Saturday, November 27, 2021


Water heater not hot when on electric — What’s wrong?

By Chris Dougherty
Chris Dougherty is a certified RV technician. Here is a letter he received from a reader while he was serving as’s technical editor.

Dear Chris,
I have a hot water tank that runs on electric or propane and after a couple years it no longer heats with electric. Any suggestions? —Barbara

Dear Barbara,
I am assuming that you have checked the usual culprits, including the AC circuit breakers and the switches on the wall, and on the water heater if there is one.

chris fix whThe easiest thing to do is confirm the AC power is getting to the element terminals, which requires using a multimeter and removing the cover from the electric element. With the power on if there is power at the element, then the element has burned out, and can be easily replaced. A water heater element wrench is needed to get the element out of the empty tank, and can be purchased at your local home center. The replacement element for your water heater can be purchased online or from your local RV service center or parts supplier.

Warning: You are dealing with live electricity and water. If you’re not comfortable with this repair, please seek the help of a certified RV technician.



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5 years ago

Good day, Chris.

My H2O heater recently experienced the same malady….the result of a $1.00 rocker switch. The original was 15 amp. I upgraded to 20 amp.

Thanks for your GREAT technical advice!