Want to maintain your RV's water heater in tip top shape? It's super easy!

Note, these steps are for a standard “tank” water heater. If you have a tankless water heater, please follow your manufacturer's recommendations for sanitization.

Tools Needed

  1. Replacement Anode Rod. Look up the proper part for your water heater.
    This is ours for a Suburban Water Heater: amzn.to/31XKOtc…
  2. Water Heater Tank Rinser: amzn.to/3h76c5S…
  3. Distilled White Vinegar
  4. Siphon hose (for Nautilus users)

Phase One

The first half of this process, summarized, is flush it and fill it with vinegar.

  1. Turn off your water heater and run all of the hot water out of it.
  2. Shut off the water source (shore or pump).
  3. Relieve pressure from the system by turning on a faucet or shower sprayer (outside).
  4. On the water heater, remove eh outside cover and open the pressure relief valve, which should be near the top.
  5. Using an appropriately sized socket (ours is 1 1/4″), remove the anode rod and drain.
  6. Using the Tank rinser, flush as much of the sediment out as possible.
  7. Replace the Anode Rod (old or new – it doesn't matter).
  8. Fill with distilled white vinegar (the more the better, but going over 50% is overkill)

The process for this last step will vary by RV. If you don't have the Nautilus system, you can likely use the pressure relief valve at the top of the tank. You will need to figure this step out for yourself or ask your water heater's manufacturer. For those with the Nautilus P1 system (like us):

  1. Fill a bucket with your diluted vinegar solution.
  2. Place the Nautilus in “Winterize” mode EXCEPT for the RED valve. leave that one UP.
  3. Connect the siphon hose and put the other end in the bucket.
  4. Turn on the pump.
  5. Open the pressure relief valve on the water heater. The vinegar solution should immediately start to fill the water heater due to the air void in the tank. The bucket will likely empty before the tank is full.
  6. Put the system in “City Water” and continue to fill the tank until water comes out of the pressure relief valve.
  7. Turn the RED knob LEFT to bypass the water heater during the soak phase.
  8. Let soak for a minimum of 4 hours. Overnight is easier.

Phase Two

  1. Put the RED valve back in the Normal (UP) position (for Nautilus P1).
  2. Run your HOT water until you smell no more vinegar.
  3. Remove the Anode Rod.
  4. Flush THOROUGHLY.
  5. Replace Anode Rod with a NEW one and fill the tank again.

Note: We found that it's very easy to think the flushing is done based on the lack of sediment coming from the tank. Use something along with the tank rinser to stir up the sediment when flushing to move things along faster. We used a dryer vent brush.


That's it! Enjoy a clean water heater for another year!

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