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Tips for Replacing Your Recreational Vehicle’s Water Heater


Replacing the water heater may be a simple task depending on the type of RV or camper you have. Knowing how to handle this alone will save you money, give you a sense of accomplishment, and offer you more time to enjoy your RV. Avoiding a service center visit for your recreational vehicle (RV) will save you time and money. Should you ever need to troubleshoot the plumbing or electricity in your RV, you’ll have a newfound understanding of these systems.

The number of necessary tools is low, and the job may be finished in under an hour. When you’ve finished installing your new water heater, you’ll need to reseal the external door to prevent water leakage. You’ll need a wrench, pliers, cordless drill, square bit, Phillips bit, knife scraper, pen, paper, and sealant tape.

First, check to see that your RV is completely removed from the electricity grid. Once the RV’s power has been turned off, you can begin draining the water from the pipes and the water heater. Using an adjustable wrench, locate the drain valve behind the water heater’s exterior door. A drain plug wrench from several home improvement stores will facilitate removing the plug. Typically a 3/4 or 3/8 plug, this drain is positioned at the base of the heater and can be loosened by rotating the plug clockwise. All the water should drain from your lines and be gone within 10 minutes. Some water heaters feature a drain cock valve right on the drain plug. The water heater can be drained by turning the valve counterclockwise.

Once you’ve drained the water from the heater, you’ll need to locate the access panel inside your RV to get to the back of the unit. The access panel will be directly behind the door when facing the heater from outside. Typically, this panel is a thin piece of plywood that conceals a maintenance access hole in your heater. There are occasions when you’ll find it beneath a kitchen cabinet. To get rid of the four screws that are keeping the panel door in place, you will need your drill and potentially a square head bit. The heater’s two water lines are accessible from the back once this panel is removed. Two distinct white bars will often depict your hot water intake and outlet lines. Behind the access panel, you can also see the wiring for an automatic ignition type or an electric heating element.

The gas to the heater must be turned off, so be careful. To properly disconnect the gas line, this is an essential consideration. To do this, either remove the lid from your RV’s front LP tank or use the exterior access panel to your LP tanks located under the coach if you have a motor home. To turn off your gas, turn the valve counterclockwise. To empty the gas from your lines, turn on your stove and light the pilot until the flame goes out. Once you’ve completed these basic steps, you may disconnect the gas line valve from the heater using an adjustable wrench. The heater’s front line is typically 3/4 inches in diameter and is positioned in the heater’s plenum. After disconnecting the line, you can draw it away from the heater through the access panel. Avoiding any kinks or bending in the line is crucial. After you’ve completed this procedure, give your RV plenty of time for the gas to escape gently.

Disconnect the two water lines at the back of the water heater. Because the input and output lines have different lengths, it will be clear which one is which. Some lines have been color-coded to indicate temperature, with blue for warm and red for cold. It will have a cold inlet and a hot exit. The heater’s output will be at its top, and the inlet line will connect to its bottom. It’s a good idea to have a towel handy to soak up any residual leaks in the pipes as you disconnect them. This minimal effort prevents mold growth and maintains a clean surface. To disconnect the water lines, grasp them with your pliers and turn the attachments counterclockwise. Once the lines have been disconnected, ensure they can be readily shifted to the side for more clearance and safety.

The following step is to unplug the heater from any power sources. You should take your time with this step because you will need to keep track of the wires and the colors they belong to. Wires are only included in units with an automatic ignition system and an electric heater; manual units do not require them. The white wire, 110V, is for an electric heating element and is included with most automatic systems. Put pen to paper and note which wires are connected to which colors. Turn off the power to your RV, and then you may safely begin unscrewing the wire nuts. The corresponding colored cables will indicate your battery power system’s 12v supply. The gas can be automatically ignited and shut off by connecting these wires. The wiring will be the same when you replace the device with a like-for-like model.

Lastly, unscrew the flashing surrounding the heater’s exterior to free it from its mounting. Your water heater will be delivered in two pieces. The outdoor flashing that conceals the opening is the second component, the first being the heater. Furthermore, this is device-specific. The outdoor flashing on sure heaters is a broad lip more significant than the insert hole, making the whole device one solid piece. The heating unit is also held firmly in place thanks to the flashing. Remove all screws from the exterior trim using a cordless drill. About twenty screws are needed to secure the heater. Once the screws are out, you can use your knife scraper to remove the unit from the outer hole carefully. Using a scraping knife to work clockwise, gradually pull the flashing away from the sealant. The flashing is attached to the exterior wall using sealing tape. Therefore, you mustn’t pull too hard. Damage to the outer wall can result from excessive pulling. Carefully peel the unit away from the Sealant tape and work around the flashing for smooth removal. Once you’ve done that, you may carefully remove the old heater from the hole and replace it with the new one.

Once the sealant has been removed and you’re ready to pull the heater out, double-check that all cables and lines are disconnected and stored somewhere out of the way. This will prevent the unit’s removal from the hole from severing any vital cables or water lines. Verify that the gas line was pushed to the side without being kinked.

You should remove the old sealing tape from the outer wall and replace it with new tape before installing the new heater. Replace the old video with the new one. With a knife scraper, you can carefully remove the tape. The installation will be neat and watertight if you do this. Ensure no water or debris is left on the floor of the heating hole. The structure of the new unit will go more smoothly if there is no clutter in the way. Your replacement heater can be installed in reverse order by carrying out these procedures.

Michael loves to explore new places and explore new ideas through writing. His blog contains additional details about him.

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