RV Water Heater Troubleshooting Guide 2022 Updated

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Is your camper water heater not working? Are you surprised that the camper heater is not working properly and is not offering you hot water? 

There is nothing to worry about as several reasons for the water heater not working properly. However, RV Water Heater Troubleshooting Guide might help you with such issues.

We have listed down to help you with camper heater troubleshooting methods and tips.

Types of RV Water Heaters:

Most of the heaters come with tanks that are heated using propane gas. Some of these heaters also contain the electric element, along with the propane or as an alternative to propane for heating water faster. 

The three types include the following:

Manual Gas Heater: As the name indicates, this heater consists of the gas that controls the amount of propane. The valve of this heater is on the RV’s outer surface. Using the pilot light, you need to light from outside.

DSI-Direct Spark ignition: Another favorite water heater type is present in RVs. You can flip a switch within the RV to light the propane burner present on the water heater for this model. 

Electric Water Heaters: Next, we have the electric water heaters that feature the electric component to heat the water present inside the tank.

rv hot water heater not working

Is Your Camper Heater Not Heating Water? 

Your camper heater not heating water depends on multiple factors. Out of which there are two crucial which you need to consider. 

Are you getting no water from the faucet when you turn it on, or is there cold water coming out of the faucet when you switch it on? 

There can be several reasons for this issue. If there is a water supply in the cold valves, but you are not getting hot water, try hooking the water pump for continuous pressure. 

If the water heater tank is full with a pressurized water system and you get cold water in hot valves, check whether the water heater has a water supply. 

RV Water Heater Troubleshooting Tips:

When attempting to fix the camper heater, first of all, you need to check what an issue is in the operation of the camper heater. You should first check if the RV hot water heater is not working.

  • First of all, check whether the pressurized freshwater is coming inside the water heater inlet or not. You can easily test it by switching on the pressure relief valve, which is present over the top of the water heater. 

If you find out that the water is coming out, it is not an issue. Be cautious while opening the valve, as you might suffer from scalding because of the presence of hot water.

  • Make sure the propane cylinders are switched on to ensure the appliances are working correctly. 

Next, you can light down the water heater and check out the signs and symptoms of any smell of propane leading to the gas valve. 

You can also try cracking the gas line where the propane gas line enters your heater’s gas valve. 

It is to check the escape of propane by smelling, listening to the sound, or using soapy water that you spread over the fitting. 

Secure the heater’s fitting and check for leaks by utilizing soapy water right over the fitting.

  • If you have a direct spark ignition water heater in the RV, you need to ensure that it receives 12V DC when switching on the water heater. The wiring schematic is present in the owner’s manual of the water heater.
  • RV electric water heater troubleshooting includes the following step. If the RV heater comes with an electric element, make sure when you switch on the electric element, it should present 120 V of electricity, and you can check it safely using an OHM voltmeter.

rv water heater not working

Check Out The Following Tips For Camper Heater Troubleshooting:

  • Water Comes With A Foul Odor In The Camper Heater:

The foul odor is present in the water system because of the old water or the presence of stale water within the tanks. However, it might be due to the tanks with water when you go out of town. 

It is commonly seen in different parts of the world because of the geological water tables leading to other elements causing the foul water odor. 

You can also consider flushing the water system to get rid of the foul odor. Make sure to take professional help for the water system if you’re suffering from foul water by cleaning the water system.     

  • Water Supply Is Not Offering Hot Water:

Is the RV water heater not working? The low pressure can result in several faucets or valves opening simultaneously. 

This happens at the time of boondocking or at times when you rely precisely upon the water pumps to supply enough amount of pressure for opening faucets. 

Make sure to use one faucet at a time. Still, if the problem persists, you can consider the water pump that offers you more pressure.

  • Pilot Is Not Lit:

If you’re unable to light the pilot and the camper water heater is not working, you need to do the following. Ensure that the water heater’s thermocouple is alright, centered in flame, and free from any soot or dust. 

Plus, it should be screwed tightly with the control valve. Ensure to clean the pilot burner and remove the pilot orifice and the tube. Make sure to clean it properly using compressed air to enhance the opening. 

If the problem persists, the control valve is not functioning properly. Make sure to repair it.

  • Pilot Keeps Opening, But The Burner Won’t Light:

Ensure that your valve is turned on and in position when considering these issues. Check for any obstruction like dust or soot within the orifice, and make sure you clean it. 

