3 Steps to Troubleshooting Your Caravan’s Hot Water System

Author: Tahlia Maynard   Date Posted:14 January 2017 

Let's troubleshoot your caravan's hot water system with these three quick steps.

Among the most common issues that the average caravan owner faces on the road, is a hot water system that refuses to provide hot water. It’s a frustrating situation to be in and even more so - to get out of. With so many valves, connections and components, zeroing in on the problem seems near impossible. Lets attempt to simplify the troubleshooting process into 3 categories of checking procedures. Try them in the order we’ve listed them in, and with any luck, you should be able to regain access to hot water in your caravan. If not, you should seek the advice of a qualified technician or servicemen. 

  1. Check for gas or electrical supply issues.

More often than not, hot water systems stop working because of a fault in the gas or power supply. If your HWS runs on gas, your other gas-powered appliances can give you a clue as to whether gas is reaching your system. If they seem to be malfunctioning as well, check the main regulator pressure. It should ideally be 2.8kPa. If all of this is in order and it’s just your HWS that isn’t powering on, check for physical obstructions in the pipe carrying gas to the burner assembly. This is a common place for wasps or spiders to set up shop, and might need some cleaning. In rare cases, the burner itself is the problem. Again, it’ll mostly be a physical obstruction such as excess carbon build-up, which a jet of compressed air can remove.

For electric hot water systems, check that the electrical connection is in order. Check your other electrical appliances to ensure that they’re working. Check for a blown fuse, and replace if necessary.

  1. Check the water supply line.

The water supply to your hot water system is regulated at various points, and any of these could be the source of your problem. Start by turning off the HWS. In most caravans, the switch (two switches in case of dual mode hot water systems) is located under the kitchen sink. Also turn off the water pump, which is controlled by another rocker switch below your kitchen sink. There should be a light here to indicate whether the pump is on or off, though you can always turn on a tap and listen to hear whether the pump is working. Make sure that it’s off, close the tap, and proceed to check the water supply for your caravan hot water system.

Head to your caravan’s utilities bay and check the position of the water heater bypass lever. This should be in the ‘normal’ position, and not the ‘bypass’ position. The latter option lets you omit the hot water system from your caravan’s plumbing, useful for when you don’t need to use it. In the ‘normal’ setting, turn on a tap to check that the flow of water is about the same in both hot and cold positions. Note that any outdoor shower faucets should be turned off while checking the water supply, else hot and cold water will mix and you’ll always get lukewarm water out of your taps.

  1. Check the thermostat and heating element.

If the above steps have failed to bring out a culprit, chances are that the problem is closer home. If you’ve checked and confirmed that the fuse is all right, and your HWS still won’t give you any hot water, the most probable cause is a broken thermostat. If you have a dual mode (gas and electric) hot water system, and it works on gas but not in the electric mode, the heating element could be broken. These are relatively small problems, and only need a part replaced. Replacement thermostats and heating elements are easily available and can make your hot water system good as new.

If none of the above steps succeed in giving you a solution to the problem, get in touch with a professional right away. Good luck finding the source of your cold water blues - especially before winter is upon us.