Spring is just around the corner! In between our Michigan snowstorms, we've had some spring-like weather that's put everyone in the mood for getting outside and enjoying some sunshine. And I've started daydreaming of our up-coming camping trips that we've had planned for a while. So to ensure that we're ready to hit the road with our RV when the weather decides it's ready to cooperate, I'm getting a jump start on our RV maintenance. I'm going to tackle the water lines first. It’s very important to flush your water lines out each spring to sanitize the fresh water system to have healthy water in your tank and fully sanitized. If you've never cleaned out your RV's water lines, follow these simple step-by-step instructions on how to clean your RV's water lines to make sure that you do it correctly. Cleaning out your water lines is an important step in maintaining basic functions of your RV. It will help ensure that your hoses are free of gunk and odor and that your drinking water tastes fresh.
Empty the water heater
- Turn the power to the water heater off. If you have an electric water heater, it will have its own on/off switch. Also check to make sure the gas pilot is not lit.
- Remove the water heater's drain plug.
- Open the pressure release valve. Water should start draining.
Locate the low points in your lines
- Your RV owner's manual may have instructions on where these are located. These are generally located under your RV near the lowest area of your water system. Some RVs have two drain points, one for hot and one for cold, while others have three separate drain points: one each for cold water, hot water, and fresh water.
- Remove the plugs or petcocks (small shut-off valves) so the water can drain out.
- Open your faucets in the kitchen and bathroom to allow for maximum drainage. Also flush your toilet so remove as much water as possible. Close up when the water stops draining.
Clean out the holding tank
- Open up your drinking water hold tank drain and empty the water out of it. Turn on the water pump to ensure that all the water has been pushed out. Turn the pump off when done. Running the pump after the water is drained could cause your motor to burn out.
Flush the fresh water tank with bleach
- When all the water is out, close up your valves and flush your fresh water tank with a bleach-water solution. For a 30 gallon tank, mix 1/2 cup of bleach with water and slowly pour it in. You’ll need 1/4 cup of bleach for every 16 gallons of water in your freshwater tank. This also equates to one ounce per eight gallons. Make the calculations based on those ratios. That means. If you have a 20-gallon freshwater tank on your RV, you’d need 2.5 ounces of bleach to sanitize your system. Don’t add the bleach straight to your freshwater tank. You should dilute it first. Take that amount of bleach you’ve calculated for your specific RV and add it to at least a gallon of water. Then pour this water-bleach mixture into the freshwater tank with the help of a funnel.
- Next, fill the tank the rest of the way with clean water. Go to your control panel and switch on the water pump. Open your kitchen and bath faucets (and shower) so water starts pouring out. Turn on your outdoor shower if you have one too. You'll notice a bleach smell coming from the water, which is normal. Turn off the faucets and water pump. Water will remain in the lines and tank.
- Let your RV sit overnight with the water lines filled with the bleach-water solution in the lines. For best results, it's recommended to let the system sit for 12-15 hours.
Flush fresh water tank with clean water
- After your RV has sat for a good length of time with the bleach-water solution in the lines and tank, it's time to open the faucets and empty it. Just like before, go around and open all faucets, including the kitchen, bath, shower, and outdoor shower if you have one.
- Once the tank is dry, fill it up again, but this time you're going to stick to clean, potable water. This will act to flush any remaining debris or toxins out, including the bleach.
- Run the water through all the faucets one last time until the water is completely odorless.
- Your water lines are now squeaky clean and safe for drinking! Once your lines are cleaned, we suggest replacing the water filters as well. Once those are replaced, you’re ready for a summer of camping!