How To Clean Rv Hot Water Heater With Vinegar?

To clean an rv hot water heater with vinegar, simply drain the tank and mix equal parts vinegar and water. Pour the mixture into the tank, let it sit for an hour, then drain and rinse thoroughly.

Rv hot water heaters can accumulate mineral deposits over time, reducing their efficiency and lifespan. Regular cleaning with vinegar helps remove these deposits and maintain optimal performance. We will guide you through the process of cleaning your rv hot water heater using vinegar, ensuring that it is done effectively and safely.

By following our step-by-step instructions, you can ensure that your rv hot water heater remains in top condition, providing you with consistent hot water during your travels. So let’s get started and learn how to clean your rv hot water heater with vinegar.

How To Clean Rv Hot Water Heater With Vinegar?


Understanding The Function Of An Rv Hot Water Heater

An essential component of any recreational vehicle, the hot water heater allows you to enjoy the comforts of a warm shower or clean dishes on your travels. To ensure optimal performance and longevity, it’s crucial to understand how an rv hot water heater works and the importance of regular maintenance.

How An Rv Hot Water Heater Works:

  • An rv hot water heater is typically powered by either propane gas or electricity, depending on the model. It operates through a simple process that involves heating and storing water for immediate use when needed.
  • The unit consists of a tank, heating elements or a burner, valves, and a thermostat. These components work together seamlessly to provide a steady supply of hot water.
  • When hot water is required, cold water flows into the tank through an inlet valve. The thermostat measures the water temperature and activates the necessary heating element or burner to raise the temperature to the desired level.
  • As the water heats up, it is stored within the tank until a faucet or shower is turned on. The heated water then flows out through an outlet valve, providing you with a consistent source of hot water.
  • Whether you’re using an electric or propane-powered rv hot water heater, the basic working principle remains the same: Heat the water and store it until needed.

The Importance Of Regular Maintenance:

  • Regular maintenance is vital for keeping your rv hot water heater in optimal condition and ensuring its longevity. Neglecting maintenance can lead to inefficiency, malfunctions, and costly repairs.
  • Flushing the tank periodically helps remove sediment and mineral buildup, allowing the heating elements or burner to work efficiently. This maintenance task optimizes the unit’s performance and extends its lifespan.
  • Cleaning the hot water heater with vinegar is a simple and effective method to eliminate mineral deposits. Vinegar’s acidic properties dissolve the buildup, improving heat transfer and preventing potential damage.
  • Regularly inspecting the tank, valves, and connections for leaks or damages is crucial. Identifying any issues early on prevents further damage and potential water damage within your rv.
  • Additionally, checking the anode rod—a sacrificial component that prevents corrosion—is important. Replacing the anode rod when necessary helps protect the tank from rust and extends the lifespan of the unit.
  • Maintenance of the pressure relief valve is also essential, as it ensures the safe operation of the hot water heater. Ensuring that the valve is not stuck and is in proper working order allows excess pressure to escape, preventing potential hazards.
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By understanding the functioning of an rv hot water heater and giving it the regular maintenance it requires, you can enjoy a reliable and efficient supply of hot water throughout your travels. So, let’s dive into how to clean your rv hot water heater using vinegar to keep it in top shape!

Step-By-Step Guide To Cleaning Your Rv Hot Water Heater With Vinegar

Cleaning your rv hot water heater with vinegar is an easy and effective way to remove sediment and mineral buildup, ensuring that your water remains clean and your heater operates efficiently. Follow this step-by-step guide to get your hot water heater sparkling clean.

Gathering The Necessary Materials

Before you begin, gather the following materials:

  • White distilled vinegar
  • Hose or bucket
  • Wrench or pliers
  • Gloves

Turn Off The Water Supply To The Rv

To ensure safety and prevent any accidents, start by turning off the water supply to your rv. Locate the water shutoff valve and make sure it is tightly closed.

Drain The Hot Water Heater

Next, you’ll need to drain the hot water heater. Here’s how to do it:

  • Connect a hose to the drain valve located at the bottom of the heater or prepare a bucket.
  • Open the pressure relief valve to allow air into the tank, allowing the water to flow smoothly.
  • Open the drain valve and let the water empty completely out of the tank.

Mixing The Vinegar Solution

Once the tank is drained, it’s time to mix the vinegar solution:

  • Fill the tank one-third of the way with white distilled vinegar.
  • Add an equal amount of water to dilute the vinegar solution.

Flushing The Hot Water Tank With Vinegar Solution

Now it’s time to flush the hot water tank with the vinegar solution. Here’s how to do it:

  • Close the drain valve and remove the hose if used.
  • Open the water supply valve temporarily to fill the tank with the vinegar solution.
  • Let the vinegar solution circulate through the tank for about 2-3 hours.

Allow The Vinegar Solution To Sit In The Tank

After circulating the vinegar solution, allow it to sit in the tank for a few hours or overnight. This will help dissolve any stubborn mineral deposits and sediment.

