Rv Water Heater Not Getting Hot Enough? [ Here’s How To Fix It ]

Trailer travel is a foray into nature from the comfort of your vehicle. Comfort, naturally, is key.

Fortunately for us, RVs come equipped with a host of modern amenities, including a well-stocked cooking range, kitchen appliances, a septic system, and entertainment units. That is not all; there are provisions for hot water too- a godsend on a chilly morning or freezing night.

This article deals with hot water in RVs, why you might sometimes face difficulties getting it hot enough, and how long the heating process usually takes.

Why is your RV water heater not hot enough?

A problem that plagues many RV owners, you might sometimes find that your water heater is not working.

You might hear the propane kick in and running fine, but the result? Lukewarm water. There are a host of different reasons why this might be happening.

One of the most common reasons for occurrence can result from malfunctioning of the Water Heater Bypass Valve.

It is a feature most RVs have, which keeps RV antifreeze from affecting the hot water. When this valve is in use to winterize the RV, it will be in an open position.

It means the water goes through the pipes to and from the heater but not directly into the gadget itself.

In the spring( during the de-winterization process), the hot water mixes with cold water if the valve is left open. The valve, therefore, should be closed to preserve the heat of the water.

Another possible reason the water may not be sufficiently hot is the improper use of the hot and cold shower valves.

Closing just the showerhead while the two respective valves remain on often leads to an unwanted mixing of hot and cold water.

Ensure you turn off both hot and cold valves before turning off the water at the showerhead.

Water heaters, like any other electrical gadget, require regular upkeep and maintenance. A lack of hot water could be the result of a malfunctioning part.

The thermocouple, for instance, is often the guilty party.

If you find that the pilot light on the machine is on, there can be a problem with the thermocouple. You can rectify this by cleaning and replacing it.

Suppose you find out that you run out of hot water very quickly.

It could be the consequence of a malfunctioning thermostat( it regulates the temperature), a broken/damaged dip tube, or if you have neglected to set the temperature according to your preference. Sometimes, a small water heater tank could also be the cause behind an insufficiency of hot water.

Most cases of lukewarm water are a result of the demand being higher than the supply.

The concept itself is simple- you are using up hot water at a higher rate than the heater’s capacity. In such a case, you can take a few remedial measures.

Perhaps your thermostat is set too low, in which case you have to increase the temperature. The burner assembly may require cleaning, as well as the vent flue.

If you find that you cannot light your water heater, it is most likely a case of a faulty thermocouple.

Alternatively, it could be air in the gas line, a broken gas valve, or a dirty opening for the pilot light. If the water heater pilot light doesn’t stay lit for too long, check if the vents have any obstruction.

An RV water heater requires periodic cleaning and upkeep. If you neglect it, you might find the water rusty(the anode rod usually gets corroded, which makes the water appear rust-colored).

You might also sense an unpleasant odor emanating from the water, which could result from a rusty anode rod or an accumulation of bacteria. You can easily fix the latter by the use of a cleaning solution consisting of chlorine and water.

Finally, remember to drain the tank periodically.

How long does it take for an RV water heater to heat?

The time that an RV water heater takes to heat properly depends on its tank’s capacity.

A 6-gallon water heater running on electricity/propane, for example, will take around 10 minutes. A 10-gallon tank will take about the same time, perhaps a few minutes more.

Tankless water heaters, on the other hand, are a different story.

Since they have no tanks, they are capable of providing an endless supply of hot water.

However, the only downside is that it takes a while to get the water properly hot.

It takes many minutes for the heat exchanger to be hot enough to keep up a steady hot water supply.

Even though a gas heater is quicker than an electric one, the wait is sometimes long enough to put people off the idea. If, however, you have good hookups and a gray water tank that constantly drains itself- this would be a smart investment.


Any seasoned trailer traveler will tell you the joys of having access to hot water while on the road.

It certainly amps up the accessible comfort criteria while also making one’s experience much more enjoyable.

I have always maintained that a little research goes a long way.

It is easy to work and promises great returns! Especially important when tending to one’s appliances, it is important to read up about what one is dealing with and ways of troubleshooting and maintenance.