How to Light a Gas Travel Trailer Water Heater


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Travel trailers have become increasingly sophisticated since the inception of "RV camping." Whereas the first trailers were not much more than a tent on wheels, today's travel trailers are equipped with separate rooms, bathrooms, running water and air conditioning. Much of this new technology is run on electricity, which is now provided at most campgrounds. Some travel trailers, however, use propane gas, too. One typical use for propane is heating the water used for showers, cooking and other operations. Lighting the on-board travel trailer water heater may seem tricky, but it is quite simple if you follow these steps.

Items you will need

  • Long matches

Begin by turning the propane gas on outside the camper. In most situations, this will be via a small portable tank at the front of the trailer. To turn the gas on, simply turn the gas-control valve counterclockwise until it will no longer turn, then turn it clockwise a quarter of a turn.

Locate the pilot light of the water heater. Normally, the pilot light is at the bottom of the heater and will be clearly marked. There will be a gas-control knob next to the pilot light. Turn the gas control knob to "Light" and then strike one of the matches and carefully slide the flame in front of the pilot light hole to light the gas.

Once the pilot light is lit, use the gas-control knob to turn the heat up to the desired water temperature. The pilot light will serve as the ignition source for the burners now, so that when the gas is on, you can simply adjust the water temperature with the turn of a knob.


  • Periodically check the pilot light to make sure that it is still burning. If you notice that the pilot light has blown out, very carefully repeat the lighting process after you vent the trailer by opening doors and windows.


  • Light the pilot light quickly, as the longer you wait to light it, the more gas escapes into the confines of the trailer, which could be dangerous.