Can You (Should You) Leave An RV Water Pump On?

RV Water Pump - Leave It On or Switch It Off?

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There are some issues that it seems the RV community – which is a very lively and helpful one, and a great resource if you are new to travelling – can’t quite seem to agree on. One of them is whether you should turn your RV’s water pump off when you don’t need water or let it just keep running.

Ask ten different experienced RV fans this question and the chances are that you’ll get at least five different answers. So what’s the real deal? That’s what we are going to take a closer look at now.

What is an RV Water Pump?

Before we get into whether or not you should turn your RV water pump off when not in direct use it’s helpful to understand a little more about it, especially as it’s not a device most RVers think a lot about, unless something goes wrong.

The water pump in an RV is attached to the freshwater tanks that provide water for your sink and shower when you are not hooked up to a campground water supply. It actually only actively functions when you ask it to provide you with water, so unless you are taking a shower, washing your hands or need water for cooking or drinking it is actually sitting idle. It may draw a little power if it has a lighted power switch or fault warning monitor – which most modern RV water pumps do – but that power draw is very minimal.

When you are connected to the city water supplies offered at many campgrounds, it is universally agreed that your water pump should be turned off. The reasoning behind this is simple; if you don’t the RV will continue to draw water from your tank when it should be supplying you with water from the campground. Why waste your water when you don’t have to?

The Arguments for Leaving Your Water Pump On in Your RV

As we mentioned, whether you should turn your RV water pump off in any other circumstances than when you are connected to a city water supply is a matter of ongoing, and often quite lively debate.

Those who feel that their RV water pump can be left on at all times do usually admit that even they turn it off if they will be leaving their RV for an extended period of time, and most do the same if they are connected to a city water supply. In the event that something went wrong the last thing anyone would want to come back to after a long hike or a day’s sightseeing is a flood.

However, many people do not see the point of turning off their RV water pump when they are in the RV or are nearby (sitting out in the sun perhaps). As an RV water pump is a pressure sensing device it should not operate at all when it is not being asked to do so. A water pump that cycles when no water is in use is one that is not working properly and needs immediate attention. In fact, some in the ‘leave it on’ camp cite that as another reason to do so, as that acts as a warning that something is wrong.

From a practical point of view it is a nuisance to have to keep turning the water pump on and off every time you need to make a cup of tea or wash your hands, and this is another reason that the leave it on camp prefer to do so.

The Arguments for Turning Your RV Water Pump Off

How To Properly Connect The RV City Water Inlet

Having covered the reasons experienced RVers offer to support the case for leaving your water pump on when not connected to city water, what are some arguments against doing so?

One commonly offered argument for turning off an RV water pump when it is not in direct use is a fear of leakage or flooding. Some travellers have tales of driving along a bumpy road and activating the sink or shower by accident. Others have stories to share about small, slow leaks that went undetected. Some people are annoyed by their pump because it can be noisy, and so they turn it off at night when everyone is asleep.

As to the power issue, any power used by a lighted warning system is very minimal, but some travellers fear that if their batteries are low then that tiny power drain may be the straw that breaks the camel’s back and results in a flat battery.

So, RV Water Pump.... Shut if off? Leave it On?

As you can see, there is no clear answer here, and it seems that turning your RV water pump off, or leaving it on, when not in use is a matter of preference, and, as some will admit, a matter of habit. There does not seem to be any kind of real expert opinion, as RV pump manufacturers rarely offer any guidance either. Even if you go by ‘the numbers’ opinion seems to be divided almost 50/50 between the two camps in most RV forums!

The one thing that everyone can agree on however is the importance of making sure that your RV pump is in good working order. A failing or improperly installed water pump can not only lead to leaks, including slow leaks, and flooding, but it can also waste water, which no one wants to do.

Some people do choose to install an aftermarket alarm to their RV water pump that will alert them audibly to any problems, and these can be very useful if you travel a lot.

Whether you choose to do this or not you should get into the habit of checking that your RV water pump is functioning properly before every trip, and, ideally, having it serviced every few years. The last thing anyone wants is an RV water pump that does not work, especially if they are a long way from the nearest city water supply!

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