Forest River RV Hot Water Heater Not Working (Troubleshooting)

Hot water is one of those features that help make life a little easier to live. When you have a working water heater life in an RV or trailer is not so bad. But when that water heater stops working, then RV life is not so grand anymore.

One of the sources for the Forest River water heater not working will be the fuel source. You could have run out of propane, forgot to turn the propane tank to on, or some other problem. Check your fuel source to make sure nothing is wrong.

To learn more about this topic and what to do about it, just continue to read our article. It has the information you want to know about so you can repair the easy problems and leave the complicated issues or technological components to a technician.

Troubleshooting a Forest River RV Water Heater


Searching for the problem in your water heater can be simple or it can be a bit difficult. With the electric models or the electric side of a propane water heater, all you need is a multimeter to start.

This meter will help you determine if power is getting through to the appliance or if there are enough volts to operate the electronic ignition. Once you see that there is no power, you can check the connections, the wires, and cables to see if they are loose or damaged.

Then you can check the fuses, the breakers, and the battery to see if they are blown, tripped, or out of power. With propane, it is a little more difficult because an obstruction can happen anywhere along the gas line.

So can a leak making them both hard and very time-consuming to find. The good news is that there are some common sources that will help make your search easier and allow you to troubleshoot the problem without calling in a technician.

The technician will lonely be needed if there is a problem with a control or operating board and other more complicated components. Most repairs you should be able to do on your own.

What Brand Of Water Heater Does Forest River Use?

This is a very good question. As you know Forest River does have subsidiaries that also make RVs and trailers. The manuals for all of these RV-making companies are individually listed at this link.

Under the Forest River category, you will find the different types of RVs and trailers that the company makes. Once you click on that, you have to pick the model of your RV or trailer.

That click will take you to the manual web page and you have to click on the appliance category to get to the water heater manual. The reason we say this is because while the RVs we checked for water heater brands for the Forest River arm of the company may say Suburban, other Forest River companies use a variety of water heater manufacturers.

Some are not well known while others would include Dometic and Atwood. You would have to check the brand of your RV as well as the model and style of your RV to find the answer to this question.

Forest River RV Water Heater Not Working


Because water heaters are basically the same no matter which brand makes them, you will find that they all have common sources that keep them from working right. Here are some of the non-electric problems that can interfere with you getting enough hot water at shower time:

1. Fuel supply- you may have run out of propane or the manual gas valve is closed or there are other problems with the fuel supply. This is a common problem that happens to everyone at some time.

2. Fuel line obstruction- hard to find as the gas lines are not always in easy-to-access routes. Obstructions can comprise of just about anything including nests from small animals.

3. Water supply- you may have forgotten to close the bypass valve and there is no water entering the water heater. Check to make sure the valves are in the right position before checking other possible sources.

4. The ignitor is not in the right position- this is not an electrical problem even though the ignitor is operated with electricity. It is easy for it to move out of position due to the bumps and holes you hit as you travel. Road vibration may move this part as well.

5. The burner is dirty or clogged- dirt and dust can foul up the burner very easily. It would need to be cleaned and there are a few steps to do this correctly, including shutting off any power to the water heater.

6. The thermocouple may have problems- dirt and dust will affect this part but it may not be the only source for why it is not working.

Forest River Water Heater Not Working On Electric

Like the previous section, there are plenty of sources for this problem.

1. No power- the battery may have lost power, you lost shore power, the fuses blew or the breaker tripped. Check all of these parts to make sure your electric water heater has power. This needs to be done for a gas water heater as electricity is needed to light the gas.

2. The thermostat may be bad- This is a part that is also electrically run. When it goes bad it may send a wrong signal to the control panel or just not send any signals to it.

Either way, your water heater will not turn on when this part is bad. Replacement is your only option.

3. The element is bad- the heating element runs on electricity and if it goes bad, it will not generate any heat to heat up the water. Replacing the element is your only option.

4. Bad connections- the wires may have worked themselves loose or they were damaged in some way. If you have checked all the other possible sources, trace the wires from the water heater back to their connections to see if they are loose or damaged.

