How to Drain An RV Water Heater

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As an RV owner, you’ll find that you need to drain the hot water heater on your RV at some point. This could be due to troubleshooting an issue, winterizing your RV, or simply strong it for a period of time. Draining the water system in your RV is critical to extend the life of the hot water heater, keep the water from getting stale, and causing damage from freezing in the winter.

Draining the hot water heater in your RV is not difficult. In fact, there are only 3 steps- and one of them is optional. Simply remove the drain plug and open the pressure relief valve to allow the water to drain out. If you wish, you can flush out your water heater- but this is not required.  

In this article, we’ll explain in depth how to drain the hot water heater in your RV.

Should RV Hot Water Heaters be Drained?

At the end of the season and any time your RV sits for more than 2 weeks at a time, it’s a good idea to drain your hot water heater. If you let it sit for longer than that, you risk the water becoming contaminated/stale. This can cause the sulfur smell and may even be unhealthy to consume.

As a general rule, hot water heaters should be drained:

  • At least once a year
  • Prior to storing for the winter
  • If a freeze is possible

Therefore, this is definitely a process you want to understand how to do. As mentioned, it’s a fairly easy process, as you will see below.

Steps to Draining Hot Water Heater

Before you get started with draining the hot water heater on your RV, there are a few things that must be done.

  • Turn off the propane/electricity supply to your water heater. You may even want to turn off the breaker as well. If the electric water heater is on with no water in the tank, the element could burn out.
  • Turn off the water going into your RV, including the pump and relieve pressure by turning on faucets.
  • Allow water in tank to cool before draining- you don’t want to burn yourself in this process.

Remove Drain Plug

Typically, the water heater will be located in an outside compartment on your RV. Find it and then locate the drain plug on the unit. This will usually be in the bottom left-hand corner. You may want to consult your owner’s manual for specific instructions on how to remove the plug.

Open Pressure Relief Valve

Once the plug has been removed and water is draining, you can open the pressure relief valve to help this process. This valve is located at the top of the unit.

Once the water has stopped draining, you’re done. However, there’s one more thing you can do if you wish.

Flush Water Heater

One thing to keep in mind is that the drain plug is higher than the bottom of your tank, which means that sediment/minerals could collect in the bottom and cause it to become clogged. Therefore, it’s a good idea to flush the water heater 1-2 times per year.

Connect a water heater tank rinser to your water hose and turn it on. To flush out the tank, insert the rinser into the water heater drain and open the valve. Flush for several minutes or until the water is clean/clear.


From time to time, the hot water tank in your RV needs to be drained. It’s recommended that you drain it at least once a year. If you’re planning to winterize your RV or allow it to sit for more than 2 weeks, you should take the time to drain your water heater. As you can see, this is an easy process- but you should check your owner’s manual for specifics on your water heater. 

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