Home Water – Drinking, Bathing, and Cooking

You know, I spent some thought in making sure I have all of the details in these instructions.  After you have performed an operation a few times, you will never read them again.  Writing a document that someone needs only once feels non-productive to me.

The waste section describes care of the wastewater and tanks.

Drinking, Cooking, Bathing

You need extreme care here. Your water is the key to your health.  You must be able to trust your water.  Keep Imodium around for when you fail here.

You have several sources for drinking water:


The government is worried about tooth decay since so many people are drinking RO (reverse-osmosis) water with no Fluoride.  At Costco you can buy Gel-Cam.  This is a fluoride compound (gel) for your teeth. In AZ you have to order it at the pharmacy. In other states, it is at the pharmacy but they stock it. I like the berry flavor. My dentist recommends a fluoride treatment for travelers.

Individual Bottles

You can buy cases of bottles at your grocery store.  This is fairly expensive but you may favor the taste of one brand over another.

I always keep a case in my storage in the event I need a bottle for a bike ride or in an emergency.
Obviously this is for primarily for drinking, maybe cooking, not likely for bathing.

5-gallon bottle with pump

I keep 2 of these behind the driver's seat with manual pumps.  I fill these at stores.  This is safe water although may not have the taste that you like.  Mostly it is Reverse Osmosis (RO) water obtained from the local city water.  Clean the bottle between fills.

This water costs about a quarter a gallon and is easily available for drinking and cooking.  Not bathing.

Fresh Water Tank

This is a little more complex than the other containers since it is invisible and needs care. Since I do not drink this, I do not worry too much about its purity.  I do use it for cooking, bathing, and cleaning.

Park Water

Right now I am in a park with a broken water main. I am using my fresh water tank. While digging up the water line they also broke the sewer line.  Do you think that I will drink park water on this visit? It will take 3 days to chlorinate the line to sanitize it.  I do not think they will. I was right.  I just saw someone turn on a water faucet and water came out.  I tried – the water was dirty after running 5 minutes.  Yuch.

Park Water Connection to the RV

The water connection is near the other connections and also on the driver side of the RV.  When connecting to park water:

When you disconnect when leaving the park, make sure to fill your RV water tank.

Filling your water tank

The water tank fill on my RV is on the opposite of the RV.  This makes it inconvenient to fill the tank when I am at the campsite.  I could throw the hose under the RV and connect on the other side but I hate to put the hose end on the ground.

For Filling the tank:

Reverse Osmosis (RO)

You can buy Reverse Osmosis units from camping stores, online, or eBay.  They are all about the same except for price.  They all work the same: they force water through a series of water filters of increased density until all solids are removed.  It takes a lot of pressure to do this.  Water that does not make it through the filters is exhausted through a separate tube.  The ratio of good water to exhaust water depends upon how clean the original water and how high the water pressure.  There is nothing magic about RO: RO is a series of increasingly finer filters until most solids are removed.

If you are going this route there are several things to buy:

You want the front end filter because these are cheap and you can buy/replace them anywhere.  RO filters are expensive.  The front-end filter takes the junk out of the park water before you get to the real filtering process.  Here is the connection sequence:

Water Pressure

The park water pressure may be high.  The Water Pressure Regulator takes care of this.  The front-end filter makes sure your regulator does not get clogged.

The park water pressure may be low.  The optional water pump takes care of this.  I suggest that you use a 110v pump and not a 12v pump.  12v pumps are vibrating pumps and they sound just as bad to your neighborhood as your current water pump sounds to you in the RV.  A good 110v pump is a cycular pump and does not make much noise.  Check for this when you buy it.

If you have too low of water pressure, your RO unit will just dump water out its exhaust tube and not give you and good water.  In this case, you need the electric pump.

There is one tube gong into the RO unit and three coming out.

Connection to the RV

Here is the deal.  Your RV has two places to receive water now:

You have three choices for the output of your RO unit.  Each has its own advantages and disadvantages.

Hose fill

This is the easiest as you just run the good water line from the RO unit into the fill line for you water tank.  You still need your RV water pump to supply pressure and you have to make sure your tank stays clean.  The tube from the RO unit is 1/4".  The RV fill tube is a hose connection usually inside a cover door.  You also have to keep the cover door open if you do this.  I took a short cut.  I drilled a hole in the water cover door opposite the vent tube exit.  I then run the RO water tube through the door into the tank vent tube rather than the normal fill tube.  The door remains closed and the main fill tube remains covered -- no contaminates.

