Learning to Get Water to your RV – a Step-By-Step Guide so You Don’t Have to Poop in the Woods

I think the title says it all. 

If you’ve come here looking for exotic travel photos and stories of how magical life is traveling in an RV, this is not the post for you. This is a purely instructional post on how to get water to your RV.

The first time we took out our RV, we learned the hard way. We were going to spend the first night camping out in my Aunt’s driveway across town. My aunt and uncle have a few acres of land and they were out of town, so this would give us the opportunity to sleep overnight in the RV in a familiar place. For the most part, it was a wonderful.  The dogs ran around out in the country, I was able to make tacos because we have a working fridge and microwave in the RV, and we discovered our pull-out bed is really comfortable.

Unfortunately the downside, and I’m not going to sugar coat this, but the downside is that I had to poop in plastic bag in the woods. You see, I was under the impression that we would be able to start using the bathroom immediately but it turns out that you can’t use your RV bathroom until you have water in the tank to flush with.

Lesson number one – get your water in order!

There are two ways to supply water to your RV. You can either (1) fill the RV tank with clean water or (2) connect a hose from a city water faucet to the RV.

Let’s start with filling your RV tank with water. Here’s what you’re going to need:
  • A certified potable water hose (this is not a garden hose. A potable water hose is usually white or blue and unlike a garden hose, it’s BPA-free so you won’t have chemicals or bacteria leaching into your water and affecting the taste)
  • Clorox bleach + an empty gallon jug + a funnel (if you want to disinfect the tank before filling it with water)

The first thing you’ll need to do is figure out where to fill the tank. Locate the small exterior door labeled “Potable Water Only,” unlock and open the door, and remove the cap. Using your potable water hose, fill the tank. Do not carry more water than is necessary and do not overfill the tank. You can monitor the fullness of the fresh water tank (and all the tanks) by pressing the readout switch on the monitoring panel inside the RV, but the RV has to be level for an accurate reading.

The only thing left is to switch the water pump to the ON position. It’s also located on the monitoring panel inside the RV and you’ll know the water pump is working when the green light is on. At this point, the fresh water system is pressurized and ready to use!

If you want to disinfect the tank, you’ll need to do a little math because you’re going to need to know how many gallons of water your fresh tank and hot water heater hold. Our fresh tank holds 55 gallons and the hot water heater holds 6, for a total of 61 gallons. For each 15 gallons of capacity, you’ll need to mix a gallon of fresh water with a ½ cup Clorox Bleach. In our case, we mixed four gallons of fresh water with two cups of bleach and used a funnel to pour the mixture into the fresh water tank.

Once you’ve got the bleach mixture in the tank, completely fill up the rest of the tank the fresh water. Turn on the water pump and open each faucet knob to allow all the air to be purged from the water lines and the water heater.

Allow the bleach to sit for a minimum of three hours before draining the tank completely. The drain is located inside the lower exterior storage compartment and you release the water by turning the large brass lever 90 degrees.

Once the tank is drained, you’ll need to flush the system with fresh water to remove any lingering chlorine taste. If any chlorine taste remains, you can prepare a solution of one quart of vinegar to five gallons of water and allow the solution to stand in the tank for several days, but you’ll need to drain the refill the water tank and water heater twice to remove any lingering taste or odor.

You can also get fresh water by connecting a hose from a city water source to your RV. Here’s what you’re going to need:
  • A certified potable water hose
  • A pressure regulator
  •  Optional – an RV water filter + a flexible hose protector

The first thing you do is to figure out where to connect the hose from the city water source. The city water inlet is located on the driver’s side of the RV. The fixture is round with a brass hose fitting.
When you connect your RV to city water, this connection runs the water directly to your pipes, bypassing the fill tank. This means that you won’t need your water pump, so it should be in the OFF position anytime you’re connecting to city water.

 Also, always use a pressure regulator. The regulator attaches directly to the water faucet which will protect the hose and your water system from high pressure.

Here’s how you’ll connect… 
  • Screw the pressure regulator into the city water faucet
  • Attach the hose to the pressure regulator
  •  If you have a filter, attach the filter to the hose. We have a Camco water filter. Make sure the arrow on the outside of the filter is facing in the direction of the water flow. Flush the filter for several minutes to remove any chemicals
  • Lastly, connect a flexible hose protector from the RV city water connection to the water filter
AND that’s it! Hopefully this guide will help fellow first-time RVers navigate the pitfalls we faced the first time we needed water.