Tighten or replace the wires and double-check to make sure the connections are not corroded.

5. Hi-Limit/ECO Button Needs To Be Reset- another electrically powered component. If you forgot to hit this button to reset your water heater, then the appliance probably will not work

The final reason for this section, though there may be more sources like the control panel, is the water heater itself has worn out or been damaged. Both sources can wreak havoc on your hot water needs.

Forest River Water Heater Fault Light


On propane water heaters, you will find the DSI fault light right next to the on switch. It lights up when you turn the switch to light the propane. Then if everything is working normally, the light will go out as soon as the propane is lit.

If the light stays on, then the propane has not been lit and you have a problem in the system somewhere. One of the sources we did not mention above for the water heater not working is that air may be in the gas line.

You would have to bleed the propane line of the air and then see if the water heater will light up. Once you turn the switch on to light the propane, you should hear some clicking noises. That is the ignitor trying to light the gas.

Most companies that make water heaters give you about 3 chances to light the gas. After the third time, the system goes into lock out and you have to reset the system. The reset process is just shutting the water heater off, letting the gas clear, and then turning it on again.

Forest River Water Heater Element Replacement

To find these parts and replacing them is not a difficult task. The elements will be on sale just about anywhere the water heater and RV parts are sold. You just have to know the brand of your water heater to get the right element.

If you have a pure Forest River brand RV, that is usually a Suburban water heater so you would need to look for where Suburban parts are sold. You can check their website to see if they sell directly to the public or not.

There is supposed to be a special wrench made to remove the element from the water heater. They are not supposed to be that expensive. The same tool will tighten the replacement element once it is inserted into the water heater.

When you go to do this task, make sure to shut the electricity and the gas off before you start. Then either open a faucet inside your RV to drain any hot water from the system

The last thing you want to have to happen is for hot water to come out and burn you. You also do not want to lose any gas or be shocked by any electrical current. Make sure to take the proper safety precautions so you are not injured or worse.

Forest River Water Heater Diagram

The manual for the Suburban water heater has some great diagrams. A couple we will reproduce here for your convenience. The manual we looked at was for the FR3 2024 model and it is supposed to be for all Suburban water heater models.

Keep in mind that your water heater from Suburban may be older and have a different design:


There are electrical diagrams included in the manual


Simply click here to get to the manual for this specific RV model and Suburban water heater. You may have to do some searching for manuals for older Forest River models.

The Forest River seems to only publish manuals back to 2015 on their website. You should contact the company for manuals for RVs and trailers older than that cut-off date.

The same will apply to any subsidiary brand that Forest River owns. Those brands are Coachman, Dynamax, Shasta, Prime Time, and Palomino. When you go to the manual page, all you have to look for are the words water heater and you will find the brand installed in your specific RV or trailer.

Finding a Forest River Water Heater Replacement


The first thing to know about this task is that you cannot buy directly from Forest River. Their replacement parts are usually handled by their dealers and authorized repair centers. This can make buying the parts you need a bit expensive.

The good news is that you can try to see if Suburban sells directly to the public. If so you can start your search with that company. But you should be able to find Suburban water heaters and their parts at different marketplaces as well as RV parts and accessory dealers.

Suburban supplies water heaters to more companies than just Forest River so the replacement parts or water heaters should be readily available throughout America and Canada.

Some of the outlets and marketplaces can are Amazon, eBay, Suburban rv parts, and many more. A good local search on the internet should produce dealers or replacement water heater outlets near you.

The best thing to do when you get your list is to do some comparison shopping. Camping World may be the most expensive outlet you may come across. But parts should be readily available even used ones.

Some Additional Words

No matter the RV brand, water heaters will eventually break down and cause you some grief. To get the hot water flowing again, you just need to know where to look for the source of the problem.

If you cannot find the problem or have fixed some yet the water heater still does not work, you may need to call in a technician. There is nothing wrong with that move as they have a few tricks up their sleeves and have seen just about every problem water heaters throw their way.

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