Jun 02

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RV Tips: The How and Why of Cleaning Your Water Heater

As a new full-time RVer I had no idea of many things, including the how and why of cleaning your water heater!  Fortunately I am camped by many experienced RVers that have helped me learn about RV maintenance including why it’s important to clean out your water heater once a year.


Why clean the hot water tank on your RV yearly


RV’s have one of 2 types of water heaters, a Suburban or an Atwood.  The thing new RVers, like me, need to know is  which one we have.  It turns out I have the Suburban Water Heater that holds 6 gallons of water and has an Anode Rod in it.  In my case the rod had to be replaced, but thankfully had done it’s job of saving my water heater from corroding.  The calcium builds up in the water and this Anode Rod is designed so the the calcium will destroy it instead of the water heater.  As you will see in the Video(s) I made that it definitely did it’s job and is way overdue to be replaced.  They should be replaced if 50% or more of the rod has been eaten up.


RV Water Heater Anode Rods


How and Why Cleaning Your RV Water Heater

Cleaning the Water Heater in an RV is pretty easy once you figure out what you’re supposed to do.  Some of us want to know why we have to clean the water heater, and more specifically how.

  • Shut the water heater off inside your RV
  • Shut the water off on the spigot that your hose is hooked up to outside
  • Gather your tools…a socket wrench that fits the plug, or the Anode Rod, plus plumbers tape, and the water heater cleaning tool.
  • Open door to water heater, then take either the plug or the Anode Rod out.  Be careful as the water will come out pretty fast once the plug is removed.
  • Once the water has stopped flowing out you are at the bottom of the tank and you will insert the water heater cleaning tool in and out, and sideways loosening any calcium that is still in the tank.
  • If the Anode Rod is good, put some plumbers tape around the threads and put it back in.  If it’s bad and you don’t have the replacement then put it back in until you have the new one.


RV Tips: Cleaning Water Heater Videos


Tip: One thing I found out was the prices that were mentioned in the Video were a bit low for the cleaning tool and the Anode Rod. Also when inserting the new rod, it’s heavy so tilt it UP as you screw it on. It took me about 10 tries before I got the threads to catch, but finally it worked! I had successfully removed the old one and replaced the new one.


Preventative Maintenance is important, and learning how to clean water heater is one of those maintenance things we need to do. Remember to look to see which kind of water heater you have because if it’s the Atwood you won’t need an Anode Rod. Also, be careful when you first let the water out in case it’s hot so you don’t get burned, and turn the water on in the sink after you’re done to let the air out of the lines.  That’s how you clean the water heater tank on your RV.

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