My Fifth-Wheel RV

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Water System

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One of the first things you do when you arrive at a new site is to hook up to the campground's utilities. Common hookups include electric, water, sewage, cable and wi-fi. You will find that not all RV campgrounds have all the facilities listed. Electric power can range from 20-50 amp, sewage may be limited to a dump station on the way out, there may be no cable connection, and wi-fi could be spotty at best. We have even been to state campgrounds where there were no water hookups, although there were faucets a short distance away.

If your site does have a fresh water connection there are a few things you should know about.

-- faucets may not be easy to get to match water line 1/2", 5/8," 3/4", Gardena snap-on

First, let's clear up some confusion. All garden hoses have 3/4" threads on both the male and female ends. The hose line itself may be things liek 1/2", 5/8" or 3/4" but the ends remain the same, at least for standard garden hoses. Hence, all garden hose fittings are "universal" in terms of threads.

So you can follow along, here is a diagram of the water system in our rig, a 37' fifth-wheel. The components and plumbing may differ in yours but the idea should be about the same.

-- show diagram...

City water

The RV world refers to "city water" as that coming from a water hookup at your camp site. The term applies even though you may be far from any city at the time. One often also hears the term "chore water", a term that derives from boating lingo while the boat is tied up to a pier with water faucets available.

City water It is distinguished from the water holding tank found in the basement of most RVs. It is assumed that any water you put into our holding tank is ok and won't require a filter. It is also assumed that holding tank water is not under a lot of pressure, since it is pumped by 12 volt motors.

Much of the discussion to follow is about various adapters for your city water line. References to Amazon are given, but most can be found at RV dealers, Walmart, Lowes, Home Depot and hardware stores like Ace.

Plastic adapters are NOT recommended for city water, especially in places (like Canada) where water pressure may be excessive or, if you have a four seasons rig, water may even freeze. Use brass.

Water hoses

What type of water hose should you use for city water hookups? Not just any old one. There are many hose materials out there, and some aren't suitable for dringking water (aka potable water). Such hoses are normally white, or they may have something printed on them to indicate they are safe for drinking water. The popular green water hoses you use for household purposes are a no-no.

If your RV has been sitting in storage or just has not been used in awhile it is a good idea to flush out and sanitize your fresh water tank and use a small amount of bleach to run through your drinking hose to kill any bacteria that may be clinging to stagnate water trapped inside it.

Home Depot sells a commercial grade 5/8 " drinking water hose called Element, made by Swan. It can also be found here on Amazon. It is a white 1/2" hose rated at 300 psi. I like this hose because it isn't subject to kink and has uni-fittings on each end which prevents leaks after frequent use.



I really like this Camco 5/8" quick connect set. It is made of brass and comes with one female attachment for the RV water line, and 3 quick-snap male fittings which go on your spare hose lines. Note that you will need two males and two females if you also employ a "Y" connector (see below).

I personally find the quick-snap connector quite useful in that I can quickly snap on my short hose and quickly rinse the sewer line.



Here is a reference to the Camco 45 degree Hose Elbow which helps to eliminate stress and strain on your RV water intake Hose Fittings. Note that it is inexpensive, is made of solid brass and is highly rated on Amazon. This adapter also swivels.

If you're worried about the elbow sticking out too far, it won't.


Pressure regulator
-- pressure regulator

Excessively high water pressure can cause "builder grade" PVC pipe to leak or even rupture. A water pressure regulator is recommended. Some parts of Canada are subject to either high water pressure or pressure surges.

Shutoff valve

Although I don't currently have one, I like this Camco brass shutoff valve. It would be quite convenient for turning off the water supply wit*hout having to deal with the campground hookup faucet. That might sound like a nit, but believe me I have been places where I had to get on my knees and reach down through a concrete cylinder to get to the faucet!.

If you don't use a shutoff valve, be sure to turn off the water flow at the hookup faucet first. This will prevent water from spewing when you disconnect from your rig.


'Y' connector

In addition to the snap-ons, I also use a "Y" connector that I have found useful on many occasions. It lets you add on an additional hose without having to unscrew the one going to the city water hookup. Say you want to give your rig a quick spray down; just add the second water hose and leave the other one as it is. Here is the Kasian Y connector that I use.


Water filter

If your water pressure comes and goes, or stops altogether, it may be your water filter. Try removing it from the line to see if that clears things up. Note that in any case the filter should be replaced at least every year if used regularly.

What do I really need?

Ok, we've looked at quite a few water line adapters and gadgets, all designed to make life a bit simpler for you. But do you really need any or all of them. The answer is no, you don't need any, except maybe the pressure regulator if you plan any trips to Canada. If you think about it, a conga line of elbow, regulator, turnoff, Y, quick-snaps and filter, all connected end-to-end, might look a bit silly!

City water pressure

-- Little or no hot water pressure? => check valve malfunction or plugged up w/ sediment.

Water holding tanks

As you get more and more into RV-ing you will likely feel the urge to camp "off the grid", meaning no formal hookups. State and national parks tend to provide limited facilities, so you'll have to make do on your own. But fear not! There are tried and true hints and techniques for living hookup free, and the rewards for doing so can be enormous.

RV-ers that camp off-grid normally take generators, solar panels or both with them. So that takes care of the electric. Sewer? Not much you can do about that except to so somewhere and find facilities, or empty it into a "honey wagon" and haul it to some dump station. Cable? Forget it.

So, that leaves water. Most RVs of any size come with internal water holding tanks installed somewhere. For larger rigs they will likely be in the basement. For smaller ones like popups, the tank will probably be somewhere else.

-- goes without saying - fill up beforehand
-- can also take bags or coolers
-- 12v pump
-- bypass
-- baths are out
-- try not to travel with full holding tank
-- faucet video
-- our rv - fresh water 85 gal - water heater 10 gal
-- should holding tank be kept full with city water?
-- diagrams


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