This can't be right - Fresh Water System Configuration

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Wigpro

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Dec 23, 2012
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Montana in Summer - S CA this winter
Well the past two days have been very frustrating and when I finally realized the real problem I have to think that this is a very poor design.

Now keep in mind I have been around pressure water systems on boats for well over 30 years, owned and lived aboard and cruised well over 50 thousand miles and rebuilt pumps, re-plumbed pressure water systems etc. Not that different from a typical RV.

I don't spend a ton of time in campgrounds, and when I do I rarely hook up to the city water, for a number of reasons, one is last year in this new to me camper I experienced a bad water leak at the head due to high water pressure. I have bought two pressure regulators and both have broken or not worked at all, so I fill my on-board tank and use the pump, works fine and have no problems.

I pulled in for a very lengthy stay in Kingman and decided to go ahead and hook up, but I filled my on-board tank first. The weather promptly turned to freezing and my uninsulated hose froze stiff as a board. I unhooked it and put it in the shower to thaw and went back to attempting to use my onboard system. When I removed the hose the plastic quick disconnect I had cracked and I had to remove both the female end on the hose and the male end on the camper. Didn't think much about it.

Go in the camper and turn on the pump and it just keeps running, so I think things are frozen and open all the access panels and set up a fan in my normal place to keep things thawed and wait, all night! This morning I was nearly out of water, having used almost none? So I panic and thing I must have a broken pipe and search all over for loose water...none inside. I go outside and there is a decent puddle but not a tank full so I try to turn on the park (frozen) valve and hook up the hose to fill my tank again. Had to boil water and pour it in the park side connection to get the valve open and water flowing which I do. Now I am bound and determine to get this fixed because I am positive I have no inside frozen pipes.

So I fill the tank and go inside and turn on the pump...very little water comes out of the faucets and the pump just continues to run. Shut it down and begin to stand on my head to access the pump (just let me catch the bastards that put these pumps in where they do) to get the part number so I can get a new diaphragm, figuring that is the problem. While doing so and laying on the fresh water tank I look and it is nearly empty?? Remember I just filled it.

So I go outside again to look for the leak and sure enough there is a huge puddle right underneath the city water connection on the RV. I go inside turn on the pump and run back out and sure enough the pump is pumping water out the connection. OK bad check valve!

Go back inside, contort myself into a pretzel and trace the pipe from the pump back towards the city water connection, it goes straight to a T with no check valve.

Now I know the Sureflo pump has a check valve built in to keep the city water from filling the tank, but shouldn't there be a check valve between the T and the hose bib on the camper where I hook up for city water?? At one time when I first got the camper there was a plug you put in the hose connection, I figured it was to keep bugs and crap out while traveling and when I installed the quick disconnect it got put away somewhere and of course at my failing age who the hell knows where that is now.

So quick thinking of a solution and even though it will freeze tonight - I put the hose back on and hooked it to the closed valve on the park connection. Come back inside and turn on the pump and everything is fine.

So my second question is...do most have a check valve or just a plug?

Did I mention that the T and city water inlet connection is in a closed passage way under the dinette right where the wheel whell is and nearly impossible to get to without dismantling half of the trailer.

I tend to like to fix things correctly and I am thinking of solutions....I would rather install a check valve than just buy a 50 cent plug, but that would be the easiest. I could move the inlet to a more accessible position and do away with the old and put in a check valve, but I was wondering if this is normal on a camper to just use a screw in plug on the hose connector on the RV??

Suggestions and you can laugh at me as well....

Jim
 
There is/was a check valve incorporated into the city water inlet port on every RV I've ever owned.  I suspect the reason yours had a plug was because the previous owner didn't know how else to fix the problem.

If you pry the little filter screen off the input port you might be able to free up the check valve with a very small screwdriver pencil sized probe.
 
Although I've never had a check valve on the shore water inlet fail I do have an easy fix for you.

As is the habit of the RV manufacturers they tend to put those shore water connections on so that the hose will extend out horizontally from the rig. This leads to leverage being applied to the connection which in turn causes problems simply because of gravity.  Since I got tired of a constant drip coming from my shore water connection I headed down to the hardware store a few years ago and was intending to buy a 90 degree adaptor so that the hose would remain vertical. What I came home with instead was a 45 degree adaptor which just happened to have a built in ball valve on it.

