3 Steps to Troubleshooting Your Caravan’s Hot Water System

3 Steps to Troubleshooting Your Caravan’s Hot Water System

A hot water system that refuses to provide hot water is among the most common issues that a caravan owner faces on the road. 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 steps and with any luck you should be able to regain access to hot water. If not, you should seek the advice of a qualified technician. 


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 hot water system 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 hot water system 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.

Maintanece Tip: For electric hot water systems, check that the electrical connection is in order. For gas hot water systems you should be checking that the lines are free from damaged and all fittings are snug. 


2. 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 hot water system. 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. Otherwise hot and cold water will mix and you’ll always get lukewarm water out of your taps.

Maintanence Tip: Keeping your water tank/ water supply clean and free of debris is a key factor to keeping your hot water system working when you need it most. Flushing your water lines and your hot water tanks regularly will prevent build-up of residue which can cause problems later on down the track. 


3. Check The Thermostat and Heating Element

If the above steps have failed to bring out a culprit, chances are that the problem is closer to home. If you’ve checked and confirmed that the fuse is all right, and your hot water system 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. 

Maintanence Tips: Most caravan hot water systems will have a sacrificial anode installed. Water inside the systems tanks can become corrosive. This anode keeps the water cleaner and extends the tanks life. These need to be inspected regularly and replaced periodically.  


If you think it's time for an upgrade, check out our extensive range of caravan hot water systems here.-

DISCLAIMER* Please note, this advice is general in nature and we strongly recommend consulting the product manual and where relevant, a professional installer.

Comments (43)

Swift hot water

Hi my swift hot water system gave up working on 240 v i replaced element and thermostat got hot once then this morning nothing works on gas any way i can check or do i have to get electrian in thanks
By: Keith Lintott on 08 June 2023

www.caravanrvcamping.com.au Response
Hi Keith, have you also check the Anode doesn't need replacing? These are a consumable product and needs to be replaced based on how harsh the water is. If this all fails it might be time to get it inspected by a Caravan Repairer

Hot water system

I have a a Truma hot water heater, i have hot water to the shower but not to the bathroom and kitchen sink ? Never had this happen problem before?
By: Derek Bedford on 08 June 2023

www.caravanrvcamping.com.au Response
Hi Derek, your first place to check is the hot water pipe that runs from the hot water system to the sinks. Sometimes we put things in the cupboards in the caravan and kink the pipes heading to the sinks. It is the most common cause for this problem. Next is to check the valves, sometimes these are accidentally shut off or become blocked with debris.

Hot water service for caravan

When I switch on hot water when on gas, the light flashes slowly then it will stay on solid for a little while then it flashes quickly, what does all this mean
By: Gavin on 08 June 2023

www.caravanrvcamping.com.au Response
Hi Gavin, we would need to know a little more about the type of hot water service you have to see if we can help you out. Please don't hesitate to reach out on our LIVE Chat or call us on 1800 787 278 and we can see if we can assist. Alternatively getting the hot water service to your closest agent so they can inspect and assist

Alden 310

Hi All,My Alden 310 hotwatwer central Heating unit will not power up at all! Even the control panel! Checked all Fuses! Look Good but nothing!
By: Bill on 08 June 2023

www.caravanrvcamping.com.au Response
Hi Bill, have you tracked your cabling all the way from the hot water service to the power source. Over time vibrations and even pests can damage wiring. If all this fails, there could also be an issue with the main power board of the unit that will need replacing. I am unfamiliar with that brand though, so it might pay to research who can assist further. If you have no luck, it may be time to replace the unit. Check out our range of hot water services here https://www.caravanrvcamping.com.au/caravan-hot-water-system


My new hot water heater worked well for a few months and now the water only heats to about 38deg which is okay for summer but no good for dishes or winter showers
By: William Hallett on 08 June 2023

www.caravanrvcamping.com.au Response
Hi William, there could be an issue with your thermostat. It would be best to contact the manufacturer of the hot water system or the retailer you purchased it off. It could be covered under warranty if it is a manufacturing fault

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