned it off, back on, and the same thing happened. Any ideas what is wrong and what we can do to fix it? We don’t see anything obviously wrong.
    Thanks, Nancy

    1. Nacy, the big question i s where was it spewing water? If you mean the safety valve that is accessed through the exterior panel then it is either a faulty safety valve, or possibly the thermostat that controls the burner has failed and the tank is heating beyond it’s rated temperature. If that is where the water is coming from try flipping the lever and releasing it again to make sure it is properly seated. If that doesn’t solve the problem you have something wrong that will take more troubleshooting than can be explained here.

  13. My water heater stopped heating. We normally run it on 120 volt. It will not run on gas or electric. Does the circuit board keep the 120 volt from working too? It is a Atwood Model GE16 EXT. I checked the continuity on the two disc thermostats and they were closed.

    1. Tim, I may be out of date but the only 120 volt water heater systems I’m familiar with are the aftermarket add on ones that have the heating element screwed into the tank by way of the drain port. If that is what you have it is a completely separate system that has nothing to do with the circuitry of the water heater. If you have an electronic issue that prevents the water heater from working on gas I always recommend taking it to a dealer. Guessing and swapping parts gets expensive.

  14. Hello Curtis
    My Rv water heater has just a plug on the water tank. Should my water heater have an Anode rod. Should they be used on all water heaters or do some not require it. I bought my RV used so not sure

    1. Butch, Anode rods don’t come with water heaters, they are a well recommended add on that can be an after market item. They are recommended for all water heaters and will likely extend the life of the water heater.

    2. Hey Butch,
      I know this is years later but did you add the anode rod? We have an Atwood 6gal electric ignition that clearly states that we don’t need one due to the tanks make up. Mine specifically doesn’t require one. If you did add one did it help?

  15. I have a travel trailer we connected up the water hose to the trailer and it started to leak inside and was dripping from under the water tank.we just connect up the hose to have water to flush the toilet and was hands.we tried to flush out our holding tank but that also leaks just wondering what the problem could be

    1. Wayne, Obviously something’s broken. Start opening things up until you see where the water is coming from.

  16. Hi. I just pulled my water heater out, expecting to find a leak in the bottom, as its wet all arou d the heater and nothing else appears to be leaking. Got it all the way out and nothing. I was expecting a gaping hole. I don’t see anything that looks like a leak. Any tricks to finding subtle leaks? Does the tank have to heat up and cause the metal to expand first?

    Thx!

    Ray

    1. Ray, mostly it needs to be pressurized if there is a pin hole leak somewhere. It could have been a fitting out connection too.

  17. Hi Curtis, I’ve replaced my water heater as the previous owner did exactly as you mention, and split the tank.
    After replacing the tank there was a leak through the lower feed on the tank. It seems tight, but is still leaking. It there anything you can suggest that might create a better seal? Maybe some plumbing tape for the threads?

      1. wow – thanks for the amazingly quick reply. I have been back and tried this tape but i’m still experiencing a drop from the lower outlet. Is there a recommended amount of tape? I wrapped around a few times and the lug inbetween the hose and tank is very tight and the hose is as tight as I can get it by hand. Still a slight drip.

  18. Hi Curtis,
    I know very little about rvs but have been reading and searching online to find out what’s wrong with our water heater. We have a Fema trailer with an Atwood gas water heater. It was working fine then poof all of a sudden no hot water. The gas stove works, but when i flip the inside switch to heat up the water, it cuts off. We’ve replace fuses, checked for leaks, switched propane bottles, etc. I was told it probably isn’t the thermostat….maybe circuit board? I don’t know and we don’t have a lot of money to spend on parts guessing. We live in this camper. Any suggestions plz…i would sure appreciate it.

    1. Kim, That you flip a switch to turn it on tells me it has electronic ignition. That said there is little as a home owner you can do to fix it. It could be a number of things. The best I can suggest is to determine if you have 12 volts DC right where the power hooks up to the water heater. If not the problem is in the trailer. If there is power the problem lies in the water heater. With labor rates running around $100 an hour you may be better off choosing a lessor and simpler new water heater. One that has a pilot light and requires no electronics. This is an example and at less than $300 you get new with a 2 year warranty. http://tiny.cc/8s023x

  19. Hi Curtis,
    I have an Atwood rv water heater and the pilot light won’t stay lit. You can light it and it will turn on and heat up the whole tank of water but then the pilot does not go back on. I’ve replaced the thermocouple and still does the same thing..I sure would appreciate any help.. Trisha

    1. I am assuming you have one of the simpler water heaters that does not have the electronic ignition. The old fashioned water heater has a pilot light that will stay on all the time, but if there is electronic ignition the pilot light does not remain on. You have contacts that create an arc, and that ignites the flame. If indeed you do have one that only has a pilot light I think the problem would likely lie within the propane valve. Not something you can work on your self. If it does have electronic ignition there are a number of possible problem areas that again would need to be checked out by a technician. As an owner I think you have done about all you can. It needs to be looked at by a qualified RV technician

      1. Thank you! To clarify, I have a 1973 Winnebago Indian. The pilot used to stay lit all the time but just stopped. Could it be the gas control? I don’t know much nor have money to buy a new one.

