Wednesday, 16 November 2016

Maintenance Tips for RV Water Heaters

RV water heaters need regular maintenance so you do not face any problems when you are camping or out in the middle of nowhere. The maintenance is essential to ensure there are no sediments in the tank and any corroded parts are removed and replaced with new ones. If you are a DIY enthusiast, you can do the job yourself. However, as the maintenance if of a technical nature, it is better to hire a professional to do the work if you do not have much experience in taking apart and repairing water heaters.

There are principally two types of RV water heaters – the first made by Suburban and the second by Atwood. The primary difference is that the former’s units use an anode rod while the other’s do not. 

To begin the maintenance, first remove any warm water in the heater. Then, turn off all electricity and liquid propane gas switches, including the power switches, and then take off the power cords. If possible, turn off your RV’s batteries also. Wear protective eyewear while you are working. 

Here is how you do the maintenance of a Suburban heater: 

•Pull the pop-up safety release valve located at the top middle of the exterior panel until the pressure equalizes. Use a 1 1/16th socket to loosen the anode rod. The rod is mostly located in the bottom centre section of the RV heater unit panel on the outside of the vehicle. Pull on the pop-up switch while you unscrew the rod. Step back a bit as residue water will come out with the rod. Let the water drain out. 

•The next step is to flush the tank. You can use a flushing wand that reaches to the back of the tank and removes any debris or calcified sediments that have accumulated inside. Once the flushing is complete, slide in a new anode rod and screw it in place. Remember to put Teflon plumbing tape on the end of the anode rod so there is no leakage. Once that is done, you can put down the pressure equalizer switch.

•Then clear debris from the burner tube and chamber. To do this you need to pump in some compressed air for a second or two inside the burner tube first and then the burner chamber. Stand back as debris is likely to soil your clothes otherwise. 

•The fourth step is to clean up the area. Use a cleaner to spray the parts and wipe off the dirt and debris with a clean cloth. 

•The last step is to plug back in the power cords and put on the electric and gas switches.

The process is similar in the Atwood heaters – the primary difference is that you do not have to take out and replace the anode rod. The method of cleaning the tank is a bit different as there is no anode rod. Instead, Atwood uses a plug to seal the tank.

The heater needs a 7/8th socket for the water outlet plug. Loosen the plug first and as you screw it off, pull the pop-up safety again (as in the Suburban, you should pull it up before trying to loosen the screws for the water outlet. Doing this again as you unplug the drain outlet is a safety measure). Put in a new plug (after Teflon taping it) once you are done flushing the tank. Tighten the plug completely. Wind up your maintenance by cleaning the panel and parts with a cleaner and cloth.

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