Question: I have a very old 1988 ALFA 5th wheel RV and recently stopped having hot water. I use a gas line, but am not sure where to start looking at the issue. Also if I need to replace the water heater tank, how can I find out how many gallons (given it’s such an old model that I bought a couple of years ago). Thank you.
Answer: It is difficult to diagnose the problem with limited information on the symptoms or the make and model of the water heater. If you are not familiar with working on propane or live electrical circuits, please take the RV to a service center.
From the details in the picture, our guess is that you have a Suburban water heater. Also based on the picture, we assume that the water heater has not been maintained and that service by a qualified technician is in order.
The two most common water heaters are Atwood and Suburban. You might have something else but we cannot tell from the picture.
If you have a Suburban heater then you might try this get some diagnostic help here.
If you have an Atwood water heater here is a similar resource.
Here are some things that you might try before you visit a repair shop:
1 – Make sure that you have propane and that it is available to the water heater (do not attempt to hold an open flame near the burner tube)
2 – Make sure that the you have not shut the power off to water heater
3 – If the water heater tries to start but it doesn’t, then you might have on of the following conditions:
– A rusted burner tube or blocked burner tube. You can use a can of compressed air to try to blow out any debris.
– A bad igniter
– A bad electrical connection
– A bad diode
If you have checked all of the above and it still does not work, then it is time to take the RV to a service center.
As for replacing the water heater tank we assume you mean the water heater not just the tank. These units are one assembly and we do not believe you can just replace the tank. As for the size of the tank you will have to figure out how big of a space your current water heater occupies and match a new water heater to fit that space.
We wish you the best – please let us know the outcome.