        1. Something that is 40 some years old is just plain worn out. I would not invest any real amount of money to get it fixed because there will always be something else to go wrong with it. A new none electronic, pilot type water heater is the least expensive model on the market. You would we wise to just pony up for a new water heater for somewhere less than $300 on Ebay and replace the old one.
          This link will take you there. http://tiny.cc/cx1a9x

          1. Hi Curtis, me again. I have a quick question. I am buying a new water heater and I found this one. ink below. Is this one gas/electric or just gas? And if I get an electric/gas, do I have to hook up the electric for the gas to work, or can I just use it on gas until I choose to use electric? I’m hoping this will fit and work for the one that we talked about previously. Your thoughts? And thank you again…
            http://www.ebay.com/itm/RV-Atwood-6-Gallon-Gas-G6A-8E-Water-Heater-DSI-NEW-Free-Shipping-/281944772361?hash=item41a537cf09:g:ukkAAOSw3KFWcDzJ&vxp=mtr
            Trisha

          2. That water heater has electronic ignition and would require that the electronics be hooked up for the water heater to function

  20. Hi Curtis,
    I have been googling various topics about RVs for the past few days and you keep popping up ;) I am a single mom of three who has been using a pop up on a seasonal site in upstate NY for the past 6 years. As my kids are growing older, I am looking to upgrade, although with minimal funds. I have been searching for a year, and am really looking towards a travel trailer 26′-31′, hopefully with dual bunks. I have come across a 1991 trailer within my price range (actually cheaper than I had planned on paying), and I think I am in a “buyer’s market” because the seller needs to have it removed from the current campground it is in. I am going to look at it tonight, and will be doing the wall,window,corner, closet, ceiling deep look water test, and asking several questions prior to making a decision.

    My question to you is, the seller has been up front that the water heater does not work. I have read that a fix could be as cheap as $20-$30 if it is the water heater element, or up to $350 for a full replacement heater. He also said there was a small crack in the shower, but that he sealed that. What does that mean? Given the price of the camper, I am okay with having these as as additional expenses. He is asking $2,300, and I think given the replacement of the heater and the urgency for him to leave, I can probably get him down to $2,000 and still have a thousand dollars to invest in repairs and stocking the camper for the season.

    I guess my question is, what kind of questions should I ask the seller about why it doesn’t work? If they didn’t winterize properly, could there be additional issues? What would I look for? I am not looking for a trailer to drive around the country, I am looking for one to site on a permanent spot at the lake, so it does not have to be perfect, and ideally, if I could get 5 more years out of it, I would be happy. Would you consider buying an RV that is 25 years old? What other things should I be looking for? Are there situational types of questions I can ask the seller about the heater and or maintenance of the camper that would be telling as to the quality of the camper? I’m trying to do my homework so I don’t get taken advantage of, or buy a junk trailer. I do understand you get what you pay for. The pictures I have seen look good.

    I appreciate your insight and expertise. While I am looking at it tonight, I am not shaking hands on anything on the spot. Thanks.

    1. If the trailer has a standard RV water heater it is a gas Appliance and has no heating element involved. It is a burner. If the burner lights and immediately goes out it is possibly the thermocouple that is bad and that can cost you $50 to $75 for parts and at least an hour’s labor which will be about $100. To replace a propane water heater with the basic model which operates with a pilot light will cost you somewhere between $300 and $400 plus the labor to install it . again roughly an hour or thereabout. A crack in the shower usually means that the pan that you stand in has cracked. This cannot be properly repaired and needs to be replaced. Not a simple project by any means. Yes you get what you pay for and at that price range you are not going to get much of anything. Whether or not it is worthwhile depends on your ability to repair the damage most likely on your own because it is not worth sinking a lot of money into for labor.

      1. Thank you so much for such a quick and honest response. I have been looking at campers in the $4,000 range, because that is what I can pay cash towards. I’m not very handy. I have to keep my head about me and remember that I don’t have to purchase one today, and that the right one is out there. I really appreciate your insight.