If the pilot is on, but still there is no gas flow in the valves when you turn it on in an “on position,” you most likely need to replace the valve.

  • Water Dripping From The Camper Access Panel:

All water heaters and RVs come with a relief valve. As soon as you heat the water, it starts expanding, resulting in steam leading to excess pressure. Stop relief valves help eliminate this pressure automatically as soon as they start working. 

And usually, that doesn’t leak. However, if the water is heated to a very high temperature, then the water might start leaking. You can set your camper heater’s temperature settings, which might solve the issue. 

If the issue continues, you might need to replace the valves as this can cause camper heater leakage. 

Other Common Camper Heater Issues:

  • Faulty Thermostat:

It is one of the most occurring problems while using the camper heater. The thermostat of the heater is an essential component that controls the temperature of the water.  

The only way to identify the defective thermostat is to replace it by checking the thermostat using a multimeter. If your thermostat is not working, you should replace it.

Before returning it, make sure you turn off the entire power. Next, remove the wire clippings, remove the previous thermostat switch, and replace it using the new one. Lastly, you need to reattach the wire clips and check the power.      

  • Roaring Sound At Times Of Using Hot Water:

Usually, the propane burner makes a roar. This is because they’re burning very lean. There is no perfect balance of the gas by the propane valve to maintain its appropriate balance for working efficiently. 

Only professionals can help you adjust the proper airflow within the propane heater. The basic rule of identification is that the flame should appear blue. It indicates the average oxygen level without being too high or low, leading to a yellow or orange tone.

Still Not Getting Hot Water? Hire a Mobile RV Technician or Visit Service Center?

All these water heater issues require some professional expertise and the supervision of professionals. 

Can you deal with electricity and propane? They’re high chances that you might end up wrong? If you have done all the steps and the water heater is still not working properly, it’s high time to call a technician or call the service center.

The professionals who come to check out water heaters are highly efficient in handling all such issues. If you have been trying RV water heater troubleshooting, you should ask for help from a technician. 

You might need to buy new heaters in the worst cases. But this is usually required where the camper tanks are not functioning properly or a leak in the heater at the bottom.

rv hot water heater troubleshooting

Frequently Asked Questions:

  • Why Is My Camper heater not heating the water?

The common issues you might suffer in the camper heating are that the cold water is not heated. There are several reasons why the water heater is not making water hot. 

One significant possibility is that the propane supply is off. Another possibility includes a non-functional electric fuse that has blown out. Commonly you leave the propane supply off and forget to switch it on in winters. 

For an electric fuse to blow out, you should replace it and start using hot water. The water heater is not heating the water because you turned it off during de-winterizing and forgot to turn it on. These are the common reasons that lead to the failure of the water heater.

  • Does a Camper heater have a reset button?

These heaters do come with the reset button. The reset button is red and is located near the heating element. Use your fingers and push over the reset button until you hear a click. The top part of the reset button stays flushed with RV gas water heater sides. 

  • How do you check a water heater element in a camper?

For checking the water heater element in a camper, you can switch on the electric element. It should present 120 V of electricity, and you can check it safely using an OHM voltmeter.

  • How do I reset my RV water heater?

The steps to reset the heater:

Switch off the power supply – Safety is one of the important factors you need to consider. A circuit breaker is linked with a water heater. 

This breaker is present within the main panel. Switch off the breaker. An overcurrent fault leads to a short circuit if the switch is tripped. Call an electrician and make sure that there is no sign of a short circuit. 

Seek the reset button – This button over the highest limit switch is easily fixed using a thermostat. This thermostat is present within the cover plates. 

Once you find them, you need to unscrew them. Take out plates and find insulation on them. After removing the insulation, you can see the reset button and thermostat. The reset button is red, as mentioned. 

Next, press over the reset button, push it outwards and operate this switch. For resetting it push this button. Be safe while you push this button using a screwdriver. Clicking sound indicates that the button is reset. 

Switch on power supply – After resetting the button, switch on the main power supply.

Check out tripping– once you switch on your water heater, check whether it’s tripping or not. If there is no tripping, it ensures that you can put the insulation back in place and then screw back the panel cover. 


RVs are a luxurious and adventurous experience for all users. Similar to cars or houses, they also need maintenance. 

Maintenance is an essential factor in running all the appliances smoothly, including the water heater. But, if you’re running out of cold water and RV, it is a hassle. So, we have listed down the travel trailer hot water heater troubleshooting methods to help you.

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