Your RV Water Heater Anode Rod – DIY!

If you have an RV water heater anode rod, then you have a Suburban water heater. There are two main brand names of RV water heaters. One is made by Suburban and the other is made by Atwood. Both are fine water heaters and last a long time with regular maintenance.

But a Suburban water heater has a porcelain lined steel tank. This kind of water heater tank is very similar to the kind used in your home water heater. The only problem with this kind of tank is that it can corrode inside over a long period of time if it is not maintained properly. But to make the tank last a long time an anode rod is inserted into the tank. This anode rod attracts the corrosive elements in the water and sacrifices itself to protect the tank lining. So every so often you need to replace the corroded anode rod with a new one.

Annual RV Water Heater Maintenance

It’s generally accepted that you should inspect your Suburban water heater once a year. This involves draining all of the water out, flushing it thoroughly, and replacing the anode rod if needed. It may sound like a lot to do but the truth is that it is fairly simple and most RV owners can do it themselves.

As you get started, be sure to turn off the water heater itself. It often has a power button on the tank side, so just turn it off. But I always recommend to also turn off all of the power to the RV at the same time. This is just a precaution. Then turn off the LP gas at the tank too. Finally, turn off the water source to the RV. If you are connected to a city water connection, turn off the faucet. If you are using water from your fresh water tank, turn off the water pump. Then let the water in the heater tank lower in temperature until it’s comfortable. This may take a while so I often turn off the water heater hours before I inspect it.

Inspecting Your Suburban Water Heater

Pull the pressure relief valve straight out to release water from the tank

With all of the preparation done, open the pressure relief valve at the top of the water heater. Just pull it straight out. Let the water that escapes drip out until there is no more coming out of the tank. Now you can begin to remove the RV water heater drain plug that has the anode rod attached to it. You will need a 1- 1/16 socket with an extension and attach it to either a socket wrench or a breaker bar. I prefer the breaker bar because sometimes the drain plug can get really tight. This is where the breaker bar helps provide more force to remove the plug.

Remove the drain plug at the bottom of the water heater to see the condition of the anode rod

Once the plug is removed you should be able to see what kind of condition the anode rod is in. If it is lightly corroded, you can use it again. But if it is heavily corroded, be sure to have a spare RV water heater anode rod handy for replacement.

The next step is to thoroughly flush the water heater tank with an RV water heater flush wand. These can fit right on the end of a garden hose and you insert it into the tank for flushing. Once the tip is inside the tank move the water stream around in all directions. But pay particular attention to stirring up any sediment that may have fallen on the bottom of the tank. By doing this the sediment is blown up into the water that is escaping at the drain plug. Make sure that you flush the tank thoroughly for a while!

Replacing The Water Heater Anode Rod

After the tank is completely flushed, you can re-insert the old anode rod if it is not badly corroded. If it is in bad shape, just replace it with a new one. And be sure to use plumbers tape on the threads of the new anode rod. How tight should the anode rod be? Just snug, don’t over-tighten it!

At this point you can turn on the water to the RV again. But be sure to leave the pressure relief valve open as the water goes into the tank. That way the air has somewhere to go as the water fills up in the tank. When the water starts coming out of the pressure relief valve, you can close it. At this point the RV water heater tank is full.

Now you turn on the faucets inside the RV to remove trapped air on the hot water side. After that is done, you can turn on the LP gas at the tank again. And then finally the power to the RV can be restored. At this point you should be able to turn on the water heater again and in about 20 – 30 minutes you will have nice hot water in your RV. And your annual RV water heater maintenance is done!

I hope you enjoyed this article on Suburban water heater anode rod inspection and replacement. Have happy and safe travels my friends!

A 50 Amp RV Surge Protector – Why You Need It

A 50 amp RV surge protector should not be optional equipment on your RV. If your RV has a 50 amp service you need to protect it. And as a certified NRVIA RV inspector, I highly recommend the use of a high-quality electrical surge protector. This one purchase alone can potentially save you thousands of dollars in electrical repairs. Let me explain why.

If your RV has a 50 amp service, you most likely have a lot of expensive components that need protection. These could be air conditioners, control boards for a refrigerator, a washing machine, computers, TVs, etc. The whole idea of having a 50 amp RV is being able to run lots of electrical devices. And many can be running at the same time.

What is a surge protector?

Actually, what is often called a surge protector is really an RV Electrical Management System, or EMS. But one of the major features of an EMS is to protect against sudden surges of electricity. Therefore it has become common for many RVers to just refer to it as a surge protector.

