You’ll need to know how to drain your RV water heater whether you’re winterizing it, diagnosing a problem, or just putting it away for a while.

The life of your water heater will be extended if you drain your water heater (and water system) properly to avoid the water becoming stale and perhaps freezing in the winter.

So, we put prepared a short, detailed tutorial on how to empty the water heater in your RV.

Additionally, some crucial advice to prevent damaging the heater throughout the procedure!

Should You Drain Your RV Water Heater?

When storing your RV for more than two weeks or at the conclusion of each season, it’s vital to empty the water heater.

Any longer than that, and the water runs the danger of becoming bad, giving off a sulfur smell, and maybe even being harmful to drink.

It should be drained, according to a short glance at the Dometic WH-6GEA RV water heater’s owner’s manual:

  • On a regular basis (at least once during the year).
  • Whenever there is a chance of freezing or before putting the RV away for the winter.

So you should absolutely get acquainted with this procedure.

Fortunately, as you can see from our step-by-step description, it’s rather simple, which gets us to…

Steps for Draining an RV Water Heater

To prevent problems with stale and tainted water, we briefly discussed the need of emptying your RV water heater and actually the whole water system.

However, there are three things we must accomplish first:

  1. Cut off the water heater’s supply of propane gas. Make sure the power is off before emptying the water from the tank if your RV water heater has an electric mode. I prefer to go one step further and also shut off the water heater’s breaker. When an electric water heater is turned on but there is no water in the tank, the electric heating element will rapidly burn up.
  2. Open a cold and hot water faucet to release the water pressure after turning off all water entering the RV, including the water pump.
  3. Before emptying, let the water in the water heater’s tank cool.

We may begin emptying the water heater as soon as they are finished.

Important: For detailed instructions on how to empty your tank, always refer to the owner’s handbook that came with your water heater.

Step 1: Take Off The Drain Plug.

Find your RV’s water heater, which is normally located in an outside storage area.

The drain plug for the water heater ought to be at the bottom left corner.

Your water heater’s kind will determine how you remove the plug.

Draining an RV water heater made by Dometic (Atwood)

A 1/2′′ nylon drain stopper that can be removed with a wrench is generally seen on Dometic RV water heaters (formerly known as Atwood water heaters).

It is simple to round or break off the corners while removing the plug.

In the event that this occurs while you are traveling, always have a backup drain stopper on available.

Atwood 1/2″ Drain Plug Kit

Draining an RV Water Heater from a Suburban

In order to drain the water from a suburban water heater, the anode rod must be removed, often using a 1-1/16th inch socket.

The steel tank of a Suburban water heater is shielded from corrosion by an anode rod, which sacrifices itself before the tank corrodes.

Tip: When you empty your tank, check the heater anode rod’s condition.

Replace it with a fresh rod when it is around 75% exhausted.

Step 2: Open The Pressure Relief Valve

Once the plug has been taken out and the water has begun to drain, you may aid the process by opening the pressure relief valve on top of the appliance.

You have virtually emptied your water tank after the water stops draining from the drain hole.

Remember that a tank’s drain stop is higher than the tank’s bottom, which causes minerals and silt to build and block it.

Consequently, we advise cleansing your water heater tank at least once or twice a year.

Step 3: Clean The Water Heater (Optional)

Turn on the water and attach a water line to an RV water heater tank rinser.

Camco Water Heater Tank Rinser

Insert the tool into the water heater drain and turn the valve open to flush the debris out of the water tank.

Flushing should continue for many minutes or until clear, clean water emerges.

For more information on how to winterize a camper, see our advice if you’re winterizing your vehicle.


How often should I drain the water heater in my RV?

At the conclusion of each season, if it is kept for more than two weeks, or if there is a chance that it could freeze, you should empty your RV water heater.

Does the Water Heater Get Emptied by the Low Point Drain?

Your recreational vehicle’s plumbing system’s design will determine this.

Some brands and models, however, do not enable you to empty the water heater via a low-point drain.

It is better to test the low point to see whether it will deplete your water heater.

Just keep in mind that you’ll still need to remove the drain valve or plug in order to winterize your system, flush your hot water heater, and/or inspect your anode rod (if necessary).

How To Drain RV Water Heater Videos Suggestions From Youtube

How to Drain Your RV Water Heater –
How to drain your RV or travel trailer water heater for new RVers. MUST know! Winterizing RV. (2020) – RVs of America Xplore RV Patriot ROAMER Conqueror
How to Drain and Clean an RV Hot Water Heater and Replace the Anode Rod – Two Tired Teachers
Utility Trailer 03 – 4 Pin Trailer Wiring and Diagram – UCanDoIt2

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Written by Bob Matsuoka
Bob Matsuoka is a blogger and founder of RVing Beginner blog. He has been blogging for over five years, writing about his own family’s RV adventures, tips for people who are interested in buying an RV or taking their family on an adventure by RV.