We rely heavily on our RV’s water system, for personal hygiene, washing dishes, and in some cases for doing laundry or drinking. So it’s worth taking a few minutes to give this vital system some attention.
To protect your RV’s plumbing from damage due to excess pressure, use a water pressure regulator when connected to any external main water source. These are available at most RV dealers and supply stores and online. Many of them can be simply screwed onto the water supply hose going from the campground tap to the coach. Other larger regulators can be permanently mounted to the coach.
Related video: When and Why to Use a Water Pressure Regulator for RV
To prevent damage to your RV water system from freezing weather, completely drain the system. You can do this by turning off the water pump and opening all the water faucets, hot and cold. Next, open the low point drain valves. Leave the faucets and valves open to allow all the water to drain. Do not forget to drain your water heater. This can be carried out by removing the plug in the water heater situated at the bottom of the tank. Keep the plug inside the water heater compartment so it’s not lost and reinstall it before reactivating the system.
Related video: Overview of RV Fresh Water System
Run the water pump briefly to purge it of water, to prevent freeze damage to it and the inline filter. Pour some RV antifreeze down the toilet and all the other drains (basin, sink, and shower) to ensure that the “U” traps are protected from freezing. Unscrew the shower hose from its fitting on the faucet and allow it to drain. Check ice makers. Leave the system empty and drained to prevent the build-up of micro-organisms in the water in mild weather, and to prevent pipes bursting in freezing weather.
Some owners prefer to use compressed air to blow out the lines; there are special adapter fittings which connect the campground water inlet connection to an air compressor fitting.
Related video: Handy DIY Tool for Winterizing an RV Water System
Another way to protect the water system from freezing is to use special RV antifreeze, which is designed for potable water systems. It’s drawn in by the RV’s water pump and circulated through the system by opening faucets and valves until the colored fluid emerges, which indicates it has reached that component.
Draining Fresh Water Tanks
To drain the fresh water tank, locate the drain valve. This is usually located outside near the water tank. Open this valve and let the water drain until empty (remove the fill cap to let air enter for a faster drain). If the tank has no drain valve or plug near the bottom, you’ll have to empty it by running water out of faucets. If you do this make sure that you do not let the water pump run dry for more than a few seconds.
Cleaning the Fresh Water System
To clean out the fresh water system follow these steps:
- Fill the water tank half full.
- Add a solution of 1/4 cup bleach and 1 gallon water for every 15 gallons tank capacity.
- Open all the faucets until the air has escaped from the system and the solution has filled the water system.
- Let the RV sit for several hours.
- Drain the water system and refill with fresh water.
- Run the fresh water through all faucets and drain the system again.
- If the water still has an unpleasant smell or taste, add a box of baking soda mixed with water into the system. This will freshen the water.
Related video: Tips for Filling Your RV Fresh Water Tank
When preparing for a season of RVing, pressurize the fresh water system with the onboard pump and with all faucets closed, allow the pump to stop when it reaches full shut-off pressure. Listen for the pump coming on after a while. If it comes on frequently with all faucets and valves off, you have a pressure leak somewhere. Check the system over for this and repair as needed.
Most trailers and motorhomes come with specific instructions on how to maintain the water system and prepare it for freezing weather. Always follow factory recommendations when they are available. This generic procedure is intended as a general guide to be used by experienced do-it-yourselfers, and if it differs from the factory information, follow those procedures.