How to Tell if RV Tank Heaters Are Working?

If you’re an avid recreational, you ought to look after your RV and all other armamentaria that are related to it. Whether it’s the mechanical fitness or integrity of the equipment that offers amenities and luxury, your motorhome should be in top condition.

Most RVs come equipped with water tanks to keep your water supply running, whether it’s for cooking, drinking, or staying fresh. These water tanks on RVs come fitted with heaters to keep the water warm when you need it and prevent the pipes from getting damaged from freezing water.

These RV tank heaters tend to lose their efficacy over time and one fine day, you run into trouble with freezing cold water or clogged pipelines on your RV. Hence, it is crucial that you know how these RV tank heaters work, so you know when something is wrong and get them fixed quickly.

How do RV Water Tank Heaters Work?

Almost all modern RVs come equipped with water tank heaters and needless to say, it is the need of the hour as well. These heaters come pre-installed and are usually attached to the lower side of the tank.

Powered by either gas, propane, or electric current, these tank heaters usually work in the range of 44o – 65o F temperature. The switch for tank heaters is located on the inside, usually on a panel on the dashboard for easy access.

There is an option for setting the temperature according to your desire, and you can simply rotate the knob to switch between warm and hot water. Not only do these tank heaters keep the warm water supply running for your comfortable winter trips, but they also protect against the damaging effects of sub-freezing temperatures on the piping and other systems of the RV.

Additionally, they also guarantee that no matter how harsh the weather, you have accessibility to a plumbing system that is in perfect working order and supplies clean water. In particular, they guard against RV tanks freezing over and getting damaged by cracks, obstructions, and other problems that could harm your RV’s internal plumbing systems. 

How to Tell if RV Tank Heaters Are Working? Basic Guide

Like any other electrical system or a part of the machinery, the water tank heaters on your RV can go bad. It occurs mostly due to usage over time and wear due to environmental factors and other damages.

It is important that you know when the tank heaters of your RV have malfunctioned, so you can get them repaired before you set out on a journey and keep regretting it. Here’s how you can tell if RV tank heaters have gone bad:


The most obvious way to check if the RV tank heaters are working is to leave them running overnight. Although you would actually notice that the water is not getting warmed up even without testing overnight, leaving them run for such a long time clarifies the issue.


An AMP meter is a small device that tests the amount of current being drawn by an appliance. If the tank heaters are not working, it might be due to a problem in the electrical wiring, batteries, or the AC-DC converter due to which, not enough power is being supplied to the water tank heaters. An AMP meter gives a simple reading on analog markings and tells if adequate power is being supplied or not.


The heaters might not be working due to a meager problem like loose wiring or flimsy joints and connections. Bu thoroughly checking all the wires, battery connections, and joints, you could easily sort out the underlying problem and save yourself from trouble later on.


Whenever the RV tank heaters are running, a light would be turned-on on the dashboard. The purpose of this light is to remind you to switch off the heaters when you’re done warming up the water.

You could simply check this light if it’s running or not, and get the heaters fixed promptly.


If nothing works for you, it is best to get your RV checked by a professional mechanic and let him diagnose all the problems. If the simple diagnostic steps reveal nothing, meddling with your RV can make things worse, rather than solving a problem. So the job should be left to the professionals for a proper fix.


There are different types of water tank heaters in RVs, mostly classified by the power source they use;

  1. Gas heaters
  2. Propane heaters
  3. Electric heaters

Just like your RV and other onboard equipment, you can keep the tank heaters in mint condition by:

  1. Regularly keeping a check and replacing the faulty fuse (if required)
  2. Not using it on the highest temperature setting for too long.
  3. Cleaning it regularly to avoid rusting and corrosion.
  4. Tightening the loose wires and connections in the circuit, to prevent overheating or short-circuiting.
  5. Flushing the tanks regularly to avoid the buildup of debris and contaminants.

Portable solar panels are one of the best sources to generate power to supply your RV’s water tank heaters. It is a clean and renewable source of energy, and you don’t have to worry about gas or an outdoor power outlet for a warm water supply on your camping trips.

Final Thoughts

Modern RVs are now equipped with the majority of luxury and amenity features, and water tank heaters are undeniably the most useful of them. Not only do these supply you with warm water in freezing temperatures, but they also protect the RV’s plumbing and pipes from rust and environmental damage.

It is crucial that you know how to diagnose a problem with faulty RV tank heaters, so you can get them fixed before you plan your next winter trip and don’t have to suffer in the agony of cold weather out there in the woods.

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Ever since I was a kid, I've been fascinated by travel. I inherited this passion from my parents. Since my college years and to this day, I have had a passion for traveling in a motorhome. I am here to share my experiences with you.

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