Updating and Maintaining Your RV Freshwater

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January 2, 2013

by Alan Lidstone

All RVers are concerned about having safe water for drinking, cooking and personal needs, with adequate water pressure for convenience. Today’s RVs use a demand type water system that generally includes a 12-volt DC electric water pump, fresh water tank, plumbing lines, water heater, water filter system, pressure regulator, faucets and shower head. For the enterprising do-it-yourselfer, an extensive selection of water system upgrades are available to provide cleaner, better-tasting water and more efficient water delivery, including:

• Water heater anode rods and flushing tools, RV antifreeze, pressure regulators and pump strainers to protect the freshwater system and simplify maintenance

• Electric water heater elements, accumulator tanks and electronically    controlled, high-volume water pumps to improve performance

• No-taste hoses, freshwater tank fresheners and drinking water filtration systems to remove contaminants and improve taste and clarity

• Larger-capacity water heaters and combination propane/electric water heaters with faster recovery rates for more hot water when you need it RVers can perform most of the upgrading of their RV’s fresh water system, using common hand tools and the necessary maintenance, service and trouble-shooting instructions.

The RV Repair & Maintenance Manual, 4th edition by Bob Livingston clearly explains the correct maintenance, service and trouble-shooting procedures for all the major systems on your RV, and is a handy reference when making improvements to your fresh water system Let’s take a look at some of the challenges your fresh water system can encounter and ways to remedy common problems.

High Water Pressure
Water pressure at individual RV sites can range from 20-25 psi to more than 100 psi. However, excessive pressure (over 75 psi) can rupture both water hoses and internal plumbing, causing expensive damage to your RV. It’s a good idea to replace your water supply hose periodically because the hose strength decreases over time. Another good idea is to use a pressure regulator at the connection to the water supply. Most RVers prefer using regulators that have a gauge. Camping World carries a variety of pressure regulators, including a model that lets you manually adjust the pressure entering your RV.

Low Water Pressure
Low water pressure in your rig can have multiple causes, including insufficient water pressure at your RV site, inline water pressure regulators, inline whole-RV water filters, mineral deposits in the water heater, and clogged screens in the water hose, water pump inlet, faucets or shower head. You can maximize water flow or pressure by:

• Using the shortest supply hose possible (with a 5/8″ diameter rather than 1/2″ diameter)

• Cleaning the screen filters found in the water supply hose, pressure regulator, water pumps and faucets

• Replacing water filters at manufacturer-recommended intervals

• Draining and flushing the hot water heater twice a year to remove accumulated mineral deposits

• Replacing the existing showerhead with a low-flow, high-pressure shower head

• Replacing your pressure regulator with a hi-flow or manually adjustable regulator

• Replacing your water pump with one of the newer high-volume/high-pressure water pumps If your RV site has low water pressure, turn off the park faucet and draw from your RV freshwater tank with your 12-volt DC pump. Refill your fresh water tank as needed.

Replacing a manufacturer installed water pump rated at 2.8 GPM (gallons per minute) at 45 psi with a Shurflo Extreme Series Smart Sensor water pump with a flow rate over 5.5 GPM and pressure up to 65 psi can greatly improve water pressure in the RV shower. Expect dramatic improvement, with the showerhead sending out much more water with faucets only partially open. You may find that you don’t need to replace the showerhead with a low-flow /high-pressure head, unless you’re looking for other comfort or convenience features a new shower head might offer, or if your old shower head is clogged with mineral deposits.

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