How To Diagnose Water Pump Problems Before Repairing Or Replacing RV Water Pumps

shurflo-water-pump.jpgOkay, you’ve filled up the RV water tank and hit the switch to pump the last of the antifreeze out of the plumbing lines.

The only problem is… the RV water pump just keeps running and won’t shut off.  The water flow is only a matter of a few drips at best.

Now what?

 

How To Diagnose A Water Pump Problem

The first step is to eliminate the obvious.

Are you absolutely sure there is a supply of water getting to the pump?  Silly things like “you left the drain open when you thought you were filling the tank” have fooled more then one person into thinking their RV water pumps were bad.

If you disconnected the line from the tank to the water pump when you pumped RV antifreeze through the water lines last fall, has everything been reconnected correctly?

Is there a shut-off valve you forgot to open?

If your pump never made any noise at all when you hit the switch, lack of electricity may be a concern.  Check the fuse in the 12-volt panel.  If it’s good, check for power at the fuse with a volt meter or a test light.

Next check for power at the pump itself.  If 12 volts are present at the pump, one last check should be made before you declare the pump bad:  Check the ground for the pump motor.  If the pump isn’t  grounded, the presence of 12 volts will mean nothing.  It takes a good ground to make the circuit.

 

Replacing An RV Water Pump

Once you have determined that yes, indeed, there is a water pump problem:

1. Drain the fresh water tank.

2. Disconnect the water lines.  (But have a couple of towels handy, as there will still be a bit of water in the lines that may run out.)

3. Disconnect the electrical connections.

4. Unbolt the RV water pump from its mounting

5. Bring the water pump itself out to the work bench.

All of this sounds very easy, and in theory it is.  There may be one tiny problem:  If your RV water pump is mounted like the one in my travel trailer, you may have to be a 60 lb skinny-as-a-rail contortionist to physically reach all the connections required to remove the RV water pump.  There may be a removable access panel that will help you get at it, but most likely, it’s just going to be awkward and a bit of a pain.

 

How To Install A New RV Water Pump

There are 3 or 4 different brands of RV water pumps on the market.

Some have rebuild kits available, though most would be considered throw away items.  With a wide selection of models available from $60 to about $150, it may be wise to just install a new pump and be done with it.

Installing a new RV water pump is as simple as remounting the pump, and reinstalling the water lines.

Be sure to use teflon tape on any pipe thread connections.

Pay attention to arrows on the water pump housing indicating which port is the “in” or “out”.  (They may be labeled as well.)

Carefully read the instructions supplied with the new pump and you’ll be up and running in no time.

 

Why Do RV Water Pumps Fail?

For the most part, 12-volt electric water pumps have proven to be quite reliable and long lasting.

The main reason for RV water pump failure (as with all RV water system components) is being left for the winter with water in the system.  Extensive periods of storage in hot summer weather down south may also shorten the life span of an RV water pump.

Curtis Carper

I’ve been involved in RVing for over 40 yrs -- including camping, building, repairing, and even selling RVs. I’ve owned, used, and repaired almost every class and style of RV ever made. I do all of my own repair work. My other interests include cooking at home, living with an aging dog, and dealing with diabetic issues. If you can combine a grease monkey with a computer geek, throw in a touch of information nut and organization freak, combined with a little bit of storyteller, you've got a good idea of who I am.

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  • Anonymous

    On a 95 Southwind motorhome. The water pump has three places that you can turn it on. Is there a relay somewhere for the ground? I have power at the pump but no ground. By grounding the pump it will run. I can not figure out where the problem is. The switches apparently work with the ground and not the hot wire. Help would be greatly appreciated.

    • Curtis

      Kala, Though I’m not familiar with the specifics of your exact motorhome it is unlikely there would be a relay in the circuit. If all 3 switches are not working the problem is likely where they come together to make the ground connection. Switching the ground wire is a common practice because there would be less chance of an overload short.

