Suburban RV Water Heater Won't Light

When you’re traveling with your family, it’s easy to get into a routine. You know where everything is, and everyone knows their role when it comes to running the rig. But even if you’ve been using your rig for years, all of a sudden, something will come up that ruins your plans and causes you problems. An instance is your suburban RV water heater not coming up.

Reasons Your Suburban RV Water Heater Won’t Light

Water heaters are great as they provide you with heated water for several purposes. But if you find out your RV water heating isn’t coming on, then you can try some of the following to get it working correctly:

Faulty ignition

The simplest solution is to test the ignition of your heater. Take it out and see if you can get a spark by simply putting the two ends of the wire together. If not, you’ll need to replace it with a new one.

Clogged burner tube

If your water heater doesn’t light, there may be a buildup of dust or calcium deposits in the burner tube. This can prevent it from lighting correctly and should be removed before attempting to relight your water heater. The first step is to clean out the burner tube with either a toothbrush or an old rag; you can even use compressed air if you want to get really thorough. 

Blown out pilot

A pilot light is an electric or gas flame used to ignite fuel-burning equipment. It is usually located inside the equipment itself and allows for more efficient operation as well as reducing the chances of fire hazards.

The most common reason why a pilot light goes out is that it has been blown out by something like dirt or oil buildup in the air tube where it burns up. Before attempting to fix a blown-out pilot light, ensure to turn off the power supply to the water heater before working on it.

Low gas pressure

Check the gas pressure at the regulator. If it’s too low, shut off your propane supply and use a wrench to turn your regulator valve in either direction until you reach a good reading on your gauge (usually between 15 and 30 psi). If you have too much pressure, turn it down by turning the same valve in the opposite direction until you reach a comfortable reading on your gauge (usually between 15 and 30 psi).

The coils are not heating up enough

The coils are the part that transfers heat from your tank to your water. If they get too cold or clogged with minerals like calcium, then you will need more heating capacity. It’s crucial to find out if this is causing the problem because, depending on the age of the water heater, it may be time for a new coil.

Faulty thermostat

The thermostat may be the culprit if your RV water heater is not lighting. The thermostat is a small device located on or near the water heater. If it does not work correctly, it will not allow gas to flow to the burner when you turn on your RV’s hot water faucet.

If you suspect your thermostat may be faulty, turn off the electric power to your RV and disconnect it from any external electrical sources. Be sure to disconnect all extension cords as well.

No power to the outlet

Make sure you have power at the outlet. Check that the water heater is plugged into a circuit with a fuse or breaker. Make sure there’s no damage to any wires or connectors causing them to lose contact or short out when they should be making contact with one another.

Power outage

If you have a power outage, your water heater will not light. So, unplug the water heater and wait for power to come back on, then plug in the water heater again.

Tripped High Limit Switch

You may have a tripped high-limit switch if your water heater doesn’t light. This device shuts off the water heater when it surpasses a pre-specified temperature. Thus, if your heater has this feature and has recently been heated, the high-limit switch may shut off in response to excessive heat.

The power button in the off position

One of the most common causes of a water heater, not lighting, is that it’s been turned off. It can be very frustrating when you think your heater is not working, only to find out later that it was simply off. Most modern RV water heaters have a switch on them, so you can turn them on or off anytime. If this is the problem, try turning it back on and see if the light is on now.

How Do I Reset My Suburban Water Heater?

The Suburban water heater has two resets: one for electric and one for LP. Turn off the Suburban power at your RV’s breaker box. Unplug the water heater from its power source and remove it from its mounting bracket.

Look at the back of your water heater and locate two buttons, an electric circuit reset on the left side and an LP circuit reset on the right side. Press down on them with your fingers until you hear a clicking sound or feel them depress into their housings (about 3 seconds). This should reset any errors that may have been occurring in either heating system. It should also shut off any error codes in memory if they were present when you turned off power to troubleshoot this issue.


When it comes to using a suburban RV water heater, many things can go wrong. And although your heater might appear fine now, it can go wrong or develop a fault the next minute. For this reason, it’s best to know some of the reasons why your suburban RV water heater won’t light.

When you detect a fault with your heater, it’s best to apply the appropriate fix to help you get it working. In most cases, you can perform simple troubleshooting. In other cases, you might need to employ the service of a professional to ensure everything works smoothly.


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