Hot Water Heater

Hot Water Heater

by Ange (Rankin TX)

Question: Can I replace my hot water heater with a tankless on demand water heater. I own a Canyon Trail 5th wheel and my hot water heater will not work (2011 model). If so, what brand do I replace it with? Also, can I hook up a osmosis system to the trailer because we have hard water here and unable to drink, need to hook it up to the whole trailer at the main source of water.

Answer: Your questions cover a broad area, so it is difficult to provide a quick and easy answer. We will try to address them one at a time and with some suggestions.

First – Water heater

Why do you want to replace the water heater, why not fix it? It may still be under warranty from the water heater manufacturer. If we were in your situation we would contact the water heater manufacturer to see if they can help you diagnose and fix the problem. Here are a couple of links to the two major RV water heater manufacturers:

Suburban –

Atwood –

As for replacing your water heater with a tankless system, it depends on several factors. Tankless systems operate on either gas, electric or diesel, and except for the electric ones, you need to provide a flue of some kind to get rid of the exhaust fumes. Some tankless system may operate on more than once source of power, like electric/propane or electric/diesel. So you will need to determine which power source(s) are available to your specific rig. Another factor to consider is the available space for a tankless water system. For example our tankless water heater/furnace takes up one quarter of a bay.

By the way, we have a diesel system but due to the price of diesel, we installed a separate 8 gallon electric water heater in one of our bays. We felt we could do this because we are usually connected to 50 amp service. When we are not connected to 50 amp and are connected to 30 service, we have to manage our electrical draw so that we will not draw more current (amps) than the service allows or we will cause a circuit breaker to trip on the campground power pedestal. So as not to lose the use of the tankless water heater we installed the electric water heater in line with the tankless water heater. This gave us the option of operating just on the electric water heater or the tankless system or with both the tankless water heater and the electric water heater on at the same time.

Second – Osmosis System

Again this question leads to many other considerations beside whether you can install an osmosis system for your whole rig. The answer is yes you can. However, there are other considerations like how will you connect it to your rig? Will it filter just your drinking water or will it filter all your water? Will it be connected externally or will you plumb it into your existing water lines? Do you also need a UV light to further decontaminate the water? If you only need to soften the water, then there are water softening solutions available that do not require the extensive filtering system that is required by an osmosis system.

Here is a link to one company that does reverse osmosis: This is not a recommendation to use or buy from this company and we do not have any involvement in their business. We only suggest going onto the site to further research what is available for an RV.

Hot Water Heater

Question: How long does it take for a 6-gallon water heater to heat hot water?

Answer: My electric hot water heater is slightly larger than yours is and it takes about 45 minutes to heat 8 gallons of water. My water heater is very efficient and relatively new and I religiously change the anode and clean the heating element every 6 months.

There may be differences in the performance of various brands and models of hot water heaters. You could probably figure out the specific recovery time for your heater by trial and error. But we suggest you look at your owners manual in the specifications section for the recovery time.

Failing that, visit the manufacturer’s website and lookup the recovery time for your specific water heater. Or contact them directly with the question. Hope this gives you a ballpark idea.


Setting Water Temperature

Question: I have a 2004 Salem RV with a 10 gallon electric and gas hot water heater. My question is how do I turn up the temperature of the water?

Answer: Not knowing the specifics of your hot water heater, we can only give some general advice.

Although many RV water heaters have a temperature control dial that allows for adjustment of the water temperature for hotter or colder water, your best bet is to look at your owners manual.

If you do not have an owners manual then here are links to Atwood and Suburban. (Atwood and Suburban are the most common water heater found in RV’s).


Another thought is that most water heaters whether they are gas or electric have to be serviced once a year. It may be that the electric heating element(electric operation) is covered in corrosion and preventing you from getting hot water. If you do get to inspect the heating element you might also want to replace the anode if so equipped. On the gas side you may need to clean the flue and adjust the flame for optimal performance.

Other input welcome.

You may also want to Search our Site for other posts related to water heaters.

Hot Water Heater

by Judy (Pensacola, FL)

Question: I have a 2000 Ford Adventurer, I have had the lines checked and flushed and the hot water heater comes on but produces no hot water. Any suggestions for quick fix? Or trouble shooting ideas. This occurs whether hooked to electricity or just using generator.

Answer: The first thing we suggest is that you check that you actually have power getting to the hot water heater. You can do this by using a voltmeter.

Another possibility is that the electric heating element inside the hot water heater may need to be replaced.

Also check to make sure that the water heater is not being bypassed. For instance, if you winterized your RV, you may have bypassed the water heater and left it in that setting.

You may also want to search our site for related posts. Go to Site Search and search on “Hot water”.

Other input welcome.

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