RV 101: RV Freshwater Tanks

RV freshwater tanks are an essential part of RV life. While hitting the road in your motorhome is a wonderful adventure, it gets a lot less fun when you need to dump your wastewater. Unfortunately, those new to the RV life don’t have a lot of experience with these aspects. 

If your tanks are a complete mystery to you, TX RV Repair Shop is here to help. Below, we take an in-depth look at RV water tanks. By the end, this crash course will have you ready to take on the world – or at least your waste tanks. 

How RV Water Tanks Work

First, it’s important to understand how these tanks work. Typically, RVs have three different water tanks. 

  • One to hold clean water for your shower and sinks
  • Two to hold all that drained water 

Your RV waste tanks are on the underside of the motorhome. Fairly straightforward piping connects these holding tanks to your various drains. After you use water, it flows into the appropriate wastewater tank until you dump it out. 

Similarly, your freshwater tank sits on the bottom of your motorhome. You fill this with clean water, and a pump moves it from the tank to your faucets. Usually, people reserve this tank for dry camping. 

However, each of these tanks requires maintenance for proper upkeep. With the right care, they last for years. 

Your Freshwater Tank

Your freshwater tank holds the clean water you use when you dry camp, or boondock, somewhere without a water hookup. This tank helps you live a normal life, washing your hands and dishes whenever you need to. 

These tanks vary in size, so it’s good to have an idea of how much water they hold before you hit the road. Generally, they range from 15 gallons all the way to above 100 gallons. 

If you own a larger RV, you probably have a tank much bigger than a campervan’s. However, rig size is not a reliable variable. Check the specs of your RV freshwater tanks to be certain. 

How to Fill a Freshwater Tank

If you want to use your freshwater tank, it’s important to know how to fill it, right? Luckily, it’s a fairly simple process. Once you know how to do it on your motorhome, it gets easier each time. 

Close off your drain

First, close the drain valve so that the water you add to the tank doesn’t empty out. 

Fill it up

Next, locate the freshwater hookup on the side of your RV. Typically, they label it clearly. Once you see it, connect a freshwater hose (usually white) to a spigot with potable water. 

Remove the cap, connect the other end of the hose, and turn on the water. 

Keep an eye on the indicators

Yout tank level indicators are on a control panel inside the rig. Use this to monitor how full the tank is. When it says it’s full, turn off the water, remove the hose, and secure the cap. 

If water backs up before the tank is full, turn off the water and let it drain into the tank. It might be a good idea to turn down the pressure. 

Note: Only use potable water in this tank. If you accidentally fill it with the wrong water, drain and clean it thoroughly.

How to Clean a Freshwater Tank

Cleaning your RV freshwater tanks is an essential part of your RV maintenance. Generally, it’s good to clean RV freshwater tanks every six months or so. However, many RVers elect to clean it more often. 

Mainly, it depends on how often you use the tank and whether you accidentally put non-potable water in there. 

Open the drains

To clean a freshwater tank, turn off the water heater and drain the system. Open all the low-point drains as well as the drain of the freshwater tank. Then, drain the water heater once it cools completely. 

Once all the water is out, close the drains and valves. 

Fill the tank with bleach water

Next, add bleach water to the tank. In older motorhomes, you can pour it directly into the fill port. If you have a newer RV, connect the hose, pour in the bleach, and use a potable water spigot to push the bleach through. 

Regardless, the goal is to have ¼ cup of bleach for every 16 gallons your tank holds. If you have the option to pour it in directly, dilute the bleach with a couple of gallons of water beforehand. 

Pump the solution through the system

Once you have bleach water in the tank, pump it through the lines. All you have to do is turn on the water pump, and run the faucets and toilet. When the bleach water makes its way through, turn everything off and let the solution sit in the lines and tank through the night. 

This helps it kill off any bacteria in the RV freshwater tanks.

Rinse the system with clean water

The next day, you need to drain the tank and lines. Open all the lines as you did before and let it drain out. Then, full the tank with fresh water and turn on all the faucets until you no longer smell bleach. 

This helps you have a clean tank and system with water perfectly safe to drink. 

Help with RV Freshwater Tanks

If you ever have trouble with your RV freshwater tank, it’s important to have a professional technician inspect it. Occasionally, these water tanks develop cracks. When this happens, leaks form. 

If you want to go boondocking, this can leave you on the hunt for a source of potable water. In some cases, this also means you have to replace the entire tank. However, our trusted technicians are ready to help you find a solution that works for you. 

Now that you have more information about RV freshwater tanks, you have a better idea of how to keep your drinking water safe. As you hit the road, keep this information in mind and enjoy your next adventure!