Troubleshooting Travel Trailer Hot Water Heater Problems

A common issue that travel trailer owners face with their hot water heaters and provide expert troubleshooting tips to help you resolve these problems.

Key Takeaways:

  • Common problems with travel trailer hot water heaters can be resolved with troubleshooting.
  • Lukewarm water may be caused by bypass valve or water pressure issues.
  • Propane and electric heating element issues can affect the heating capabilities of your hot water.
  • Ignition and flame problems may require the expertise of an RV technician to diagnose and repair.
  • Tankless water heaters require specific troubleshooting steps for water flow and temperature control.

Common Causes of Lukewarm Water

If you’ve noticed that the water coming out of your travel trailer’s hot water heater is only lukewarm, there are a few common causes that you can investigate. One possibility is that the bypass valve handles on the back of the water heater tank or in the water bay compartment may not be in the correct position. It’s essential to ensure that these handles are set properly to allow for the correct flow of hot water.

Another potential issue could be related to water pressure. Check the showerheads in your bathrooms and outdoor showers to make sure that the head is fully opened and that the water flow isn’t being restricted. Additionally, make sure that any handheld showerheads have their push buttons open and aren’t restricting water flow. Sometimes, reduced water pressure can result in lukewarm water rather than hot water.

In cases where cold water is mixing with the hot water outside of the tank, it’s important to investigate if there are any issues with the plumbing system that could be causing this problem. Check for any leaks or faulty connections that could be allowing cold water to mix with the hot water supply. By identifying and addressing these common causes of lukewarm water, you can ensure that your travel trailer’s hot water heater is functioning properly and providing you with the hot showers you need.

“I thought something was wrong with my hot water heater when I was only getting lukewarm water. It turned out that the bypass valve was accidentally left partially open, causing cold water to mix in. Once I corrected the valve position, I had hot water again.” – Travel Trailer Owner

Table: Common Causes of Lukewarm Water

Cause Possible Solution
Mispositioned bypass valve Ensure the bypass valve handles are set correctly
Water pressure issues Check showerheads for full water flow and remove any restrictions
Cold water mixing with hot water Inspect plumbing system for leaks or faulty connections

Propane and Electric Heating Element Issues

If you have a tank-style water heater in your travel trailer that operates on propane and shore power, there are specific issues that may be affecting the heating capabilities of your hot water. To troubleshoot these problems, start by checking your shore power connection and ensuring that the breaker on your campground pedestal is turned on. Additionally, verify that the water heater breaker in your RV’s electrical panel box isn’t tripped.

If you have a multimeter, it can be a helpful tool in diagnosing heating element issues without the need to drain the tank. For Atwood and Dometic systems, the heating element is located on the back of the water heater, while for Suburban systems, it’s located on the front within the exterior water heater compartment. Using the multimeter, check the reading of the heating element. If it’s out of range, it’s likely that the heating element needs to be replaced.

Before turning the power back on, it’s crucial to ensure that your tank is filled with water. Turning on the power without water in the tank can cause damage to the heating element. Once you’ve replaced the heating element and filled the tank with water, you should be able to enjoy hot water in your travel trailer once again!

Potential Propane and Electric Heating Element Issues:

  • Improper shore power connection
  • Tripped breaker on campground pedestal
  • Tripped water heater breaker in RV’s electrical panel box
  • Faulty heating element
  • Empty tank without water

By following these troubleshooting steps, you can address propane and electric heating element issues in your travel trailer’s hot water heater and ensure that you have a reliable source of hot water during your camping adventures.

Issue Troubleshooting Steps
Improper shore power connection Check shore power connection and campground pedestal breaker
Tripped water heater breaker Verify water heater breaker in RV’s electrical panel box
Faulty heating element Use a multimeter to check heating element reading
Empty tank without water Ensure tank is filled with water before turning on the power

Ignition and Flame Problems

When it comes to troubleshooting your travel trailer’s hot water heater, ignition and flame problems can pose a significant challenge. If you rely on your RV’s 12-volt battery for the propane ignition process, start by checking the 12-volt fuse inside your RV’s electrical panel to make sure it hasn’t blown. It’s also crucial to ensure that your propane tanks have enough propane and that the service valve is fully open. However, if you’re still experiencing issues, there might be underlying problems that require the expertise of an RV technician to diagnose and repair effectively.

As an RV owner, it’s essential to be aware of possible issues that could affect your hot water heater’s ignition and flame.

Common causes of ignition and flame problems include a faulty gas valve (also known as a solenoid) or ignitor, a dirty burn chamber, or issues with the flame itself. These issues can prevent your hot water heater from functioning correctly and may require professional assistance to assess and resolve. An RV technician will have the experience and knowledge to diagnose the specific problem and recommend the appropriate course of action.

“If you’re experiencing ignition and flame problems with your travel trailer’s hot water heater, it’s always best to consult an RV technician. They have the expertise to handle these issues safely and efficiently.”

Remember, when dealing with propane systems, it’s essential to prioritize safety. Don’t attempt to repair or replace any components yourself if you’re not familiar with the process. Instead, rely on the expertise of an RV technician who can ensure that the necessary repairs are carried out correctly and safely.


Ignition and flame problems can be challenging to troubleshoot on your own, so don’t hesitate to seek professional assistance. An RV technician will have the necessary knowledge and expertise to diagnose and fix any issues with your travel trailer’s hot water heater. By addressing ignition and flame problems promptly, you can enjoy a reliable and efficient hot water supply during your camping adventures.

Troubleshooting Tankless Water Heaters

If your travel trailer is equipped with a tankless water heater, it’s essential to understand how to troubleshoot common issues that may arise. One of the key considerations with tankless water heaters is water flow volume. Unlike traditional tank-style heaters, tankless heaters activate based on water flow. Therefore, adjusting the hot water faucet handle won’t change the water temperature but affects the water flow. So, if you’re experiencing temperature problems, it’s crucial to check the water flow volume.

Another factor to consider is the adjustable thermostat. Some tankless systems offer an adjustable thermostat, allowing you to set the desired water temperature. If you find that the water is not reaching the desired temperature, check the thermostat settings and adjust them accordingly.

When troubleshooting your tankless water heater, pay attention to the interior panel. This panel operates on a 12-volt direct current system, so ensure that the 12-volt fuse is intact and the battery charge levels are sufficient. If the panel is not illuminated or appears dead, it’s worth checking these aspects before moving forward with further troubleshooting steps.

Lastly, it’s important to understand the power switch of your tankless water heater. Depending on the specific system you have, you may need to leave the water heater on all the time or switch it off when not in use. Consult your water heater’s manual or contact the manufacturer for guidance on the appropriate operation of the power switch.

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