  • Anonymous

    Curtis, I did not mention that the three switches are momentary rocker. They are not off and on type. They work just like a push button. That is why I thought there must be a relay or electric switch somewhere. Kala

    • Curtis

      Hmmm.. That does add an interesting twist to your problem. I haven’t run into that type of set up yet so I’m not much help to you.

      • Anonymous

        Curtis, I wanted to thank you for trying to solve my problem. I did find the problem. Because it has multiple switches, it has a Intellitec circuit board to act as a relay. I finally located it next to the inside fuse and breaker panel. The board was bad, so I temporarily by- passed it with an off and on switch until I locate a new board. Now the pump works fine. This may help someone else. Thank you.

        • Curtis

          kala, thanks for passing on the solution to your problem, I wasn’t aware that simple water pump systems had become so complex in some RVs. I learned something new today, thanks again for that.

        • Curtis

          kala, thanks for passing on the solution to your problem, I wasn’t aware that simple water pump systems had become so complex in some RVs. I learned something new today, thanks again for that.

      • Anonymous

        Curtis, I wanted to thank you for trying to solve my problem. I did find the problem. Because it has multiple switches, it has a Intellitec circuit board to act as a relay. I finally located it next to the inside fuse and breaker panel. The board was bad, so I temporarily by- passed it with an off and on switch until I locate a new board. Now the pump works fine. This may help someone else. Thank you.

    • Curtis

      Hmmm.. That does add an interesting twist to your problem. I haven’t run into that type of set up yet so I’m not much help to you.

  • Anonymous

    Curtis, I did not mention that the three switches are momentary rocker. They are not off and on type. They work just like a push button. That is why I thought there must be a relay or electric switch somewhere. Kala

  • Anonymous

    Ok, I made sure there is water in the fresh water tank, I believe there is electricity because the pump is humming as always. Could it be there is an air gap preventing the flow of water?

    • Curtis

      Isbinvegas, I’m doubtful an air gap is your problem. These pumps are self priming so it should be able to pull right through any air in the lines. If there is a cracked water line or fitting between the pump and the tank you might be sucking in air, otherwise you have a pump problem.

    • Curtis

      Isbinvegas, I’m doubtful an air gap is your problem. These pumps are self priming so it should be able to pull right through any air in the lines. If there is a cracked water line or fitting between the pump and the tank you might be sucking in air, otherwise you have a pump problem.

      • Anonymous

        Thank you

        Sent from Scott’s iPhone

      • Anonymous

        Thank you

        Sent from Scott’s iPhone

  • Anonymous

    Ok, I made sure there is water in the fresh water tank, I believe there is electricity because the pump is humming as always. Could it be there is an air gap preventing the flow of water?

  • Richard

    Everytime we go up in altitude our pump is on but does not get any water out of faucets. Then when we come back down in altitude it works fine. Any suggestions to our problem??

  • Richard

    Everytime we go up in altitude our pump is on but does not get any water out of faucets. Then when we come back down in altitude it works fine. Any suggestions to our problem??

  • Nefritz

    We have a brand new wildwood, took it out this weekend. Water tank full, water pump turns on, after turning on faucet water is at great pressure but then slows to a trickle. When you shut off pump brings back pressure and you can turn on again to get a minute of pressure and then trickle again???

    • Curtis

      Nefritz, Brand new trailer,.. possibly you have a filter that is plugged with debris (from construction) hindering water flow. There may be a filter at the pump, and there may be one at the faucet too.

  • Tim Harris

    I cant get my camper water pump to stop running. When you cut on the water at either of the three locations and there is only a trickle. I have ran stuff through the lines to try and clear any clogs that may be present, but still nothing but trickle. Any suggestions?

    • Curtis

      Tim, If your pump can’t build up pressure it will continue to run. If you’re certain you have water available for it to pump it might be time to rebuild or replace the pump. Most RV pumps are designed to be self priming and can draw water up from a reasonable distance. You may have a damaged diaphragm. As you can get a new pump on Ebay for around $50 it might be easier to just go that route and be done with it.

