Suburban Water Heater Questions & Answers
Can I operate my water heater's electric element and gas burner at the same time?
Yes, when taking advantage of available campsite or generator-produced electricity you may operate on both gas and electric for a faster recovery rate.
I have an Atwood water heater in my RV. Can it be replaced with a Suburban?
Yes. First check your model size (whether you are operating a 6-gallon or 10-gallon tank) and the sidewall cut-out and depth dimensions. For 6-gallon models you can purchase Suburban's part number 520787 6-gallon aluminum tank water heater replacement kit. This kit includes a standard mount door frame, two flanges to trim out the side wall opening, and a Colonial white door with hinge. This door covers the trim flanges to give a factory installed appearance. Ten gallon models do not require a kit.
Are all water heaters equipped with an Anode Rod? What is its function? When should it be changed?
Only Suburban water heaters feature an anode rod. The anode equalizes aggressive water action, providing cathodic protection for the tank. It is a very important factor in tank life and should only be removed for inspection, draining or replacement. It is removeable using a 1-1/16" socket.
All Suburban water heaters are protected by a magnesium or aluminum anode to prolong the life of the tank. Under normal use, the anode rod will deteriorate. Because of this, we recommend it be replaced annually or when consumption or weight loss of the rod is greater than 75%. Note: Water with high levels of iron and/or sulfate will increase the rate of deterioration. To extend anode life, drain water from tank whenever the RV is not being used. Avoid any extended time of non-use with water in the tank.
Why does water drip from my water heater's pressure relief and temperature valve?
You may experience water weeping or dripping from your water heater's pressure and temperature (P&T) relief valve when your water heater is operating. Water weeping or dripping does not mean that the P&T valve is defective. As water is heated, it expands. The water system in a recreational vehicle is a closed system and does not allow for the expansion of heated water. When the pressure of the water system exceeds the relieving point of the P&T valve, the vale will relieve the excess pressure.
One way to reduce the frequency of this occurrence is to maintain an air pocket at the top of the water heater tank. This air pocket will form in the tank by design - however, it will be reduced over time by the everyday use of your water heater. To replenish this air pocket:
Turn off the water heater.
Turn off the cold water supply line.
Open a faucet in the RV.
Pull out the handle of the pressure relief (P&T) valve and allow water to flow from the valve until it stops.
Release the handle on the P&T valve - it should snap closed.
Close the faucet and turn on the cold water supply. As the tank fills, the air pocket will develop. Repeat this procedure as often as needed to reduce the frequency of the weeping P&T valve. If the weeping persists after following this procedure, you may elect to have your dealer install an expansion or accumulator tank in the cold water line between the tank and check valve to relieve the pressure caused by thermal expansion.
I noticed an add-on electric element for my water heater. What will happen if I use it?
Any alterations to a Suburban water heater will void its warranty. This includes add-on electric aftermarket heating elements. There are a number of heating elements being offered. These elements are supplied with different types of thermostats which are mounted in various locations of the water heater. These heating elements can lack critical safety controls. Use of these devices can lead to an out of control heating of the water tank and a catastrophic wet side explosion. The use of these aftermarket heating element devices may result in damage to components or the water heater. When aftermarket heating elements are inserted into the anode rod/drain connection, tank life is shortened by accelerating inner tank corrosion. This will be a non-warrantable situation.
There is a bad odor coming from the hot water faucet. How can I correct this?
Odor from the hot water system is not a service problem and many water supplies contain sufficient amounts of sulphur to produce an odor. The odor is similar to rotten eggs and is often referred to as "sulphur water." Sulphur water is not harmful - only unpleasant to smell. Sulphur water can be caused by a chemical action or by bacteria. The key to eliminating this smell is heavy chlorination of the water system. Add about six (6) ounces of chlorine (common household liquid bleach) to each 10 gallons in the water tank. Then run the heavily chlorinated water throughout the system, opening each faucet one at a time until you smell the chlorine. Let the RV sit a few days and the chlorine should take care of the problem. Then you will need to take care of the chlorine by flushing the water system. If you don't have a water filtration system that removes chlorine, you may have a problem getting rid of the chlorine taste. You might consider adding such a system because it allows you to keep water chlorinated and this prevents several problems, including sulphur water. Chlorination also takes care of other types of bacteria and viruses.
How do I drain my water heater?
If the RV is to be stored during winter months, the water heater must be drained to prevent damage from freezing:
Turn off electrical power to the water heater either at the switch from the electric element or a breaker.
Shut off the gas supply to the water heater.
Turn off the pressure pump on the water system.
Open both hot and cold water faucets.
Remove the anode rod from the tank.
Follow the RV manufacturer's instructions for draining the entire water system.
Are there any tips for winterizing my water heater?
If your water heater plumbing system is equipped with a bypass kit, use it to close off the water heater. Drain the water heater completely and leave it closed off (out of the system) in the bypass position, particularly if you are introducing antifreeze into the plumbing system. Antifreeze can be very corrosive to the anode rod. The result will be accelerated deterioration of the rod and heavy sediment in the tank. If the plumbing system is not equipped with a bypass kit and you intend to winterize by adding antifreeze into the system, remove the anode rod (storing it for the winter) and replace it with a 3/4" drain plug.
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