Posted by David Lee

Last Updated February 1, 2023

If you have a summer cottage with a plumbing system, you probably know at least something about this problem, but many people don’t. Before leaving the house for the winter, you should make sure that everything is ready for this cold season, and that includes pipes that can easily blow up in cold temperatures if the water stays in them.

No wonder that recreational vehicles have the same problem, and their owners often forget to do this which results in broken water heaters (which are very expensive to replace, by the way).

This article will teach you how to drain RV water heater and avoid this problem.


But before we dive into the process, let’s mention some of the other options to a water tank for your RV. There is only one alternative so far, which is going tankless. Since 2009, some RV manufacturers have found a way to produce water heaters that don’ require a tank.

So, if you are still on the stage of deciding what to buy, then you might consider not having a tank at all. Our topic today is not the pros and cons of going tankless, but you can find many articles on it online.


You might be still questioning why you should drain your RV water heater, so here are some of the reasons to persuade you:

Saves money: You won’t have to deal with a broken water heater that will need a pricey replacement.

Develops a habit: If you drain it every time after camping and having more than two weeks until the next trip, then you will get used to it and easily do it in autumn when you prepare your motor home for the winter.

Prevents smelling

You should drain both your water heater and your freshwater tanks. Why? Because if you let the water stay in them, it will start stinking! You won’t only have to deal with the smell, but the water spoil too, and you won’t be able to use it anymore.

Was that enough to persuade you that you must entirely drain your water heater? Then let’s move on to the process itself.

Steps 1-2: Drain Your Water Heater, Tanks, and Water Lines

Turn off the water heater, the LP gas, and the water pump. If you are hooked up to the city water supply, then turn it off too. Run the hot water inside the RV until it turns cold. This will ensure that the water that you will be working with is at an average temperature.

Outside of the RV, open the panel to the water heater. Open the pressure valve and adjust the wrench to loosen the plastic drain plug. Some plugs also have an anodized rod which should be checked once a year and replaced if necessary.

They usually last for 4-5 years. Remove the drain plug and the rod, and let the water run out.

Once there is no more water running out, replace the rod if needed and put the plug back in place. Close the valve that ensures the pressure release. Now wash off any dirt or debris that came out, and close the panel.

Step 3: Use Antifreeze (Optional)

If you think that a little more won’t hurt, then you should consider using antifreeze for your heater and tanks. It will further prevent them from freezing in the shallow temperatures, but you will have to make sure that you flush the heater and tanks the next time you want to fill it with water. The pipes need antifreeze too!

Congratulations! Now you know how to drain RV water heater.

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