Overhaul of our RV Plumbing
What We Replaced:
Our old pump was tired. The water pressure was lousy, it was low and constantly pulsed so it was very inconsistent. The pump was also loud and vibrated the entire back half of the RV when it was on.
New water pump and accumulator tank.
The water pump got an upgrade. We went with SeaFlo 42 Series Water Pressure Diaphragm Pump with variable flow. This water pump is a significant upgrade from our last. The pump has increased water pressure and is a lot quieter and vibrates a lot less. The pump also has a variable flow for reducing cycle feature which is an added bonus. The allows the pump to handle low pressure without turning itself on and off.
In addition to the water pump we added a SeaFlo Accumulator tank (Model # SFAT-075-125-01). So we have a much more consistent flow. The water no longer pulses with the pump.
Our old Atwood 6 gallon hot water heater worked but was impractical. We found turning on the hot water inconvenient in terms of time and gas. It was a traditional hot water heater, so it heated all six gallons of water before we could use it. This took a long time (about 25 - 30 minutes) and took some foresight in order to use. This wasn’t bad if we needed to shower because we would turn it on and wait until the water was hot. But you cannot wait that long every time you need to wash your hands or the dishes. More often than not, we'd end up suffering with the cold water.
We quickly learned our shower had a lot of drawbacks and showering in the RV was not enjoyable. We had to contend with inconsistent shower temperatures, lack of water pressure, leaky shut- off valves. Taking Navy Showers was also a pain. A Navy shower is a method of showering that conserves water by shutting off the water during the lathering phase. Shutting off the water was done by a shutoff valve on the showerhead. This is where we faced a lot of our problems.
First of all, the shut-off valve really didn’t shut the water off. It still leaked water out of the showerhead. Apparently, this is how RV showerheads are designed to prevent you from being scalded when the water is turned back on. What it really did was leak cold water on to you while you were lathering, wasting water and making you cold. But the worst part was when you did turn the water back on you were blasted with cold water. The shut-off valve would allow the cold water to mix in with the hot water and the temperature of your water would drop significantly. Knowing this, we had to grab the shower head and point it down the drain and let the shower run the drain till the water even temperature evened out. This is obviously contradicting the purpose of a navy shower. This wasted water and filled our gray tanks unnecessarily Overall, I would rank our shower experience a 3 out of 10. It got you clean but you didn’t look forward to it and actually dreaded it at times.
For the shower, we replaced the showerhead and added a cutoff valve, and one-way valve on the hot water line. We went with Oxygenics PowerFlow RV Handheld Shower Head Kit in White. We wanted a shower head that would maximize water pressure without using a lot of water. The showerhead only uses 1.8 gallons of water per minute. The Oxygenics PowerFlow RV Handheld Shower Head has a shut-off valve built in but this showerhead also leaks by design. To combat this, we installed a shut-off valve between the hose and the showerhead. We used KES Shut Off Valve Brass Shower Head Valve with Handle Lever G1/2 Water Flow Control Valve Regulator in Brushed Nickel. Now the showerhead completely turns off without any leaks. To avoid a shot of cold water when we turn it back on, we installed a one-way valve on the hot side of the shower line. This stops the cold water mixing into the hot water line whenever we use the shut-off valve.
Access to water outside the RV when boondocking
Many RVs have a built-in outdoor shower to give you access to clean things outside. Our RV didn’t have this feature. This isn’t a big deal when you are connected to city water because we use a splitter at the city water connections and you can connect a hose to get water. The issue lies when we are boondocking and need water outside the rig. We would have to fill a bucket of water in our kitchen sink and bring it outside.
Outside Hose Spigot
From the water pump, we ran a ½ inch pex line to the outside wet bay. We attached a ½ inch quarter turn hose spigot. We now have running water outside the rig when we boondock.
We used a combination of Camco TastePure inline water filtration and a Brita Stream Water pitcher filtration system. The idea was to filter it coming into our tanks and filter it before we drank it. This is probably the most common and practical setup. It’s easy, fast, and has a cheap starting price. The filters were readily available at any local Walmart. This setup is ideal for weekend warriors and part-time RVers. The drawback of this combo were the filters for us didn’t last longer than 2 to 3 weeks for the Camco and a month for the Brita Stream before they clogged up. Changing the filters every couple of weeks added up in price. A new Camco TastePure is about $17 per filter and the Brita Stream is about $15 -$20 for a 3 pack. Another drawback was set up for the Camco TastePure, while most RV city water connections were easy to hook up to occasionally we had trouble. The Brita also had drawbacks, the pitcher was cumbersome and took up valuable counter or refrigerator space.
While we didn't initially intend on replacing all of this, once we upgraded one thing we saw the next was lacking and/or insufficient. We went through the entire plumbing of the RV, from point of entry and to dumping. We finally feel the plumbing is up to the task of a full time rving.
Who else has made big overhauls to their RV plumbing? Leave a comment below and share your plumbing overhaul story!
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