How To Keep Rv Water Heater From Freezing?

To keep your rv water heater from freezing, use insulation and heat tape.

How To Keep Rv Water Heater From Freezing?


Components Of An Rv Water Heater

The water heater in your rv is an essential component that provides hot water for various purposes. During the winter months, however, there is a risk of the water heater freezing, which can cause significant damage. To prevent this from happening, it is important to understand the different components of an rv water heater and how they work together to keep the water from freezing.

In this section, we will discuss the tank, heating element, and thermostat, and their crucial roles in maintaining the functionality of your rv water heater.


  • The tank is the main storage unit for the water in your rv water heater.
  • It holds a certain capacity of water, which can vary depending on the size and model of your rv.
  • The tank is typically made of steel or aluminum and is insulated to retain heat.
  • It is essential to ensure that the tank is properly sealed and free from any cracks or leaks that could potentially lead to freezing.

Heating Element

  • The heating element is responsible for heating the water in the tank.
  • It is usually located inside the tank and is powered either by electricity or propane gas.
  • When the water temperature drops below a certain threshold, the heating element kicks in to warm up the water.
  • The heating element should be regularly inspected for any signs of wear or damage and replaced if necessary to maintain optimal performance.


  • The thermostat acts as a temperature control device for the water heater.
  • It regulates the temperature of the water by turning the heating element on or off.
  • The thermostat is usually set to a specific temperature range, which can be adjusted according to your preferences.
  • It is crucial to ensure that the thermostat is functioning correctly and accurately maintaining the desired water temperature.

By understanding the components of an rv water heater and their roles, you can take the necessary precautions to prevent freezing. Regular maintenance and inspections are crucial to ensure that all components are in good working condition. Additionally, insulating the tank and keeping it properly sealed can help retain heat and minimize the risk of freezing.

Remember to always follow the manufacturer’s recommendations and guidelines for your specific rv water heater model.

Insulating The Water Heater

Insulating The Tank

One of the most effective ways to protect your rv water heater from freezing is by insulating the tank. This will help to maintain a steady temperature, preventing it from dropping to a level where freezing can occur. Here are some key points to consider when insulating the tank:

  • Choose the right insulation material: Opt for insulation that is specifically designed for water heaters. Fiberglass or foam pipe wrap can work well in this case.
  • Wrap the tank: Start by wrapping the tank with the insulation material. Make sure that you cover the entire surface area, including the top and bottom.
  • Secure the insulation: Use tape or straps to secure the insulation in place. This will make sure it doesn’t shift or become loose over time.
  • Insulate the access panels: Don’t forget to insulate the access panels on your rv water heater. These areas are prone to heat loss and can benefit from additional insulation.
  • Check for gaps: Inspect the insulation to ensure there are no gaps or openings. Any exposed areas will compromise the effectiveness of the insulation.
  • Maintain proper ventilation: While insulating the tank, it’s important to maintain proper ventilation around the water heater. This will prevent the buildup of moisture and ensure the unit operates efficiently.

Insulating The Pipes

In addition to insulating the tank, it’s equally important to insulate the pipes connected to your rv water heater. Frozen pipes can lead to serious damage and costly repairs. Here’s what you need to know about insulating the pipes:

  • Identify exposed pipes: Locate any exposed pipes that are at risk of freezing. These typically include pipes that run along exterior walls or underneath the rv.
  • Measure and cut insulation: Measure the length of the pipes and cut the insulation material accordingly. It should fit snugly around the pipes without any gaps.
  • Insulate both hot and cold water pipes: Don’t forget to insulate both the hot and cold water pipes. Both can freeze and cause issues if left unprotected.
  • Secure the insulation: Use tape or zip ties to secure the insulation in place. This will ensure it doesn’t come loose during travel or while using the rv.
  • Insulate pipe joints: Pay special attention to pipe joints and fittings. Apply additional insulation around these areas to minimize the risk of freezing.
  • Regularly inspect and maintain: Regularly inspect the insulation on your rv water heater pipes. Replace any damaged or worn-out insulation to maintain its effectiveness.

