Living Off the Fresh Water Tank

During an unrelated discussion on a forum, I had a revelation about the fresh water tank.

I forget how we got on the topic, but I found myself saying that I don’t like to use my fresh water tank because the water is musty and I’m pretty sure there is some algae growth in it. I shock it with chlorine twice a year before filling it for my travels between locations, but that doesn’t seem to make a difference.

What the person said in response to that was that if I filled and emptied the tank regularly, that is actually used it on a day to day basis, there would be no time for water to stagnate and grow organisms. So obvious, but that completely escaped me!

So, I’m definitely living off my fresh water tank this winter. I’ll fill it up every time we go above freezing and use the weather forecast as a guide to how much I can use. We’re supposed to go above freezing for a stretch starting Sunday, so I need to make my current half tank last. That means showers every other day and being frugal when I do the dishes. But when we’re on a long stretch of warm where I’ll be able to fill every day, I won’t ration myself.

One of the things I will do when we hit the warmest day of the stretch is to work on the non-repair of the fresh water tank intake. What I did in May of ’09 has held up well enough, but it’s getting harder and harder to fill without getting a significant leak. I catch that leak in a bucket and use it to flush out the black tank, so there’s no waste, but it might be time to bite the bullet and do a proper repair.

For drinking and cooking, I am still using a BPA-free plastic jug, which I love, and which I fill with tap water. I’m so glad the tap water here is as good as it is. I fill up the jug every three or four days and getting water from it is no more effort than getting it from the tap.

The only downside to this plan is that every time I go out and fiddle with the water, a ‘helpful’ person comes by and tells me that I should invest in heat tape and insulation for my hose or that I’m welcome to string hose from their tap to my intake. The first few times this happened was fine, but it’s getting repetitive. I explain the reasons I’m not doing heat tape, such as my having to ration my amperage, but folks of a certain age have a notion about things needing to be done their way even if it’s not the right way for someone else. I did the heat tape thing back in Oliver and, frankly, I found that the expenditure wasn’t justified; I still had issues with the hose freezing. If I felt it to be a good solution I would spring for the $70 or so, but it doesn’t seem worth my while. Living off the fresh water tank is no hardship and now that I’m in the habit of doing it, I’m guaranteed running water to about minus ten, a luxury I never experienced while running heat tape.

With the water pump getting so much use, I wonder if I should be getting a quote for having it replaced. Just in case. πŸ˜€

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  • Your statement that “folks of a certain age have a notion about things needing to be done their way even if it’s not the right way for someone else.” certainly applies to many if not most that I’ve met. I can’t say what the certain age is though but I’m getting a lot of unwanted advice from a certain person, and it is really annoying, isn’t it.

  • I have only ever lived off of my fresh water tank – but mostly out of laziness. Since I use my RV as my car, I like the ease of just plugging in electric and only dealing with water and sewer once week.

    I do worry that I am going to wear out my water pump, but I wouldn’t mind replacing the noisy one I’ve got!

    I also use refillable jugs for drinking water…

    Hope you are staying warm enough!


  • I handle my water usage the same way Jennifer does for the same reason (use my RV as a car from time to time). Even when I’m in a full hook-up Park during the summer I only plug into electric. I will then dump about every two weeks or ten days and fill fresh water tank again.

  • I’ve always done it this way: fill the freshwater tank, use it up, fill it again… a full 50-9gallon tank lasts me about 20 days. I never connect to city water. In addition to not worrying about the hose freezing, and not having crud grow in my tank, I don’t have to deal with:

    * algae growing in the hose because it’s sitting out in the sun in warm weather
    * fear of damage to my plumbing due to excess pressure (yes, I have a regulator, but…)
    * worry that a leak or pipe failure will flood my rig from a literally infinite source of water
    * wasted power and overall hassle involved in using heat tape

    By the way, there’s no need to wait until temperatures go above freezing to fill your tank. Water won’t freeze while it’s moving through the hose at high speed. πŸ™‚

  • I do need to wait, Andy, because the water hookup itself is frozen when we’re below 0! Even when we go a few degrees above, I have to heat up the pipe to be able to get the tap open.

    A full tank lasts me a couple of days. I’d rather not shower than take a navy one so I have a really long one the day my tank’s full and after that I ration.

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