Nov 17, 2013 - Personal    7 Comments

Making Life Without Running Water a Little Easier

This is not yet another post about conserving water while RVing. It’s about those times that, for whatever reason, you are unable to fill your RV fresh water tank but still have a plentiful source of water nearby to haul home in jugs.

I will have spent a sizable chunk of 2013 in this position and finally have a system that almost makes me not miss being able use my holding tank. It helps, of course, that I can have a hot shower any time I want, something I was sorely missing on the beach last winter, as well as access to free laundry. But that still leaves having water handy for dish and hand washing as well as freshening up.

When it’s warm out, like it was on the beach last winter and on my property during the first part of the summer, I don’t miss not having hot water at the ready. I’m fine with washing my hands or freshening up with cool water. I heat up a kettle of water at the end of the day for doing the dishes, but that’s the limit of my need for hot water.

But when it’s cold out and you only keep your rig at about 60F, washing your face with cold water in the morning really sucks! Heck, even washing your hands with cold water after using the bathroom is less than pleasant. It’s also nice to have hot water on hand for making hot beverages during the day.

After spending so many months hauling water, I’ve got my method down pat.

I start with hauling water home in this Reliance 5-gallon water container:


On the beach, I used a similar containers by Reliance in a flexible material, but both developed leaks (after three years of great service) so I replaced them with what I could find locally.

This is exactly as much water weight as I can carry a few staggering steps, like from my truck or Laura’s wagon to the rig*. What I like about it is that it has a tap, so it’s just like having cold running water. I have it set on the table by the entry so it’s out of my way yet accessible. When Neelix needed his perch 🙁 I would sit my water container on the stool by the counter. This is a much more desirable location.

(*It’s about 100 feet from Laura’s back porch to my rig so the only way I can get the water home without breaking my back is by putting it in her little heavy-duty wagon!)

I also have a typical water container used with water refrigeration systems that I can have filled at the grocery store:


Laura loaned me a pump for this container, but I haven’t try it yet. If it doesn’t work well, I’ll transfer from this container to the other one.

Hauling water from Laura’s is really luxurious because her water is potable and I don’t have to filter it for drinking. It’s a treat to be able to open a tap and have drinkable water!

Next up, hot water. It didn’t take me long to figure out that I needed a large capacity Thermos-type unit, preferably with a pump so that I wouldn’t have to worry about lifting and pouring from a heavy container with dirty hands.

I happened to find this vintage double-Thermos unit on eBay for a great price and it matches my kitchen perfectly!


If I’m going to have something like this sit on my counter all winter, I’d much rather it be aesthetically pleasing! As you can see, I can pump water directly into the sink. Each side holds exactly one kettle’s worth of hot water. And they don’t make ’em like they used to! I have added hot water in the morning to find it still scalding in the afternoon for doing dishes. It was then still nice and hot for a before bed wash and was still pleasantly warm in the morning for the morning wash! Pretty impressive!

Now, what’s that in the sink?


I do my laundry at Laura’s, but I find that dish cloths and the like pile up very quickly. So I make it a point to wash what I used of those that day in the sink, using a kettle of hot water to soak them first in a little bleach and soap.

For the bathroom, I get water from the kitchen in a large bowl and I refresh it as needed during the day.


If my hands are particularly dirty, I wash them in the kitchen using my hot running water! 🙂

Finally, I spray all my used dishes with a little soapy water from a spray bottle:


Since I do them when they’re fresh, no soaking is necessary. I wipe everything clean, then rinse with the hot water from the Thermos. Having the hot water at the ready guarantees that I wash everything right away instead of waiting because it’s not worth heating water just to wash a bowl and spoon and ending up with a huge pile that needs loads of water to wash.

So that’s how I’ve been getting by without running water this fall. Hauling heavy jugs is a pain, but between that and the propane, I’m getting good exercise!

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  • Once it snows enough you can drag propane bottles a lot easier than carrying them. We always waited for a good snow before ordering propane at Dave’s parent’s cabin. The delivery people appreciated that.

  • I can’t imagine having to crouch to drag them being easier than lifting them, especially not for the few feet they have to go. But I suspect I’ll be looking for a sled for hauling the water! 😀

  • A far as a sled goes…..look for a child’s size toboggan, I had one that I got at a animal feed store that I hauled all kinds of stuff in. It had a rope handle and sides on it which helps so stuff doesn’t fall out.

  • Now those are some really good ways of solving the water dilemma. Hope all is working out for your winter at the Haven. I finally arrived in New Mexico, just in time for a forecast of snow and mid-30s this weekend over the entire state. Lucky me!?

  • Karen, thanks for that suggestion! One of my neighbours might have something like that.

  • If a sled is what you want to use, look for a “tote sled” that’s made to pull behind a snowmachine. They’re far sturdier than a normal sled, will last for years, and come in all sizes from probably-too-small to 6′ long X 3′ wide, which holds more water than a normal human can pull. I use a smallish one, and it fits under a bench serving as a “drawer” when not being used as a sled.

  • Thanks for that tip, Sarah!

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