By insulating both the water heater tank and the pipes, you can greatly reduce the risk of freezing and ensure a steady supply of hot water during rv adventures. Take the time to properly insulate your rv water heater to protect it from freezing temperatures.

Using Electric Rv Water Heaters

Advantages Of Electric Water Heaters

Electric water heaters offer several advantages over other types of rv water heaters. Here are some key points to consider:

  • Energy-efficient: Electric water heaters are known for their energy efficiency, which helps save on fuel costs and reduces the carbon footprint.
  • Easy to install: Installing an electric water heater in your rv is relatively straightforward, making it a convenient choice.
  • Consistent hot water supply: Electric water heaters provide a continuous supply of hot water, ensuring comfort and convenience during your rv trips.
  • Safety features: Most electric water heaters come with built-in safety features such as temperature control and pressure relief valves, ensuring safe operation.
  • Quieter operation: Compared to gas or propane water heaters, electric models tend to operate more quietly, minimizing noise disturbance in your rv.
READ MORE  How to Light a Rheem Hot Water Heater: A Complete Guide.

Keeping Electric Water Heaters From Freezing

Freezing temperatures can pose a risk to your rv’s water heater, but with proper care and precaution, you can prevent freezing issues. Here are some tips to keep your electric water heater from freezing:

  • Insulate your water heater: Use insulation materials such as foam wraps or blankets specifically designed for water heaters. This will help retain heat and prevent freezing in colder temperatures.
  • Use electric tank heaters: Electric tank heaters are available as aftermarket add-ons. These devices wrap around the water heater tank and provide additional insulation, protecting it from freezing.
  • Keep the rv interior warm: By maintaining adequate heat inside your rv, you can prevent the water heater from freezing. Use electric heaters or the rv’s furnace to ensure a consistent temperature.
  • Drain and winterize: If you’re not planning to use your rv during the winter months, it’s essential to drain and winterize the water heater system. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions to remove all water from the tank and lines to prevent freezing and potential damage.
  • Use rv skirting: Installing skirting around your rv can help create an insulated barrier, reducing the exposure of the water heater to cold air and minimizing the risk of freezing.

Remember, it’s crucial to check your rv’s water heater regularly, especially before using it after a long period of inactivity. By taking preventive measures and implementing these tips, you can ensure your electric rv water heater stays protected from freezing temperatures and operates efficiently throughout your adventures.

Using Propane Rv Water Heaters

Propane water heaters are a popular choice for rv owners due to their numerous advantages. Not only do they provide a reliable source of hot water on the go, but they are also more efficient compared to electric water heaters.

In this section, we will explore the advantages of propane water heaters and discuss how to prevent them from freezing.

Advantages Of Propane Water Heaters

Propane water heaters offer several benefits that make them a preferred choice for rv owners:

  • Energy efficiency: Propane water heaters are known for their high energy efficiency. They heat water quickly, which allows for shorter heating cycles and less energy consumption.
  • Cost-effective: Propane is often more cost-effective than electricity when it comes to heating water. This can lead to significant savings in the long run, especially for frequent travelers.
  • Independence from electricity: Propane water heaters can operate independently of an electrical power source. This makes them ideal for rv owners who often camp in remote areas without access to electricity.
  • Faster recovery time: Propane water heaters have a faster recovery time compared to electric ones. This means that you can enjoy hot water more quickly and have a steady supply during showers or when using other appliances simultaneously.

Preventing Propane Water Heaters From Freezing

To ensure that your propane water heater continues to function properly, it is crucial to prevent it from freezing in cold weather. Here are some tips to keep your water heater in good working condition:

  • Insulate the water heater: Use insulation materials, such as foam pipe insulation or heat tape, to cover the water heater and its pipes. This will help prevent heat loss and keep the unit protected from freezing temperatures.
  • Drain the water heater when not in use: If you plan to store your rv during the winter or when temperatures drop below freezing, it is recommended to drain the water heater completely. This will eliminate the risk of any residual water freezing and causing damage to the unit.
  • Install a freeze valve: A freeze valve is a useful device that automatically relieves water pressure if the temperature drops below a certain level, preventing the water heater from freezing. Consider installing one to provide an added layer of protection.
  • Keep the rv heated: Maintaining a consistent interior temperature in your rv is crucial to prevent the water heater from freezing. Make sure to keep the rv properly heated, either by using the furnace or other heating methods, especially during colder months.

