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How to Use the RV Water Heater Properly

Sep 20, 2017

Generally, those who camp in an RV are looking for a little extra comfort while enjoying the outdoors. RV camping provides for many comforts you generally don't get with other camping styles such as: beds off the ground with sheets, privacy, protection from crummy weather, heat, air conditioning, a fridge, comfy chairs, a clean toilet, a kitchen, and hot water.

Hot water/ the water heater probably isn't one of the things at the top of the “Reasons to Use an RV” list for most people but it is a great luxury. The water heater in an RV allows for hot showers, and clean dishes. It allows for those comforting things we often neglect or don't think about at home. The water heater plays an important role in a comfy RV camping experience.

Here are nine things that are good to know about RV water heaters:How to Use the RV Water Heater Properly

  • There are three sources of heat to get the water hot; propane, electricity, and/or heat from the engine. An electric heat source provides more convenience not having to worry about a pilot light; you just flip the heater switch and you are on your way to a full tank of hot water. The benefit of a propane heated tank is the higher temperature possibility. Using heat from a motor home engine is the most economical option, but not available in a trailer. The downside to the engine heated option is a cold engine unable to efficiently heat the water.
  1. Heater tanks come in different sizes. The most common RV hot water tanks are 6 and 10 gallon sizes, though there are larger and smaller ones. The larger the RV, the larger the tank you will want to have.
  2. An RV tank is significantly smaller than a home water heater tank. The smallest home tanks range from about 40 to 50 gallons around five to ten times the size of an RV tank. The hot water in an RV is going to run out much faster than at home. Remember to use hot water in the RV sparingly. Try turning off the water while soaping up in the shower, fill the sink with water to wash dishes.
  3. You can take a longer hot shower simply by turning on just a small amount of very hot water first followed by the cold.
  4. Special shower heads allow for longer RV showers. There are many shower heads that use less water in an RV allowing for the RV users to enjoy a little more time to freshen up. If you find an RV with one of these it is a great bonus, They can also be purchased from RV camping stores.
  5. Make sure to drain the tank before long seasons of non-use if you own your RV. You don't want the pipes to freeze and crack during colder months when not in use.
  6. Make sure the bypass valve is switched off before heading out on a trip after non-use. You don't want to heat a tank with no water in it you could cause serious damage.
  7. Avoid corrosion with an anode rod. Using an anode rod re-directs corrosion from the tank to the rod. Anode rods are cheap (about $20 ) and can increase the life span of your tank exponentially.
  8. If the water heater is on and working, but only lukewarm water is coming out of the faucets, check the hot and cold faucets to the outside and make sure they are off. Leaving these on can cause hot and cold water to mingle and keep hot water from running inside the RV.

Knowing how the RV water heater works will help you to have a comfortable and more enjoyable camping trip. For more great RV camping tips and information on RV rentals or our leaseback program please browse our website or contact us anytime.


Image courtesy of Trailers Flickr