Throughout the years I have shared temporary fixes for an inoperable water heater and furnace, suggested back-up plans when things don’t work, and what to pack in your electrical bag to keep your 12-volt system up and operating when something goes awry.
Here’s another tip to remember. Just recently the check valve on my city water inlet decided to act up, allowing fresh water to exit the RV when the water pump was turned on. Not a good thing to happen when you are boondocking with limited water in the tank.
For those just entering the RV lifestyle, there is a check valve behind your city water hook-up. The valve is designed to let pressured city water enter the RV’s plumbing system when hooked to a charged hose bib via your water hose in an RV park, and prevent the water pump from pumping water out of your potable water tank onto the ground when not hooked to a charged hose bib.
Needless to say, when the check valve malfunctions while dry camping miles from a potable water source, losing some or all of your freshwater can put an end to your campout.
In my case, the telltale sound of the water pump “zipping” frequently alerted me to the problem. Many times when a check valve fails to seat properly, you can just depress the check valve spring from the exterior of the RV allowing some water to gush out. This will often flush out whatever is preventing the valve from fully closing.
This didn’t solve the problem in my case. The next option (temporary fix) is to plug the city water hookup. Most RVers (myself included) do not carry a male garden hose plug with them.
The next question becomes what do you have to serve as a plug? Things that an RVer is likely to have with them that feature male hose threads are: water pressure regulator, fresh water hose, water wye, or a blowout plug used for winterizing.
Let’s look at how each of the items above can be used to temporarily solve your problem:
Water pressure regulator: Find a non-toxic disc-shaped item (approximately 7/8” in diameter) that will fit into the city water hookup. A United States nickel or game counter (small poker chip) are examples. Place the disc against the hose washer in the city water fitting and then screw the regulator in place to plug the leak.
Water wye: If the water wye has shutoffs on the outlets, you can just screw one of the male ends into your city water hookup and the problem is solved. If there is not clearance to do so, screw your water hose into the city water hookup and plug the other end of your hose with the wye. If the wye does not have shutoffs, use the disc method described above with the pressure regulator.
Freshwater hose: You can screw the male end of the hose into the city water hookup and then kink the hose shut. Not the best on your hose, but it will work until you break camp.
Blowout plug: If you have the good one with the automotive valve stem, just screw it into the city water hookup and you are done. If you have the cheap one with no valve stem, use the disc method described above for the pressure regulator.
Avoid leaving your water pump turned on when you are away from your RV. You never know when a plumbing failure might occur and nobody wants to find their RV flooded or their fresh water pumped out on the ground as described in this article.
Remember, RVs are a house on wheels, and just like a house, things can and will go wrong. However, don’t let this stop you from RVing, just be prepared for these little bumps in the road and treat them as just another adventure.