By understanding the advantages of propane water heaters and following these preventive measures, you can ensure that your rv’s water heater remains free from freezing and continues to provide you with hot water even in chilly conditions. Stay prepared and enjoy uninterrupted hot showers wherever your rv adventures take you!

Maintaining Proper Ventilation

Importance Of Ventilation For Preventing Freezing

Proper ventilation is crucial in keeping your rv water heater from freezing during cold weather. Without adequate ventilation, moisture can accumulate and lead to freezing components, which can result in costly repairs or replacement. Here’s why ventilation is essential:

  • Prevents condensation buildup: Adequate ventilation allows for proper airflow, minimizing condensation. When excess moisture accumulates, it can freeze and damage various parts of your water heater.
  • Controls humidity levels: Ventilation helps maintain optimal humidity levels inside the rv. High humidity can contribute to freezing issues, as the excess moisture can freeze on key components.
  • Reduces the risk of mold and mildew: Proper ventilation minimizes the chances of mold and mildew growth, which can thrive in moist environments. Mold and mildew can not only damage the water heater but also pose health risks to you and your passengers.

Strategies To Ensure Adequate Ventilation

To ensure proper ventilation and minimize the risk of freezing, consider the following strategies:

  • Clear the exhaust and intake vents: Regularly inspect the exhaust and intake vents of your rv water heater. Ensure they are free from obstructions such as debris, insect nests, or ice buildup. Use a soft brush or cloth to remove any dirt or dust that may accumulate over time.
  • Maintain a clear area around vents: Make sure the area surrounding the exhaust and intake vents remains clear. Remove any objects or materials that may hinder proper airflow, such as leaves, branches, or snow.
  • Install vent covers: Installing vent covers can protect your rv water heater from debris and insects while still allowing sufficient airflow. These covers can prevent blockages and ensure ventilation during all seasons.
  • Check the ventilation system regularly: Periodically inspect your rv’s ventilation system and ensure that it’s functioning correctly. Look for signs of damage or deterioration and address any issues promptly.
READ MORE  How To Convert Natural Gas Water Heater To Propane?

By prioritizing proper ventilation and implementing these strategies, you can effectively prevent freezing in your rv water heater. Regular maintenance and vigilance will help you avoid costly repairs and keep your water heater functioning optimally, even in freezing temperatures.

Keeping The Rv Warm During Winter


Winter is a beautiful season, but it also brings along freezing temperatures that can wreak havoc on your rv water heater. To ensure you have hot water throughout the winter months, it’s important to take precautions to prevent your rv water heater from freezing.

One of the key steps in this process is to keep your rv warm. Here are some effective ways to do just that:

Utilizing Interior Heating Systems

  • Wood-burning stove: Consider installing a wood-burning stove in your rv. Not only does it provide a cozy atmosphere, but it also generates a lot of heat. Make sure to follow safety protocols and ventilate properly while using it.
  • Electric space heaters: Investing in a couple of electric space heaters can go a long way in keeping your rv warm. Place them strategically in the living area and bedroom to maintain a comfortable temperature. Remember to turn them off when you leave the rv or go to sleep.
  • Propane heaters: Propane heaters are an excellent choice for keeping your rv warm during winter. They are portable and provide consistent heat. Just make sure you have proper ventilation to prevent carbon monoxide buildup.

Insulating The Interior Of The Rv

  • Windows: Install thermal curtains or blinds to insulate your rv windows. They will help prevent heat loss and keep the cold air out.
  • Doors: Apply weatherstripping to the doors to eliminate drafts. This will ensure that warm air stays inside and cold air stays out.
  • Floors and walls: Insulate the floors and walls of your rv with foam boards or insulation blankets. This will help retain heat and keep the interior warm.
  • Pipes and water lines: Insulate all exposed pipes and water lines with heat tape or pipe insulation. This will prevent them from freezing and potentially bursting.

