Having a healthy supply of water when you’re out on the road in your RV is essential. Many of the conveniences we often take for granted use water; your shower, kitchen sink, and toilet. Whether you’re new to the RV lifestyle or you’ve been exploring The Outback for years, it’s good to refresh yourself on how your RV’s water system works. Doing so could prevent you from being caught out with no water to drink.
In this guide you’ll find out:
Read on for everything you need to know about putting water in your RV!
Most RVs have similar water and plumbing systems. To get running water, check that your 12V isolator switch is on. This is a square-looking switch that has a large knob you can easily turn to the ‘on’ position. Once you’ve done this, turn on the water pump switch which is usually found next to your electrical switches. This will now allow running water to flow to and from your water tanks, of which your RV will usually have 3. Let’s take a look at each tank and what it holds.
As you’ve probably guessed, the freshwater tank holds the drinkable water that you put in your cuppa. Not only that, but the water that’s stored here can also feed your shower and sink.
The black water tank is another name for a wastewater tank. It’s where your numbers 1s and 2s end up when you hit that flush button. There are very particular rules for emptying your wastewater tank. Read our guide on how to handle your motorhomes waste for more advice.
Although it’s not as common, a lot of RVs also have a grey water tank. This tank holds the water that’s not as dangerous as your blackwater, but also not drinkable like your freshwater. The grey water tank is usually filled with water that has flowed from your sink or shower. The water from this tank is often then used for tasks that don't need fresh drinking water like flushing your toilet.
Most RVs use an LPG system to heat water. Before you get hot water there are a few things to check:
Then, just turn the water heater switch on and wait about 20 minutes for the water to warm up. The control panel for the system is usually easy to find with the main switch on a large panel that reads ‘water heater’. Depending on the size of your LPG bottle, you can usually ‘swap and go’ at larger petrol stations, or head to specialist stores like BCF and Supagas for a refill. Learn all about using LPG in your motorhome.
To avoid running dry, it’s recommended that you fill your freshwater tank every 1 to 2 days. It’s always better to be safe than sorry. All campsites you stay at will have a freshwater tap for you to conveniently refill your freshwater tank with.
With most of the RVs purchased from us at KEA, you can check the exact levels of your water tanks via the tank display monitor. This can be found just above the internal switches on the wall. When you’re on a long trip and not staying at a campground every night, monitoring your freshwater level is important to plan ahead.
Especially for more casual owners, RVs can be stored for weeks at a time. Water tanks are usually made of plastic, which means that over time the water in your freshwater tank can gain a plastic smell and taste. If it’s kept in the tank for too long after that, water can even grow bacteria and become unsafe to drink. It’s always safe to empty your water tanks before storing your RV.
There are techniques you can use to not only maintain your water tanks and plumbing but also to help keep your water fresh. Here are a few tips:
You can always pay a professional to sanitise your water tanks and plumbing lines, but these simple tricks are great to do it yourself. To tell if your tanks or plumbing lines need a clean, run each faucet once at a time and give them each a smell. This is also a great way to check if you’ve flushed your system properly after sanitising it.
Firstly, you need to retrieve the freshwater hose from your vehicle. When you purchase your vehicle, the dealer would have shown you what it looks like and where it’s kept. More often than not, the hose is kept in an external storage area for easy access.
Next up you’ll need to connect to a freshwater source. Water from a city is best as it’s usually treated. Otherwise, there will normally be a tap at the holiday park or campground that you’re staying at. Simply screw the plastic cap at the end of your hose to the mouth of the tap.
To access your water tank, open the small compartment door on the side of your vehicle. Then, unscrew the cap and place the end of the hose into your tank.
Turn the tap on slowly so that air bubbles don’t gather in the freshwater tank. Taking your time also helps to avoid overfilling. When the freshwater tank is full water will start to come back out of the access point, or you will see water dripping underneath the vehicle.
If your water pump is turned on while your freshwater tank is empty it can damage the pump. It’s also good to turn your hot water off while draining too.
Usually, the drain valve can be found below your RV underneath your freshwater tank.
Simply twist the drain valve and let the water flow out. Because the water is fresh, it doesn’t matter so much where you dump it. But it’s always good to be considerate, especially if you’re dropping a lot of water. In this case, it can be good to find a dump station where you’re staying.
Being able to put water in your RV is important so that you don’t get caught out needing a hot shower or something to drink. It’s also really important to regularly sanitise your water tanks and plumbing lines so that your water doesn’t taste like plastic, or worse, you get sick. If you’re looking to upgrade or get your first RV, see our range of new and refurbished RVs. Ask our experts for advice on which model is best for you at a KEA certified dealership today.
Learn more about your motorhome with our helpful how-to guides.