RV Water Heater Not Getting Hot Enough (How to Fix it)

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What could be more disappointing than an RV water heater, which is not getting hot enough for you to make a cup of coffee, especially in the early hours of the day?

Imagine after the day’s adventure, you’re back in your recreational vehicle and you need to shower, but the water heater isn’t working to get your water hot enough for a shower. 

You will definitely feel bad!

The experience isn’t worth remembering and is devastating. All you could think about at that moment is how to fix your RV water heater.

Have you been frustrated with an RV water heater before? Is the water heater in your recreational vehicle currently not working fine?

Nothing turns a good day into a bad day like a water heater in an RV that just stops working.

This is more worrisome, especially when you’re relatively new to how the gadget in RV functions. 

You will feel bad, most especially, when you don’t know how to troubleshoot your RV water heater. 

Relax! Don’t panic, this article is written to provide you with helpful information on how you can fix your RV water heater that’s not getting hot enough.

What Is An RV Water Heater? 

An RV first, is a recreational vehicle that campers use for camping during adventures. 

A water heater is a gadget in an RV that makes water to be warm or hot.

However, the major reason for buying or hiring a recreational vehicle is to give you the comfort of home while away from home. Part of this comfort is the hot water for coffee, showers, and washing dishes.

When this facility stops working the home comfort on the wheel is no longer complete. 

For more clarification, let’s quickly look at the meaning of an RV water heater.

An RV water heater simply means a gadget that is in a recreational vehicle, which keeps water warm or hot for campers.  

RV water heaters make life in the recreational vehicle enjoyable during camping. Hot water can be used for several things during adventure life.

These are the reasons why it’s important to fix your RV water heater when it isn’t functioning to its maximum capacity.

Understand Your RV Water Heater Fuel Source 

There is some functionality about your RV water heater you need to know. How does an RV water heater function? What’s the fuel source? 

This article seems to address this question and proffer a solution to the common problem facing an RV water heater.

The knowledge of how an RV water heater function matters a lot. This will guide you when diagnosing the RV water heater’s fault. 

There are 3 primary fuel sources when it comes to the fuel that powers an RV water heater. They’re listed below:

  • Electricity 
  • Liquid Propane (LP)
  • Motoraid 

These power sources function differently, therefore, let us quickly study the way they power an RV water heater.


The majority of recreational vehicle water heaters use either propane or electricity. 

The essence of electricity and propane in an RV water heater is to easily switch over to anyone that is available.

These two are present in a recreational vehicle for easy switch-over to any available power source at the time of usage.

Though, you can use both electricity and Propane if you need quick hot water.

Liquid Propane

This is an old way of supplying hot water through a liquid propane water heater. The system comes in two varieties, which are a manual pilot and direct ignition.

Assuming the manual goes out, you will need to strike a balance to get it going again.

Do you know a direct sparker system is more complex? Yes, it is.

Also, you can detect when it’s time to automatically engage an igniter because it’s operating through a control board.

This makes it more sophisticated compared to others (e.g., Electricity, and Motoriad).

(a.) Manual Pilot Light: This is the most common model, which needs a pilot light that needs to be manually lit.

Don’t forget, gas isn’t allowed to flow when the pilot light is off, in whatever way it happens — Is it by switching off the pilot control or goes off unknowingly.

This act is to prevent danger from the Liquide Propane gas leaking.

It’s advisable not to turn on the RV’s light when traveling. The wind might blow the pilot’ light out.

Though it’s not a major thing. It takes roughly 20 minutes to get the water hot.

(b.) Direct Spark Ignition: The most common RV water heater is called the direct spark ignition. The operation of this one is quite different from the manual. 

This is how liquid spark-ignition works.

The heater control circuit board that opens the gas valve receives signals from the gas mode thermostat.

Then, the igniter is activated, thereafter a flame will develop, especially when all things work normally. 

The system will automatically shut down when the sensor couldn’t catch any flame after 15 seconds of detection.

Meanwhile, there is an indicator light that will signal that the heater failed to function, therefore the water heater will need to be turned off.

Then turn on to reset the unit before any other attempt to get the water hot.

You can choose to let the direct spark ignition be in operation while driving or preferably wait until you get to your final destination for you to save fuel.


Motoriad source is by making use of the RV engine cooling system to heat the water.

The process involves taking water from the engine cooling system to heat the water. 

When the engine is running, the engine cooling system supplies water that goes around through the embedded tubes in the water heater.

 As soon as the water goes around the tubes, the water in the tank is heated.

These are precisely the three main ways to heat the water in a hot water tank of an RV.

Taking the advantage of the heat from your engine while driving in hot water is most economical. 

Though the disadvantage is, that once the engine is off for a while, the water will get cold — this means you have to look for another alternative to make your hot water.

However, now you know the 3 primary fuel sources that power your RV water heater, let me take you through the most common issue facing a recreational vehicle’s water heater.

Common problems facing an RV water heater

These are the common issues associated with a recreational vehicle. These issues can be detected by you. And at the same time, you can fix them.

It’s not necessary that you be a professional in this field before you can fix these issues listed below.

Think about this, you’re out for a vacation and suddenly your RV water heater stops working. 

At this point, you need it to be fixed, but the unfortunate thing is that the experienced person is quite far from you, and you’re stranded. 

I believe you would like to do it if you can. That is why I want to take you through the process of how you can do it by yourself.

Here are some issues facing an RV recreational vehicles:

Is Your RV Water Heater Bringing Out Cold Water Instead of Hot?

If this is the issue facing your recreational vehicle, then get the problem to solve through the steps listed below:

If your recreational vehicle water heater is running cold water instead of hot or warm, could be a result of you running too many faucets at the same time.

