How To Change an RV Water Heater Element

Replacing the electric heating element is one of the easiest ways to improve the performance.Old elements can accumulate mineral deposits from the water in the tank.This can cause your element to stop heating your water in certain ways.It's easy to replace an electric RV heating element since most elements just screw in and out of the water tank.If you notice that your water heater isn't heating up the way it used to, it's time to replace the element.

Step 1: All power sources and water supplies need to be disconnected.

Go to your RV's electrical switch panels and turn off the gas and electrical power switches for your hot water tank.If you are connected to a city water supply, turn off the water pump.If the RV's external electrical supply is plugged in, unplug it.The risk of electrical shock will be eliminated when you drain the tank and prevent it from heating up.The process applies to almost all common RV water heaters that use an electric heating element, which look the same across different makes and models.Your owner's manual can help you understand where things are and what the process is for changing the element.

Step 2: To relieve pressure in the tank, open your RV's kitchen hot water faucet.

Go into your RV's kitchen and open the hot water faucet.If there is any pressure left in the hot water tank, leave it open for 10 seconds.You don't want to get sprayed with pressurized water when you drain the tank.The water should not come out of the faucet.Turn off the water pump and water supply if you see water coming out.

Step 3: The drain plug cap and anode rod need to be removed with a wrench.

Remove the cover from the water heater access panel on the side of your RV.The drain plug cap, which is attached to the anode rod, is located in the center of the water heater tank.Remove it and then set it aside.Magnesium, zinc, or aluminum are some of the metals that make up an anode rod.It protects the metal lining of your hot water tank.As soon as you remove the cap and pull the rod out, the water will start draining from the tank.If the anode rod has an unpleasant odor, replace it with a new one after you replace the water heating element.

Step 4: Wait for all the water to leave the tank.

The water should spill out when you step back from the hot water tank.Wait until the dripping stops and the heating element is replaced.You can put a hose up to the drain hole to direct the water away from the RV.Allow it to spill onto the ground.The water in your hot water tank can still be hot.It is a good idea to step back so the water doesn't get splashed when it hits the ground.

Step 5: Take off the burner assembly tubing.

There are sections of tubing running into the hot water tank.Use a wrench to loosen and remove the retainer nut holding the thin silver gas supply manifold in place at the left-hand side of the tubing.Remove the assembly and set it aside.Don't lose the nuts.If you screw them back into place on the assembly, they won't go missing.To get to the heating element cover, you have to remove the tubing.

Step 6: Remove the screws from the heating element cover.

There is a drain hole on the left side of the water tank.To remove the screws holding the cover in place, use a flathead screwdriver or a sockets wrench.You can see the backside of the heating element once you remove the cover.

Step 7: To remove the wiring from the element, use aPhillips-head screwdriver.

The wires are attached to the heating element withPhillips screws.The wires need to be removed at the ends of the screws.There are two wires, one black and one white.

Step 8: To remove the element, use a hot water heater element wrench.

Place the wrench over the backside of the element.If you want to twist the wrench counterclockwise, insert a screwdriver through the 2 holes on the opposite end.When you loosen it all the way, pull the heating element out.The hot water heater element is a screw-in element.They cost less than $10USD.If you don't have the correct wrench, you could try using a large socket wrench or another type of wrench.

Step 9: You can buy a replacement screw-in RV water heater element.

RV water heater elements are generally a standard size that fit into different makes and models of water heaters, but double-check your owner's manual to make sure you buy an element that matches.Purchase your new element at an RV supply store.You probably don't need a 120-volt element for a water heater in an RV.You can get a new heater element for around $10 to $20USD.

Step 10: Attach the new element with the element wrench.

You pulled the old one out of the hole.Put the wrench over the backside of the new element and then use a screwdriver to screw it in all the way.If you want to ensure a really good seal, apply a coat of plumbing grease to the gasket, or the rubber ring, before you screw it in.

Step 11: Attach the wires to the screws.

The wires should be moved back over the screws.To secure the screws in place, use yourPhillips-head screwdriver.It doesn't matter which color of wire you use.Attach the wire to the screw.

Step 12: The element cover and the gas supply manifolds should be replaced.

Attach the screws that hold the element in place with a flathead screwdriver or sockets wrench when you put the cover back on top.To get the burner assembly tubing in place, tighten the retaining nuts.The thicker brass part of the tubing is above the water tank drain hole.The underside of the gas supply mechanism has a thinner silver part attached to it.

Step 13: Use a wrench to tighten the drain cap.

Attach the anode rod back to the drain plug cap.To secure it in place, use your wrench to turn it clockwise.It may be difficult to remove the next time you want to, if you stop turning when it is hand-tight.If you want a tighter seal, you can put tape around the drain plug cap.

Step 14: The gas, electricity, water pump, and water supply should be turned on.

Go to the electrical switch panels inside your RV and turn on the gas and electrical supply switches for your hot water tank.Plug your RV's external electrical supply back on when the water pump and water supply are turned on.In the kitchen, open the hot water faucet and let it run until the water comes out.The faucet will stop working for a short time while the tank replenishes itself.

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