Remember, keeping your rv warm during winter is essential to protect your water heater from freezing. By utilizing interior heating systems and insulating the interior of your rv, you can ensure a cozy and comfortable living environment throughout the cold season.

Stay warm and enjoy your rv adventures, even in freezing temperatures!

Draining And Flushing The Water Heater

When camping during the colder months or in regions with freezing temperatures, it is essential to take precautions to prevent your rv water heater from freezing. One of the most crucial steps in this process is draining and flushing the water heater.

This helps remove all the water from the tank, reducing the risk of freezing and potential damage. Let’s go through the step-by-step process for draining and flushing your rv water heater:

  • Turn off the water supply: Before you start working on the water heater, ensure that you turn off the water supply. This prevents any accidental water flow while you are draining and flushing the tank.
  • Locate the drain valve: The drain valve is typically located at the bottom of the water heater tank. It might be a standard petcock valve or a plastic valve with a lever. Familiarize yourself with the location of the drain valve before proceeding.
  • Prepare a drainage area: Find a suitable area to drain the water from the tank. It could be a drainage hose connected to a designated outdoor area or a bucket to collect the water for disposal later.
  • Open the pressure relief valve: Before opening the drain valve, relieve the pressure inside the water heater tank by pulling up the pressure relief valve. This step helps prevent any sudden release of hot water or steam.
  • Attach a hose (if necessary): If your water heater has a threaded drain valve, you can attach a garden hose to it for easy drainage. Ensure the other end of the hose is positioned at the drainage area you prepared earlier.
  • Open the drain valve: Open the drain valve slowly to allow the water to flow out of the tank. Be cautious of the hot water while handling the valve.
  • Flushing the tank: After draining the tank, it’s a good idea to flush it to remove any sediments or debris that might have accumulated. Connect a garden hose to the cold water inlet and run it into a bucket or drain, turning on the water supply. This will help flush out any remaining particles from the tank.
  • Close the drain valve and pressure relief valve: Once the water appears clear, close the drain valve and pressure relief valve, ensuring they are tightly sealed.
  • Refill the tank: Finally, turn on the water supply and allow the tank to refill. Check for any leaks or abnormal behavior during the refill process.
  • Test the water heater: Once the tank is full, you can test the water heater by turning it on and checking if hot water is produced efficiently.

It’s vital to remove all water from the rv water heater tank during freezing temperatures to prevent damage caused by freezing. By following this step-by-step guide to drain and flush your water heater properly, you can ensure its longevity while enjoying your rv adventures even in cold weather.

Stay warm and safe on your travels!

Adding Antifreeze To The System

As winter approaches, one of the crucial tasks for rv owners is to protect their water heaters from freezing. The last thing you want is a burst water heater or broken pipes ruining your camping trip. Is a simple yet effective way to ensure that your rv water heater remains functional even in freezing temperatures.

READ MORE  How To Check If Water Heater Is Gas Or Electric?

Here’s what you need to know about this process.

Choosing The Right Antifreeze For Rv Water Heaters

Before you start adding antifreeze to your rv water heater system, it’s essential to choose the right product. Here are some key points to keep in mind:

  • Opt for non-toxic antifreeze specifically designed for rv or potable water systems. Products like propylene glycol-based antifreeze are safe to use and won’t contaminate your water supply.
  • Check the antifreeze label to ensure it can withstand the lowest temperatures you may encounter during your winter trips. Look for options that can handle sub-zero temperatures to provide optimal protection.
  • Always purchase antifreeze from reputable suppliers to ensure its quality and effectiveness.

