Buying an RV water pump can be a confusing process. This article will help you choose the best RV water pump for your unit, plus answer some basic questions that every recreational vehicle owner should know. Let’s start at the very beginning. RV water pumps take the water from your tank, up into the piping system of your rig. The RV water pump’s job is to increase the flow of the water, and stabilize it’s pressure. In other words, it’s pretty important.
The average RV comes with a 50-gallon to 200-gallon fresh water tank. This water is your lifeline when traveling, or when camping without hookups. Your ability, to consume the water in your tanks, comes via the little wonder known as: the RV water pump.
Here are a water pump’s two main jobs:
Job #1 The first job of the RV water pump is to provide pressured water from your rig tank. RVs store their water in built-in tanks, which are usually located in the base of the motorhome or trailer. Your unit has three types of tanks. The fresh water, gray (or used) water, and black (or waste) water tank. A pump allows you to get water from the kitchen and bathroom faucets, and keeps the shower and toilet flowing. Most RV water pumps are small and run off your RV battery. (Generally, that means water pumps are 12 volts).
There are a few major RV water pump brands. Aquatec, Shurflo and Flojet are the top three. The key is finding a simple, easy to install pump, that features a quiet motor. Aquatec boasts two units which are both quiet and offer basic installation. Remember, an RV water pump will make noise, especially if you have multiple faucets open at one time. This is not unusual. Look for a pump with a 5-chamber design. They offer greater water and pressure flow, along with a smooth overall action. A good RV water pump will produce an even flow of water. A jerky flow indicates variable speeds, with not enough pressure. If choosing a unit at a service center, ask them to demonstrate the differences between the models that they use, before deciding on a purchase.
Job #2 The second job, of the RV water pump, is to provide a certain amount of water per minute. Trailers or campers may use pumps that produce 3.5 gallons of water per minute. Larger motorhomes may use pumps that provide 5.3 or greater gallons per minute. Gallons of water per minute equate to pressure per square inch, or psi. When your rig is connected to city water, it will often bypass the RV water pump, because city water is already pressurized.
Shurflo is one of the most popular brands of RV water pumps, and people either love or hate them. Many owners feel they give excessive noise, and do not pump the water at a high enough pressure. (Be sure to read the reviews for yourself, before deciding on a particular unit.)
So what should you look for when you plan to buy a new RV water pump?
#1 Check your RV manual for water specifications. If you don’t have the manual, you may want to call a dealer or service center that is proficient in your particular brand of RV.
#2 How many gallons of water per minute is optimal for your recreational vehicle?
#3 What water pressure is recommended for your type of recreation vehicle?
#4 What are the dimensions of your current water pump?
Now test to see what your current water pump is producing. You can check your gallons per minute by placing a 1-gallon milk jug under the faucet. Open the faucet, and clock how long it takes to fill. Divide that into a minute and you will have your actual operational gallons per minute. The next step is to test your water pressure. Purchase a water pressure test gauge, online or from your local dealer. This gadget will allow you to test water pressure in your unit, as well as water coming into your tanks via the campground.
If after due diligence, you decide to replace your old RV water pump, start by inspecting the surrounding regions.
#1 First, look at the lines to and from the water pump. Do you have any kinked or pinched waterlines?
#2 Have you put in a new water filter? (This can help, and should always be done before purchasing a new pump. Please note! Turn OFF the water before changing filters, otherwise you are going to get an unexpected shower!)
#3 Find your water pump by disconnecting your RV from the incoming water supply, and turning on the water pump switch. Leave the switch on and keep listening. Can you hear the pump? You should be able to locate it from the sound. Once you find your pump, look all around the pump for any water line issues (like LEAKS!).
If everything looks good, and you have replaced the water filter, then you should move forward and test your actual pump. Grab a bucket and two small pieces of water hose. (You can pick these up at a Lowe’s). You will also need a few clamps. Take your bucket to your water source, and fill it all the way up. Now, make sure that your rig is completely disconnected from any form of incoming water, like the city or campground lines.
Now, look at the water lines that come and go from the water pump. Take a marker and put an X on the tube that sends the water into the RV. If necessary, carefully remove the water tube, examine it, mark it, and re-connect it. With the water pump off, go inside your RV and turn on every faucet you have. Back at the water pump, take the water line that goes from the pump, and connect it to the flexible hose you purchased at Lowe’s. You might need to use a clamp or tape to connect it. One end of the hose goes in the water bucket, and the other should shoot out onto the ground. Ok, you are ready. Turn the pump on and watch the water. Does it come out? Is the pump operating? If the pump is making noise but you don’t see any water, there might be something repairable in the pump itself. If you see a strong stream of water gushing from the hose, the water pump is not your real problem. (Good news ’cause you almost bought one for no reason!) Now you need to start troubleshooting, and find the real source of the problem.
If you need to buy a new pump you have several options. The first is Camping World. Camping World stocks a variety of brands, and styles, of RV water pumps. They also offer installation for a variety of rigs. If you find yourself in the middle of nowhere, you may need to order online. Amazon.com is almost always your quickest option. The other advantage of using Amazon, is the ability to read reviews, and even ask questions prior to purchase.
Remember, when it comes to RV water pumps, bigger is not always better. The higher the psi, the more pressure is released on your plumbing system. RV water pressure is not the same as in a stick-and-brick home. Other considerations include changing your faucets, or your shower head, for additional pressure without changing out your pump.
Don’t forget, at the end of the season, you MUST winterize the water system in any RV that will be left in the cold. Winterizing your rig includes removing all of the water from your plumbing lines, and from within the water pump. It also includes using air to blow out any remaining water droplets, which might freeze. If you don’t winterize your rig, you run the risk of ruining both the pipes, and your water pump. (Along with any other appliances that had water in them.)
Choosing an RV water pump is a process. Don’t choose in a hurry. Read reviews. Check the forums. Talk to your service specialist. Once you locate the problem, make a slow and informed decision. Water pumps are easy to replace, just make sure that the pump is the actual problem.