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How to Drain an RV Water Heater

by Lynda Altman

There are several reasons to drain an RV water heater. This is routine maintenance that should be performed at least once a year. Other reasons are winterizing the RV, troubleshooting and taking the RV out of a winterized state. It is a simple task to perform and it does not take very long. Once you have emptied the water heater, you may want to consider flushing it before you refill it. If you have used RV antifreeze in your water system over the winter, then you must flush out the tank prior to refilling it.

Turn off the water heater, LP gas and water pump. Turn off the city water supply if you are hooked up to it. Disconnect the hot water bypass and revert to a standard setup if you are taking the RV out of winterization.

Run the hot water inside the RV until it runs cold. This is to ensure that the water inside the water heater is at a safe, workable temperature. Go to the outside of the RV and open the panel to the water heater.

Open the pressure valve on the top of the water heater. Use an adjustable wrench to loosen the drain plug at the bottom of the water heater. Usually this plug is plastic. On Suburban brand water heaters, the plug is also an anodized rod. Remove the drain plug or rod. Water will start to run out.

Wait until no more water runs out of the hot water heater. When the tank is empty, replace the plug or install a new anodized rod. Close the pressure release valve. Rinse off the area with a garden hose to remove any debris that came out of the RV water heater. Close the panel door.


  • Turning on the city water and flushing the water heater for several minutes before replacing the drain plug will extend the life of your water heater as it will flush out more debris and scale.


  • The water in the water heater is under pressure and may be extremely hot. Be careful and let the water cool to a safe temperature before draining the RV water heater.

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About the Author

Lynda Altman started writing professionally in 2001, specializing in genealogy, home-schooling, gardening, animals and crafts. Her work has appeared in "Family Chronicle Magazine" and "Chihuahua Magazine." Altman holds a B.A. in marketing from Mercy College, a black belt in taekwondo, master gardener certification, a certificate in graphic arts and a certificate in genealogy.

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