Properly Adding Antifreeze To The System

Adding antifreeze to your rv water heater system requires attention to detail to achieve maximum protection. Consider the following steps:

  • Prepare the rv: Before adding antifreeze, make sure you drain the water from the plumbing system, including the water heater tank, to prevent dilution and ensure proper circulation of the new antifreeze.
  • Locate the water heater bypass valve: Rvs often come equipped with a water heater bypass valve for winterizing. Locate this valve, which is typically located near the water heater, to divert water away from the tank during the antifreeze process.
  • Connect the bypass valve: Once you’ve located the bypass valve, connect it according to the manufacturer’s instructions. This step will prevent the antifreeze from entering the water heater tank, ensuring efficiency and saving on antifreeze volume.
  • Prime the pump: Turn on the rv water pump, ensuring it is primed with antifreeze solution. This will help distribute the antifreeze evenly throughout the plumbing system, including the water heater.
  • Start at the faucets: Begin at the faucet farthest from the water pump and open it. Let the antifreeze flow until you see a consistent pink color, indicating the antifreeze has replaced any remaining water in the plumbing lines.
  • Repeat for all faucets: Move systematically from faucet to faucet, including both hot and cold taps, until all lines are filled with antifreeze. Don’t forget outside shower hoses, if applicable.
  • Don’t forget other water outlets: Ensure that other water outlets, such as toilet sprayers, washing machines, and ice makers, are thoroughly flushed with antifreeze as well.
  • Address the water heater drain: Once all lines are filled with antifreeze, it’s time to address the water heater drain. Close the bypass valve and drain any remaining water from the tank, taking care to follow the manufacturer’s instructions.

By following these steps and using the right antifreeze product, you can effectively keep your rv water heater from freezing during the winter months. Protecting your investment and preventing plumbing damage is crucial so that you can enjoy worry-free rv adventures in any season.

Stay warm and happy camping!

Performing Regular Maintenance Checks

One of the most important steps to keep your rv water heater from freezing is by conducting regular maintenance checks. By inspecting the water heater for any leaks or damage and cleaning it regularly, you can prevent freezing issues and prolong the lifespan of your water heater.

Here are the key points to consider:

Inspecting The Water Heater For Any Leaks Or Damage:

  • Check for any visible leaks around the water heater. Leaks can indicate a problem with the water heater’s internal components or connections.
  • Inspect the pressure relief valve for any signs of damage or leaks. This valve helps regulate the pressure inside the water heater and prevent it from bursting.
  • Examine the drain valve to ensure it is functioning properly. If it is faulty, it can lead to leaks or prevent the water from draining properly when needed.
  • Look for any signs of rust or corrosion on the exterior of the water heater. Rust can weaken the tank and lead to leaks or other issues over time.
  • Check the electrical connections and wiring if your water heater operates on electricity. Loose connections or damaged wiring can cause malfunctions or system failures.

Cleaning The Water Heater Regularly:

  • Flush out the water heater tank at least once a year to remove sediment and mineral buildup. This helps maintain the efficiency of the water heater and prevents clogs.
  • Use a cleaning solution specifically designed for water heaters to clean the interior surfaces. This helps remove any stubborn buildup or residue.
  • Inspect and clean the burner assembly if your water heater operates on propane or gas. A dirty burner can affect the performance of the water heater and increase the risk of freezing.
  • Remove any debris or obstructions from the ventilation openings to ensure proper airflow. Restricted airflow can lead to overheating or inefficient operation of the water heater.

By regularly inspecting your rv water heater for leaks or damage and cleaning it properly, you can significantly reduce the risk of freezing issues and ensure optimal performance. Make sure to follow the manufacturer’s guidelines and schedule maintenance checks as recommended.

Taking these preventive measures will not only save you from potential headaches but also extend the life of your water heater. Stay proactive and keep your rv water heater in top shape throughout every season.


Maintaining a properly functioning water heater is crucial for rv owners, especially during cold weather. By following the tips mentioned such as insulating the water heater, using an rv skirt, and utilizing heat tape, you can effectively prevent your rv water heater from freezing.

Regularly monitoring the temperature, checking for leaks, and draining the system when necessary are also essential for avoiding potential freezing issues. Remember to double-check your rv’s manual for any manufacturer recommendations or specific instructions. By taking proactive measures and implementing these strategies, you can ensure a steady supply of hot water in your rv and protect your water heater from freezing in the winter months.


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.