I live in Vancouver, Canada, and we are blessed here with literally some of the best quality drinking water on the planet. Because of this, I always fill my RV fresh water tank when I am travelling to areas that may have harder water. We do this so we have the option of running the water pump instead of park water if we so desire. My family and I are not accustomed to the water in other parts of North America that has more mineral content. Regardless of the quality of water you are using in your coach, there are some tips and tricks to maintaining your fresh water system.
It is a good idea to use a water filter with your RV. These range in price and complexity from inexpensive single-stage units to much more expensive multi-stage water filters. They can also be permanently mounted inline to the plumbing, or temporarily installed on the delivery faucet or water hose. Since RV travelers will be exposed to a wide variety of water sources while traveling, water filters provide protection and peace of mind from water-borne chemicals and diseases and will provide clean, clear drinking water. The standard protection offered by water filters is against bacteria, chemicals, lead, odor, chlorine, fungicides, sediment, iron, mercury, and aluminum. As a result, filtered water also tastes better. Multi-stage filters really need only be used in high-risk areas, with single stage filters being just fine in most cases. RV parts retailers will sometimes have many different filters available, so I generally advise people to consider mainly budget (price) and style (inline vs. external).
Fresh Water System
Make sure you flush your fresh water system at least once per year, especially the tank. This is an area that is often overlooked by RV owners. To flush the plumbing system properly and thoroughly, prepare a diluted solution of ¼ cup household bleach with 1 gallon of water for each 15 gallons of tank capacity. For example, for a 45-gallon water tank, prepare a solution of 3 gallons of water with ¾ cup bleach. This corresponds to 50ppm chlorine solution. Pour this solution into the fresh water tank, then fill the remaining capacity with regular potable water. As in the winterizing process, open each water faucet, one at a time, until the smell of chlorine is detected. Don’t forget the hot water taps. Allow the system to sit for at least 4 hours. If you want a shorter disinfectant time, increase the chlorine solution outlined above to 100ppm by increasing the bleach component to ½ cup per 15 gallons. In this case, the solution only needs to remain in the fresh water system for 1 hour. Once the chlorine solution has remained in the water system for the required time, drain and flush the system with potable water a few times. You can also disinfect the fresh water hose by following the same procedure. Fill the hose with the solution, attach the ends together, and let it sit.
Always use a white water hose for your RV potable water system, as regular garden hoses are not actually potable safe, since they contain undesirable manufacturing components. You may choose to connect the two ends of the hose together when you coil it for storage. This prevents contaminants from entering the hose.
Finally, maintain your plumbing components such as water heater anode rods (in the case of steel hot water tanks), and regularly inspect and clean water pump filters and check for water system leaks.
About the Author:
Steve Froese, an avid RV owner, traveler, and Coach-Net member since 2013, is the principal of “A Word to the Wise Technical Communications”, a published RV author, certified RV technician, and licensed Professional Engineer. He frequently collaborates with the “RV Doctor”, Gary Bunzer, and has worked with the RVIA/RVDA as a technical and training writer and consultant. Professionally, he works as a quality engineer and musician. Watch for more of Steve’s work in upcoming Coach-Net publications.