      2. Are there other things I should be looking at other than for leaks, soft floors, storage, amp/gallon sizes, etc? If I am not able to get under it to look at the frame, are there hints inside that would also tell of the structure itself? In general, not just this specific trailer.

  21. Greetings Curtis,
    I have a suburban sw12de and last week it appeared to be leaking inside the RV basement.
    Looked all over and could not find an obvious leak. I did hear what sounded like water running.
    Turned water off overnight, then back on the next day and all was dry.
    No sounds of water running and no leaks.
    Now 6 days later it started leaking again, I checked all the plumbing and it looked good.
    I did see some water in the bottom of the water heater around the lower pipe, but could not see any signs of obvious leakage.
    Could the water heater have some kind of back flow or check valve in or around that lower pipe.
    Appreciate ur time, thx,
    Rocky

    1. There is a one-way check valve built into the output of the water heater but that is not something that will become a big issue unless the water heater has frozen during the winter and cracked. A more likely source of a water leak would be the high temperature high pressure relief valve that protects the water heater. You can try flipping the lever to see if it reseats better but if it is the source of the leak hand flipping the lever does not solve the problem it should be replaced. It is not something you can adjust or repair.

      1. thank you for the quick reply.
        if I am looking at the w/h correctly, the relief valve is on the out side where the anode rode and all the rest of the propane stuff is.
        that part is completely dry.
        we have been full timing for almost a year now and in the southern USA, real careful about freezing, so do not think that to be a factor.
        with all the info do u think I should just pull it and attempt to find the leak before spending big bux to order a new one?

        1. I would recommend determining exactly where the leak is before you tear anything apart. Water heater tanks are aluminum and there is the possibility of peeling the threads right out of the fitting when you try to remove any of the fittings. At this point you are just guessing and swapping parts that we can be expensive. It may be nothing more than a cracked plastic fitting on the back side of the water heater. Remove panels on the inside or wherever necessary so that you can see what you need to look at to confirm where the water leak is.

          1. Thanks again for your help, just a follow up. We had to replace the H/W heater. After removal and taking off the insulation we could see that it had tons of rust.
            My guess was they never flushed it and neglected to replace the anode rod. Good thing amazon prime had free 2 day shipping so we did not have to wait too long to take a shower!

  22. Curtis,

    I ruined my propane only water heater when I forgot to open the valves before igniting. I read your recommendation about replacing the entire unit. However, mine was in fine condition before my mistake and I would rather not spend the $200 or so more if I don’t need to.

    If I decide just to replace the tank, is there anything particularly challenging with this repair? It’s an Atwood G6A7.

    Thanks,
    Ben

    1. I don’t know, I’ve never replaced one. It is likely you can find a YouTube video on such a task which would give you a better idea if you want to tackle it.

      1. Hi Curtis each time I plug in the refrigerator it pops the breaker on the house outlet is the cord bad I just replace the control board ? Thanks Kenny

        1. This pretty much reinforces why I always recommend have electronic issues diagnosed by a technician. Replacing circuit boards because that is what you think the problem is can be expensive because if there is another underlying problem you may just fry the new circuit board rather than fix the problem.

  23. I have an Atwood hot water I can’t get hot water I get warm water I replaced the thermostat and no change. Can you give me any advice.

    1. best advice with electronic issues his to have a qualified technician diagnosis it. Guessing gets expensive. There are both high temperature shut off and a low temperature turn on sensors. You have not stated whether or not the flame is cycling properly.

  24. Hello… we have a 2007 carson toy hauler (Titan). We have a problem with the water heater. The pressure release valve in the rv was dripping so we replaced it. We then tried to see if it worked, we pushed the button inside the hauler. The red light came on and waited for the clicking/light thump sound of the heater (which to us indicates that it’s going thru the process of igniting) and USUALLY the red light goes off … Well.. the red light didn’t go off and there was no clicking/light thump sound. The red light stayed on. We thought maybe the thermostat sensors (ECO) got wet from all the moisture, so we replaced that and tried again… same thing happened. Nothing. (We pushed the button inside the hauler, the red light came on and we waited for the clicking/light thump sound of the heater and the still red light stayed on. What do you think might be wrong? Your advice is much appreciated!

    C. Gishi

    P.S. we also changed the thermal cut off fuse.

    1. If there is no clicking sound the electronic igniter module is most likely not functioning. Before you replace it you should clean all contact points on the electrical connection plug. Sometimes it is just a loss the good connection that causes the problem. If cleaning the contacts doesn’t bring it back to life you will need to replace the electronic ignition module.

