rv Education 101

Replacing your RV Hot Water Heater from RV Education 101

Hi, I’m Mark Polk with RV Education 101. Today we’re going to replace an Atwood 6-gallon aluminum tank RV water heater with the Suburban Advantage 6-gallon RV water heater. The Suburban Advantage water heater comes with a residential style porcelain-lined steel tank, an anode rod, both of which protect against tank corrosion and extend the life of the water heater.

Let’s start removing the old aluminum tank water heater right now. Step one, turn the LP gas supply off at the cylinders or tank. Step two, turn any water supply going to the RV off and make sure the Dometic water heater is in the bypass mode. Step three, using a pair of pliers, loosen and remove the water lines from the brass or plastic inlet and outlet fittings on the back of the water heater tank.

Step four, use two wrenches to loosen and separate the LP gas inlet connection. Step five, remove the hinge clip and remove the door to improve access to the screws on the control housing mounting flange. Step six, remove excess silicone as required to slip the inlet gas connection out of the control panel. Prior to pushing the inlet connection through the control housing opening, make sure a male 3/8th inch plug is threaded into the 3/8th inch flare gas connection.

Step seven, remove all screws from the control housing mounting flange. Step eight, remove any silicone from the top of the water heater. Step nine, bend the control housing mounting flange 90 degrees forward and start removing the water heater from the cutout in the RV. With the water heater halfway out, disconnect any electrical connections. Remove the old water heater.

Step ten, remove the inlet and outlet 90-degree elbows or straight fittings from the back of the old water heater and save them to install on the new Suburban Advantage 6-gallon water heater. 

Installing the Suburban Advantage 6-gallon water heater.

Step one, apply pipe dope or Teflon tape to the ends of the fittings that go in the new tank. Install the 90-degree elbows or straight fittings on the back of the new water heater tank. Make sure the fittings are positioned correctly to reattach the water lines. Step two, remove any old sealant from around the water heater opening and clean the surface. Be careful not to damage any graphics or decals. Step three, this is a good time to remove the old cone washers from the hot and cold water line fittings and replace them with new cone fittings.

Step four, install butyl tape to the backside of the water heater mounting flanges. Step five, position the water heater partially into the framed opening. Step six, route the inlet gas line through the control housing gasket. It might be necessary to remove the grommet from the control housing. Step seven, connect the 3/8th-inch LP gas supply line to the 3/8th-inch flare fitting at the gas valve located in the control housing. When making the gas connection, hold the gas fitting on the valve with the wrench while tightening the flare nut. After making the gas connection at the valve, reinstall the grommet.

Step eight, bend the control housing flanges 90 degrees and press firmly against the side of the RV. Step nine, while pushing the unit against the butyl tape, secure the four corner brackets to the RV using number eight screws or equivalent. Step ten, secure the water heater to the RV’s exterior by inserting the same type of number eight screws in all of the holes provided around the flange of the water heater control housing. 

Step 11, use sealant around the opening to seal the control housing for a watertight seal against the RV’s exterior and seal any openings around the grommet at the gas line. Step 12, to secure the door, snap the hinge pin into the clip on one side of the control housing and slide the corresponding side of the door into the hinge pin. Next, slide the hinge pin into the opposite side of the door and snap it into the clip at the same time.

Step 13, access the back of the unit. Locate and position the module board as required. The module board must be mounted so it is accessible for service, yet out of the way of children. It should be located in an area where it will not be subjected to moisture, cleaning chemicals, and flammable vapors and liquids. The module board can be mounted using the adhesive backing or with two number six by 5/8th-inch screws or other suitable hardware.

Step 14, make the 12-volt DC electrical connections following the applicable model wiring diagrams in the instruction manual. Step 15, make the water connections at the back of the unit connecting the hot and cold water lines.nStep 16, fill the water tank with water. Open both hot and cold water faucets to expel air from the tank. When the tank is full and water flows from the faucets, close both faucets and check all connections for leaks.

Step 17, turn the LP gas supply on and check all fittings and connections for leaks using an approved soap and water solution. Correct even the slightest leak immediately. When the job’s over, you have the advantage of a residential style porcelain-lined steel tank that extends the life of the water heater and comes with the industry best warranty to back the product.

You also get a water heater with a higher recovery rate, reducing the amount of time required to continue the supply of water at the desired temperature.