How To Tell If Your RV Tank Heaters Are Working?


Tank heaters are vital for RVs when they are traveling through freezing conditions. Tank heaters might seem less important at times as a component. But a functioning tank heater is a must-have in your recreational vehicle under such conditions.

Now, let me invoke fear in you. What if you find tank heaters not working in such conditions? How to know whether the heaters are working or not?

You can figure out the functioning of RV tank heaters with the help of an ammeter. Inspecting the readings will let you identify the tank with issues and the correct functioning ones.

Don’t worry; I’ll tell you how to identify whether the RV tank heaters work in this article. So, let’s get right into the topic.


What is an RV tank heater?

I will label RV tank heaters as the perfect solution for freezing weather in cold climates. Often when you take your RV out on winter trips, the necessity of this component will top your list.

It is a heating device you can attach to your RV holding or the wash water tanks. Before rigorous research, I knew this device as an RV holding tank heater. 

As a heater, it takes power from the existing power source of the RV. Since an RV might have multiple power sources, you can use either to power the tank heater.

Before installing it myself, I thought installing the tank heater was a complex process. However, in reality, the procedure was pretty simple. You can install the heating pads outside the holding tanks.

Since these pads come in different shapes, there is flexibility in how you will attach them. In addition, you can attach these pads to other pipes or fixtures. It eventually enables water not to freeze in certain areas prone to freezing.

Moreover, these heaters or heating pads are super helpful, which makes you not worry about the tank not damaging or freezing.

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Why is an RV tank heater needed?

The main aim of using an RV tank heater is always avoiding water from freezing. But honestly, there’s more to it. 

To make it more precise, let me show you a scenario. Suppose you want to go to a winter camp for a night or two. In such a situation, there are high chances of your RV’s plumbing components freezing.

Especially any sort of liquid in the components is prone to freezing. The heating attached to the tank heaters and surrounding components prevents the fluid from freezing. 

Tank heaters are a must in your recreational vehicle wherever you go to a region or weather with temperatures below 32°F; tank heaters are a must in your recreational vehicle. It enables the total plumbing system to be functional. 

In addition, it prevents the possibility of cracks and blocks on the tank pipes. It ensures the heat that doesn’t allow the tank to burst.

How to know if RV tank heaters are working? 

Vehicle components don’t function in the same way all the time. After a period, these components show characteristics of low efficiency or output. In the case of RV tank heaters, a similar thing won’t be something surprising. 

You can try out an amp meter test to know whether the tank heaters are working. With the amp or watt meter, you’ll be able to identify the current draw generated from your tank heater.

I was concerned about how good the process would be. But honestly, it’s pretty simple as you have to consider the readings of the ammeter. If your RV has two wash water and an RV tank, it will show readings of 0.7 amp per tank.

In that case, if you connect an ammeter showing a reading of 0.21 amp, all the tanks are working. If it shows 0.14 or 0.7 amps, you might need to fix issues in a single or multiple tanks.

For carrying out this test, you need to switch on your heater and let it stay that way for a whole night. This tactic will enable you to know how functional your tank heaters are. That said, you’ll carry out the method mentioned the following day.

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When should you replace the RV tank heaters?

Replacement is a must when the tank heater is faulty. But if you ask me about some specific symptoms of replacement, there are a few that I’ll let you know in the following.

No Heating

The most apparent reason behind your tank heater replacement is no heat production. When your tank and its components fail to produce heat or warm up, it is on the verge of failure. Therefore, if such happens, it’s a clear indication for a new tank heater for your RV.

Corroded Wiring

When the wiring of your heater gets corroded or damaged for some reason, the outcome can often be severe. For heat, the RV tank heaters need to draw power, so proper functioning wiring is essential.

Therefore, if your tank heater isn’t responding, you should inspect its wiring closely. The wire is likely to get torn or frayed in harsh cold weather. Changing the damaged wires immediately is a must after detection.

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Going on a winter trip with an RV requires a lot of consideration. Primarily considering the RV tank heater invokes a lot of queries. Some of the common questions are listed below:

Do RV tank heaters have thermostats?

Yes, there are RV tank heaters that come with thermostats. The main job of this component is to detect temperature when it goes below the preset level.

Can you leave the RV tank on all the time?

I recommend you use RV tank heaters only when it is required. When there is no risk of freezing, leaving tank heaters on is unnecessary. It drains the power and decreases the lifetime of the RV tank.

When should you run your RV tank heater?

You should run your RV tank heater when dipping below freezing levels. It will reduce the water in the tank from freezing and lessen the chances of cracking.

How does the RV tank heater function?

The tank heater derives power from the vehicle’s battery. It can also take control of the converter when it’s plugged in.

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Final Thoughts

Water will be useless if it’s frozen in significantly colder conditions. But often, due to your negligence, you might face unprecedented issues of a faulty tank heater in between tours. That is where tank heaters in recreational vehicles come into play.

To avoid such situations, it is better to inspect the RV tank heater carefully before setting out on a winter trip. While doing so, ensure that the ammeter you use is good enough.

Or else, the faulty readings of the ammeter might give you the wrong indications of the existing tank heaters. All the things I mentioned will work in your way of detecting the functional tank heaters.

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