  25. Hi Curtis
    I have a 2016 reserve , the hot water tank hums when I switch it over to electric ..
    The water does not heat up , however it heats up when I use the propane ..
    The sounds appears to be coming from the circuit board in the hot water outlet on the exterior ..
    Any trouble shooting ideas would be nice ..
    Thanks Dana

    1. Because I’m not a technician I always refer electronic problems to a qualified technician. There are a number of items that any one of them could cause your problem.

  26. Does a Breckenridge Park Model rv that needs a hot water pressure relief valve take a regular universal valve or does it have a special rv model? Thanks, Kathy

  27. I just bought a 5th wheel with a 2008 suburban 12 GAL water heater. The drain hole is really rusted, to the point of not really having any threads. It appears this piece is replaceable– it has a retainer ring around it. Is it replaceable and where can I find the part? Thanks!

    1. Sorry but no it is not replaceable. You can probably replace the whole tank but not the threaded drain hole. It is pressed in during manufacturing. You can view a parts breakdown here: http://tiny.cc/wspaly Simply look up your model number. If you are looking to have an RV dealer technician do the work it will likely be more economical to just install a complete new water heater.

  28. HI Curtis,

    We purchases a 1991 Glendale Glendette there is no water tank or pump. we can not see from the outside where the water would even be pumped into the trailer. Question do know were the tank would have been located in this trailer?

    Thanks

  29. Hello, Great resource for rv’ers. Thanks. I recently bought a used Heartland Big Country 26BH with a Suburban SW6DE water heater. I spent several hours looking over the trailer prior to buying but did not notice some issues with the water system. While sanitizing the system because of a horrendous sulfur smell, I noticed that the water heater seemed to have a large bulge on the top surface that split the insulation, and a deformed front panel such that some of the parts from the middle up no longer fit flush. I suspect that the unit overheated at some point and the pressure relief valve didn’t release as it should have. In addition, when flushing the unit I noticed what I believe was a large amount of porcelain particles coming out of the anode drain. I’m guessing the porcelain liner cracked and separated where the tank deformed.
    I’ve replaced the anode and the heating element and the unit works fine on 120V and propane. I have run the wh for several hours with no apparent issues. And, though the pressure relieve valve opens easily now I’m concerned about the safety of continuing to use this appliance. I’ve searched the net and sent inquiries to Suburban for their thoughts (no response so far) but I haven’t found where anyone else has encountered this problem. Any thoughts?
    Thanks, Dave

      1. Thanks. Suburban also said that the problem is most likely that it froze with water in it. Of course they are recommending that I replace it. It isn’t leaking, but I think I will go ahead and replace it anyway as I’ve flushed it multiple times over the last two weeks and I’m still getting a lot of what I think are very small porcelain liner shards coming out. I’m not fond of thinking where they might get to. Not to mention that the thermostats and the pv are impossible to deal with because the front panel is deformed.

  30. Hi Curtis, We have a problem with our hot water heater! We have a 2016 Coleman Lantern 270 series travel trailer. We brought the camper back to where we bought it 2 months after we had it and they said it worked fine but obviously what I’m about to tell you, you will know there is indeed a problem. Hot water heater is gas (propane) we turn it on and it will ignite and stay on for about 10 minutes then it shuts off and will restart and shut back off. When we go outside and open the door the small light that lights when the unit calls for heat that’s attached to the thermostat makes a clicking sound. It doesn’t do it all the time but the longest we can get the hot water heater to run is 10 minutes. I have hunted high and low and can find no answers so if you have any suggestions we would be grateful. We have no propane or any other issues and yes my water does get as hot as 10 minutes allows. LOL Thank You so very much and I look forward to reading this blog.

    1. Have a 2017 and had a similar problem. Turned out to be a bad connection on a spade terminal. Double check all electrical plug in connections and see if that helps.

      1. Thank You Curtis for getting back to me! Our daughters father-in-law is coming to look at it in a couple of hours and I will tell him what you said. I’ve tried everything I dare to touch (I am a female) to no avail. Usually I am very good at fixing things myself since my husband is an over the road Truck Driver and only home for 4 days every 4-5 weeks so I had to learn how to take care of myself. Like I said it stays on for max 10 minutes and then shuts down, restarts and shuts back down. I watched it today outside while it was running and just before it shuts down it makes a clicking sound and when it makes the clicking sound the light blinks off and on to each click! I will let you know how it goes and Thank You again for your help.

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