broken rv water heater, picture of a rv water heater with rust and broken pieces

Need To Fix Your Broken RV Water Heater?

Most of the time, RV water heaters are pretty reliable. With normal conditions and decent upkeep, they’ll hold out a long time. When you do have to fix something, it’ll be a leak caused by a variety of things. Forgetting to drain it before the first winter freeze, not opening the valves that fill the tank when you first take it out for the spring, and corrosion inside the water heater itself (caused by hard water, usually) are the most common issues RV owners encounter.

If corrosion in the anode rod is your problem, the fix is a simple one. All you have to do is remove it and the drain plug and install the attached replacement plug and rod combo. You should check the rod every autumn when you drain the tank so you can get an idea whether you need to replace it come spring.

Should you need to replace the aluminum tank at any time, you’re better off just buying a whole new water heater. By the time you’ve ordered a new tank and paid to have a technician dismantle the whole thing, you’ll have spent as much money as if you had simply replaced the entire unit. Besides, this will give you the chance to upgrade your water heater and get the warranty that comes with it. Considering the cost, not a bad trade-off.

Luckily, replacing the water heater itself is relatively straightforward:

  • Shut off the propane tanks and disconnect the gas line
  • Disconnect any control wiring outside
  • Disconnect the water lines inside
  • Remove the screws around the outside access door that hold the heater in place
  • Remove the heater, clean out the old butyl putty tape and install a fresh layer, then put the new heater in place
  • Reinstall the screws, reconnect the water lines and control wiring, and hook up the gas line. Check for leaks by switching on the LP tank and spraying the gas line with soapy water.

Now you can turn on the water and make sure the tank fills up correctly and there aren’t any leaks. If all’s well, switch on the gas and light the water heater. In a few minutes, turn on the hot water to make sure it’s heating up properly.

Have You Had A Broken RV Water Heater? We Would Love To Hear Your Story In The Comments Below.