Since my wife and I have witnessed more than on unattended water leak in our travels, it is our habit to ALWAYS shut off the water (either pump or shore) when leaving our rig.  Having that little ball valve on the 45 degree adaptor means that it's no longer necessary to walk all the way over to the shore post to turn off the water and it's at eye level instead of shin level now.  Basically I've negated the need for the check valve although it wasn't my original intention and in my opinion improved the design just a little to make things more convenient.
 
One day I noticed every time I used my pump water and water tank, that water was squirting out of my city connection (which wasn't hooked up). I stuck my finger or a screw driver in it (forget which) and that wiggled the spring valve back into place so that my water quit squirting out the city connection.

Hope this makes sense!
 
I would go with the ball valve. You don't have to get it in a 90 though. They make a straight inline ball valve in either brass or plastic. I also added one as a quick shut off but it would make a permanent fix for you. And it would give you peace of mind that the check valve wouldn't stick open again and cause you another problem.
 
dabrooks said:
I would go with the ball valve. You don't have to get it in a 90 though. They make a straight inline ball valve in either brass or plastic. I also added one as a quick shut off but it would make a permanent fix for you. And it would give you peace of mind that the check valve wouldn't stick open again and cause you another problem.

Gonna go find a ball valve today, I think a 90 or 45 would be better as it will take the strain off of the hose. My issue was NO check valve, there was nothing to stick open or closed - T into main line then short flex hose to hose bib (female) for connection outside of the RV. No check valve, which amazes me.

Thanks all for the input, yesterday was a frustrating day! Today all is well...or will be!!

Jim
 
If your system is designed to fill the tank via the city inlet, then there must be either a  check valve in the inlet or  a manual valve to switch between pump/tank and city. Otherwise the pump will push water back out through the city inlet. Most RVs designed to fill that way have the check valve built right into the city inlet, which makes it a bit different device than the standard hose bib. If you go to an RV store and buy a city inlet, odds are very high it will have the check valve built in. And a sand screen as well, to protect the check valve.
 
Wigpro said:
Gonna go find a ball valve today, I think a 90 or 45 would be better as it will take the strain off of the hose. My issue was NO check valve, there was nothing to stick open or closed - T into main line then short flex hose to hose bib (female) for connection outside of the RV. No check valve, which amazes me.

Thanks all for the input, yesterday was a frustrating day! Today all is well...or will be!!

Jim

Thanks - I will check but my unit has a separate fill spot for the on-board water tank. The "city" connection is a female hose fitting and it does not seem to have any sort of check valve built in, none that I can see. I have a problem in that is is virtually inaccessible. I can see it barely but really have no way to access it without taking the wheel well cover off under the dinette, which I can do, although I see no visible screws to remove either the top panel or the side panel which would give me both visual and physical access. If I can find a ball valve or quick disconnect like I had before it would be the simple fix.

More discovery today, at least now with the hose hooked up and frozen solid and park connection closed my on-board system works fine.

Thanks

Jim
 
Sounds like a possable problem I have on mine, I need to go look at this.
 
The check valve is internal to the city water inlet, In fact if you remove the screen washer, YOU WILL SEE IT.

Odds are it's just frozen.

Suggestion.. You can get an "in-line shut off vavle) at most any hardware, Wal-mart, Lawn and Garden, many drug stores.

Or you can get One of these

Or better yet, a BRASS male hose adapter with the proper size brass plug and simply plug the inlet till you can get a new one.

I do not know how well the nylon one I linked to will hold up.

NOTE: many city water inlets come with one of those... attached.
 
The ball valve that I was telling you about actually goes on the end of the hose and becomes a shut off valve. It will be in the same department as the hoses. It attaches to the outlet end of the hose so you can change nozzles or turn the water off without walking back to the house shut-off. Instead of putting on the end of the hose screw it into the fill valve and leave it there. The hose will attach to it when you want to fill the tank or be hooked up to city water. When there is no hose hooked to it keep it closed. Probably cost less than$3.00 and plumbing repair needed.
 
dabrooks said:
The ball valve that I was telling you about actually goes on the end of the hose and becomes a shut off valve. It will be in the same department as the hoses. It attaches to the outlet end of the hose so you can change nozzles or turn the water off without walking back to the house shut-off. Instead of putting on the end of the hose screw it into the fill valve and leave it there. The hose will attach to it when you want to fill the tank or be hooked up to city water. When there is no hose hooked to it keep it closed. Probably cost less than$3.00 and plumbing repair needed.


That's my plan on the hunt tomorrow...today I got a real nice brass quick dis-connect but the automatic shut off is on the hose side...so it will be trailer fitting -> ball valve -> quick dis-connect -> hose...

Should solve the problem!

Thanks everyone...

Jim
 

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