No Hot Water in RV

by Maria

What I see for gas controllers


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.

Comments for No Hot Water in RV

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Mar 18, 2016 No Hot Water In RV
by: Anonymous

Suburban water heaters also have a reset button located behind the external access door. The reset looks like a two recessed black buttons. To reset push both buttons simultaneously. If this does not work copy this link for further trouble shooting help.


Mar 15, 2016 No hot water problem
by: Donna

I have a 2009 heartland Sundance with a suburban hot water heater. I gave changed the anode rod, the heating element and flushed it and still have no hot water. When I turned on the pump after replacing the parts, I heard it start up and the light came on and so did the heater light – but still no hot water. Do you have any more suggestions I can try.

Jun 19, 2013 Thank you
by: Maria

Thank you for your suggestions. unfortunately I can’t move the RV as it is stationary (I’ve made it into my home, built a deck around) so that makes the mobility pretty tough. I will review your suggestions and the guides that you posted and see if I’m able to pinpoint the issues.

Replacing the water heater and everything else might be the best option (although not optimal)…So far I had a hard time finding a mechanic to come given my remote location, but will try again to see if someone would be willing to come out. Thank you again for your help.