How to Replace an RV Water Heater Thermocouple

by Michele Hester

Replacing the thermocouple in a RV water heater requires some basic tools and knowledge of water and electricity. It is also helpful to have your RV owner's guide on hand for this task.

Shut of all gas flow to the water heater. Make sure all electrical and gas connections and valves leading to the heater are turned off.

Determine the brand, model and size of the water heater to determine the correct size for the replacement thermocouple. There are manufacturers who claim to sell "universal" thermocouples. Either way, find a thermocouple that matches your water heater. Your owner's manual may give you the specific part number for the thermocouple.

The thermocouple will is located behind a small panel on the water heater. Remove the panel using the screwdriver. There should be several wires around the thermocouple, which looks like either a very thick wire or a small copper tube, depending on the model.

Unscrew the end of the thermocouple that connects to the gas regulator. Then loosen the screw holding the "barrel" shaped end. around the pilot light or ignition area.

Match the old thermocouple with the new to make sure it is the correct size.

Install and screw down the new thermocouple. Replace the cover panel.

Turn the gas supply back on test for leaks by dripping some soapy water on the connection. If you see bubbles, either tighten the connection or remove it, clean the fittings, and reinstall.


  • check Note: Not all RV water heaters have a thermocouple; many newer models have electronic controls.

Items you will need

About the Author

Michele Hester holds a Bachelor of Business Administration from Georgia State University and received her Master of Arts from Dallas Theological Seminary. She is a certified Microsoft business management solutions professional and has 20 years of experience in accounting and ERP consulting. Her writing has been included on Associated Content, and

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