Negligence is one of the biggest causes of water heater failure. It is important to prevent damage by keeping up on maintenance and checking to ensure that your RV’s water heater is functioning correctly. A properly burning water heater will create a roaring sound and produce a strong blue flame. If your water heater produces a weak yellow flame or no sound, then it’s time to show it some attention. Follow these simple steps for an RV water heater tune up, and get your RV prepped and ready to head back out for another active summer.
-Flexible wire brush
-Wrench and socket extension (check your water heater owner’s manual to verify the correct size)
-Flushing wand (optional, but preferred)
Cleaning the Burner Tube
*Always make sure that your water heater has cooled before working on it
- Remove the air shutter screw using your wrench, allowing the shutter tube to slide down and open up access to the inside of the burner tube.
- Slide your wire brush into the burner tube to clean out any debris, dirt, or insects.
- Blow compressed air through the burner tube to finish cleaning out any loose debris that’s left.
- Slide the shutter tube back in position and reinstall the air shutter screw.
Back Flushing the Water Tank
*Always make sure the water in your tank has cooled before draining
- Turn off the water supply to your RV.
- Relieve the pressure in the plumbing and drain the lines by turning on the water faucet inside of your RV.
- Remove the drain plug or anode rod, draining the water in the tank.
- Insert the flushing wand and let the pressure of the water agitate the bottom of the tank to loosen debris and calcified sediments.
- Move the wand all around inside the tank.
- You should notice discolored water and sediments draining from the tank as you back flush. Continue back flushing until you see clear water coming from the tank drain.
- Once you’re done back flushing, remove the wand and tighten the drain plug or anode rod back in place.
- To prevent the inside of your water tank from rusting, make sure to replace your anode rod when it has lost approximately 75% of its mass.
- If your water heater develops a rotten egg smell, flush the tank with a bottle or two of household vinegar or hydrogen peroxide.
- Open the relief valve while draining the tank to speed up the process.
- You might want to put down a bucket to catch the water that drains from your tank, as it might contain rust and deposits that could stain your driveway.
- If you notice that there are flakes of lining coming out with the debris and sediment when you back flush, this is a sign that your water heater needs to be replaced.
Maintaining your RV’s water heater is vital to preventing ignition issues and poor combustion. It is recommended that you clean and service your RV water heater at least twice a year. If you continue to have problems with your water heater after tuning it up, be sure to consult with a qualified RV servicing facility. With routine back flushing and simple cleaning though, you should be able to keep your RV’s water heater in top operating condition and ready for whatever adventure lies ahead.