Tag Archives: water tank

A big leak resolved

Full-timing includes performing maintenance on an along-the-way basis. But some jobs are so much easier with tools we might not have in the truck. We borrowed a creeper, great for sliding around under the trailer. We used my father-in-law’s heat gun to remove old caulk and to shrink tubing and wiring connectors. And he has tools I lack and a great work bench. It is really great to have a place to stop a few days and work on things before we hit the road again.

We removed and reinstalled the stove vent and caulked it, a window, and two awnings. Replaced three missing large-head 3/16″ bottom pan rivets. Cleaned and silicone-sprayed the flagpoles and awning arms and spindles. Rebuilt the hitch head to increase the tilt on the hitch ball. We need this to compensate for the increased hitch weight from adding two batteries — we weren’t getting enough weight transferred off the hitch. We’ll re-weigh in a few days and see how we did.

The big deal, though, was to find the leak from our fresh water tank. Yesterday we ruled out the hose clamps and the petcock, but the leak continued. Today I started by increasing the access hole size under the fresh water tank at the petcock location. Cutting an access hole in the fresh water tank’s outer pan was pretty easy. I used a cordless Dremel tool with a carbide disk and sliced readily through the thick plastic. Very helpfully, the water tank doesn’t occupy the last four inches of the pan, so I had no risk of cutting into the water tank.

The final size is less than three inches by three inches, and the access hole is at the end of the tank immediately under the petcock. I was able to more easily see and operate the hose clamp on the petcock’s barbed end, immediately inside the tank cover’s curb side. Removing this clamp and the adjacent clamp on an ell from the tank, I easily removed the petcock and vinyl hose from the ell.

The petcock was broken right at its flange

We examined the petcock yesterday but thought the clamps were our problem. New clamps didn’t resolve the leak though. Looking more closely at the petcock, we found a fine crack between its flange and barbed fitting. Aha! This must be the leak we’ve been suffering for over six months.

A couple of phone calls later, we found a matching petcock at the Tom Johnson Camping Center only ten miles away. We paid $3.82, including tax, for the petcock, 30 cents for six inches of vinyl 1/2″ tubing (we only used three inches), and the clamps were $3.00 for four (we used two). Refilled the tank and the leak is resolved. Cut a piece of 1/8″ aluminum to cover the hole, attached it with three self-tapping screws, and the job is complete.

Two big deals from this experience: one, do NOT unbolt and lower your fresh water tank. It has nothing to do with arranging the tank drain petcock; and two, it’s purely amazing how much faster we can drain the fresh water tank if we open not only the petcock but also the two plumbing system drain valves under the fresh water tank and turn on the pump. Instead of over four hours, we drain the tank in under 1/2 hour this way. Awesome!

Our list is getting shorter. It’s a good thing, too — we’re planning on hitting the road early next week if we get everything done.

Jim and Deb

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©2007-2012 Dreamstreamr


What I don’t know about drinking water can hurt me

We lived many years in Charlotte, NC, and benefited from a well-run municipal potable water treatment and distribution system. Some folks turn up their noses at muni water supplies and prefer bottled water or well water, perhaps without investigating the difference in qualities.

Public water systems maintain stringent monitoring, process controls, and reporting to meet or exceed mandatory EPA guidelines (FDA standards for bottled water are far different from EPA’s tap water standards, according to NRDC). There are, of course, always exceptions but, given a highly regulated water source and an essentially unregulated one, we’ll generally stick with the EPA-regulated water source.

Full-timers may be less familiar with local water supplies than home owners and sometimes this can matter significantly. Have you ever considered asking the local tap water supplier about the water quality? Shouldn’t you know if the park is under a boil-water condition, or “the water is okay but no one drinks it”? Wouldn’t you like to know what you’re drinking?

We’ve started asking about the water source and quality if we’re going to connect to, or fill from, a park’s supply. You may get a funny reaction from the park’s office staff (even if they are the manager). Sometimes they’ll say, “Hmm, I hadn’t thought about it, I’ll find out.” We’ve been told, it comes from the adjacent housing subdivision and is whatever they get.”

