If you’re like the “typical” RVer, you know you should flush out your RV’s water heater tank at least once a year. Is that enough? Maybe, if you’re a weekend RVer or only take one or two longer trips each year. Full-timers and those RVers who are out a lot over the year should drain, clean, and inspect their heater tanks three to four times a year.But what about actually cleaning out the water heater? Have you ever done that? No, we didn’t think so.

But what about actually cleaning out the water heater? Have you ever done that? No, we didn’t think so.

Too many times, RV owners tell us that they never received any instruction on cleaning out their water heater tank. That’s too bad, as you’ll be amazed at the amount of crud that collects in the tank over a single year or more. And, depending on the quality of the water your RV is either using through the “city” inlet or as you took on in your internal tanks, things could be far worse. If the water you are using has a high mineral content or it’s pH is off slightly, it can result in added corrosion to your RV’s water tank and even the anode the tank has to “absorb” corrosion.

Just draining your RV’s water heater tank won’t always allow you to see what is happening inside. If your RV has an anode in place of the simple drain nut, that can show corrosion as the tank handles harder and more corrosive water. And lurking just below the water heater drain tank opening is a 1″ to 2″ space where particles, corrosion, and other harmful materials collect. Draining the tank gets out a bit of this matter, but only through using an RV water heater flush wand can you fully clean your RV’s water heater tank.

Looking for a good recommendation for a water heater flush wand? The Camco version, available from Amazon.com (and elsewhere) is a great buy. We’d recommend that you purchase two or three of them — they sometimes break off, especially if you are not familiar with how to use it in the beginning (twirl the wand inside the tank after you empty it, paying special attention to turning the wand’s “head” to the bottom of the tank and pulling the wand to the opening, driving out sediment and other particles).

Here’s a Power RVer Tip: Attach a set of quick-connect fittings to your hose and the wand and you can easily attach the wand and be ready for cleaning out your water heater tank. The quick-connect also has the advantage of letting your “twirl around” the wand to clean all of the surfaces (and, especially, the bottom) without having to twist and turn the water hose.

Other important tips for the RVer performing regular flushing and cleaning of their water heater tank:

  • Always turn the Water Heater Bypass valve on. If you don’t, your RV’s water supply will fill it up as fast as the water gushing out of it!
  • Turn off the water heater switch inside your RV. Some RVs have another on/off switch right on the water heater, outside on the side of the RV. It’s best to turn both off.
  • Open the pressure release valve at the top of the water heater (outside on the side of the RV) before loosening the drain plug. Trust us on this one.
  • When you’re done flushing and cleaning, replace the drain valve or anode (retape with plumber’s tape, if needed), and turn off the Water Heater Bypass valve. This will refill the tank. Look for leaks around the drain valve or anode and tighten or replace as needed.
  • When water starts dripping or “spitting” out of the pressure release valve, flip it closed and press it slightly

How often should your flush and clean your RV’s water heater tank? Here are some guidelines, based on your usage:

  • Occasional or weekend RVer: Once a year or more often if the location your camp in has well water or you use no filter between the city water and your RV
  • Part-timer or heavy but not full-time RVer: Twice a year or more often if the location your camp in has well water or you use no filter between the city water and your RV
  • Full-timer: Even if you use a filter and/or water softener system, this RVer should be flushing and cleaning their RV’s water heater tank every three months

If you schedule a full waste tank cleaning service with Kleen Tank, we perform a complimentary water heater flush and cleaning. We can also perform this service on an “a la carte” basis if your RV isn’t currently at an RV park or site that has full hook-ups.