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Thursday, November 7, 2013

Water Heater Update

Location: Campbellsville, KY (High 72, Low 47)

(Blog post by Harry) As you may remember about a week ago we developed a problem with our water heater. We came home from work and it was no longer working on electric but worked on gas. Having repaired and replaced water heaters in our home many times I checked the circuit breaker, 12 volt fuse, the inside and outside power switches and the thermostat reset button immediately with no fix. In August, I had flushed sediment from the heater as preventive maintenance so I knew that and the Anode rod were ok. At that point, I thought the thermostat or the heating element were no good. If this were the water heater in house I would have just dealt with it. But this is an RV water heater and I have no experience with them. Things in the RV are similar to the house but different at the same time. So it was time to call a mobile RV repair person for help and to watch and learn.

It just so happens that G&D RV Repair Service is 1/4 of a mile down the road from our campground. I called and left a message last Tuesday and Greg returned my call within an hour. Greg indicated he could come out the next day about 2:30 or 3:00. We couldn’t do that as we were going out for Jessica’s delayed birthday dinner and I didn’t want to delay it again on her. So I arranged to have Greg come out yesterday to look at the water heater and determine the problem. Luckily, we were able to wait because the gas side of the water heater worked fine. We actually had hotter water on gas then electric.

Yesterday at 2:30 Greg arrived right on time. As it turns out Greg does RV repairs as a second job. In addition, Greg was manager of a Fleetwood plant here in Campbellsville KY before it closed down. So I guess he should know his way around an RV. Greg pulled the outside cover and showed me where the thermostat is located. I didn’t have a clue. The red arrows in the picture point to the thermostats and reset buttons for both the electric and gas sides of the water heater. You will note there are cracks in the rubber that cover the reset buttons. Greg is going to replace that whole black cover so water can’t get in there.

On either side of the cover there is a screw that you remove to expose both thermostats. Greg wanted to test the electric thermostat with his multi meter to see if it was bad.

When he removed the cover the problem was found without any testing required. As he removed the cover the reset button for the electric thermostat fell out. The blue arrow points to the reset button for the gas thermostat on the right. There should also be one on the electric thermostat on the left. The green arrow points to where it should be located. You will notice the top connection to the electric thermostat is burned and melted. That thermostat burned out and must be replaced. Greg didn’t have the parts so he went back to the office and ordered them and will be back maybe Friday to fix it. A very easy fix. Thank goodness!!

This morning I found a You Tube video on how to replace the thermostat. It’s real easy!! Just turn off the power, remove those two wires and then remove that nut in the middle of the thermostat. Pull the old one out and insert the new one. Put the nut, two wires and cover back on and turn the power back on. Maybe a 15 or 20 minute job. In the future, I will know where to check and be able to test the thermostat and replace it if needed. Something new learned and added to my tool chest. The You Tube video also showed how to replace the heating element. Pretty much the same as a house water heater and it indicated the element is nothing special and can be obtained at Home Depot or Lowes, and removed with the same tool you would use on your home water heater. I kept that tool thinking I might need it some day. Now it surely has a use for the RV.

I hope this information will be helpful if you encounter this problem, and you may be able fix it quickly and cheaply without needing to call a repair service.


  1. We had that same issue 4 times! George finally bought extra t-stats to replace himself. Hasn't happened again for a long time.

  2. I have found myself going to you tube just about any time I have a question on something. They sure do have a lot of "how to" videos and most of them are very helpful.

  3. Great info Harry. Glad everything worked out. I will certainly keep this in the back of my mind in case the same events occur. We do tend to use the frig and wh on propane as we have found that they run more efficient and it costs less over all then on electric.

    Stay well,