Cleaning RV water heater tank with vinegar

Cleaning RV water heater tank with vinegar

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RV makes you feel like home because of the things it can do for you. The little things that you get inside an RV make you feel home. Water heater is that one thing that plays an important role in making the RV life comfortable during winter.

Water heater in Winter colds are like life savers. It is impossible to live in a RV without good water heater. RV water heaters come with tanks that are 8-10 gallons unlike normal home heaters that are around 50 gallons. This also means you cannot afford to use the water heater extensively and need to adjust to some extent. And make sure you don’t end up bathing in cold water. There are lot of RV water heater makers but most common and main out of those are Suburban and Atwood.

To use the RV in a better way its always good to know little things in your RV. You need to be little technical if not an expert. A good care of your hot water heater will definitely help you and make your life good in RV. Water heaters and tanks are prone to hard deposits and thus cause the damage.

Hard water contains calcium which when the water comes out of heater starts making hard deposits on it. This would happen at all places where the heated water goes and then dries. A heated water causes the deposits at faster rate and hence the RV hot water heater is more prone to this. Such deposits on your heater will mean your shower, the sink are also at risk.

Normally, the deposits would cause problems where the water comes out. This can get annoying and your RV life would then revolve around fixing these problems. You can bypass these issues by taking good care and maintaining the water heater.

One good way to keep these problems away is by flushing the heater often, this will make sure deposits don’t happen. You can also use vinegar water mixture to clean the water heater and tank.

Steps to clean water heater tank

One can follow below steps to clean a RV water heater and tank:

  1. First thing you need to do is to turn off the water supply and then thoroughly drain the water heater tank.
  2. The next step is to reinstall the drain plug and then make sure you remove the pressure temperature relief valve.
  3. The next step is to prepare the water and vinegar mixture. You can take 1:2 ration where in 2 parts will be vinegar and 1 part will be water. This combination ration should do the trick for heater and tank cleaning.
  4. The next step is to pour the vinegar-water mixture in tank using a funnel.
  5. Run the heater normally for about 4 to 5 times while the vinegar is still inside.
  6. Once this is done drain the water heater.
  7. Once the heater is drained thoroughly, flush the water heater. This should remove the sediments.
  8. Use air pressure to completely remove the water from the unit. Air pressure can be applied through the pressure temperature valve.
  9. You can also use fresh water flush.
  10. Flush the water for some time, this will remove the deposits.
  11. Replace drain plug and relief valve.

Remember that vinegar will not sanitize your water system. It will help in removing the deposits from the water heater system.

Knowing your Water heater system

The water heater is very important for a RVer and its also important to maintain it all the time. It is also important to know those little things about your hot water heater so that next time when you hit the camping site you are fully aware of what to do if it goes out of functioning in worst case. Keep a note of these few things about heater in your notepad.

  • The fuel : You heater mostly runs on electricity, that’s the most convenient way. It can also use propane and use engine heat. Electricity heater are convenient but little bit costly as compared to propane. Engine heat is obviously the cheapest one.
  • Replacing the water heater tanks : In case you want to replace the heater tanks you need to be aware of the facts that not all heater systems have the same sizes. You need to check on the sidewall openings, height before you shop for one.
  • Water heater care during storage : You should drain the water from heater and tank before putting the RV for storage. Winterize the pipes to avoid freezing and cracks. This will make sure you wont face problems the next time you take your RV for camping.

Maintenance of RV water heater tank

Maintaining a water heater is a good thing but if you have been using your RV for very long then you may want to consider buying a new one to replace the old hot water heater. Because its a mechanical/electrical thing and it will also have some life limit. It may develop irreparable cracks, or even deposits that cannot be removed through flushing or vinegar.

Hence, get the water heater checked and decide whether you need to get it replaced or not. Apart from the maintenance that we saw it is also important to note that a RV water heater is not similar to your normal home water heater and hence you need to avoid those long showers. You need to respect the RV water heater capability. If you own that mammoth class A RV or big fifth wheel then you will have luxury of big water heater though.

Having said these things we also have new technologies coming which are increasing the water heater efficiencies and which ultimately makes our lives comfortable. Atwood and suburban are two major reputable manufactures.

RV water smells like sulfur or rotten egg

A common issue many people face while they are camping in travel trailer or motorome is water smells bad. It can smell like sulfur or like rotten eggs. This happens because of water heater in the RV. The anode rod used in heater starts to corrode and results in producing hydrogen sulfide which smells like rotten egg. Such smell can be reduced or fixed by following below steps,

  • Replace the corroded rod and get a new one.
  • Using aluminium rod can help avoid such smells
  • Make sure the water is softer

G. Yoganand

A RV enthusiast who spends countless hours researching and learning various things related to RV camping. He believes in spending time doing Outdoor activities.
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