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RVing wouldn’t be the same without a trusty fresh water tank for drinking, doing dishes, showering, and more. RV water tanks allow us to head out into the wilderness and camp for a few days, knowing there’s a reliable water store on board.
Whether you live on the road full-time or simply enjoy summer vacations in your camper van, you may be wondering when it’s worth draining and cleaning the water tank.
So, how often should you drain your RV fresh water tank?
An RV fresh water tank should be drained twice a year, before going on vacation, and before storing an RV. This prevents any bacteria build-up and helps keep the water in the tank safe to drink. Sanitizing an RV water tank every 6 months is also wise for clean water on the road.
Enjoying fresh, tasty, and most importantly, safe drinking water while traveling in an RV is crucial for health and well-being. It’s obvious how helpful RV water tanks are, but they can actually cause us harm if water is left to sit and go stagnant. Draining and sanitizing the tank a couple of times a year is a gateway for safe water in any adventure wagon.
How Often Should You Drain Your RV Fresh Water Tank?
Draining an RV fresh water tank isn’t a difficult job, and it can change everything from the taste of the water in the tank to the bacteria it may or may not be carrying. Safety is a priority whether you’re in a traditional home or a camper van, so if your fresh water tank hasn’t been drained for a while, now is the time to fix it!
Twice A Year
I’m a big fan of routine when it comes to my RV. It holds me accountable for the maintenance and care my rig requires throughout the year, and my fresh water tank is no exception. Fully draining the tank twice a year helps keep bacteria at bay so the water is clean and safe for the whole family to use.
When the time comes around to drain the tank, I also like to take the opportunity to sanitize it. Sometimes, bacteria and other contaminants can stick to the inside walls of the tank and continue to contaminate the water. Sanitizing the tank and giving it a thorough clean ensures any harmful bacteria are removed so you can return to happy camping.
Getting everything organized to go on vacation is an exciting time. There’s so much to think about, from packing belongings to hitching the trailer, or getting your Class C warmed up and ready to munch some miles! Your RV water tank may not be at the forefront of your mind, but draining the tank before vacation and filling it up with fresh water is a good idea.
Not only does this mean the water in the tank is clean, but it will also help drain bacteria in the tank. It’s best to sanitize the tank too if any water has been sitting inside it, unused for quite some time.
Prior To Storing RV
One of the joys of RVing is the versatility in the types of RVing possible. For some, living full-time on the road is the dream, while other explorers prefer to take the RV out once a year for a summer vacation, before putting the rig back into storage. There are a few things to think about when storing an RV, but the water tank is something that shouldn’t be forgotten about.
Draining the tank prior to putting an RV into storage helps drastically limit the volume of bacteria that can form. Stagnant water is the ideal environment for bacteria to thrive, but it will have a far more difficult time if there’s no water inside the tank!
Draining an RV water tank isn’t a laborious job, but it can save you and your family from getting ill if there are bacteria present in the tank. Taking a little time twice a year to drain the tank will improve the safety of the water within, and help keep everybody happy and healthy on the road.
How Do You Drain RV Fresh Water Tank?
Draining an RV fresh water tank is a breeze, and if you haven’t done this before on your rig – now you’ll know how! Keeping key RVing maintenance tips and tricks noted down is a great way to learn the ropes, especially if you’re just getting started RVing.
Find Low Point Drain
As the name suggests, the low point drain on an RV can be found at a low point in an RV. The valve allows water to drain out from the RV, so make a note of where it is so you can find it even easier next time.
Switch Off Water Heater And Water Pump
Running an RV water heater or water pump without any water in the system is the recipe for problems. Switching off both the heater and the pump saves them from any damage when your RV is empty of water. If someone has recently showered, it’s advisable to switch the heater off and allow the water to cool before emptying.
Opening any faucets and turning on any showers throughout the RV allows water to drain in a time-efficient and effective way. It also means air can get into the system which in turn helps drain more water from the RV plumbing.
Drain Water System
Before locating the hoses and valves for your RV fresh water tank and allowing the water to drain, make sure you’re in an appropriate place to do so. Draining your tank while parked next to other RVers isn’t the most considerate thing to do, so be mindful when flushing the tank.
You may need additional fittings or equipment to drain the water from your tank, especially if you aren’t able to empty the tank directly where you’re parked. A hose can be used to direct the water away from the RV, and once you’re good to go, you can unscrew any caps, open the valves, and allow the water to start pouring out.
How Often Should You Sanitize RV Fresh Water Tank?
Emptying the fresh water tank in an RV helps keep the water and tank fresh, but sometimes our tanks need some extra love! Sanitizing the tank kills any harmful pathogens inside that may be contaminating any water you fill it with.
