How to Troubleshoot & Fix RV Tankless Water Heater Problems?

A non-working RV tankless water heater offers an unpleasant surprise when you are on the go. However, these products are durable, low-maintenance, and energy-efficient. However, they are prone to minor problems like no hot water, no firing, etc.

RV tankless water heater problems occur for many reasons. In order to find out the issue, you will need to troubleshoot it first. You can read the user manual, check the bypass valve or outdoor shower, etc.

If your RV tankless water heater is not performing well, here is how to troubleshoot and fix RV tankless water heater problems.


How to Troubleshoot & Fix RV Tankless Water Heater Problems?

Is your RV’s water not getting hot? Here is what you need to do.  I recommend starting with the easy process. Refer to the next method if one process doesn’t work for you.

Step 01: Read the User Manual

If you face trouble with the RV tankless water heater, read the user manual without looking for other solutions.

If a manual is unavailable for your model, you will find it online. The manual discusses many troubleshooting methods according to specific make and model.

All tankless water heaters are not built the same. One troubleshooting method may not work for others. For this reason, a manual for your model will be beneficial.

The manual describes where each component is located. This way, checking and replacing a part (if required) becomes straightforward.

But while the problem is on the bypass valves, you have no other choice except checking it. Follow the next step.

Step 02: Inspect the Bypass Valves

Many users sanitized the RV water lines or filled the tank with freshwater for the season. The bypass valve needs to be turned off when doing this maintenance.

Inspecting the bypass valve should be your second step when troubleshooting your RV tankless water heater.

Outside showers can also be the culprit. The next step describes more about it. 

Step 03: Check the Outdoor Shower

Did your outdoor shower consist of a wand or shower handle featuring a shutoff valve to stop the water flow?

Generally, dripping from the wand is continuous. But the wand valve can still be on, and you may not realize that. This way, the hot water can mix with the cold, providing lukewarm water.

Moreover, when the water heater is operating, the water is mixed with the outdoor faucet’s cold water. As a result, you will always get hot water in your RV. This will give you the impression that the RV tankless water heater is not working.

So, if you are not getting hot water inside your RV, cross the outdoor faucet’s cold and hot knobs. 

Step 04: Check the Level of Propane

Lack of hot water in your RV can happen due to the poor level of propane. You will not get hot water if the propane level is low and you are using propane to heat water. 

Filling your propane tank is the best solution to get heated water again. 

Don’t have a gauge to check the propane level? Here is an easy method.

  • Turn the stovetop burner on. Wait for 10 – 15 seconds. If the height of the flame is normal and stays lit throughout time, the propane level is good enough. Then, turn the burner off. 

After ensuring the propane level is ok, consider following the next step if you are still getting cold water.

Step 05: Have a Look at the Anode Rod

Although there is nothing to do with the anode rod if you are not getting hot water from the RV tankless water heater. But checking the anode rod ensures maintenance.

However, you will not find an anode rod in all RV water heaters. Usually, Suburban and Atwood’s models are designed with the anode rod. 

The anode rod eliminates corrosion build-up in the water heater. It requires maintenance at least once a year. It would always be best to check the rod annually. If the rod is corroded before its lifespan, replace it immediately to get the best out of your RV tankless water heater.

Does your water heater run on electricity? Then the next step can help you in the troubleshooting process.

Read Also: 8 Common Causes of a DSI Fault Light on RV Water Heater

Step 06: Defective Heating Element

Heating elements can malfunction or go bad over time. More dangerously, the element can melt if you turn on the water heater with no water. 

Assess the element outside of your RV. For a defective heating element, replacement is the best solution. 

In such a situation, assisting an expert or professional will be handy.

Step 07: Damaged Thermostat

The thermostat controls the water temperature. But a damaged thermostat is a hidden problem of an RV tankless water heater. The reason is a malfunctioned thermostat doesn’t seem different from the outside. So, how to determine or check the thermostat?

Use a multimeter to check your thermostat.

Replacement is the ultimate solution if the thermostat is damaged. You can replace it yourself with basic RV knowledge. Let me share the process.

  • Turn off the electric power of your RV.
  • Dismantle the wiring clips.
  • Then the old thermostat switch needs to be pulled out.
  • Replace the damaged one with the new one.
  • Finally, reinstall all the wire connections and turn the power on.

Step 08: Malfunctioned Check Valve

Low water pressure can also cause RV tankless water heater problems. The check valve is the culprit if the hot water flows in a small stream.

A check valve prevents water backflow. As a result, cold water can’t flow to the water heater. If such a thing doesn’t happen, be sure that the water pressure is low or zero while running the hot water.

In this case, replacing the check valve is necessary. Ask for professional help to complete the job efficiently.

Read Also: Where is the RV Water Heater Reset Button and How To Use It?


What are the most common problems with an RV tankless water heater?

The most common problems with RV tankless water heaters include,

  • Flame failure
  • Sandwich of cold water
  • Buildup of mineral
  • Ignition failure
  • Exhaust blockage

How do you troubleshoot a tankless water heater?

Read the below table discussing the troubleshooting process based on the problem.

ProblemTroubleshooting Process
Low water pressureAdequate water pressure is available in the RV
Too hot waterThe temperature might be set too high
No Hot WaterCheck the heating element and gas or electric supply

What to do if my RV tankless water heater is not working?

If your RV tankless water heater is not working, follow the below points.

  • Check whether the breaker of the electric unit hasn’t tripped
  • For gas-powered units, check the gas valve to see if it is fully opened. 

RV tankless water heaters stop working for the above reasons mainly. Calling a professional will be best to troubleshoot and solve the problems.

Summing Up

RV tankless water heaters provide a luxurious camping experience during colder months. But it requires regular maintenance to get rid of problems. 

If you ever face complications with your tankless water heater, this guide on how to troubleshoot and fix RV tankless water heater problems will be much more effortless. 

In case you get cold water in your RV in winter, stop panicking. Try the above-discussed RV tankless water heater troubleshooting tips. When in doubt, it is better to call an expert.

Read Also: Why Does My Rv Water Heater Sound Like A Jet Engine?

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