Maintain a safe water supply onboard your RV

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By Bob Difley
Spend a lot of time on the road? Travel in sometimes “questionable” locations? Here are some measures that have kept my family free of typhoid, diarrhea, pathogenic microorganisms, intestinal parasites, etc., by keeping a safe water supply onboard our RV. As explorer Owen Lattimore noted while traversing the Silk Road in camel caravans, “Water alone, unboiled, is never drunk. There is a superstition that it causes blisters on the feet.”

Tips for a safe water supply

  • Fill your water tank only from safe water supplies that are confirmed potable sources, such as municipal, campground and tested well water sources.
  • Every six months sanitize your tank by pouring in one-fourth cup of bleach for every 15 gallons of water in a full tank. Let stand overnight. Drain, fill, and rinse at least twice, or until chlorine odor is gone. Better yet, fill with water and bleach when leaving the campground and let it slosh around in the tank as you head home.
  • Keep the ends of your water hose out of the dirt and off the ground when filling your tank.
    Attach the ends of the hose together after voiding it of all remaining water. Store in a plastic or cloth bag.
  • When possible, use your own water hose to fill your tank. You don’t know how previous RVers have handled the supplied hose.
  • Do not fill your water tank from the water supplied at a dump station for rinsing down unless you are sure it is a safe water supply and you use your own hose.
  • Wash your hands after using a dump station before using the water hose to fill your fresh water tank.

Types of water filters

  • Filter the water coming out of your kitchen faucet either with an under-sink inline filter, attach a water filter to your kitchen faucet, or keep a Brita-type pitcher of water with built-in filter in your fridge. These filters will also remove grit and bad tastes like you get from some desert water supplies.

If you use the pitcher, remember to use the filtered water for washing veggies, making coffee, tea, cold drinks or ice cubes. If you’re slightly nervous about your current water tank supply, use the filtered water for brushing teeth as well.

You can find Bob Difley’s e-books on Amazon Kindle.

Related:

Water filtration: Keep it clean, keep it safe

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Kasey
2 months ago

If you do the bleach thing, remember to drain and flush after the recommended overnight. We’ve learned to not let bleach water sit too long, especially in high concentrations. We learned that lesson the hard way in our house with a bleach-based tank drop-in tablet. We took a two week vacation and came home to a leaky mess. The bleach had reacted with the seals on the tank and caused them to leak. I’m super wary of letting bleach solutions sit anywhere for a length of time now. A few hours, overnight, sure, but just don’t go thinking that leaving bleach in the water system during storage would be a great idea.

Dennis
2 months ago

Guess we’re “blessed”. Have had our 5er for several years and have filled our water tanks or gone direct supply from several sources, thought mostly state parks or municipal. All sources stated that what came out of the hose was potable or not otherwise. Other than having a dedicate fill hose and being reasonable careful about where that hose goes, we have never disinfected anything, and yet we live in seemingly good health. Oh ye of little faith and perhaps delicate constitutions. ;’ > Of course, YYMV. Having done a lot of international travel, where we generally did filter may have helped harden our guts, or not.

Phil & Peggy
2 months ago

How come nobody has mentioned Reverse Osmosis? We had our whole-house (RV) system installed more than a decade ago and have had no water-related issues since then. The RO water actually cleaned out the whole system (calcium deposits, etc.) as well. Our only issue was finding a bath soap that would rinse off in such clean water. The triple pre-filter elements are inexpensive and remove dirt down to .5 microns and the RO elements take care of dissolved impurities. The system even cleaned the filthy water provided by the RV park near Parker, AZ, the foulest we have ever seen in 20 years of full-timing.

Joseph Eafrati
2 months ago

I use a whole house carbon filter outside straight off of the water supply and an under the sink filter. I do not fill my tank with filtered water because it takes out the chlorine and I want chlorine in the tank, so I by-pass the filter.

Goldie
2 months ago

We also use a bleach and water solution to spray down the water spigot before connecting. And every AquaHot system we have owned has been equipped with a bypass to allow you to sanitize your water system.

Irv
2 months ago

No mention of filtering the incoming water. Most won’t do much re: viruses or bacteria but they’ll keep particles out and improve the taste.

Dan
2 months ago

If your RV has the Aquahot system, do not, and I’ll repeat this, do not! use chlorine products in your hose and water tank. The heating coils in the boiler are copper. The chlorine will destroy them. They aren’t repairable and you’ll have to replace the unit. That will cost you about $7500 or more the last time I checked.

WEB
2 months ago
Reply to  Dan

Please do some research first before crying “Wolf”… These products (bleach) can, however, be used as a short term disinfectant.

Tommy Molnar
2 months ago

The “Pit Stop” in Quartzsite will NOT allow any filters or use of your own hose. They supply the hose for fresh water and the water is filtered with their filter. We were just there yesterday and this is new to us. We weren’t down here last year, but in prior years we used our own hose and water filter. I guess some folks were just taking too long and causing a backup out of the facility and down the road. I was not happy with this.

Rock & Tina
2 months ago

I have a spray bottle filled with an 8 to 1 water to bleach solution. I use this to thoroughly spray any spigot before I connect my fresh water hose. You have no way of knowing what was connected to that spigot before you. You also have no way of knowing if the previous camper used that spigot to rinse anything nasty.

Tom
2 months ago
Reply to  Rock & Tina

I did this until I ruined a shirt with overspray, by accident. Now I use straight alcohol from a spray bottle. It’s not quite as cheap as bleach, but just as effective.

Dan
2 months ago
Reply to  Rock & Tina

Good idea. I’ll start doing that too. In addition to the spigot, I think I’ll spray the inlets on the RV and both ends of the fresh water hose. Wont hurt to spray my hands after handling the black/gray hoses to.

David Telenko
2 months ago
Reply to  Dan

We have extra Jose Cuervo tequila & after doing all of the above I take a swig of it for good measure! Just saying LOL

Michael
2 months ago
Reply to  Rock & Tina

If you do this you probably won’t have any problems. However, if you just quickly rinse things with water you probably won’t have any problems either.

Tom
2 months ago

Because we travel with cats, we never use the campground water for drinking or cooking. Supplied water is only used for bathing. Bottled water for all other uses. Cheap insurance against the nasties.

WEB
2 months ago
Reply to  Tom

I can just see the cat licking its butt then giving “momma” a kiss…. yeeeech!

Larry Lee
2 months ago

“When possible, use your own water hose”
should be “ALWAYS use your own water hose”!

WEB
2 months ago
Reply to  Larry Lee

Have you ever dealt with cash, do you know how “dirty” cash really is?
You have to have some leeway and accept some ‘risks’ in life.