Caring for your RV fresh water system


Don’t be intimidated by caring for your RV fresh water system. It’s easier than you might think! Thanks to Mark Polk for his contributions. There are no guarantees that any water is completely safe for us to drink, but taking certain precautions can keep our RV water system safe to use. First, use a white non-toxic drinking hose.

Hoses not labeled safe for drinking contribute to lead and other dangerous chemicals getting in the water. Use the white non-toxic hose for hooking up to the water source and take along a green or black garden hose for all other uses like flushing out holding tanks or washing the RV. When you’re not using the drinking hose, roll it up and connect the two ends together. This will keep dirt and other debris from getting in the hose. The next time you use it, run some water through it before hooking it up to the RV.

You then need to filter the incoming water with a high quality filtration system. Water filters do not completely purify the water, but they can control and remove bacteria, lead and other dangerous contaminants found in drinking water. Hydrolife filters use a filter media called KDF. It uses electrochemical oxidation reduction to neutralize harmful chemicals and bacteria. It also uses carbon to reduce pesticides, fungicides and other organic contaminants.

You basically have two choices on how to filter your RV water system. You can install an inline water filter directly to the water line that you drink from, or you can filter all of the water going into the RV, which is preferable. This helps to protect the entire water system and filters the shower water to help prevent any skin irritation.

Possibly the most important step you can take is to keep the fresh water system sanitized. At a minimum, you should sanitize the system every spring when you take the RV out of storage and any time you notice an odor. It’s really quite simple to do. You can start by draining the water heater. Go to the outside compartment where the water heater is located.

The drain plug, or petcock is located in the bottom left hand corner. Remove the plug and open the pressure relief valve on top of the water heater to assist in draining. CAUTION: NEVER drain the water heater when it’s hot or under pressure.

You then need to locate the low point water line drains. It may take a while to find them, but they are there. There will be one for the hot and one for the cold water lines. This is the lowest point in the water system. Open these and let the water drain out. Next, find the drain for the fresh water holding tank and drain all of the water from it. At this point you can turn the water pump on for a moment to force any remaining water out. Do not let the pump continue to run once the water stops draining. Close all of the drains. What we have accomplished so far was to evacuate the majority of water from the system.

Take a quarter cup of household bleach for every fifteen gallons of water that your fresh water tank holds. Mix the bleach, with water, into a one-gallon container and pour it into the fresh water holding tank. Fill the fresh water tank almost completely full of water. Turn the water pump on, open all hot and cold faucets and run the water until you smell the bleach at each faucet. Close the faucets. If it’s possible drive the RV or pull the trailer so the water can move around to assist in cleaning the entire tank.

Let it sit for at least 12 hours. Drain the entire system again and re-fill the fresh water tank with potable water. Open all of the faucets and run the water until you no longer smell any bleach. It may be necessary to repeat this process again to eliminate all signs of bleach from the water system. Once this is done it is safe to use your water system.

Modern RVs are equipped with pressure demand type automatic pumps, polyethylene fresh water storage tanks, and polybutylene water lines. These systems are designed to be operated at a certain maximum water pressure level in the neighborhood of 35 to 45 pounds per square inch. The on-board pump has a built in pressure switch that shuts off the power to the pump when this pressure has been reached.

However, there is a city water connection to supply water at home or at the RV park via a hose connection. Often, the pressure at these facilities exceeds 80 pounds per square inch or more, sometimes much more, in certain situations. This high pressure can and does cause leaks to develop where none had come before and chances are god that’s when you are either out to dinner or it's 3 in the morning. A simple device is available and necessary for your peace of mind. A water pressure regulator should be used whenever connecting to an outside water supply source. This device controls the incoming water pressure to supply a continuous and regulated 45 PSI maximum. It is connected at the supply end of the hose to protect the hose and the RV at the same time. You can find it at your local RV supply store.


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