It’s a bigger job than simply draining the tank, but it’s not something you need to do very often, as talked about in the video below:
Every 6 Months
Twice a year is a good rule of thumb for draining and sanitizing the fresh water tank on your RV. Staying on top of RV maintenance is key to keeping your rig in the best condition possible, and this includes the tanks on board.
There are different ways to sanitize an RV fresh water system including bleach and water, baking soda, specific RV tank cleaners, and more.
Winterizing an RV essentially means protecting the rig in the best way possible throughout the winter period. Cold weather can wreak havoc on various parts of RVs such as the plumbing system and any exterior seals. Either antifreeze or compressed air is typically used to remove water from the plumbing lines, but when the RV is ready to be used again, sanitizing the system is wise.
Giving the plumbing system and fresh water tank a thorough clean after winterization means there will be no antifreeze left behind. You can then feel assured the water you’ll be drinking is fresh and safe, as you’ve sanitized the tank and removed any harmful bacteria.
The need for RV storage is common, but there are measures worth taking when your rig comes out of storage to get you back on the road in the best way. Over the days, weeks, or months that your RV has been in storage, bacteria and pathogens may have developed in the tank.
These have to be removed before using the RV plumbing as normal, otherwise, the water will not be safe to drink. Sanitizing the tank after your rig comes out of storage is the ideal way to get your tank clean, safe, and fit for use once again!
Purchasing New Or Used RV
Whether you’re buying your first new RV, or are looking for a used option, cleaning the tank before using the rig is best practice. Particularly with used RVs, it’s difficult to know how the tank was used and cleaned before purchasing the RV. By taking precautionary measures and draining and sanitizing the tank once you get the rig home, you can rest easy knowing the tank is safe and ready to be used.
Traveling around the country in an RV is a fantastic way to see all the sights, meet new people, and park at some gorgeous locations. Filling up with water in various locations may expose you to contaminated water points.
If you stay at a campground with a notice for a contaminated water point but you’ve already filled up, the safest bet is to drain the water as soon as possible and flush and sanitize the system.
Feeling comfortable and safe in your RV is the goal for us all, and when everything on board is safe and functional, this goal is far more achievable. By taking the measures to carry clean water in your RV, you can spend more time making memories in the sun, and less time stressing about the water quality in your tank.
How To Sanitize RV Fresh Water Tank?
Sanitizing an RV fresh water tank is a longer process than just draining it, but it’s the best way to achieve a safe environment fit to carry drinking water. There are various ways to sanitize an RV water tank, but a popular method is using ¼ cup of bleach for 16 gallons of water.
Be sure to use the correct amount for your tank to keep damage at bay and achieve the best results possible. There’s no harm in checking the manufacturing directions before proceeding with sanitizing your tank to ensure you’re using the recommended method.
Switch Off RV Water Heater
Switching off the water heater is the first step to take to ensure no sanitizing mixture will be heated during the process. This may cause damage to the heater, resulting in unnecessary time and money spent on fixing a broken heater!
Drain Fresh Water Tank And Heater
Both the fresh water tank and heater need to be drained before sanitizing the system, and this can be done by following the simple steps above.
Add Sanitizing Mixture
The next step is to get the tank clean! Once you’ve worked out how much bleach or tank cleaner you need to use, it can gently be poured into the tank with a jug or similar. Pouring bleach directly into the tank isn’t the wisest idea as this can actually do more harm than good and damage the tank.
Instead, diluted bleach is a safer option to go for and is far less likely to damage the tank. Once the mixture has been poured into the RV, you can go ahead and fill the tank back up with fresh water.
Sanitizing the fresh water tank effectively means also cleaning out the plumbing system. By turning on the faucets throughout the RV once the cleaning solution has been poured in, the pipes receive a thorough cleaning too.
Once you can smell the bleach solution in the water coming out from the faucets, you can turn the taps off, which will allow the mixture to do its job in the tank and pipes.
Allow Mixture To Sit
Keep the mixture in the tank overnight or up to 10 hours to allow the chemicals to kill any harmful pathogens that may be living inside the tank. Be sure to have a few containers of clean water you can use in the morning as the RV water system will be out of action until the cleaning solution has been flushed out.
Drain And Flush
Once the cleaning mixture has been allowed to sit for several hours, it’s time to drain and flush the system so it can be used as normal once again. Make sure you are connected to a suitable hookup before emptying the tank as allowing the solution to drain all over the floor can be harmful to others and the surrounding environment.
Open up all the faucets throughout the RV and run water through them until the smell of bleach is no longer present. It may take a little while to continuously run water through the system for the bleach to be removed, but once complete, you’ll have a safe and functional water tank and plumbing system.
Knowing how often to drain your RV fresh water tank, and the best way to do it is a game-changer for keeping happy, healthy, and well when you’re in your RV. Taking the time to keep vital parts of your RV, such as the water tank in good condition, means vacations will be successful and no one is at risk of getting ill from stagnant or contaminated water.