  • brian

    cutis., My 5th wheel pumps water out of the fill outlet when i turn on the water pump. all the levers are in the correct position, never had this happened before, is this a water pump (one way valve problem). any suggestions thanks Brian

  • Curtis

    Brian, I think what’s going on is water is coming out the city water inlet, not the fill outlet. There’s a check valve incorporated in the city water inlet. Here’s a link to where you can get a replacement, they’re pretty inexpensive. http://www.amazon.com/JR-Products-160-85-Polar-Flange/dp/B000BGHSNK/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=sporting-goods&qid=1291802761&sr=8-1

  • Kenny

    Hi,have put a new pump in and connected it up the same as the old one had come out and when switch it on can hear pump running but no water coming out,there is a lot off gogling sounds I wounder could you give me some advice that would be helpful,
    kind regards Kenny.

    • Curtis

      Kenny, My first thought is do you have the new pump plumbed with the water in and out going the right direction? If it’s backwards you might be pumping toward the tank rather than toward the faucet.

    • Kenny

      Curtis,thanks for getting back,I put it back on the same as the old as there ws no other way I could put it on as the motor would have been upside down.
      And I would say the other old one had been in right because it was working fine in November 2010 when I last used it.At this moment in time it just has me confused any other help would be gratefully appreiated,
      kind regards Kenny.

      • Curtis

        Kenny, If the new pump is the exact make and model as the old you may have a defective pump, though that would be unlikely. If there is any difference between the pumps at all, there should be an arrow showing which way water flows through the pump. I’m still betting something is hooked up wrong, or maybe water flow to the pump is shut off.

        • Kenny

          Curtis,thanks for getting backto me.Yes I thought it was a defective pump but the new one is not woring either,I have checked that the arrows are pointing in the right direction which they are,and I connected it up exactly as the old one came off.I did notice you mentioned to me about maybe the water flow is shut off,because there is no where as far as I know that it can be shut off and I know I have not done it any other info you can give me would be gratefully appreciated,and if poossible could you get back ASAP as I am hopping to get away in it,
          kind regards Kenny.

          • Curtis

            Kenny, Well that leaves only one other possibility, your pump must be sucking air in somewhere. If it can’t prime itself there must be a cracked fitting or waterline between the pump and the freshwater tank that is allowing air to come in rather than sucking water from the tank. If your RV sat through cold weather maybe some trapped water cracked a line some where. Good luck, that’s about the last idea I have for you.

          • Kenny

            Hi Curtis,many thanks for that I will investagate that and hopfully will get the matter resolved.I will email you to let you know I get on and thanks for all the advice,
            kind regards Kenny.

          • Kenny

            Hi Curtis,just thought I would get back to you and let you know you where right there was a hairline crack in the water filter.I have now sorted it and it is running fine I would like to say many thanks for all your help in this matter,and if require help in the future I hope I can call appond you again
            kind regards Kenny.

          • Curtis

            Kenny, glad to hear we solved the mystery. Now you’ve got a spare pump to boot. Sometimes it’s the simplest thing that is so hard to find.

  • Ozonetwo

    My water pump in my 05 Chinook sounds like it is pumping water but nothing comes out of the faucets? The water pump seems to be working just fine.

    • Curtis

      Ozonetwo, Sounds like it is pumping water, I assume you mean you hear the pump running. But is it building pressure and shutting off when you turn the faucet off? I’m guessing not. More than likely you have a cracked fitting or split water line between the tank and the pump and it is sucking air. Is this the first attempt to use it since winter? If so I can about guarantee something froze and was damaged so it’s sucking air.

