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Recognizing The Signs Of Common RV Plumbing Problems

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There's nothing like taking an RV out onto the open road and heading for adventure, but anyone who has owned one of these vehicles for long knows that it's not all sunny days and road trips. A recreational vehicle is a combination of home and car all-in-one, which means that it has the problems of both. Not only do you have to worry about engine issues, worn-out tires, and faulty brakes, but you may also face many of the typical problems of homeowners. Of course, plumbing issues will usually be chief among these.

Why Is There Water in Your RV?

Leaky pipes or back-ups are easily the most distressing plumbing problems that you can face, but tracking them down isn't always as easy as it may seem. While RVs are relatively small when compared to houses, they pack their plumbing in tightly, and there are usually several potential water sources. Before blaming your plumbing, be sure that the source of the water is a pipe or fixture. Many RVs can suffer from leaks in windows, doors, or their roof, so try to track down the source of the water before condemning your plumbing system.

An essential tip to keep in mind is that water that is entering your RV may not always appear near the source. A leaky window can drip behind the wall panels, creating a moist spot on the floor a few feet from its actual source. Plumbing leaks can create the same kind of spooky action at a distance, so always double and triple-check that you've found the exact source of the water.

What's That Smell?

The last thing you want when you get to the campground is to smell the undeniable odor of sewage. If your RV uses a self-sufficient plumbing system, then a foul odor is most likely to be the result of a problem with your black water tank. This tank holds waste from your RV, but the valve or seal on the tank can (and almost certainly will) fail over time. When this happens, you may experience a small or slow leak that will produce a noticeable odor even if there are no apparent puddles of sewage on the ground. Bad smells may also be the result of other leaks in your wastewater system, but a lousy seal is the most likely culprit.

Where'd The Hot Water Go?

Just like your home, your RV relies on a water heater to ensure that you have hot water in your shower and sink faucets. Most RVs use a propane water heater, as these devices are both reliable and straightforward. If you don't have hot water, first confirm that the valve was not left closed. If this isn't the problem, then check that the propane burner is running. A burner that won't ignite at all may be clogged, or there may an underlying issue with the electric igniter. Confirm that there are no obstructions in the burner before moving on to parts replacement.

Just as with your home, the key to keeping your RV repair costs to a minimum is recognizing the signs of trouble early. Never ignore problems with your vehicle's water supply and always consult an RV repair shop if you cannot find the underlying cause of an issue.