However, an Electrical Management System can do so much more than just prevent damage from electrical surges. It essentially monitors the electrical connection to your RV at all times. If it senses that there is any harmful situation, it takes action to protect your RV’s entire electrical system. And by extension it also protects anything that is plugged into that system.

An EMS can protect your RV against –

  • High voltage spikes
  • Low voltage drops
  • Reverse polarity
  • Open neutral
  • Open ground

A simple low-cost good surge protector may warn you that some of these dangerous situations are present. But they do not continually scan for electrical problems. And they don’t take action to save your electrical system and devices by killing the power to them.

Here is an example of a simple low-cost RV surge protector:

Surge Guard 44290 Portable Surge Protector

A high quality RV EMS – why you need it

As an RV travels around, the condition of the electrical service in each campground can vary widely. In some campgrounds, the electrical connection is great. In others, you can encounter potentially serious electrical safety problems at the RV power pedestal. We would all like to think that campground management is on top of these issues. But the plain truth is that the electrical connection we hope for is not always the case in reality.

Lightning is another factor that can harm your RV electrical system and devices. This can be hard to defend against since it is so sudden and can be catastrophic in damage. But a high quality RV EMS can shut off the sudden electrical spike from lightning in an instant. This protects all of the electrical components and appliances in your RV. It may fry the EMS unit, but better that than all of your expensive electronic devices.

Another harmful electrical situation is having the electrical voltage drop too low. This is usually because a campground becomes very full and their sub-par electrical service becomes overcrowded. When this happens, the voltage can drop so low that damage is done, especially to sensitive electronics.

Some of these electrical problems could even result in major damage to your RV wiring. But others could also do significant damage to all the electrical components and appliances that are connected to it as well. So why take this unnecessary risk at all? Why not insure against the worst by using a quality RV surge protector?

The best RV surge protector for your rig

As mentioned above, the best RV surge protector is actually an Electrical Management System. This is because it can give you peace of mind whenever you plug your RV into shore power. Yes, an RV EMS may cost more than a traditional surge protector. But considering the kind of protection it affords, I feel that it is well worth it.

You can get an EMS surge protector that is portable or one that is permanently installed. For most RVers the portable surge protector unit is fine. It is cost-effective and can go with you to another RV should you sell the one you have. Also, if it takes a high voltage hit from lightning, it can be replaced fairly quickly and inexpensively.

There are a couple of major manufacturers of the best quality 50 amp surge protector units. Either one can do a fine job, But I use the 50 amp RV surge protector manufactured by Surge Guard. Click on the image below to find out more about it.

Surge Guard 34850 Portable Model with LCD Display - 50 Amp

Here is another 50 amp Electrical Management System surge protector that is very popular. Either unit will do a fine job. Just click on the image below for information on the Southwire surge guard.

Southwire Surge Guard Portable 50-Amp Surge Protector
Duane explains 50 amp surge protectors and why you need a high-quality EMS

Please comment below if you have had any experiences with RV surge protectors or Electrical Management Systems.

RV Inspection And Care For Everyone

Duane explains what RV inspection and care is all about

Hello everyone, and welcome to my RV Inspection and Care website. I’m Duane and I am a certified NRVIA inspector of RVs. So I want to use the knowledge that I have to help you learn more about your RV. That way you can be able to regularly inspect and also care for your RV.

It doesn’t matter what kind of RV you have either – Class A, B, C, travel trailer, 5th wheel or even a pop-up. All RVs need regular inspection along with care and a little maintenance. This insures that they last a long time and are as trouble-free as possible.

On this website we are going to cover it all. You will learn how to inspect and care for all the components and parts of your RV. All the way from the roof to the tires that gets you where you want to go.

RV Inspection – do you have to be a mechanic?

I know that many of you may be saying, hey wait, I’m not very mechanically inclined. So how can this information benefit me? Well, the simple truth is that roughly 80% of the repairs on RVs can be done by the average RV owner. They just need to be armed with a little knowledge and a few basic tools.

Yes, that means that about 20% of RV repairs should be handled by a qualified technician or service center. But getting a quick appointment with a qualified tech or service center is getting harder and harder to do. So doesn’t it make sense to get a little advance knowledge to learn how to do the simple things yourself? That way you can save yourself a lot of money, time and frustration when things go wrong with your RV.

So, I am looking forward to helping you learn about how your RV works and how you can keep it working the way it should. Please be sure to check back often as there will be new content on rv inspection and care every week.