Water Pump / City Water Connection
Q: Dear RV Doctor, I am new at having a motorhome. Do you fill the tank with water first or can you use a hose directly to the camper to wash dishes or take a shower? Thanks. — Laura L.
A: Hi Laura. the answer is basically yes to both! There should be an onboard water pump that will pump fresh water through the system once you fill the fresh water tank. And there should also be a hose connection somewhere on the exterior on the left side of the RV to hook up a fresh water hose to a fitting called the city water input. When connected to city water, simply turn the water pump off. When disconnected, turn this pump back on to utilize the onboard water. However, turn the pump back off if you are not going to be nearby the RV. Any demand for water, even a leak somewhere will re-energize the water pump.
Two-Part Battery Question
Q: Hey Gary, I have a 2012 Skyline and two questions. It's my understanding the two batteries in the forward hold are marine batteries. I have a battery charger and need to know if the batteries need to be removed for charging. The charger instructions say that marine (boat) batteries need to be charged on shore. Does this also apply to batteries in an RV? Secondly, does leaving the RV in storage for a year or more ruin the batteries? I have a kill switch that I shut off while in storage. I had to replace this battery in my truck once because I did not drive it for a while. I was told by not driving the truck, the battery became totally discharged. Does this hold true to marine batteries? Thanks for your help! — William D.
A: William, any deep cycle or marine-type battery, configured properly and installed in the RV, can safely be charged while in the coach. There is no need to remove them for charging. The code requires proper separation from the living portion of the RV. Also, your coach has a converter/charger on board that serves two functions, one — to provide DC power to the RV when plugged into shore power, and two — to charge the battery bank. Simply plugging into the shore power will automatically activate the charge cycle depending on the state of charge of the batteries. As to your second question, all batteries will indeed self-discharge over time because of the inherent internal resistance between the cells. The kill switch will usually prevent battery drains caused by anything in the RV, so disconnecting the battery bank from the low voltage system is a good practice to get into. The best bet is to fully charge both batteries just prior to storage and then activate that battery disconnect switch. They still may drain some because of that internal resistance, but it will not harm them. Now if you live in an area that expects sustained below freezing temps during the winter, it is best to charge them fully, then remove and store them in a warmer location. You certainly do not want the water in the electrolyte to freeze.
De-Winterizing Fresh Water Systems
Q: Gary, we bought a 2004 hybrid trailer this past summer. It has a sticker that says the fresh water system was winterized. We have not used the water system as we do not know what we need to do to de-winterize the trailer. Can you help us? We would greatly appreciate your assistance. — Robert S.
A: Robert, I am measuring the dealer (or perhaps the previous owner), winterized that unit by using RV anti-freeze. With the water pump turned off and the RV disconnected from city water, begin by opening both hot and cold faucets in the galley or lavatory. Locate the fresh water tank drain valve and the hot and cold low point drain valves and allow the water to drain from the system. Keep in mind, RV anti-freeze can be salvaged and reused again the next time you winterize the RV, so you may opt to capture the anti-freeze as you drain the fresh water tank and the hot/cold low-point drains. After draining the system, fill the fresh water tank about half full. Remove the water heater from the bypass mode; seal and tighten the water heater drain plug (Atwood) or anode rod (Suburban). Now turn on the water pump and begin flushing out the lines. Open each faucet, hot and cold, to eliminate any residual RV ani-freeze that may remain in sections of the tubing. At the water heater, open the pressure and temperature (P&T) relief valve to aid in filling its tank. Once water begins gushing from the relief valve, close the lever. When water is flowing smoothly from every faucet, close them all. It may take a few minutes of pumping the water to rid the entire piping system of the anti-freeze and to fill the water heater. After water is flowing freely to every component, turn off the water pump. Open the water heater“s P&T relief valve one last time and leave it open until water stops dripping from the outlet, and then close it. This establishes the necessary expansion space on top of the water inside the tank. As a final consideration for the fresh water system, attach the fresh water hose to the city connection and verify everything still operates normally via this water source. Take a quick look around to see whether water is dripping or seeping anywhere. Once you are satisfied that the fresh water system is up and running as it should, top off the fresh water tank and begin the chlorination process. Refer to the Chlorinating The Fresh Water System sidebar for detailed instructions about how to properly chlorinate the fresh water system.
Q: Dear Doc, my cable to open the black water holding tank is not opening the gate valve all the way and it is stuck. I believe I need to replace the cable. I have a 2003 Arctic Fox trailer. It looks like the cable and the 3-inch drain go into a shroud and then I am guessing to the black water tank an the valve where the cable would attach. It looks like there are eight bolts or so on each side of the shroud I will need to remove. Is this correct?
A: Norm, yes, you indeed must gain access to waste valve itself. Many times it is more difficult just getting to it, then it is to replace it! Since those cable pull types of dump valves can become a chronic problem over time, I would suggest installing an electric gate valve instead and forget about that cable altogether. Check out Drainmaster's new valve. I would further recommend the WasteMaster sewer hose by Lippert Components. Then all you have to do is connect the hose, open its valve and push a button! No more troublesome cables to deal with. Isn't the RV aftermarket great?