The Best Ways to Prevent RV Plumbing Problems

Updated on July 22, 2019
TIMETRAVELER2 profile image

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

If you want to keep your RV's plumbing system functioning properly, the best way to do so is to use preventive maintenance methods that work!

You can avoid potentially damaging and expensive problems by making it a point to

  • be careful about items you allow to go down drains,
  • use correct and safe cleaning tools,
  • practice basic maintenance,
  • choose appropriate chemicals and
  • winterize when necessary.

How to prevent RV plumbing prbblems.
How to prevent RV plumbing prbblems. | Source

Protect Drains, Tanks and Sewer Lines

Keeping drains, hoses, and sewer lines clear is one of the best ways to eliminate or reduce plumbing problems. Each has a specific job to perform, and it's important to understand them.

  • Drains are meant to catch debris that can harm your pipes.
  • Tanks hold waste.
  • Sewer lines are the conduits that allow you to remove it from your RV.

So, if you want your plumbing system to function properly, the best way to do so is to keep it clean and clear of waste and debris.

You do this by

  • never letting anything enter plumbing conduits or tanks that can stop them up,
  • dumping tanks regularly and properly,
  • cleaning drains as needed and
  • maintaining and sanitizing waste, gray and fresh water tanks regularly.

The Best Way to Dump and Deep Clean Your RV's Sewer Tank and How Care for Your RV's Fresh Water Tank give you specific directions for taking care of your coach's tanks.

The following video shows you what can happen if you don't follow this advice!

Only Use RV Approved Cleaning Tools and Chemicals

Your house does not have sewer, gray and fresh water tanks, but it does have drains and plumbing.

Just as you take care to keep them clear and clean, so you should do the same with the various parts of your coach's plumbing system.

For the most part, however, the tools, chemicals and equipment you use at home cannot be used in your motor home or camper due to the way its systems are configured and the materials with which it is made.

For example, you cannot use a plunger to unclog your RV’s toilet or pour Drano in it because using a plunger will not work and Drano will damage your pipes and fittings.

The Best Tools and Chemicals for RV Sewer Tank Care tells you which items you can safely use and how to best utilize them.

Each has its own purpose and should be used accordingly.

For example, if your coach does not have a backwash system, you will need to use a special wand like the one shown below that hooks up to an external hose. This tool, properly used, will pressure clean the inside of your waste water tank and help to keep sludge from building up on its walls.

There are several different brands and types from which to choose, but my husband and I have found that the ones manufactured by Camco are reliable, inexpensive an do a great job.

However, if the coach does have a built-in system for doing this, you will not need a toilet cleaning wand.

Either way, you must make pressure cleaning the inside of that tank a regular part of its maintenance.

Camco RV Flexible Swivel Stik with Shutoff Valve- Creates Powerful Cleaning Action that Dislodges and Flushes Stubborn Waste Deposits and Combats Odors (40074),55-1/2 in.
Camco RV Flexible Swivel Stik with Shutoff Valve- Creates Powerful Cleaning Action that Dislodges and Flushes Stubborn Waste Deposits and Combats Odors (40074),55-1/2 in.
This tool, when hooked to an external hose, will work to pressure clean the inside of your RV's waste water tank and help to keep sludge from building up.

Dump Your Tanks Regularly

Many RV owners think that if they empty their sewer tank regularly, that will eliminate problems.

This simply is not true. As highlighted in the above-noted articles, you have to

  • empty,
  • back wash,
  • cleanse your lines,
  • and sanitize regularly.

In addition to this, every so often you have to do a deep cleaning because if you skip this step, your RV is going to start smelling! The above-noted article tells you how to do this.

Regular and correct dumping is the only way to maintain the pipes, hoses, valves, and fittings in your RV's plumbing system and the best way to avoid serious problems.

Learn how to properly dump your tanks to avoid plumbing problems.
Learn how to properly dump your tanks to avoid plumbing problems. | Source

Maintain Showers and Tubs

Performing preventive maintenance on showers and tubs is fairly simple.

You should always keep a drain over the opening of the shower floor for the purpose of keeping matter from falling into the plumbing lines.

Shower heads get clogged, and both shower and tub drains fill with residue and soap scum.

  • If the drain is heavy with soap scum, remove it, soak in CLR, rinse thoroughly, and put it back on.
  • If shower heads and faucets start leaking, the best thing to do is replace them.

RV shower heads are specialty items because they have a stop/start feature that allows travelers to take navy baths. There are several types available, some of which I have used but have not lasted long. The one I show below works well and is inexpensive and durable.

Faucets and hoses are readily available at reasonable costs, and the installation instructions are easy to follow. If you don't want to do this repair yourself, any plumber will easily be able to do it for you.

Finally, make sure to keep your fresh water line open when you are using your coach. Otherwise, the water will overflow its holding tank and flood your coach.

The weight of the additional water may also crack the tank, so this is important to remember.

Camco 43712 RV Shower Head with On/Off Switch (Off-White)
Camco 43712 RV Shower Head with On/Off Switch (Off-White)
I use this shower head in my own RV, and it works great.

Use Gentle Products on Your Toilet

People often forget that their toilet is part of their sewer tank system.

As such, it also needs to be cleaned and maintained regularly. How to Clean and Sanitize the Interior of Your RV has a highly detailed section about how to do this.

If toilets are not kept clean,

  • urine and feces can harden, stick to the toilet bowl and begin to smell,
  • the reservoir can discolor and
  • toilet paper can get stuck to the flapper and cause it to malfunction.

These issues bring germs and vermin and make the commode a danger to daily health. This is why it is important to use cleaning products that will disinfect safely and not harm the toilet or any parts of your plumbing system.

Spic N Span liquid or Pine Sol both are good to use for this purpose, but you need to rinse these products thoroughly after use because they will get sticky if you fail to do so.


If you live or travel in a cold climate, you must take steps to protect your pipes and hoses from freezing and breaking.

If you are living in your coach:

  • turn off all of the water except when you need to use it,
  • keep your tanks as empty as possible,
  • wrap exterior sewer and water hoses in heavy aluminum insulation or thick towels and
  • protect your undercarriage by putting bales of hay or heavy material near the bottom of the coach.

If your unit is stored, follow the directions in the video for winterizing your unit.

Proper Care of Your Plumbing System Is Important

It is important to perform preventive maintenance on your RV's plumbing system with the goal of being to sanitize without damaging.

Nobody wants a clogged toilet or a shower that stops working during a vacation!

You won't have to worry about such issues if you protect your RV's plumbing system by practicing good preventive maintenance.

What a typical RV plumbing system looks like.
What a typical RV plumbing system looks like. | Source

Have You Learned Anything Important About Maintaining Your Rv's Plumbing System by Reading This Article?

See results

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.

Questions & Answers

  • How do you fix a shower that won't drain?

    If your shower is not draining, there likely is something clogging your pipes. Your best bet is to get a plumber in to run a snake down the drain to see if he can clear it.

© 2015 Sondra Rochelle


Submit a Comment

No comments yet.


This website uses cookies

As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at:

Show Details
HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the or domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)
ClickscoThis is a data management platform studying reader behavior (Privacy Policy)