RV Water Heater Bursts: What to Do?

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  • Post last modified:December 12, 2019

RV water heater bursts: What to do?When your RV water heater bursts, what do you do? Few things fill a person with dread more than seeing a pool of water around their water heater. Not only do you have to replace the unit you could also be facing costly repairs and cleaning bills. We’ve delved into this all too common problem and have come up with a few things you must remember to do when your RV water heater fails.

Turning off the water and power should be the first order of business when your water heater bursts. This will keep the damage manageable and reduce the risk of fire. As soon as you see the problem, you need to act. Then you can move on to clean up and notifying your insurance company.

While it’s important to know what to do when you the worst happens, you should also know how to spot the warning signs of a failing RV water heater. Being able to make a repair or replace the unit before it bursts will save you time and money. While there aren’t always visible signs, you don’t want to ignore them when they are present. Later, we’ll talk about a few things you should keep an eye on.

What to Do When a Water Heater Bursts

Turn Off the Water Supply

The first thing you want to do when your RV water heater bursts is to shut off the water supply. To do this, you need to identify the cold water line. This is easy to do. The cold water line runs into the top of the water heater. All you have to do is close the valve by turning the handle. Normally, the cold water stops flowing when the tank is full, but a burst tank isn’t a normal situation. A burst tank will never fill, so that water just keeps running, leaving you with a huge mess in your RV.

Turn off the Power to the Heater

Once you have the water shut off, you need to turn off the power to the water heater. Failing to do so can spark a fire. The heating element in the tank warms the water to a certain point and then shuts itself off. If the thermostat has failed, it will just keep heating up. This can quickly cause a fire that could destroy your RV and put the lives of those inside in peril. Flipping the breaker will keep you safe and limit the damage to water on the floor.

Document the Incident

The next thing you want to do is document the incident. Take pictures of the water heater and the damage to give your insurance company a clear idea of what happened. Do this before replacing the water heater or making any repairs. Before you do anything you need to properly communicate with your insurance provider to ensure you get paid.

The final step is obvious; clean up the water. Standing water is a problem for two reasons. It can cause structural damage to the RV, rotting out floors and walls. Making those types of repairs is never easy and they’re even more difficult in an RV.  Water can also spawn mold. Mold poses a health risk and mitigation services are expensive. It’s more than worth the extra time it takes to mop up the mess.

Can a Leaking Water Heater explode?

A leaking water heater can be a simple fix. Or it can be a precursor to a catastrophe. A failing T&P (temperature and pressure) valve means one of the parts of your water heater that is engineered to keep you safe isn’t doing its job. If it isn’t correctly regulating the pressure inside the tank an explosion can occur. Since it can be difficult for the average person to pinpoint the cause of a leak, it is a good idea to call a plumber once you spot water.

Is a Leaking Water Heater Dangerous?

A leak can be a sign that your water heater is failing. You should immediately shut off the power to your unit and determine what is causing the leak. A leaking water heater can be dangerous for other reasons as well. For one, it can cause structural damage to your RV. It can also cause mold to grow. If a rusted out pipe is the source of the leak, it could also expose you and your family to water that contains potentially harmful bacteria.

Is Sediment in a Hot Water Tank Dangerous?

A certain amount of sediment is present in any older water heater. Depending on where you live and the quality of the water, over time it could be quite a bit. The reason it is something you should be concerned about is the extra stress it puts on your water heater. By forcing the components inside to work harder, the build-up can hasten the unit’s demise with possibly catastrophic consequences. Draining your tank regularly is the best way to protect yourself from this hazard.

Is a Water Heater Whistling Dangerous?

Water heaters can make a whistling sound for a variety of reasons. Frequently, it is the result of normal wear and tear, such as a loose drain valve or aging inlet or outlet connectors. A more serious problem is a corroded tank. Cracks in the tank can also account for the whistling sound and could be an early indication that the tank is in danger of bursting. When you hear that sound, you should get it checked out as soon as possible. Every day you wait increases the chances of a major issue.

A burst RV water heater can be expensive and even deadly. When it happens, its crucial that you know what to do in order to prevent widespread damage or injury. Fortunately, water heater problems rarely happen out of the blue. You will normally have ample warning that something is wrong. Acting fast can help keep you and your family safe and comfortable in your RV.

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