Suburban RV Hot Water Heater Won’t Light: Causes and How to Fix is reader supported. When you buy through links on our site, we may earn an affiliate commission.

If you’ve ever experienced your Suburban RV hot water heater won’t light, it can be a very frustrating experience. There are many reasons why this happens and each situation is different. Let’s explore the reasons for this RV water heater not lighting up and the possible solutions to fix the problems, so you don’t have to worry about cold showers!

Troubleshooting Suburban RV Hot Water Heater Won’t Light

The causes of a Suburban RV hot water heater won’t light can be broken down into two categories: electrical and fuel-related issues. Electrical problems can occur due to a faulty thermostat or faulty wiring in the circuit board. Fuel-related problems include low gas pressure and dirty air filters.

1. Power outage

suburban hot water system

The first thing that you need to check is whether or not there is a power outage in your area. It can affect electrical appliances, such as stoves, ovens, dishwashers, refrigerators, and more. If you have lost power, then try resetting your breaker box by turning off all breakers at once then turning them back on one by one until you get it back on again.

2. No power to the outlet

If the power cord is disconnected, there will be no power to your water heater. Check the outlet for any signs of a tripped breaker or a blown fuse and reset it accordingly. The electric wires could be faulty too. So, check the circuit board to see if there are any signs of a short, and replace as necessary.

3. The thermostat could be faulty

Check the wires around the thermostat as well as where they are connected to see if anything appears to be loose or disconnected. The circuit board needs replacing due to faulty wiring in the system. If there is no power going to your outlet, it will be a wiring or thermostat problem.

4. Gas pressure is low

A simple reason for the Suburban RV hot water heater won’t light could be a low gas pressure. You may have low propane pressure if the burner is not lighting up. If you find that there are no leaks, then try adding some more gas to your tank and restart the water heater. You may also have dirty air filters which can be fixed by either replacing or cleaning them out with a vacuum cleaner attachment.

5. Coils not heating up enough

Depending on the age of the water heater, it may be time for a new coil. The coils are what transfer heat from your tank to your home and if they get too cold or clogged with minerals like calcium, then you will not have enough heating capacity. In that case, replace the older coils with new ones.

suburban rv hot water heater won't light

6. The pilot was blown out or turned off by accident

If the pilot is not lit or has been blown out, you will need to relight it. Depending on where the water heater is located, the pilot light going out could be quite dangerous. If the water heater is kept in a place, such as a utility closet, where there is a lack of combustible air, the pilot light turning off means that there could be a carbon monoxide build-up. This odorless and flammable gas could be life-threatening.

You must relight the pilot switch either by yourself or with the help of a professional mechanic.

7. Clogged burner tube

The burner tube may be clogged with dust or calcium deposits. You will need to replace the burner tube in order for the water heater to work properly again. For changing the tube by yourself, follow these steps:

  • Turn off your hot water heater and turn on a nearby faucet for about five minutes (due to gas buildup). Remove the lower access panel on your water heater.
  • Unscrew and remove the base of the old tube from the gas valve to the pilot light. Replace with a new burner tube.
  • Reattach the base of the new burner tube to the gas valve, using an adjustable wrench for a tight fit. Be sure that it is screwed in well enough. A loose base could expose the burner tube and lead to a serious accident.

When everything is done, turn on the water heater to see if it’s working properly. If it still shows any problem, you may need to replace the heater altogether. Otherwise, hire a mechanic to give it a thorough checkup and find the source of trouble.


There could be many reasons for a Suburban RV hot water heater won’t light and they all require different solutions. If you face any problem, it’s better to check the RV owner’s manual before doing any troubleshooting. For a proper diagnosis and repair work, it’s better to hire professional service.

About Peter Wade

Peter Wade is a co-ordinator and writer at His hobbies are coffee, RV camping and photography. He now enjoys exploring the U.S. by RV with his two dogs. After obtaining a MA degree in Public Relations and Journalism, he had 8 years of experience working for the R&D Department of Outdoorsy. Peter provides a unique look and insightful knowledge about the RV lifestyle, and fills his blog with everything from RV camping guides to reviews about necessary RV accessories. If you are an RV enthusiast and want to get the most-updated trends of the RV industry, Peter’s articles are the must-visit contents.

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