It was a chilly night in February in Louisville, Kentucky, and nobody was up save my wonderful wife.
After a long, chilly travel, my wifey was eager for a hot shower as we had parked our RV.
Unfortunately, our RV water heater failed to ignite when she turned the “on” switch on this chilly evening.
You’ve heard the proverb, “Happy wife, happy life”? On that chilly night, it immediately became apparent to me that I would have a very bad evening if I didn’t have my RV water heater repaired.
These words ring truer than Antarctic frost when you have a faulty RV water heater on a chilly night.
My wife shot this image because she thought it was humorous.
So I took quick action and was able to ignite my annoying RV water heater.
Here’s how to diagnose and repair an RV water heater on your own:
How Can You Tell If The Water Heater In Your RV Needs Repair?
In addition to the apparent problem of no hot water, every propane RV water heater has a “tell” that will let you know there is a problem.
RV water heaters that run on propane have a switch that like this:
This kind of switch is typical for an RV water heater.
You should be able to turn on your RV water heater, and it should briefly illuminate the red “reset light” before starting.
Any other activity from this switch is a sign that your RV water heater isn’t working properly.
You can see a red light next to the phrase “reset” in the picture up above.
This light should turn red for a brief period of time after you turn on your water heater in your RV before going out.
You should hear the “clicking” sound of the ignitor, followed by the “whoosh” sound of ignition, if the water heater is close to you.
You could experience an electric power outage if you turn the switch and nothing occurs, and/or if other electric RV equipment aren’t functioning.
Your RV water heater has a failure to ignite if you turn the switch to “on” and the light stays on red after a short while.
You won’t have hot water as long as it’s going on, which is precisely what I experienced that chilly February night.
But how can the precise issue with your faulty RV water heater be identified and resolved?
We are now turning to that attempt.
Make Sure You Have Gas First.
Try standing near to the water heater to listen for what it’s doing if the red light on the water heater switch on your RV continues glowing.
You may only be low on propane if you hear it go “click-click-click” repeatedly without igniting.
Simply check your propane levels in this situation and replenish as necessary.
You Have Propane, But Is It Getting To The Water Heater In Your RV?
It’s possible that air has just accumulated in your gas pipes if you haven’t used your RV water heater in a while.
Try to start additional propane appliances to check for this.
In my instance, I always turn on the stove, the heater, and the propane for my refrigerator.
I then make an effort to start my RV water heater after they have been operating for a few minutes.
You may have a localized gas flow problem if all of your other propane appliances are lighting but your water heater is not.
In other words, your RV water heater might be receiving propane even when it is flowing through the pipes.
It is preferable to turn off all propane appliances and close your propane tanks if all of your other propane appliances are operating and your RV water heater is making the “click-click-click” sound but not lighting.
Important: You should seek the assistance of a certified RV expert if all other propane appliances are functioning and you can hear your RV water heater try to ignite but not really ignite.
You shouldn’t attempt to fix a gas flow problem yourself for safety reasons.
You Have Propane And It Is Going To Other Appliances, But Your RV Water Heater Isn’t Making The Familiar “Click-click-click” Sound.
On that chilly Kentucky evening, I stepped outside and stood next to my water heater when I saw a telltale indication.
I didn’t hear the “click-click-click” of my RV water heater trying to ignite, despite the fact that all of my other propane appliances were operating without a hitch.
When this occurs, you most likely have either a faulty ignitor or a burned circuit board.
Both of these problems, however, are extremely do-it-yourself-able.
You can find a cover that like this if you turn around and walk around the exterior of your RV.
Your RV’s water heater is located here.
Normally, as soon as you flick the switch on, you would hear a “click-click-click.” The “whooshing” sound of ignition should come after the clicking.
If you don’t hear the clicking, your circuit board or ignitor may be malfunctioning.
When You Have Propane And Your RV’s Water Heater Doesn’t Make The Characteristic “Click-Click-Click” Sound Of Attempting To Ignite, How To Repair It?
The likelihood that your issue is a faulty ignitor or circuit board is high if you have gas flow but don’t hear the sound of your water heater attempting to ignite.
The ignitor functions as the water heater’s spark plug in an RV.
If it’s not “clicking,” it’s either fried or not receiving electricity.
Check to see if power is returning there first.
You’ll need a multimeter for this.
A multimeter is a tool that every RVer needs.
It will be useful for fixing a variety of potential problems, including the water heater in your RV.
The next lengthy video will demonstrate how to use a multimeter to test your RV water heater, but it’s definitely worth your time.
It will also offer you a summary of many other topics we’ve covered.
How To Repair An RV Water Heater’s Faulty Circuit Board
The first issue you’ll need to address is if your multimeter isn’t even picking up electricity flowing from the circuit board on your RV water heater.
Good news: replacing a circuit board for an RV water heater is simple.
Unfavorable news: You may have to order one and wait a few days since RV parts shops don’t always have them in stock.
You may learn how to change a water heater circuit board by watching this amusing video:
How to repair an RV water heater’s faulty safety fuse
Every RV water heater has a fuse located just above the gas flow pipe that, in the case of a gas leak, will cut off the electric current.
You can see in this video precisely what I’m referring to:
You can simply repair the fuse if it blows, but I recommend you to see an RV store to be sure you don’t have a gas leak.
While these fuses often fail on their own, you should also check for gas leaks right away since they may cause them to blow out.
How To Repair An RV Water Heater’s Faulty Ignitor
I discovered that electricity was getting to my circuit board and via the safety fuse to my ignitor after using my multimeter to test my RV water heater.
This indicated that my ignitor was defective, so I went in search of one at the nearby RV parts shop.
Fortunately, it is a product that is often supplied, so I had no issue finding one.
To obtain an ignitor for your RV water heater, all you have to do is provide the RV store with the correct model number.
The model number is often located on the water heater itself.
Simply disconnect and remove the old ignitor assembly and screw+plug in the new one after obtaining the ignitor.
Watch this video until minute 1:40 to discover what an RV water heater ignitor looks like in detail:
It’s not always necessary to take a damaged RV water heater seriously.
Since propane water heaters have essentially remained the same for decades, parts and DIY expertise are readily accessible.
Therefore, you may feel better knowing that a heated remedy is probably not too far away if you ever find yourself in cold water due to a faulty RV water heater.