How to Use Water in Your RV

RV water tank
(photo by penjelly via FlickrCC)

Having running water is one of the many luxuries of camping in an RV. With your RV water tank, you have the ability to rinse off vegetables, boil a pot of water, take a shower, and flush the toilet — all without leaving the comfort of your camper.

If you’ve never traveled in an RV before, you might think getting water is as easy as turning on the faucet. But in reality, it takes a little more work behind the scenes to hook up your RV’s plumbing. Read on to learn more about how to use the water inside an RV.

RV tanks

Before we get started, it’s important to know the difference between all of your camper’s water tanks. In general, there are three kinds of tanks in most RVs:

  • The fresh water tank is what holds the clean, potable water that comes out of your RV sink and shower.
  • The semi-dirty water that washes down the drain then filters into the RV gray water tank.
  • Finally, there’s the RV septic tank, also known as the black water tank. This RV holdings tank contains the waste from your toilet.

Using the water hookup

If you’ll be staying at a campground with full or partial hookups, getting access to water is as easy as connecting to the water hookup. The process is fairly intuitive and only involves a few steps:

  1. Locate your camper’s fresh water drinking hose. If you’ll be using a water filter or water pressure regulator, attach them to the hose now.
  2. Screw the loose end of your hose into the campground’s water supply hookup.
  3. Set your RV water system to connect to city water instead of your own RV water tank.

On the other hand, if you’re planning on camping somewhere without hookups (also known as “boondocking”), you’ll need to fill up your RV fresh water tank before you get to your campsite using either a hose or several gallons of water.

RV water tank
(photo by likeaduck via FlickrCC)

RV plumbing

An RV water pump is crucial in order to make sure the water comes out of your sinks and RV shower with enough water pressure.  Make sure you locate the pump’s switch so you can flip it in the on position for the duration of your trip.

Likewise, an RV water heater will ensure you have hot water for showering and cooking. The switch for your hot water heater should be located near the water pump, so be sure to turn that on as well.

Emptying your RV water tank

Finally, at the end of your trip, you’ll need to empty out your tanks. Most RV parks and campgrounds have a dumping station where you can get rid of any waste or wastewater. Emptying your tanks involves just a few steps:

  1. Put on a pair of rubber gloves and grab your sewer hose.
  2. Connect the hose to the sewer hookup.
  3. Secure the other end to the black water tank.
  4. Open the valve and let the contents of the tank drain.
  5. Close the valve completely.
  6. Empty the gray water tank and let the wastewater drain.
  7. Close the gray tank valve.
  8. Flush and rinse the tanks to clean.

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