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Ask Dave: What are the red specks in my water from the campground?

Answers to questions about RV Repair and Maintenance from RV expert Dave Solberg, author of the “RV Handbook” and the managing editor of the RV Repair Club. This column appears Monday through Saturday in the RV Travel and RV Daily Tips newsletters. (Sign up for an email reminder for each new issue if you do not already receive one.) Today Dave discusses water in campgrounds.

Campground water

Dear Dave,
I recently got red particles in the incoming water screen and also in the hose from the campground hookup to filter. I know I need to change the filter, but what are the red specks? When I showed them to the owner of the campground, he blew me off. Are they harmful? —Michael

Dear Michael,
Since most of the water available at campgrounds is hard water from a well, it is not conditioned like municipal sources. Therefore, it is common to get calcium, lime, and other particles such as rust – which I believe is the case with your red particles. It could also be a combination of sand or grit that has taken on a reddish color due to rust or iron in the water.

I have had water so hard in campgrounds it clogged my filter solid in one week with sand. That’s why I switched to a residential style filter versus an inline filter. I can change the $2 cartridge rather than needing to change the entire filter.

water filter
Omni residential filter
water filter
Inline filter

Campgrounds are required to have their water source tested professionally once a year and post a Safety Data Sheet (SDS) (formerly MSDS – Material Safety Data Sheet) in the main office. However, that does not mean the water will be good for the entire year. So, in my opinion, it’s important to not only filter the water but test it periodically.

Typically particles in campground water and/or well water is not harmful

Typically these particles and minerals are not harmful unless you are allergic to them. There are a few off-the-shelf water test kits that are easy to use. This one I used in the past from a home improvement store tests for iron and copper – which might be what you are seeing.

This is a home kit but does work for well water systems found in campgrounds. However, I just came across a test kit called Home Safe at a another home improvement store that was designed for well water testing. It actually tests for 20 different issues including Lead, Nitrate, Nitrite, Bacteria, Pesticides, Mercury, Hexavalent Chromium, Copper, Iron, Sulfate, pH, Chloride, Zinc, Silver, Chlorine, Alkalinity, Hardness and Phosphate.

I don’t usually drink the water from the campground, but do want to filter it to keep sediment from clogging my faucets, water pump and other items. You can even go further with a portable water softener, which will help with better water for showers and washing machines.

Read more from Dave here

Related:

Home water quality test kits

Well water quality test kits

Dave Solberg worked at Winnebago for 15 years developing the dealer training program, as marketing manager, and conducting shows. As the owner of Passport Media Creations, Dave has developed several RV dealer training programs, the RV Safety Training program for The Recreation Vehicle Safety and Education Foundation, and the accredited RV Driving Safety program being conducted at rallies and shows around the country. Dave is a leading expert in the RV industry and author of the “RV Handbook” as well as the Managing Editor of the RV Repair Club.

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wanderer
1 month ago

You might consider going on a few campground review sites and leave a review letting people know the campground owner ‘blew you off’. We need to know about campgrounds that don’t give a flip whether their power or water supply is safe. Wells have a life span, their screens and pumps wear out. Weird things in the water is a sign the owner can’t be bothered maintaining his system, just raking in rentals while the original infrastructure goes to pot. Let people know so we can avoid the place.

Bob P
1 month ago

I’ve had “residential” filters in all my RVs until now, we recently downsized to a medium sized TT (23’) and spend more time in FL than anywhere else. Most of the water in FL has a sulfur taste that we can’t stand so instead of trying to filter out the taste we buy our water at the filtered water dispenser in Walmart for drinking and I use a camco in-line filter at the spigot to keep trash (sand, dirt, etc.) out of my water system. They filter down to 20 microns and are reasonably priced.

T G
1 month ago

Wow! The science in this article is needs improvement. Hardness and particulate contamination, like sand, have nothing to do with each other. Filtering water, which removes particulates, does nothing to reduce hardness. Hardness is a measure of how much dissolved (not particulate) calcium and magnesium are in the water.

Gary
1 month ago
Reply to  T G

I was thinking the same thing.

KellyR
1 month ago
Reply to  T G

Particulates can be a result of hardness. I am on a well. The iron and calcium in the water harden within the pipes and occasionally break off as particulates.

volnavy007@gmail.com
1 month ago

A “… residential style filter ….”? Any suggestions with links to web sites? Thanks.