Water Heater Maintenance


The most common water heater we currently use is a Direct Spark Ignition (DSI). For those that have been RVing for a while you will remember the pilot model. The pilot model water heater normally required a trip outside every morning to relight the pilot that had blown out overnight. That trip outside  to relight the pilot forced RV owners to perform a very simple and important maintenance item. A simple visual inspection is imperative for proper Water Heater maintenance. With the introduction of the DSI Water Heater  the simple visual inspection was eliminated. Now that we can ignite the Water Heater with the activation of the ignition process by simply flipping a switch located in the RV, there is no longer a need to open the exterior heater door. Many RV’ers have not performed the simple process of opening the Water heater door even though this process should be done on a monthly schedule. Confirming the Water Heater is clean, free from insects, electrical connections are tight and LP connections are leak free should become part of your monthly appliance checks.

Flushing the Water heater to remove sediment at least annually is also a part of your regular maintenance. Here are the steps to follow for tank flushing:

1. Turn off all heat sources of the Water Heater and allow water to cool. Do not perform maintenance with hot water.

2. Open the pressure and temperature (p & t) relief valve.

3. Remove the drain plug or anode rod. Allow water to drain completely.

4. Close the p & t valve.

5. Apply water pressure to system from city water connection or pump until clean water is exiting the Water Heater drain, then turn off water.

5. Reinstall the drain plug.

7. Open a hot water faucet.

8. Apply water pressure again until water is coming out the faucet signaling Water Heater tank is full and turn faucet off.

Some Water Heaters are equipped with an anode rod and others have a plastic drain plug. Never replace the plastic drain plug with an anode rod. The anode rod is designed to be the sacrificial metal to prevent minerals in the water from attacking the steel tank and is not necessary in an aluminum tank. Inspection and replacement, if needed, of the anode rod can easily be done during the flushing process. It is very important that the plastic drain plug or anode rod is not replaced with a drain petcock or any other fitting.

If there is an excessive bad taste or odor from the Water Heater vinegar can be added for additional cleaning during the flushing process also.

Remember preventative maintenance is always better than emergency maintenance.

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  1. S. Strouse

    August 24, 2013 at 12:03

    Great article that includes some great tips for preventative maintenance!

  2. Dewey L.

    July 5, 2015 at 12:03

    Water Heater Maintenance question: I flushed out my water heater recently, and some sediment came out (chunks of calcium, etc.). When I re-inserted my anode rod and hooked up my water hose, I was dumbfounded to learn that that was no water, hot or cold, coming through the kitchen sink. We had hot and cold water in the shower and bathroom sink, but not in the kitchen. It was suggested that I may have lodged some sediment in the water lines leading to the kitchen sink. Any thoughts?


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