Compact and practical, Suburban water heaters are a popular choice among those with recreational vehicles. But even products from excellent brands can struggle from time to time.
Maybe you’re on a trip and your usually hot shower runs cold, or you were running a test before camping and found the tap wouldn’t warm up. While it’s not the end of the world, it’s undoubtedly inconvenient—what’s an RV owner to do?
Some Suburban water heater models come with a reset switch on the controller. You can also perform a hard reset by cutting the power supply for 30 seconds and retrying the tap.
In this post, you’ll learn what you can do to reset and troubleshoot your Suburban water heater—including what you can inspect if a reset fails.
Suburban Water Heater Reset Button Location
Many heating appliances—water heaters included—come with a resettable thermostat. That is, they come with a reset button or switch on the water heater thermostat, which manages the maximum temperature of the device.
By flipping this switch for a few seconds or pressing the button, your water heater should reset to its default settings, which may fix your heating problems.
But if there isn’t a button or switch on your heater—or if using it doesn’t work—there’s another way to reset your device.
Is There Another Way to Reset My Suburban Water Heater?
Regardless of whether there’s a reset button or switch, you can perform a hard reset on your appliance if it’s a hybrid or electric water heater.
To do so, go to your RV’s breaker and find the switch to the water heater. Turn it off and leave it off for at least 30 seconds, then turn it back on and run your tap. If it works, you’ll have hot water again.
But what if a hard reset also doesn’t work? In the next section, you’ll read about other things you can investigate when a reset fails to fix your machine.
What Else Can I Do to Fix My Suburban Water Heater?
You probably want to know another way to potentially fix your heater that saves you money on labor and service fees.
Fortunately for you, there are several components you can inspect—and even replace—yourself. Replacement parts tend to be a lot cheaper than paying for a technician!
There are several parts in your water heater that manage heat:
- Thermostat: The high-limit thermostat determines the maximum temperature your water heater will reach. A faulty thermostat may set the temperature too low or high.
- Heating element: This part transfers heat to the water.
- Thermal fuse: This one-use safety device is supposed to prevent your heater from getting dangerously hot. If it trips, your heater likely won’t be able to heat at all until it’s replaced.
If any one of these becomes faulty, it can interfere with your heater’s ability to produce hot water.
To check these components, take a multimeter to them to verify that they’re receiving sufficient continuity. If any of them lack continuity, they’re defective and need to be replaced.
This part tells your heater how hot the water has gotten. Sometimes, it can shift too close or too far away from the water supply or heating components, skewing its reading. Or it can lose continuity and stop functioning altogether.
Try taking a multimeter to it to check for continuity and moving it to a place where it can better read the water temperature. Replace it if there’s no continuity.
Scaling (Mineral Buildup)
Minerals like calcium and magnesium in the water supply can slowly accumulate in the pipes and filters over time. You can generally descale by running a white vinegar solution through the cold water inlet.
In gas-powered versions, the ignition sparks a flame using the gas supply and generates heat, which then goes to the heating element to be transferred to the water.
But if your ignition assembly malfunctions—whether it’s the ignition itself or the pilot light—it won’t be able to generate enough heat. You can usually test this by seeing if the pilot light turns on when you try to access hot water.
While Suburban hot water heaters don’t come with a resettable thermostat, they do often come with a resettable gas controller (which is sometimes connected to the thermostat). Resetting this component may resolve your heating issues.
If it doesn’t, you can try inspecting the temperature sensor, ignition, and heating element. You can test electrical components using a multimeter and replace them if there’s no continuity.
A service technician can help you if the above steps fail to fix your heater.