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Old 09-03-2012, 08:28 PM   #11
B47
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If the element doesn't have water around it (full tank), it will burn up if you put power to it. If you drain at the end of the season, it could freeze like a frozen soda can and destroy it. The plan should be at the end off the season, turn off the breaker to the water heater, drain it, turn the three bypass valves and the pump RV anti-freeze through the rest of the system.

Understand the need to have water in the tank before switching on the electric.

But for some people (myself included) pumping RV anti-freeze though the water system as part of a winterizing program isn't always necessary weather permitting, of course. And even if you live in a cold climate, you can always install the kit that allows you to blow compressed air though the lines instead of adding anti-freeze.

And maybe it does or could happen, but has anyone heard of an empty RV water heater tank freezeing?
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Old 09-03-2012, 08:34 PM   #12
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And maybe it does or could happen, but has anyone heard of an empty RV water heater tank freezeing?
I have never heard of an empty water heater freezing. What is there to freeze ?? Even if there we still just a couple of tablespoons of water in there, I don't see where that would cause damage. That little bit of water would ride up the sides as it freezes, and shouldn't cause any damage.

I even get out the last little bit of water out of the tank by putting a rolled up paper towel in the tank and letting it hang over the side of the camper. The residual water will "wick" down the paper towel from the wettest to the driest, lowest point.
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Old 09-03-2012, 08:37 PM   #13
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I drain ours every single time out. I'm not even sure why you wouldn't as it takes little time or effort. Sometimes the available water is less than desirable and it'll get funky if it gets left in there.
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Old 09-03-2012, 08:42 PM   #14
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I'm with Murray. It's easy to drain, it allows you to frequently inspect your anode rod, it keeps water in the tank from getting funky (if there's no water in there, it can't get funky,) and why carry around an extra 50 pounds of water if you don't have to? Fuel isn't getting any cheaper. Just release the pressure relief valve at the top of the tank, MAKE SURE the electric element is off, and unscrew that plug. After a few times of practice, you'll learn where to stand so you don't get wet.

On the flip side, I actually allow my water heater to fill up when I leave the house prior to dry camping--that gives me an extra 6 gallons over the 42 that fits in the fresh tank--so in that case, it's worth the fuel mileage penalty to have 48 gallons of water on board instead of 42. But I still always drain out before heading home. Good luck!
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Old 09-03-2012, 08:59 PM   #15
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If my trailer is going to sit over 2 weeks before its next use I will drain it.

I went to auto zone and bought a ratchet, extender, and socket that fits the drain plug. I leave it in my storage compartment of the trailer. With that in my hand and a roll of teflon tape its a breeze to take on and off.
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Old 09-03-2012, 09:09 PM   #16
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On the flip side, I actually allow my water heater to fill up when I leave the house prior to dry camping--that gives me an extra 6 gallons over the 42 that fits in the fresh tank--so in that case, it's worth the fuel mileage penalty to have 48 gallons of water on board instead of 42. But I still always drain out before heading home. Good luck!
I also fill the lines and the water heater before leaving home so I don't hold up the water fill area at the campground. Drives me nuts watching some guy that waits until he's at the campground trying to remember how his water system works.
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Old 09-03-2012, 09:30 PM   #17
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Might as well cover anode inspection:

The anode is a sacrificial piece of metal that is designed to "rust" FIRST so your water tank does not. Only IRON hot water heaters have them (like Suburban). Aluminum boiler hot water heaters (like Atwood) do not.

You only need to replace them when there is less than 25% of the material left on the rod. Many do not wait that long and change around 50%.

I am going on 4 years now on my original anode. Others go through an anode a year. It all depends on the kind of water you have.
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Old 09-03-2012, 10:17 PM   #18
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Good instructions Lew...I replaced mine just after we bought the trailer used. I thought, boy this thing is all corroded, now I know. I pulled mine last week and drained my hw heater just to clean things out. And yes, you need to bleed the pressure on it..I forgot..good thing I had my shorts and flip flops on. I filled my tank back up and used the gas and ac to check it out...it did take awhile to get all the air out. Now ready to head out on Saturday morning....Oh...I used my adjustable wrench and a screwdriver to turn the wrench..still haven't bought a socket.
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Old 09-03-2012, 10:29 PM   #19
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It is false economy (IMO) to jury rig something to get the anode out. If you round off the ears on the anode bolt you will have a heck of a time getting it out. Spend a few dollars and get a proper wrench.

Camco 9883 Element Wrench - Amazon.com
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Old 09-04-2012, 12:17 AM   #20
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It is false economy (IMO) to jury rig something to get the anode out. If you round off the ears on the anode bolt you will have a heck of a time getting it out. Spend a few dollars and get a proper wrench.
X2 on that bit of advice!
And we drain our tank after every trip. One time when we didn't, something in the water reacted with the anode rod and created a white "snot" that grew on the rod, and it stank to high heaven. It took a lot of effort to clean the tank. So for the 15 seconds it takes to remove the rod, and the minute to replace, why wouldn't you take it out?
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