  • Jwshadowking

    Hi Curtis,
    Im having trouble with my water pump, I dont know much about how its suppose to operate, but I can hear the pump turn on, it runs untill it pressurizes, I get good flow for about 5 seconds then it goes down to a low pressure stream of about a half gallon to a gallon a minute. Any suggestions would be great.
    Thanks Jim 

    • Curtis

      Jwshadowking, Hi Jim.  I would check any filter or screen that might be in the line or at the input side of the pump.  It sounds like debris might be restricting water flow to the pump.  I’m guessing the pump builds pressure and shuts off as it should and your only complaint is low water flow.  That’s what tells me you might have a partially plugged screen or filter.    

  • Johnykarla

    Curtis, I have a Shurflo pump that will initially turn on and run fine but after it shuts off, due to it pressuring the lines, it won’t turn back on.   

    • Curtis

      Johnykarla, If you actually have water flowing out the faucet my guess is the pressure switch is faulty.  This link will give you an idea of the price for a new pressure switch.   http://www.westmarine.com/1/1/13982-pump-service-kits-parts-pressure-switch-2088-series.html  In my mind it may be cheaper to just buy a new pump as I’ve seen them on Ebay for around $50.  If this is the first time this season you’ve turned the pump on and you don’t actually have water coming out the faucet make sure you didn’t forget to open a shut off valve from winterizing.  I forgot the shut off between the tank and pump myself this year and was puzzled for a few minutes wondering why I wasn’t getting any water out the faucet.

  • Kay

    our water supply at sinks and shower can be clear and then turn grey to black and back to clear (or it looks clear).  I have had this happen while using the pump and while hook up to outside water.    It will happen while using the hot water as well as cold water.  What is wrong and where should we look for the problem?

    Kay

    • Curtis

      Kay, It sounds like contamination.  I’d flush out your fresh water tank, then purify it with a mix of bleach and water.  If you hooked up to a water supply somewhere that hadn’t been used for a while you might have pumped in some rust or what ever debris.  Once everything is cleaned out the next time you hook up to an unknown water source run the faucet out on the ground or into a bucket to check the quality before you hook it up to your RV.

  • Kj5962

    My water pump runs but the water gets just short of the faucet. What could be the solution?

    • Curtis

      Kj5962, I would guess it’s sucking air.  Be it a cracked or loose fitting, or split water line on the intake side of the pump.  It’s easier to suck air than water.

  • cjasso

    I own a 2009 Keystone Sprinter 264bhs. Pump only runs when turned on. Won’t prime. Water won’t run in a steady stream. Suspecting a cracked pump. Can’t find the access panel to check it out. Any idea on where to find this? Thinking it’s toward the front driver’s side. I appreciate any input!

    • Curtis

      cjasso, Sorry, it’s different for almost every RV.  The best you can do is follow the sound when it’s running.  I’d also check the water line and fittings from the tank to the “In” side of the pump.  It does sound like you’re sucking air someplace.

  • Pugsly41

    We have a flair motorhome1998. First use of the summer, flushed water line filled water tank. The problem we get  hot and cold water in the kitchen sink only. Shower/Bath cold water runs fine hot water trickles. Bathroom hot and cold trickle toilet works fine. Water pump turns on when water turns on and turns off when water off.  Tried leaving faucet on. Thought their might be air in the line but after 20 minute still just trickles. Any suggestions. Could the water pump be going bad and not building up enough pressure to clear the air out of the lines?

    • Curtis

      Pugsly41, I don’t think air in the lines is the problem.  Normally I would go with something blocking a water line feeding those areas that aren’t working properly.  The problem with that theory is in one location both hot and cold are affected.  If you have real good water flow at any one location I tend to rule out the pump.  Be sure all water shut off valves or winter storage drain valves are in the proper position.  You might have one or more lines restricted because of a valve partially closing off flow.  

  • Newberry Donna

    We own a 1992 Ford, fourwinds motorhome. When we turn the pump on, water leaks out on the outside through the city water hookup. My husband has looked everywhere to find the problem. Please help.

