One of the most basic luxuries of RV life, or home life, is having a good supply of hot running water. It is actually more than just a luxury, it is essential for washing dishes, proper hand washing and taking showers. Using hot water with soap while hand washing helps to kill germs that can spread disease like colds and flu. So when you turn on your tap and all you get is cold water it can be a very big deal.
If you suddenly find yourself with no hot water, the first thing you should check is the fuse or breaker to be sure you are getting power to the unit. If that checks out OK then the next most common is a lack of propane getting to the water heater. This could be as simple as checking to be sure the valve is in the ON position. If you previously winterized your RV there is a possibility you closed the valve and did not remember to turn it back on when you started using your RV for the season. Hopefully one of these easy fixes will get you going so the hot water can start flowing again. If your water is still giving you the shivers, then some other troubleshooting tasks will have to be completed.
Since all water heaters are not created equal, it is a good idea to have your unit’s owner’s manual handy. If you do not have a written copy, you can always download a PDF copy on your computer, tablet or phone. One of the most common things to look at is your propane levels. In the above steps you should of already checked to be sure the propane valve is in the open position, now you need to be sure your propane levels are not low. If you have a gauge on your tank, check that first. If you do not have a gauge you can test your tank by lighting your stove. Observe to see if the burner stays on steady. If it does, your propane levels are likely just fine.
When you winterize your RV, one of the steps is to turn off the water heater bypass valve. If you are just getting going after the Winter season, be sure you remembered to be sure that this valve is open and not closed. It is an easy thing to forget about and a simpler fix if you find it is closed.
If you happen to have an electric water heater, it is possible that the heating element might of gone bad. Sometimes even turning on the heater with no water can also damage the element. To change the heater element you will need an inexpensive water heater element wrench. This tool can be purchased almost anywhere hardware is sold. Before removing the element, be sure to shut of all power and drain the heater. In most cases the element will have to be accessed on the outside of the RV. Once the heater element is removed, you can check it for defects or possible corrosion. Since you went through all the steps to remove the element, the best practice is to put in a new one even if the old one looks good. Many of these same steps apply even if you have a home water heater.
One of the most overlooked items in a water heater is the anode rod. This steel rod is designed to rust and corrode. This action limits the amount of corrosion that can occur to the tank itself. Essentially, the anode rod takes the hit instead of the tank. Over time, these rods will eventually be eaten up by the corrosion and will no longer be able to protect the tank. This can lead to pre mature corrosion and water heater failure. While this will not directly affect your hot water supply, it is something that is worth checking while you are troubleshooting. Replacing the rod is quite simple. You just use a wrench to remove the old one and screw in the new one. If your tank is over a year old, it is likely it will need to be replaced.
If after doing all the known troubleshooting checks and you still cannot find the problem, you might want to look at your thermostat. The thermostat is located behind a panel on your water heater. This device tells the heater what temperature to maintain the water at. Before attempting any repairs or tests on the thermostat, be sure to cut off all power leading to it. You can test your thermostat using an Ohm meter. If you use the probes and touch the power input contacts on the device, you should get a low reading on the Ohm meter. If the meter does not read at all the device is defective and must be replaced.
There is yet one more thing you can check to see if it might be causing the problem. You just might have a defective check valve. This valve is an essential part of your RV hot water system. It helps to prevent water back flowing into the tank. If this valve is defective, you might notice very low hot water pressure or no pressure at all. Please be sure to completely drain your hot water tank before attempting this repair. Failure to perform this step could cause lots of water damage to your RV. If you are not comfortable doing any of the above steps, be sure to call a trusted RV tech to do the task.
If you have performed all or most of the tests that you are able to do and you still have no hot water, it is time to call the pro’s at Camper Pro’s. They have all the knowledge and tools to get the job done right at a fair price. Call them at 1-888-501-4456. They will come to you and get you going in no time.
In conclusion, an RV is like a house in many ways. Sometimes thinks will break or stop working unexpectedly even if you perform regular maintenance. Some things you might be able to troubleshoot and repair yourself while other things will require a pro to repair. Be sure to keep an emergency fund set up so the sting of an unexpected repair will not be as bad. These repairs are never fun but if they are done right, you will be good to go for a long time. Stay safe and Happy RVing.