Also, the problem could be with the bypass valve. Even though, you can still fix this problem by yourself if you follow these steps.

To solve this problem by yourself kindly follow the steps below.

This issue doesn’t require you to be an RV water heater expert before you can fix it. Just follow these steps 

Step 1: The first thing is to check the faucets in your camper if more than one valve is open down. Close them if they’re open and leave one open.

The camper water heater is designed to function in a way that only one faucet can produce hot or warm water.

If more than one is open, then you’re creating a room for cold water to mix with the hot water.

Step 2: when you are done closing all other faucets and the cold water still running, then, check your bypass unit. 

After checking the bypass, then the problem persists, it’s time to check your bypass valve.

Step 3: Find out if the bypass valve is on or off. This valve can winterize the water heater. 

Step 4: Kindly turn off the valve that’s open.

Step 5: if the problem lingers on when you have turned off your valve.

Chances are your faucet is not probably functioning including the valve. At this point, consult an RV water heater expert.

Does Your RV Water Heater Have a Burner And Propane Issues? 

The problem is different from the faucets and bypass issues above. In the case of faucets, the water is warm but doesn’t stay long while in the case of burner and propane, the water doesn’t get hot or warm at all.

The cause is that the propane doesn’t turn on to supply heat to the burner.

To fix this burner and propane issue follows these steps below to get your RV water heater back to work.

Step 1: Open the heater gadget and look for loose wires that may prevent propane ignition.

Step 2: Next is, to join or tighten any wire that may have loosed If you find any.

This will make the propane work perfectly well to heat up the burner.

Step 3: Don’t be sad or feel disappointed if you try this and still doesn’t work. 

Relax, there is a way out.  

Step 4: This time, open and access the propane’s airline.

Check for any blockage in the airline, such as soot, dirt, and dust. Get to work to clean it up.

Step 5: The next thing is, to ensure continuous airflow in the airline.

This is done by freeing the trapped air such as dust, dirt, and other debris from the airline, which prevents it from performing well.

Step 6: Are you still having issues? If yes, then check the burner nozzle.

Step 7: check the burner nozzle if there are any dust, dirt, and insects, then remove them from the burner nozzle. 

Step 8: have you taken these steps and still don’t work? Probably corrosion might be the next thing. 

Check if there is any corrosion close to the water heater. Corrosion will not make the ignitor function well.

Step 9: If this problem persists, then contact a professional to fix the burner or better still fix a new one.

Does Your RV Water Heater Have Slow Water Movement

Slow water movement will delay your activities when camping. 

For example, you’re taking your shower, but the water movement is slow, so you will spend more time than you expected. 

To solve this problem, follow the steps listed here below.

Step 1: If the water takes more time to come out of the faucet, showerhead, and kitchen tap, then get to work to fix it. Find the faucet screens.

Step 2: Check for any mineral deposits on the screens. These deposits may change the water color. Due to the deposit, the water is finding it difficult to come out.

This might be the cause of slow water movement.

Step 3: If the problem continues, you can manually remove the deposits. Get a large cup and fill it with vinegar. 

Step 4: Microwave the vinegar inside the cup for 30 seconds, or up to 60 seconds depending on the power of your microwave.  

Step 5: Next, Check the temperature of the vinegar cup, which should not be hot but warm. Add 30 more seconds if necessary.

Step 6: The next thing is to check if the vinegar is warm but not hot.

Then if the vinegar is warm, put the faucet screens inside the cup that contains the vinegar to remove any deposit that is causing the slow movement of the water.

Step 7: Let it stay for 10 minutes and check if there is still a deposit on the faucet’s screen.

Repeat this process for another 5 minutes to completely clean the faucet’s screen.

Step 8: After this, fix back the faucet screen and watch how the water will flow.

Does Your RV Water Heater Bring Out a Stinky Warm or Hot Water?

Do you know the odor that comes from the water heater smells like rotten eggs? Yes, it is.

The major cause of this stinky smell is bacteria. The bacteria are when there is much hydrogen sulfide and sulfur water in the pipes.

Here are 8 steps on how you can fix the problem, to get your RV water heater to stop smelling.

Step 1: To get started, turn off the water tank.

Step 2: Allow the water to cool down, so that you will not get burned. 

Immediately after the water is cooled, drain out the water by opening the water tank tap. 

Ensure no water is left in. 

Step 3: you can as well open the valve to allow it to flow faster.

Step 4: The next thing is to prepare a cleaning mixture. 

There are recommended mixtures such as vinegar and water, the mixture ratio is 2:1, and chlorinated water and liquid bleach, the mixture is in the ratio of 1:230.

Step 5: Pour any of the mixtures into the water heater tank and leave it for like 2 to 4 hours.

Step 7: After these hours, flush the water mixture out of the tank slowly. 

Step 8: Your water heater is back to its normal way now. 

Fill the water heater tank with new water and turn it on, there will be no smell anymore. If the smell persists, contact a professional to fix it for you.


Camping is miserable without hot or warm water for showering, making coffee, and doing some other things.

As a result of this, RV water heaters are easy to repair. If you are familiar with your water heater you can fix it.

However, whether you’re conversant with it or not, you can easily learn where everything is located once you’re tinkering around.

It’s advisable to contact a professional for the job, assuming it’s your first time experiencing these kinds of issues listed here.

This is really for your good. Gradually take time to learn and get familiar with your RV water heater first before you can repair it by yourself.

Though, fixing your camper is very easy, especially when you’re not new to camping.

These problems listed here are the most common issues associated with RV water heaters.

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