You also do not need the reservoir line or tank.  You need to close off this tube or you waste good water.

One down side of this is that you can overflow your main tank and run water down the side of your RV.  The RO flow is slow so unless you go away for a long time, overflow is unlikely.

Direct Connect into the Water Line

This is OK but now you need the reservoir line and tank.  You also need to watch your usage since the only extra you have is the reservoir tank.  This can be used up quickly when you shower.

Separate faucet for RO water

This is the normal household installation but not for RVs.  You can do this and it works just fine.  You have drinking and cooking water but nothing for bathing.  I like having RO water everywhere but then where I live, park water smells terrible and I like to use the RO water for bathing.

Other Comments

I bought my RO unit from Costco for about $150, tossed out the pretty, chrome-plated faucet, and paid another $20 for connectors and hoses at Lowes (not Home Depot). This is about half of cost for the same unit sold at RV supply stores.  The upside is saving money and possibly more flexible connection choices.  The downside is having to figure out what fittings and connections you need and how to hook up the water pump.

Some parks do not like RO units as RO exhaust runoff can overflow their septic tanks.

You always have safe water. I think it is safe enough to put in a car battery when necessary.

Most of the water at the store water stations is RO.

The first time you run your RO unit, take the cover off the final filter (called the 'membrane') and let the unit run for a half hour.  The earlier filters contain carbon/charcoal and other contaminates.  Your 'membrane' is critical and when contaminated needs replacement -- expensive.  You will someday need to do this but with a little precaution at startup you will at least keep your initial flow clean.  Repeat the process every time you replace the earlier filters.


Some fittings come in plastic or brass.  I prefer the brass.  I think I handle things with care – the plastic fittings need more care than I can provide.


Drinking Water -- White

You need at least 20-feet of hose.  This should be the white hose made for this purpose.  I have a 10-foot and a 20-foot section.  These hoses should be used for nothing but drinking water.  At least the state of Michigan requires the hose be white.  This means that it expels none of the awful vinyl plastic chemicals.


Have a separate (non-white) hose for washing the RV and other purposes.  I also have a shower head for washing the RV.


You cannot trust park water to be good.  Many parks have sand or other things in their water.  Some people get very expensive filters.  Some people get reverse Osmosis (RO) machines.  Some parks ban RO machines.

I use the blue cylinder on the Wal-mart rack.  This does not reduce bacteria count.  If you need to do reduce bacteria count, there are more expensive filters.  On the other hand, if this really  is a problem, you do not want to drink the water.


The park water connector in your RV is on a vertical wall.  Connecting your water hose to this puts a torque on the RV connector and the hose.  Attach a 90º brass angle connector to the RV park water feed.  Use Teflon tape and keep the angle connected if it is in protected area.

Pressure Regulator

Park water pressure varies greatly.  To prevent burst hoses and plumbing, buy a water pressure controller.  A pressure regulator is about 4 inches long with a hose connector on each end.  It may reduce the pressure lower than you like but at least nothing will break.  These are about $5 at Wal-Mart.

One blast of sand in the water ruins a pressure regulator – keep it on the RV side of the filter.

Plastic Filler Tube

The hose end does not fit well into the RV park water connector.  Buy a hose water filler tube (Wal-Mart).  This is 12” clear tube with a hose end attachment on one end.  This gives you a no-hassle clean thing to insert into your water line.  It also may have a valve to turn the water on and off.

Teflon Tape

When connecting to park faucets or even your own fittings, use Teflon tape as most park threads have been used so many times that they are guaranteed to drip.  Buy a 5-roll package for $1 at Home Depot.

Quick-Connect Fittings

These are handy but I find they always leak a little.  Make sure when you connect them together that the collar has pushed forward against the collar of the other side.  Not doing this can give you a sudden bath and make a real mess.  Clean water but water everywhere.  Also I have found that using connectors of different brands can cause serios loss of pressure inside and a broken wrist trying to force them together so that you caan move the collar all the way forward.  You can buy a package with multiple fittings at Wal-Mart or Camping World.

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Written:  2003          Updated:  May 6, 2005          Back To Top