Forest River Water Heater Bypass: Where Is The Bypass Valve?

It seems the favorite one with RV manufacturers is hide and seek. That is where they hide the key components, and you have to spend hours looking for them. What makes the game worse is that sometimes the company and the owner’s manual do not tell you where those components are.

Where is the water heater bypass valve? For some models, the water heater bypass valve is located under your stove. You have to remove the panel by removing the screws to get to it. If the panel does not have screws, you need to remove the two drawers next to the stove and see if that provides access.

Accessing key components in RVs is hard to do at times but keep reading our article as it provides some key pieces of information to make your search go easier and faster. take a few minutes to see if the upcoming data will help you solve your game of hide and seek.

How does a Hot Water Bypass Valve Work?


This is like any other valve that handles water or other liquids. It has to be turned in such a way to allow water to pass through without entering the water heater. or it has to be closed to let the water heater function like normal.

Each model may be different, and some will have a bypass valve right next to the water heater, behind it, or outside where you have to go through an access panel to operate it.

The valve is manually operated, and you do need to physically turn it to open or close the system. When you have this valve open, you need to close the cold and hot water valves. once you do that, the water heater is removed from the plumbing system in your RV and does not get any water sent to it.

Then, you do not use this valve all the time. Usually, it is used when you are winterizing your RV or storing it away. Once the valve is engaged, you can drain the tank and place your RV in storage for the winter.

When you get ready to use your RV, you just flush out the anti-freeze first, then close the bypass valve and open the other two valves so you can get hot water again.

Why Bypass the RV Water Heater?

The answer to this question is a common-sense answer. As you know, when water freezes it expands. if you do not remove the water from the water heater during the winter and do not have proper insulation, the water will freeze, expand and damage the unit.

The bypass valve stops water from entering the heater allowing you to drain it and protect the component from that possible damage. What the valve does is help re-route the water supply and make sure the parts of the water heater are also protected from damage caused by ice.

This is one of the things you have to be careful of when you buy an RV. There are so many of these extra tasks you need to do that you do not normally have to do with a house water heater or other parts.

You should make a checklist for when you are going to winterize or store your RV. that way you will not forget or overlook all the key components that need special attention, like your water heater.

Double-check your list to make sure everything has been done to have a little peace of mind during those long cold months you are not using your RV.

Where is the Water Heater Bypass Valve on an RV?


That is a good question. Every manufacturer has its special place to put these valves, and they are not universal. Where one is located is up to the individual RV makers, and they have lots of places to hide them.

Then, do not expect to find those valves in the same location as a previous model you may have owned. With upgrades to RV manufacturing, the newer versions may have new locations. Generally, though, the water valves are near the water heater.

One word of advice, look in your owner’s manual to see if the company listed the location for you. This is a hit and miss experience as some people have reported that different manuals do not mention everything and its location.

The next key question in this topic is how do you access them. For some, you have to take the panel under the stove off. That means you have to get on your hands and knees, remove screws, then the panel. After that, you can see if you can reach them.

For other models, you may have to remove two drawers next to the stove to get access. The only difference between this and the previous access is you do not have to remove screws, just the drawers

If you are lucky, the valves may be outside next to other controls making their access very simple. All you would have to do is remove the access panel and manipulate the valves.

One person suggested learning how to crawl under your RV, have long arms and plenty of light to access those valves. The location of the valves will have a lot to do with the size of your RV. Its design, and how many features are built-in.

Access is a different story altogether.

Forest River Water Heater Bypass

Unfortunately, the answer to this question is it depends. There are many different Forest River RV models and floor plans. The exact location may differ between models even though they are built by the same company.

In one model, those valves may be located at the rear of the water heater. You would have to get on your hands and knees. Then remove panels or drawers, then feel your way around. If you find them, then you are in luck.

Other Forest River models have those valves placed on a manifold that can be accessed from the outside. That will make operating them easier. But there is a dirty trick that can be played on you as well.

Some Forest River and other manufacturer’s RVs do not have a bypass valve. You can spend hours looking for something that is not there. That is why some RVs have a bypass valve; yet are not mentioned in the owner’s manual pages.

It is a great game that RV makers put their customers through. But it is understandable as so many RVs have a myriad of features. The companies have little space left to work with.

RV hot Water Heater Valve Position


This is not usually a hard issue to deal with. When it comes to positioning the bypass valve on the waterline, it is located before the water heater. The question is, where do RV makers consider before the water heater?

That can be in front of the unit, behind the unit, or outside of the RV. The frustrating thing is you may have to remove doors, drawers, panels before finding the right one. When you do, mark it so you can find it faster the next time you have to use the bypass valve.

For engaging and disengaging the valve, the position for each one may be different. The valve may be a push-button style where you have to push in to engage it or push a second time to disengage it.