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Rinse And Drain The Hot Water Tank

Once the vinegar solution has had time to sit, it’s time to rinse and drain the tank:

  • Open the drain valve and let the vinegar solution flow out of the tank completely.
  • Flush the tank with fresh water to remove any remaining vinegar residue.
  • Continue flushing until the water runs clear.

Refill And Test The Hot Water Heater

After thoroughly rinsing the tank, it’s time to refill and test your hot water heater:

  • Close the drain valve and remove the hose if used.
  • Open the water supply valve to refill the tank with clean water.
  • Turn on a hot water faucet in your rv to allow any trapped air to escape.
  • Once the water runs smoothly without any air bubbles, your hot water heater is ready for use.

Keep in mind that cleaning your rv hot water heater with vinegar should be done on a regular basis to maintain optimal performance and extend the life of your equipment. By following this step-by-step guide, you can enjoy clean and efficient hot water during your rv adventures.

Tips And Precautions For Cleaning Your Rv Hot Water Heater

Cleaning your rv hot water heater regularly is essential to maintaining its efficiency and preventing any future issues. By using vinegar as a cleaning agent, you can eliminate mineral deposits that may have accumulated over time. However, it is crucial to take certain precautions and adapt the cleaning method based on the type of hot water heater you have.

Here are some tips to keep in mind:

Safety Precautions While Working With Rv Hot Water Heaters

Before you begin cleaning your rv hot water heater, it is essential to prioritize safety. Follow these precautions to ensure your well-being:

  • Turn off the water heater: Before attempting any cleaning or maintenance, make sure to turn off the hot water heater and allow it to cool down. This will prevent any accidental burns.
  • Disconnect the power source: If your rv is connected to an electrical power source, disconnect it before starting the cleaning process. This will eliminate the risk of electric shock.
  • Wear protective gear: When working on your rv hot water heater, wear gloves and safety goggles to protect yourself from any chemicals or debris that may be released during the cleaning process.
  • Ventilate the area: Ensure proper ventilation in the area where you are cleaning the hot water heater to prevent any buildup of fumes or gases.

Using Different Methods For Cleaning Based On The Type Of Hot Water Heater

There are two main types of rv hot water heaters: tankless and tank-style. Each requires a slightly different cleaning approach. Here’s what you need to know:

For tankless hot water heaters:

  • Turn off the water supply: Shut off the water supply to the heater before initiating the cleaning process.
  • Flush the system: Connect a vinegar-filled bucket or container to the cold water inlet and turn on the hot water faucet. Let the vinegar flow through the system for about an hour, ensuring that it thoroughly cleans the internal components.
  • Rinse the system: After the vinegar has circulated, flush the system with fresh water. This will remove any remaining vinegar residue.
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For tank-style hot water heaters:

  • Drain the tank: Start by draining the tank completely. This will allow you to access the interior for thorough cleaning.
  • Mix vinegar and water: Create a solution of equal parts vinegar and water. This will provide an effective cleaning agent.
  • Scrub the interior: Use a soft brush or sponge dipped in the vinegar-water solution to scrub the inside of the tank. Pay particular attention to areas with mineral deposits or buildup.
  • Rinse the tank: Once you have scrubbed the tank, rinse it thoroughly with clean water to remove any leftover debris or vinegar solution.

Regular Maintenance Practices To Prevent Future Issues

In addition to periodic cleaning, implementing regular maintenance practices is key to preventing future problems with your rv hot water heater. Here are some practices to consider:

  • Inspect for leaks: Routinely check for any signs of leaks around the water heater, such as puddles or damp areas. Addressing leaks promptly can prevent more significant issues down the line.
  • Flush the tank periodically: Flushing the hot water tank once every six months can help remove sediments and ensure efficient heating.
  • Clean the burner assembly: Take the time to clean the burner assembly at least once a year to maintain optimal performance.
  • Check and replace the anode rod: Inspect the anode rod for corrosion regularly. If significant corrosion is present, replace it to prevent damage to the tank.

By following these tips and precautions and incorporating regular maintenance practices, you can ensure that your rv hot water heater functions efficiently and provides you with hot water whenever you need it.


All in all, cleaning your rv hot water heater with vinegar is a simple and effective way to maintain its performance and longevity. Vinegar’s natural properties make it a safe and natural cleaning solution for removing mineral deposits and scale buildup.

By following the step-by-step process mentioned in this blog post, you can easily flush and clean your hot water heater without the need for harsh chemicals. Regular maintenance and cleaning will not only improve the heater’s efficiency but also extend its lifespan, saving you time and money in the long run.

So, don’t overlook the importance of cleaning your rv hot water heater with vinegar and ensure a clean, efficient, and properly functioning hot water supply on your next trip. Happy camping!


I am a mechanical engineer and love doing research on different home and outdoor heating options. When I am not working, I love spending time with my family and friends. I also enjoy blogging about my findings and helping others to find the best heating options for their needs.