by Dave Helgeson

How to Troubleshoot Your RV Water Heater

(questions to ask, and what to do if you don't have hot water)

Don't panic!

With some patience and troubleshooting, these tips can help you diagnose the problem and avoid a repair shop.

No hot water coming out of the faucet?

know the basics

Most RVs have one of 3 kinds of water heaters:

(We don't cover tankless RV water filters in this story, but you can get them here)


Manual Gas Valve

DSI  (Direct Spark Ignition)


Let's review  3 types of rv water heaters in today's campers:

If you are not comfortable working with propane and 120-volt household electricity!

Take your RV to a service center instead.

Troubleshooting Questions to Consider

Is pressurized water reaching the water heater inlet?

Are your propane cylinders filled?

More Troubleshooting Questions to Consider

Do you have 120-volts AC (aka shore power) reaching the water heater?

Do you have 12-volts DC (aka battery power) reaching the water heater?

Common issues with manual valve RV water heaters:

The pilot won't stay lit.

The pilot stays on, but main burner won’t light.

Pilot light is lit, but no gas flows from the valve when it's "On."

DSI RV water heater issues include:

Sparks appear at the igniter. But the burner won’t ignite.

The valve opens, but there's no gas to burner.

It ignites, but the heater won’t stay burning.

what if your manual / DSI RV water heater isn't working?

No hot water when plugged into shore power,?

Verify that 120-volts AC is reaching the element.

RV water heater troubleshooting isn't that hard.

RV water heater troubleshooting can be easily and quickly performed. 

A few tools and a little basic knowledge  go a long way.