Understanding Your Suburban RV Water Heater

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Backside of an Suburban RV water heater

Camping in an RV allows you to bring almost all the comforts of home to a campsite. One of the most valuable amenities that travels with you is hot water.

This utility makes camping much more comfortable, offering hot showers and clean dishes. Have you ever wondered how your Suburban RV water heater delivers hot water?

Let’s tap into the workings of this sometimes overlooked appliance.

About the Suburban RV Water Heater 

Suburban RV water heaters come in several sizes to meet the needs of various RVs.

From four-gallon to 16-gallon tanks, the water heater can produce enough hot water to serve from one person to six.

The company has added a tankless water heater to its lineup: the Nautilus.

This means that you can have limitless hot water if there is water and fuel to heat it.

The water heaters made by Suburban for RVs are available in propane gas, electric, and heaters that combine both fuel sources.

Whether you choose a tank model or a tankless one, you can decide the heat source for the water heater.

How the Suburban RV Water Heater Works 

A water heater for an RV works much like a water heater in your home. It has a tank, an ignition switch, and a heating element.

It also has a drain plug with an anode rod and a bypass line for emptying the tank and bypassing it when winterizing the RV.

Finally, you will have a pressure valve in the water heater that will open if the water pressure becomes too great. 

Suburban makes their water heaters with porcelain-lined steel tanks to keep the hot water from rusting metal.

Instead, an anode rod attracts the corrosive elements and sediments that would otherwise affect the tank.

This is the only part of the appliance that will need maintenance and replacement, depending on the length of time it is in use and the hardness of the water that passes through the tank.

Basic Understanding Of Your Suburban RV Water Heater

Because it is an oft-used system in your RV, you must understand how your Suburban RV water heater works and how to navigate through any procedures.

Here are the answers to the most commonly-asked questions regarding the operation of this appliance:

How Do I Know If My Water Heater Is Gas Or Electric?

A propane gas water heater has only one switch. It is on the inside of your coach.

If you have an electric model, you’ll have to turn on two switches for it to work.

One is inside, and the other is outside your RV on the water heater control board.

If you have a travel trailer that gives you both options, you will have a switch inside to pick which fueling source you’d like to use.

Keep in Mind: An RV water heater is an essential amenity, but how does an RV water heater work?

How Do You Fill a Suburban Water Heater? 

Ensure the water heater is in the “off” position before filling it with water. If it is on without water in the tank, you will burn up the heating element.

Check that your bypass valve is in the open position so that water can go into the tank.

If you have hooked your RV to city water, turn it on at the outside spigot, and the water heater tank will fill automatically with the pressure of the water.

However, if you use your fresh water tank to fill the water heater, you will need to turn on your water pump.

The tank will then refill, and once complete, turn on your gas water heater by pressing the on switch on the interior of your coach.

If you have an electric water heater, turn it on by pressing the on button inside and outside your rig on the water heater control board.

How Long Does It Take a Suburban RV Water Heater to Heat Up? 

Suburban makes a four-gallon, six-gallon, ten-gallon, 12-gallon, or 16-gallon water heater.

Six gallons of water usually take about 20 minutes to heat up completely, so after using those six gallons, you will likely have to wait another 20 minutes for the water to get hot.

Sixteen gallons may take up to 30 minutes.

With the Suburban Nautilus, however, it will take the initial 20 minutes to heat up.

Still, while you are using that six gallons, the water heater is already warming more water that continually moves through it.

There is no holding tank in a tankless heater like the Nautilus.

It is considered “on-demand” hot water.

How Do I Reset My RV Water Heater? 

There are two reset buttons on the water heater control board on your coach’s exterior.

Press both to reset your 12V system, as a water heater will use your coach battery to ignite the heating element.

Should I Leave My Water Heater On All the Time?

Like a home water heater, you can leave your Suburban RV water heater on indefinitely.

However, there are some things to consider.

For instance, if you are not using hot water all the time, is there a need to use propane or electricity to keep the water hot?

Can you make do by turning the water heater on 20 minutes before you need it?

If you have a propane water heater, do you have easy access to propane for refueling?

Constant appliance use will require more frequent maintenance, including replacing the anode rod more often.

Man running water outside his RV using his suburban RV water heater

How Often Should I Drain My Hot Water Heater?

If you use your RV seasonally, it‘s best to drain your water heater at the end of every camping season.

When you store the rig in freezing weather, you can winterize the water system.

However, you need to close the bypass valve on your water heater so that no antifreeze gets into the appliance.

If you use your RV full-time, you should drain your water heater every six months to check on the anode rod to see if it needs replacing.

Suburban Manufacturing 233514 Suburban Magnesium Water Heater Anode Rod
  • Designed to deliver trouble-free, consistent performance
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Pro Tip: Is it safe to keep your RV water heater on when you’re not using it? Should you turn off your RV water heater? Let’s take a look!

Now Start using Your Suburban RV Water Heater!

Now that you know the ins and outs of operating your Suburban RV water heater, use it well.

Hot water for showers, laundry, and dishes will make your camping experience even more enjoyable! What kind of water heater do you have in your RV?

Last update on 2022-08-11 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

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