RV DSI Fault on Water Heater: What Is a DSI Fault? (Fixed)

Hot water is essential. But sometimes the hot water heater doesn't agree with that statement. It tends to be a little ornery at times and decides to act up on you. When it does, you will get a code telling you it is not available to work that day. Figuring out the reason why it won't work is the fun part.

What is a DSI fault? The DSI letters stand for direct spark ignition. That is the device that helps add the flame to the gas in order to heat your water. When this fault code appears on your water heater, it generally means that no gas or propane is coming through the line.

To learn more about the DSI fault code just continue to read our article. It has the information you want to know about so you can fix your water heater quickly. Unfortunately, there is more than one reason why this code will appear on the screen.

What Does DSI Mean On a Water Heater?


Direct spark ignition are the three words that go with the three letters- DSI. What this device does is automatically light the gas once the power switch has been turned on. This system is produced by both Atwood and Suburban and is said to be one of the safer systems you can use in an RV.

In the old days, to get hot water, you had to exit your RV and go around to where the ignition was and manually light the pilot light. If the pilot light did not stay lit then you could be pumping propane into your RV setting yourself up for possible problems.

The DSI system removes that danger as it shuts off the gas flow when certain issues are detected like the gas failed to light. Often, the DSI control will try 3 times to light the gas, and when it fails all three times it locks out the gas supply.

Also, the DSI control board will turn off the ignition once the set temperature has been reached. In contrast to the pilot light which will stay lit until you turn the gas supply off.

How do I Reset My RV Water Heater?


This is not really a hard task to perform. Most water heater systems come with a reset button and all you have to do is push it to get the water heater back online and working again.

However, the trick is in finding the reset button. For combination gas and electric water heaters, that reset button may be located out in the WH panel outside your RV. That button may be to the left when you open the panel but it could also be in different positions depending on the model of your RV.

That left reset button will reset the 12-volt electrical component and get it fired up again. If you have a combination water heater, there will also be a reset button on the right side of the WH panel. That button resets the electrical side of the operation.

Your owner's manual should let you know where these buttons are and give you a diagram to help you find them. In addition to this, you will have to wait till the DSI cycles through its 3 attempts to light the propane before resetting it.

You should hear a clicking noise each time the DSI makes these attempts. If the rest only works temporarily, you may have other malfunctioning parts that need repair or replacing.

DSI Dault Reset


There are different types of DSI water heaters and one is the on-demand unit that has become popular over the past years due to its efficiency and economic savings. Some RVs do have the on-demand system in their rigs and sometimes the DSI code will appear.

When it does you need to reset it. According to one dealer, you have several methods of resetting this type of water heater. The first is to turn all the power off that goes to the trailer for 15 minutes then re-establishing that connection

The second is to turn off the propane tank and disconnect it. Then reconnect it and turn the opening valve slowly. You can’t go fast as the check valve may slam shut on you and cut off the propane supply.

The final dealer suggestion to reset was to make sure the water heater was hooked to 120 v power. If no reset using these options you may have to call in a qualified repairman to look at it and see what the problem is.

When trying to reset the propane and DSI, make sure to turn on the stove burners one at a time. If the first one stays well lit and has a good flame when you turn on the next two, then the problem is not with the propane tank or check valve. It may be with the DSI control board.

Possible DSI Fault Sources

There could be a variety of sources that cause your DSI fault light to light up. Here are just a few of those sources that can be the culprit:

  • No water in the hot water heater tank
  • Three failed attempts to light the propane
  • The ECO circuit remains open and needs to be closed
  • The control board has malfunctioned
  • The check valve engaged
  • There is no airflow or you have a possible leak somewhere

Some Final Words

Resetting a water heater is no big deal as long as a major part has not malfunctioned. All you have to do is locate the rest button and pres sit. If the system comes back on then you are fine.

If it doesn’t or it only stays on temporarily, then you have a problem part that is not working as it should. Call a repairman to handle the fix if you can’t find it or do it yourself.

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