How to Install an RV Water Tank

You know your road trip has gone south (and no I don’t mean to the southern states) when your holding tanks fill up and you’re nowhere near a place to dump. Or there’s that moment when you hop in the shower and nothing comes out when you turn it on. If you’re going to stay sane through your next RV getaway, you’re going to need a solid water tank that suits your needs. Today, many RVs are equipped with holding tanks that allow travelers to drive longer distances between fill-ups. If your RV water tank is damaged, missing, or the capacity is too small, it’s time to find a replacement.

There are 3 types of holding tanks for RVs: fresh water, which holds the water that you use to drink, wash your hands, and shower; greywater, which holds the runoff from your sink and shower; and black water, which is where your toilet water drains. Any one of these tanks could become damaged and cause serious problems for you.

If you have a leak or tear in a holding tank, it may be possible to repair it by patching or welding. However, depending on the severity of the damage, it’s often easier and more cost-effective to replace the unit altogether. Patching or welding is often a temporary solution and could fail. Your life will likely be easier in the long run if you just go with a brand new replacement and don’t have to deal with a faulty patch or multiple repairs.

What to look for in an RV water tank

If your RV water tank is damaged, you might decide to replace it with a larger tank. Before purchasing, though, consider how a larger tank with its added weight will affect your RV. When determining how large of a holding tank you’ll need, think about the following factors that influence how much water your family goes through each day: showering, flushing the toilet, washing your hands, and using water for food preparation.

Do you spend plenty of quality time in your RV, but away from campgrounds? You might not always have the opportunity to dump, and you may find that your holding tanks have filled up sooner than you thought. A larger tank might be necessary, but read your RV manual closely. Too much weight could negatively affect other parts on your rig.

On the other hand, perhaps your RV was, for some reason or another, missing a holding tank and you’re installing for the first time. You will need to carefully select the location on your RV where you will install it. Freshwater tanks should generally be located near the center of your RV, so that it’s easy to hook up to the many different components it’ll rely on: your sink, shower, etc. Usually, the RV’s center is the kitchen area. But regardless of where it’s installed, make sure your holding tank is easily accessible for any later maintenance that may be necessary.

Even if you’re planning to install only the holding tank, you might find yourself needing additional parts. Visit our parts store to purchase anything else you might require to complete this and other repairs.

Installing your RV water tank

After you’ve purchased the appropriately sized holding tank and the necessary parts, it’s time to install it. The first step is to clean out your water systems. Drain your pipes, other holding tanks, and the hot water heater. Clean your tanks using laundry detergent by mixing the detergent with water, refill the tanks with the soapy water, and go for a drive. The sloshing motion from driving will clean all the nooks and crannies of your tanks. Then, drain the tanks a second time.

Replace the new tank per its instructions. Each holding tank will come with a specific set of instructions about how that particular model should be installed.

Once it’s installed, check for leaks. If your new tank is leak-free, then you need to sanitize the system using bleach. We recommend 6-8 ounces of bleach per 10 gallons of water. Fill the tanks up, add the bleach and let it sit for a minimum of one hour. Then, drain the system again.

Fill the tanks again, and run your faucet and shower until you’re sure there is no trace of bleach left in the system. At this point, your new holding tank and water system should be ready to use.

For ongoing maintenance, you’ll want to drain your tanks after every use to avoid build-up of bacteria. Additionally, it’s a good idea to fully clean the system with laundry detergent and/or bleach a couple times a year.

The process of purchasing and installing an RV water tank and any additional parts you may need can be overwhelming. Give us a call if you have questions or if you would like to have your tank professionally installed.

Photo: Larry Page

Share Button