Terry and I have been fulltiming for over 8 years. We have always been able to fix most things, but know when not to try. Along the way we have learned to fix many things on RVs, our current fiver included. We just had an opportunity to repair the water heater.

Last winter while hosting at McGrath SB in Oxnard, CA, the gas portion of the water heater failed. After trouble shooting, Terry came to the conclusion that the board had failed. We ordered a new one and after several days it arrived and he got it changed out. Whew…now we would have hot water, right?….wrong. OOPS…$130.00 and it did not fix the problem. To make a long story short, it turned out to be the orifice. Something was plugging it, but after a bit of cleaning, it worked just fine.

Fast forward to two weeks ago. We were making an emergency run from E. Texas to So Cal and would probably boondock some along the way. For those not familiar with the term, boondocking, or drycamping, is camping without any hookups. Propane factors into the equation in a big way. We run the fridge, stove/oven, furnace and water heater on propane when not on hookups. Our first night out we were at a campground that offered only 30 amps, so we switched the water heater to gas. I discovered, about halfway through my shower that the water heater was not working! Bummer! So we switched to electric and dealt with curbing the ‘trons use. Of course that meant that we would not be able to boondock, but not a problem.

Once we got to Apple Valley, Terry tore it apart again. He diagnosed the problem to be the board as the problem and changed it out with the new one . OOPs….not the board…. He then found the solenoid that controls the gas valve was not opening. He ordered a new one and several days later installed it. Nope, that did not solve the problem, either. He removed the new board and tested it…it was fried, as was the old one. Hummmmmm….it seems the old solenoid fried both boards. OK…he ordered another board. In the meantime, today he started playing with the two fried boards…and repaired them both! We now have a fully functioning water heater, and spare old board and a new one coming! We will be prepared if the board goes out again, for sure! Lesson learned? Check everything that could be bad before installing a new board…..

Once again we have realized how important is is to be handy when fulltiming. So many times there is no one else to help and we are on our own. There are not too many things that we will not tackle. All those tools Terry brought along have sure come in handy!!!!!

Leave a Reply


  1. Pingback: www

  2. Dianne

    Hey, Roy! How are you? We are currently in Apple Valley for a couple more weeks…..can you get anywhere near here?


  3. HighwayRanger

    Hi Dianne! Good to hear you and Terry are still out and about! Next time you’re near the ‘ole 680, send me an email and I’ll stop and say hi!

    I’m still trying to figure out how to use my multimeter and some other simple testing devices so I can play detective when something fails in the RV. I’m starting to assemble a useful (but not overboard) set of tools and things to take along in the RV. We’ve had batter problems, inverter problems, radio problems, etc, and being able to isolate the failure is huge!

    Hope to see you soon!

  4. Ron Schulz

    After a lifetime of servicing appliances, the best lesson I can teach anyone, is not to over-diagnose a problem. In most cases, it is not the control board. Plugged orifices area very common problem followed by loose wiring. If you had used a volt meter on the solenoid you would have seen that voltage was being applied therefore the board was OK. I completely understand the desire to self-repair anything. Thats how I got in the service industry. An excellent book on the subject is Trailer Life’s RV Repair & Maintenance Manual by Bob Livingston. No RV’er should be without it……….