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Using Your RV : RV Systems

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What You Need to Know About RV Fresh Water Systems--Part 1
Russ and Tiņa DeMaris

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There's more to using your RV fresh water system than just hanging a hose on the side of the rig and turning on the water. Properly using your RV fresh water system can make a world of difference in how much you enjoy your trip--or possibly regret it.

We'll cover fresh water systems in two parts. In this first part we'll talk about how to use the RV fresh water system in a campground or RV park where you have a way to hook your rig up to a fresh water supply.

First, you'll need to locate the fresh water supply connection on your RV. Many of them are hidden behind a little door, usually on the street side (driver side) of the rig. If you have a big motorhome, they may be stashed in a basement storage compartment, again accessible from the outside of the rig. The connection will look like the connector you might screw a garden hose onto a lawn sprinkler.

First, don't use just "any old hose," to hook up your fresh water supply. Garden hoses are designed for watering plants, and may contain chemicals you wouldn't want to drink. Fresh water supply hoses are specially designed for drinking water, and usually are marked NSF drinking water safe.

Before you hook up your supply hose, there's a couple of safety precautions to observe. The first is simple: Not everyone is as concerned about the safety of your drinking water as you are. Someone who came to that RV space before you did may have actually rinsed their sewer hose off under your drinking water tap--possibly touching the tap with that icky hose. Some RVers carry a small spray bottle of bleach water. Give the water tap a quick shot of bleach water and a wipe down with a paper towel.

Next, add another layer of protection between your water hose and the tap. In this case, a water pressure regulator will protect both your RV plumbing system--and your water hose--against high pressure surges that can come through the "city water" system you'll be hooking up to. Surges can actually hammer RV plumbing fittings, causing leaks, or even catastrophic breakage. You can find a regulator at an RV supply store. They come in a couple of different "flavors," being made of either brass or high impact plastic. Others add whistles and bells in the form of a gauge to indicate exact water pressure. Any of these will work.

Screw the regulator between the water tap and the hose. Open the tap to flush the hose out, shut the tap, then connect the hose to the RV. Why this flush? It's just a good practice to be in. Any bacteria that may have developed in the hose between uses can be blasted out harmlessly, and not put into your RV fresh water lines.

Some RVers seem to think they don't need a pressure regulator in thier line if they simply open the tap, "just a little." They reason that if the tap isn't on full, the pressure will be reduced. Sorry, faulty reasoning! Turning the tap on "just a little" will reduce the volume of water, but not the pressure. True, you will "lose" a little flow when using the regulator, but so much better than having your plumbing system broken when you're away on a day trip, returning to find your interior flooded out. We've "been there, done that," and it isn't pretty!

When you're ready to move on down the road, shut off the supply tap, disconnect the hose, and drain it before putting it away--preferably in a bag. Draining the hose will reduce likelihood of bacterial build up.

Next time we'll talk about fresh water use when you're away from the "city water" connection.

photo courtesy Marshall Brass

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