How Does an RV Water System Work?

Recently bought an RV and not quite sure how the whole "water system"-thing works? Don't worry - I'll take you through it in this post.

Ever wonder how a water system in an RV works? Well, it’s not that complicated. The basic concept is similar to what goes on in your home – the water runs through a pipe and then into a tank. The only difference is that this process happens outside of your home. The water system in an RV is made up of two tanks: a black tank and a gray tank.

These tanks collect waste from your toilet, sink, and shower. Every time you flush the toilet or take a shower, dirty water enters the black tank. Anytime you do dishes or wash clothes, that dirty dishwater goes into the gray tank as well. Once these tanks are full, they need to be emptied; hopefully not while driving down the highway.

What is a water system and how does it work?

A water system is a physical system to provide water for human needs. The system includes a pump, piping, and a storage tank or reservoir. It also consists of filtration and disinfection to make the water safe for people to drink.

The components of a typical household water system are: an in-home filter that filters out particles from the water, a high-efficiency particulate air filter that removes pollutants from the air before it reaches the tank, a control valve that operates on incoming cold water pressure to regulate the amount of hot and cold water the family receives, and appliances such as dishwasher, clothes washer, showerhead, toilet flush valve, and faucet cartridge.

How RV water systems work

The water in an RV is kept in a large, vertical tank. The tank is located within the RV and has a water pump inside it to move the water from the tank to the faucet. RV tanks are designed for storage capacity. The RV’s water pressure is supplied by a campground faucet or the onboard water pump.

Many modern RV water systems include automatic faucets and pumps, bypass valves for winterizing, and built-in waste management technology. All in all, an RV water system is a must-have if you plan on any extended camping trips away from home.

A recreational vehicle (RV) water system is a great way to take hygiene with you on the road. With an RV water system, you can get clean, fresh, and safe drinking water anywhere, anytime. There are 2 main types of RV water systems.

Freshwater RV system

With this system, you will only get clean, fresh drinking water. If you want to have access to clean water for washing dishes or taking a shower, you must have a separate faucet. These systems are relatively inexpensive and can be installed with just about any RV toilet on the market. They also use reverse osmosis technology but typically only remove particles down to 0.5 microns in size.

Wastewater RV system

On the other side, this type of system is designed to filter out waste from your black tank (or waste tank) only. Although these are typically the most affordable system available, they are not meant for drinking water – even if filtered through carbon cartridges first. But they do an excellent job of removing solid material that has already gone into solution, which prevents it from coming out the faucet and helps to keep your black tank odor-free.

Parts of an RV water system

The parts of an RV water system are the water pump, the pressure regulator, and the holding tank. The tank is located in or near the vehicle, and it holds both fresh water for drinking and cooking and waste water from dishwashing. The main goal of an RV’s water system is to provide fresh water for passengers. These components work as a team and rely on each other to provide an RV with a water system that is second to none!

Water pump

The water pump is located inside the RV. It takes in raw water from the tank, treats it with either chemicals or filters, dispenses it into the fresh water tank, and sends any waste to the sewage holding tank. The one thing that makes this system different from a typical home’s is that there isn’t a pressure relief valve at all when taking water in for treatment.

Pump pressure regulator

The pump pressure regulator takes in water from two tanks (sewage and fresh) and regulates the pressurized flow of both. It’s like a faucet attached to the incoming pipes that divide the pressure between them, but unlike a tap, it can’t be turned off/on with your hand. If it weren’t for the pressure regulator, you wouldn’t be able to use water from either tank, resulting in no potable or waste water available for consumption at all!

Holding tank

Holding tanks contain fresh water as it is picked up from the city water supply or as it is produced by an onboard fresh water generating system. Typical fresh water holding tank will hold between 75 and 100 gallons. Tanks with capacities greater than 100 gallons may be equipped with external pumps, but this extra equipment increases purchase cost and maintenance costs.

How to maintain your RV’s water system

I can start by draining the system. This will not only remove sediment from the bottom of the water tank but will also relieve any pressure that has built up in your system. This will prevent a valve from bursting because of this pressure. After this, you may want to take care of a few tasks: clean out the system to avoid any further buildup and create a maintenance schedule for your system.

One way to maintain your RV’s water system is by following a healthy maintenance schedule. A healthy maintenance schedule keeps tabs on how often you need to change out the water in the tank, what supplies you should always have on hand, and other important steps that keep your RV running smoothly.

Another thing to always have on hand is a small filter to attach between your hose and the RV’s fresh water intake. This filter will help collect any sediment from entering your tank, so you don’t have buildup or clogs in your system anywhere down the line. These should be replaced every three months; they’re inexpensive and can really go a long way towards keeping things running ok.

RV water filters should also be checked and changed out at least once per season that you spend camping. Especially if the climate and surrounding area have different humidity levels, which could introduce more sediment into your system. It’s also important to make a note of how often you utilize your tap water because this does affect the health of your tank.

To keep things running efficiently, you should always empty out your water tanks after each season, which means draining all the water in them and cleaning them thoroughly to get rid of any mold or other debris that’s built up.

Frequently asked questions

Where does the water come from in an RV?

The RV’s fresh water system is actually quite simple and efficient. Water, at least freshwater, most likely comes from a campground faucet hook-up since they are generally provided with drinking water. Otherwise, it would come from the fresh water holding tank if enough is stored in the tank.

Does RV water pump need to be on when connected to city water?

No, you shouldn’t run the RV’s water pump when connected to city water. Your RV’s fresh water system should be able to operate with the city water system’s pressure. When you are not hooked up to city water, the pump is only used to pump water from your RV’s fresh water tank.

Final thoughts

RVs are a lot of work. In addition to the regular maintenance and upkeep, you also have to make sure that your RV’s water system is in good shape. If not, it can lead to expensive repairs or even worse. A regular maintenance schedule will help keep everything functioning properly. Good luck out there with your camper van adventures–you’re going up against some tough competition from other campers who just want their drinking water too 😉

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Jakob Staudal

I love to spend time outside and reconnect with nature every now and then and cut-off all the noise from social media and everyday life.