Or it may be a simple traditional valve design where you turn it to cut the bypass off or open it up. Perpendicular means it is closed, while parallel to the line means it is open. We cannot be specific here because the designs are not universal and the same for every RV.

You will have to check your specific Forest River model or other model and see what they did in your case. Once you see the system, you should know what to do as it is a basic system used in all cases.

How do you Get a Water Heater out of Bypass Mode?

The task is quite simple and very easy to do. Your 5-year-old should be able to handle the job without any trouble. The first step would be to close the bypass valve and stop the water from running around the water heater.

The next step would be to open the closed cold water valve and let the water start to fill the heater. While the water is doing that, open the hot water valve. When the cold water has finished heating, it can run freely to your shower or faucets.

The tricky part is if you have a one, two, or three-valve system. Sometimes, the bypass valve is located on the cold water line where it meets the bypass hose. That is the one valve system.

The two-valve system has a valve at the cold water inlet spot and another at the bypass line. The three-valve system has three valves with two in the same position as the two-valve system and one more on the hot water line.

Again, it is all super easy to do. You turn the correct valve or valves and close the system while opening your hot water heater’s regular function.

How to Bypass RV Water Pump


Not to get too simple here, the best way to bypass your water pump is to buy a water pump by-pass kit. These kits are designed to give you the hose and valves you need to skirt your water pump when you need to.

The danger of using these kits is that many of them come with plastic valves. That may be cheaper to buy and easier to install, but it is also a very weak way to bypass your water pump.

Plastic valves tend to wear out faster and break easier than brass fittings. If you can, get those kits that come with brass fittings. That will save you a lot of replacement work down the line.

You can find these kits in most places where RV parts and accessories are sold. Some water pumps come with built-in bypass systems that make things a lot easier for you. Check with your dealer or a trusted mechanic to see what is the best way to handle this issue.

They will have the tools and the experience to guide you through it and make sure you get the right parts installed the right way.

How to Bypass RV Water Filter

With this part, it is very important to get a bypass system attached to it. What the bypass will do is prevent any anti-freeze, you pump through your RV for winter storage, from entering this part.

What we have found are what are called bypass plates. These install easy enough and block the flow of anti-freeze, ensuring that liquid goes along your intended route.

These plates are made from stainless steel and should last you forever, or so the company says. They are designed to fit both 10 and 5-inch housings, and you should not need any tools to install them. There is a gasket included for a tighter fit.

Then if you do not use your water filter, you can install this plate and forget about it. The only time you need to remove it is when you want to use the filter. Installing the plate requires the unscrewing of the housing and placing the filter and gasket inside, and screwing the housing back on

That is all there is to it. It is hard to beat simplicity when that style works well and gives you the right options.

How to Install RV Water Heater Bypass Kit


That is something that you should consider. If your RV does not have a bypass system for your water heater, you should install one. They can save you lots of money on anti-freeze use as it will take extra gallons of the product to fill your water heater.

Then it can save you from replacing any ruptured or damaged water lines or the tank itself. Those are two very good reasons why you should install a bypass system when your RV does not have one.

To install is not too difficult if you are handy with tools and know-how to work with plumbing. Thankfully, you are not dealing with any electricity here. Anyone can learn how to do this task and not harm themselves.

Here are the steps involved after you buy the right bypass kit:

1. Remove the existing water lines and fittings from the water heater. Don’t forget to mark which line is cold and which one is hot. If they are not already marked.

2. Next, wrap Teflon tape around the male end of the fittings. You cannot leave this step out as Teflon tape gets into those grooves and blocks the water’s escape route.

3. Install the new fittings where the old ones were. They are a simple screw-in type of valves and make sure you get them tight enough. Not too tight, but you do not want them loose either.

Make sure the bypass male ends on each valve are facing each other when you are done.

4. There is no need to place Teflon tape on those bypass male ends. Just screw the bypass hose into place on each side of the new bypass route. To tighten properly, just go one half turn past finger tight.

5. Re-install your old water heater fittings and reconnect the water lines. Once that is done, you are ready to go. When winterizing time comes, just shut the valves off and open the bypass valve, and you save.

There should be instructions on the kit package so read those carefully to make sure you know exactly where to place the old fittings. These should be universal fits, but just in case, be prepared if they are not.

These bypass kits should be on sale anywhere plumbing supplies are sold or at RV accessory outlets near you. Check around for the best price.

Some Final Words

Owning and traveling in an RV is a lot of fun. You get to go places you always dreamed of going and save money by not paying hotel bills. However, those same pleasures can bring a lot of frustration.

Those frustrations can come when looking for key components when you want to store or use your RV. One example is the water heater bypass system. It is a simple system, but it may be the most difficult component to find. RV makers hope you enjoy playing kids’ games like hide and seek.

Leave a Comment: