How Does an RV Water Pump Work and How To Operate It

Having a good time with your RV means you need to take time to get to know the vital parts and how they work. Knowing how your RV pump works and how to operate it correctly can save you a lot of vacation time and money.

How Does an RV Water Pump Work and How To Operate It: All a water pump does is move water from your fresh water tank to your sink, bathroom or shower. You do not need it when your RV is hooked up to a external water supply. To operate it correctly, just make sure it is getting the electricity it needs, usually 12 volts, and turn on the faucet.

To learn all about how your RV’s water pump works just continue to read our article. We provide you with as much information on this vital part of your RV as we can. It will only take a few minutes to learn all about the water pump and use it correctly.

What is an RV Water Pump?

You RV water pump is similar to all mechanical water pumps used in vehicles and other machinery. Its job is to pump water from a localized source through the piping to your sink, bathroom, shower and other water outlets.

The pump works with electricity and needs to be switched on inside your RV. Once it is turned on, a pressure switch monitors the water pressure and turns the pump on automatically when the pressure gets too low. The switch will also turn the pump off again when the water pressure is at the set level.

Also, the pump makes sure that if you are getting too little water pressure from your hook up, it will turn on and add water to the line from your fresh water tank. To save your water reserve, just turn the pump off and do not use it until you absolutely need it.

What is an RV Water Pump Used For?

The water pump can be used in one of two ways at one time. It can serve as your primary source of water or it can serve as a backup in case your external water sources do not work as well as they should.

In the primary use, you need to make sure your fresh water tank is always filled with water. This enables the water pump to bring water to the inside of your RV when you need it. You will have a fresh supply of water no matter where you are parked.

As a secondary or back up water system, the water pump will stand by, if turned on, and monitor the water pressure from your exterior source. If that pressure is too low, then it will add more water from your reserves.

Or if you cannot find a campground with water or electrical hook ups, then the water pump will use your RV battery to power up and deliver the water you need. This backup system also works if you are parking for the night in a department store’s parking lot.

When do you Use the Water Pump in an RV?

There are specific times when you do need to use your water pump outside of normal daily life functions. Those functions are cooking, cleaning, showering, and so on. Here are some other times you should use your water pump:

  • When you are filling your fresh water tank
  • When you are emptying your fresh water tank
  • When you are boondocking- this parking without hook ups in very remote areas or parking lots
  • When external water sources have low pressure
  • You may not always need to use your water pump when emptying your water tank but it helps to make the task go faster. It is your choice to use it or not. You will not hurt your water system if do not turn the pump on when you are emptying your water tank.

Can I Leave the RV Water Pump On?

There are experienced RV people on both sides of this issue. Some feel that if you are not using the water pump then you should turn it off. This may safe a little on electricity or wear and tear but you may not have water exactly when you need it.

Others disagree with this idea and feel that you can leave the water pump on most of the time. At best, they have said that the water pump should only be turned on and off once a weekend.

The reasoning behind this thinking is that the water pump light does not use a lot of electricity. The water pump won’t use any unless you turn a faucet on. One rule of thumb would be to leave the pump on if you are not going that far from your RV.

If you are going far or going to be away for a long time, then you should turn it off. Turning it off will help you avoid any accidents that may occur if you are not around to stop them as they happen.

Plus, if you are on the road going to your next destination, you should leave the water pump off. Ultimately, the choice is yours and what is most convenient for you.

Is it Bad to Leave the Water Pump on in an RV?

Not necessarily. This also depends on your preference. Turning the water [pump off can help you avoid situations where a bumpy road knocks the shower head off and the water empties into your shampoo bottle.

It all depends on your situation. If you are staying around your RV then go ahead and leave it on. It can be a hassle searching for the switch when you have a situation that requires you to hurry.

Accidents can happen when you are away from your RV for long periods of time. If you leave the pump on, your black and gray water tanks might get a little extra water in them and cause a mess.

Basically, it is up to you to decide how you want to handle this issue. What works fro some people when they are in their RVs may not work for you. If you do not want to take the chance and come home to a mess, then leave the water pump off.

There is no real good or bad answer here unless your battery is very low on power.Then you should turn the water pump off.

How Much Power does an RV Water Pump Use? (Watts and Amps)

The important item to remember about water pumps is that they operate off the 12 volt DC system. You need to have the water pump connected to a 12 volt battery or other power source or it won’t work.

To figure out the wattage used by a water pump, the equation is amps multiplied by volts equals watts. Since the water pump works on a DC 12 volt system only we only need to a number for amps into the equation.

For argument’s sake, let’s put in 1 amp into o the equation- 12 volts x 1 amp = 12 watts. Depending on your RV and how old or new it is, an average water pump can use about 5.5 amps over a regular hour of time.

If you use your water pump for about 2 hours a day total, then you would use about 11 amps of power. Multiply that figure by 12 volts and your water pump will have used 132 watts that day.

How to Operate an RV Water Pump

Operating a water pump does not take a degree in rocket science to master the operation. The water pump is already installed for you so all you have to do on your regular maintenance checks, is to make sure the pump is still connected to its 12 volt DC power supply.

Once you see that it is, all you now have to do is go inside your RV and flip the water pump switch and turn a faucet to open. Sometimes people make foolish mistakes when it comes to their water supply.

They forget to close the drain plug on their fresh water tank and think they are filling the tank up. What they really did is water the ground underneath their RV. To make sure you operate your water pump correctly, make sure that when you put water in your tank, the tank actually fills up with water.

This will save you a lot of embarrassment. Some times you may get air in your water pump or water line and you will have to do one of two things. You either have to bleed the water line or prime the water pump.

These procedures are not hard and sometimes all you have to do to bleed the air from the line is to turn on the faucet that is farthest away from the pump. Let the line spurt for a minute or two and once the water flows out steadily, you have rid the line of the air.

The other thing you should do is check for leaks and loose connections. These will keep your water pump from working properly and you should take care of them as quickly or possible.

Hooking up RV to City Water

Most of the information surrounding the water pump and its proper usage is not difficult to understand or follow. If the water pump issues get too complicated you should see a qualified RV tech and let them handle those tough problems.

Hooking up the city water inlet line is not something you let a tech do. It is like hooking up your garden hose to your outdoor garden faucet. First, you remove the cap covering the inlet opening.

Then you connect the hose that is designed to handle drinking water. Then you connect the other end of the hose to the water source. Once you have done this your water pump will be bypassed and you do not need to turn it on.

There is one thing to be careful about when hooking up this inlet to campground water systems. These water systems may be using a lot of water pressure to bring the water to the surface.

Your hose and your RV water system may have water pressure limits. If the water coming from the campground hook up is greater than those limits, then you may burst the hose or an RV pipe, etc.

To protect yourself and your RV from damage, you may want to install a water pressure regulator to the water hose. This should keep your water pressure levels around 40 to 60 psi.

Does the RV Water Pump Need to be on When Connected to City Water?

The answer to this question is no. Once you hook up the city water inlet line, you will bypass the water pump and send water directly to your faucets and other water outlets.

The water pump is designed to only draw water from your fresh water tank. It is not needed to help move pressurized water to its destination. Then to make sure the water coming from the hook up or city water inlet, you may want to add a filter somewhere along the line.

A filter will keep any sediments that have crept into a well or other external water source out of your drinking water.

Some Final Comments

Water pumps are nothing to be afraid of. They are simple mechanical tools that provide you with a vital service. Learn how to treat them right and operate them correctly and they shall work for you for along time.

The key to their use, of course, is that they do not run off AC power. They need a DC 12 volt power source for them to work properly or at all. There is nothing wrong with leaving the water pump on when you are outside of your RV just be wary that accidents can and do happen when you do.

If you have a problem with the water pump, remember to always look for the simple and foolish explanation first. You will save time and money by doing so.

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