And we learned at one park, “The well water is untreated.” We needed to fill our potable water tank, but didn’t want to store untreated water in it. Cleaning the interior of a water storage tank is much more difficult than keeping it clean. Or do you believe what you don’t know won’t hurt you? You can’t see in the tank, and the gradu isn’t showing up in your ice trays so everything is okay. Wrong.

How do we maintain our RV’s potable water system? We provide the following not as a prescription for your use, nor as a superlative to anyone else’s methods. The following is what we have done for the past five years. We wish we could show you a picture of the inside of our tank (or maybe we shouldn’t be looking in there anyway).

> We keep our fresh water tank full as much as we reasonably can. We can treat what is under the water line, we cannot treat above the water line. Air space above the water line is space for growing stuff on the tank walls. Keep the tank full most of the time.

> We change the fresh water on a regular basis, even if we haven’t used it. Water treatment is our friend (many people will argue this, but this is about us) and inhibits organic growth in our fresh water tank. Chlorine treatment doesn’t persist in stored water.

> We don’t put untreated water into our potable water tank. If the park offers only untreated water then we’ll treat it during the tank filling (more on this later). We don’t have a nifty siphon pickup attachment for our fresh water (white) hose. Instead we use a piece of NSF grade clear tubing two feet long to siphon from a one quart container of the bleach and water solution. We mix the solution following guidelines for emergency treatment of drinking water from EPA.

We found a helpful link to system cleaning procedures as well as normal chlorination here. We also have used guidelines from an EPA document, emergency disinfection drinking water. The EPA guidelines are similar to what Jim followed in treating institutional potable storage tanks in his previous lifetime.

An interesting side note comes from monitoring our drinking water pitcher. This pitcher is clear plastic and sits upon our counter-top. The pitcher holds almost a gallon of drinking water and receives artificial light or indirect sunlight all day. The pitcher has an integral filter cartridge. And, within three to four weeks, we start seeing green film in the pitcher.

The filter’s advertisements claim, “Lowering levels of sediment and chlorine–evident to the nose and mouth–enhance water taste while health concerns are addressed by reducing copper, mercury, and up to 98% of lead commonly found in tap water” (Amazon ad). Relevant in this discussion is the reduction of chlorine in the water. No algae inhibitors, so here grows the stuff! We thoroughly wash our pitcher every three or four weeks when we notice visible green in the bottom of the pitcher. Can you wash your RV’s fresh water tank so easily, and how do you know when to do so?

We mentioned earlier, we cannot readily see inside our fresh water storage tank and aren’t sure we really want to. [I think I’ve seen some pictures of old potable water tanks removed from RVs — not a pretty site. We couldn’t find them to attach for this article.] We do want to maintain our fresh water tank in a reasonable manner and believe we can do this by following three simple guidelines.

> We keep our fresh water tank full as often as we reasonably can.

> We change the fresh water on a regular basis (drain and refill at 3-4 week intervals).

> We don’t put untreated water into our potable water tank (if the source is untreated, we’ll treat the water while filling our tank).

Our RV has an inlet water sediment filter with a large cartridge in a plastic canister. The whole house water filter keeps rocks and other debris from clogging our valves and faucets. We mentioned above we also use a Brita water filter for our drinking water. We do not use bottled water and don’t buy water (RO or other processes).

Whenever we stay in an area for a few days we become accustomed to the local water “flavor”. Filtered through our counter-top pitcher, the water makes good tea and is fine in our re-usable water bottles. Why incur additional costs (and increases of disposable plastics to waste dumps) of bottled water? Or dumping quarters or dollars in the RO water dispensers?

We believe we are providing safe and sufficient quality water for our uses with the above steps. This has worked for us. What do you do?

Jim and Debbie
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©2007-2010 Dreamstreamr