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How to Clean, Fill, and Maintain Your RV's Fresh Water Tank

I am an avid RV enthusiast who understands that my life and my safety depend on the condition of my coach's equipment.

Learn how to keep your RV's fresh water tank clean and sanitized so that you can avoid contamination when you travel.

Learn how to keep your RV's fresh water tank clean and sanitized so that you can avoid contamination when you travel.

Proper Fresh Water Tank Care Protects Your Health

Of the three tanks located in a recreational vehicle, the one that requires the least amount of upkeep and thus is mostly ignored is the fresh water tank. This is unfortunate because by ignoring its care, we endanger our health.

It takes very little effort to clean and sanitize this tank, but this work nonetheless needs to be done. This article will show you what you need to do. Following the directions will help you and your fellow travelers to avoid illness when you are on the road.

Learning how to care properly for your recreational vehicle's fresh water tank is important because lack of good sanitation can make you very sick. How to Protect and Purify Your RV's Drinking Water Supply explains more about this topic and reading it will help you to understand the steps you should take to protect your health.

If you travel frequently, you already know that the H20 you use along the way is not all of the same quality due to differences in chemicals and cleanliness. Furthermore, not all campground managers take good care of their systems, which is why keeping your own supply clean is so important.

How to Clean Your Fresh Water Tank

Use the following directions prior to storing your unit or if your supply becomes tainted.

  1. Drain the tank completely.
  2. Remove and discard your water filter. (This step is for taint only.)
  3. Make a mixture of 1/4 cup of bleach per 1 gallon of water and then add it to the tank.
  4. Fill it to the top with clean water. (For a 100 gallon tank, you will need 6.5 of gallons of this mixture plus the fill.)
  5. Do not use more than what is prescribed here so that you avoid damage to your fittings.
  6. Open every faucet individually, first the cold, then the hot sides, and wait until a chlorine smell comes out.
  7. Then turn each one off.
  8. Run a cycle through your empty washing machine if your unit has one.
  9. Allow the entire system to stand for four hours.
  10. Drain it.
  11. Flush with fresh water until the chlorine smell is gone.
  12. Make sure each side of every faucet no longer smells of chlorine.
  13. Install a new water filter as soon as possible if applicable.

This will remove all of the impure water from your system, cleanse your plumbing and sanitize your washing machine.

Use the Correct Hose

While we are talking about plumbing, let me add here that you should always use those white hoses that assure that your water tastes good. You will see less expensive ones and perhaps be tempted to use green ones as well , but do not do it unless you want the nasty taste of hose in all of your water and food!

While you are sanitizing , make sure to clean your hoses using the same technique as described above so that you do not taint your supply again!

Despite doing all of this, the first day of any camping vacation, you may get some "hose taste" anyhow. If this happens, just keep flushing until you wash that taste away.

Use a Water Pressure Regulator

Purchase a water pressure regulator like the one shown here, and use it every time you hook up to the faucet at a new campground. Doing this will keep your hoses from bursting.

Most campgrounds do not have problems with the amount of pressure in their systems, but some do, so it is always best to check it prior to hooking up.

If a hose does burst, it not only makes a mess but also leaves you without an immediate way to hook up to a campground's system.

So, in addition to using a regulator, you might want to carry an extra hose just in case there are problems with the first one. For the same reason, you should always keep your tank partially full so that you have enough water for cooking and bathing until you can repair the problem.

How to Fill Your RV Fresh Water Tank

Do Not Over Fill

Water weighs 8.35 pounds. If you fill a 100 gallon unit completely, you are adding 835 pounds to your coach. This adds a great deal of stress, especially when you consider the additional strain of road vibration.

As a result, the connections are more likely to loosen and leak, and the tanks, themselves may crack. There is a technique mechanics use to weld them, but if the crack is too big or in a bad spot a repair is impossible to do.

Keeping 25 gallons or less in the tank will eliminate these problems.

Always make sure to winterize your  Rv's fresh water tank, especially if you live in a cold climate.

Always make sure to winterize your Rv's fresh water tank, especially if you live in a cold climate.

Winterize Your Hoses and Tank

If you live in a cold climate you will need to winterize to protect your hoses from bursting and your tank from cracking. Part of this procedure includes removing most of the water from your fresh water tank, plumbing and hoses.

The easiest way to do this is to simply

  1. unhook from your water supply,
  2. make sure you are connected to a sewer and that your fresh water connection is in the open position,
  3. turn on every faucet in the RV and let the water run until there is no more water in them or the tank.
  4. Close the connection again.

A small amount of water will remain, but there will not be enough to cause any damage from freezing.

It is also a good idea to clean and sanitize using the above directions if you plan to store your RV for a long time.

Protect Your System, Protect Your Health

When it comes to caring for your fresh water holding tank, the biggest thing you need to do, literally, is to protect it in the ways I have described here.

Pay attention to what you are doing so that you can stay healthy while you travel.

How to Sanitize Your RV Fresh Water Tank

This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. Content is for informational or entertainment purposes only and does not substitute for personal counsel or professional advice in business, financial, legal, or technical matters.

© 2012 Sondra Rochelle