How To Flush & Clean an Atwood RV Water Heater


We demonstrate how to thoroughly flush and clean an RV water heater.

UPDATE – April 3, 2012: Regarding our use of an after-market anode rod. There are questions about which metal to use – magnesium, aluminum or zinc. As we mentioned in the video, we only chose this particular anode due to the extreme difficulty we had removing the original, despite the fact that it is a different material than the original rod. We’ve now inspected it after a year and are not happy that it did not decay as expected this year (did not decay at all), and are concerned it isn’t protecting the tank properly. After hearing from two friends who also have Suburban units, who removed their anodes without much trouble, we’re going back to the OEM rod with no drain, and will be updating the video when we do.


Rust, lime scale and other debris can build up in the hot water tank on your motorhome, travel trailer or 5th wheel. Left alone, this can shorten the useful life of your water heater. Simple annual maintenance and care of your RV’s hot water system will save you money by extending the life of the heater.

We recently flushed the Suburban water heater on our Newmar, so rather than do it again, we’ve borrowed our friends’ Atwood water heater to demonstrate how to do it.

Only a few simple items are required, including a wrench to remove the drain plug or anode rod, a tank flush wand, and some white vinegar (1/2 gallon for every gallon of tank capacity). If you have a Suburban brand water heater, be sure to have a new replacement anode rod on hand as well (magnesium, aluminum or zinc/aluminum).

The small amount of time required to do this simple but essential maintenance will pay for itself with years of extra service from your RV’s hot water heater.

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