Should any of us be surprised that conventional wisdom is so often wrong? We’ve all been taught that a flush wand is all we need to clean our RV’s water heater. Water runs clear = clean. NOT! We use a video borescope to take you inside our heater to show the real story.
Step by step, we’ll demonstrate our updated method for effectively cleaning your RV’s water heater.
We’ve been RVing for 131⁄2 years, so you might think we’ve learned everything there is to know about it by now. But as my sensei taught me many years ago, the minute you think you know everything… is the moment you stop learning. We have open minds, and appreciate discovering new things all the time, even about RVing, even after all these years.
We’ve produced three videos about flushing and cleaning RV water heaters. One for Suburban, one for Atwood, and one with an update to the first one, after we discovered that the aftermarket anode we were trying out wasn’t working (see… we’re still learning). This new video replaces all three.
The only real difference between brands when it comes to maintaining them is that Suburban heaters use steel tanks, necessitating the use of a magnesium anode rod. The anode sacrifices itself to protect the tank from corrosion. Atwood heaters have aluminum tanks, obviating the need for an anode. Other than that minor difference, cleaning the tanks is the same.
The vast majority of how-to videos we’ve seen about water heater cleaning use a flush wand, and so do we. But both of our original videos, and this new one, also use white vinegar to chemically clean the tank, where the flush wand only provides some physical action.
Because Atwoods use a plastic drain plug instead of an anode, there’s been no change to our procedure for them. But circling back to that “always learning” thing, we discovered a flaw in our old procedure for Suburbans. We used to install a new anode rod immediately prior to adding vinegar to the system. We’ve now learned that this was an inappropriate practice, and both modified this new video to reflect the update, and directed our original Suburban video to the new one.
Besides that one change to the Suburban flushing procedure, we decided to challenge conventional wisdom for both brands by picking up an inexpensive USB video borescope to see inside the tank for ourselves. We’d tell you what we found, but that would require a spoiler alert for the video. So you’ll just have to tune in to see what happens!
UPDATE: See the one-year follow-up video here: RV Water Heater Flush & Inspection Surprise!
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Featured & Related Products & Services:
Needed For Both Brands, Suburban & Atwood:
- Tank Rinsing Wand
- Plumber’s Pipe Tape
- Heavy-Duty Rubber Gloves
- 15′ Garden Hose
- Brass Y Valve
- Adjustable Pressure Regulator
- White Vinegar (1 gal) – although it’s also available in large quantity at Costco and/or Sam’s Club
Suburban Water Heater:
- Suburban Replacement Anode Rod
- 1 1⁄16″ Socket (for Suburban anode rod)
- 3⁄4″ PVC Drain Plug (use while vinegar solution is in tank)
- 1 1⁄8″ Socket (for 3⁄4” PVC Drain Plug)
Atwood Water Heater:
- Replacement Atwood Brand 1/2″ Drain Plugs (set of 2)
- 15⁄16″ Socket (for Atwood brand drain plugs)
- 7⁄8″ Socket (for Camco brand drain plug)
Just For Fun! ;)