    • Curtis

      Donna, The city water port has a check valve built into it.  When it goes bad water comes out that connection.  Replace the city water port and your problem will be solved.  

  • Linda

    Axillary water tank keeps filling up while connected to city water hookup. We have to drain the tank every week. 

    • Curtis

      Linda, By axillary water tank I assume you mean the fresh water tank.  There is a check valve in the city water connection that apparently has failed.  Replacement city water connections are available on line or at any rv dealer.  There simple to install too.

  • R Regnier

    I have a Colemen CT320BS. Do you know where the water pump would be located?
    Thanks Bob R

    • Curtis

      R.Reginer, Sorry, I don’t have information on specific RV’s, just general knowledge of how systems work.  Water pumps can be located under beds, sinks, or other storage areas.  Sometimes they might be hidden behind removable panels, it does take some looking to find them sometimes, especially if they aren’t working and don’t make any noise.

  • Julie

    I have a different problem…The water from my freshwater source is not running.  My pump works fine and I get water from the holding tank.  The water coming from my outside line is not running through my camper. It gets to the connection from the hose to the camper and seems to stop.  The water is on and all lines are open.  Any suggestions?
     

    • Curtis

      Julie, there is a check valve in the city water connection itself.  The valve may be stuck.  It’s easy to remove and replace.

  • Bbennett98

    My water pump in my travel trailer works fine during the day when its warm out, but when the sun goes down and the temp outside cools the pump doesn’t want to turn off

    • Curtis

      Bbennett98, If you mean it runs continuously after the sun goes down, I haven’t a clue.  That’s a strange one.  If you mean it has a tendency to cycle every now and then after the sun goes down probably it’s because you are not using the water say during the night and the pressure has bled off just enough to cycle the pump a second or two.  It may also do it during the day but you just haven’t noticed it.  Either way it’s not unusual and if it bothers you when you’re trying to sleep turn the switch off.

    • Bbennett98

      When the temp outside cools to around 60 or below the pump will not turn off but it doesn’t run wide open as if a fauset is on. From mid-morning on after the temp warms up works normal with no cycling off and on or anything else abnormal but as soon as temp cools the same thing happens

      • Curtis

        Bbennett98, The only time the pump can run is when the pressure switch senses a drop in pressure.  Warm or cold should have no bearing on it.  If all faucets and such are turned off and not leaking either there is a leak somewhere or there is an air leak in the suction line coming from the fresh water tank.  If your not leaking water I would check all the fitting on the suction line coming from the tank.  There might be a small air that allows air to get in that might seal itself up when the heat of the day expands it.

  • Kelly

    Curtis, We have a Winnebago Class C with a Surflow water pump. This spring when we took it out and filled the tank, the pump ran for about 5 minutes, then it stopped and would not kick back on. Is there a reset button or a breaker somewhere for the pump?

  • Curtis

    Kelly, This Spring… Still the middle of winter up here in the great white north.  Anyhow, your pump is protected by a fuse as it is 12volts DC. Only 110v AC items rate a circuit breaker.  That said I think it is more likely that you have a water line shut off preventing water from making it to the faucets.  A common error when bringing an RV out of storage.  I did the same thing by forgetting to open the shutoff valve between the fresh water tank and the pump.  It’s possible it just built up pressure and shut off but until you open the valve it won’t release the pressure so it will turn on again.

  • Mjonesharp

    I have a Winnebago Adventurer and I jsut replaced the old pump because (with the old pump) it was continuously running but not a lot of water was coming out of the faucets.  The new pump is doing the same thing.  I have checked everything but am stuck.  Any suggestions

  • Curtis

    Mjonesharp, I think you have a cracked fitting or split water line between the fresh water tank and the pump.  It’s sucking air, that’s why it keeps running.  It’s can’t build up pressure properly.

  • Curtis

    Joe, I’m not personally familiar with your pump but I looked it up on the internet.  Only 2 things can make your pump hot as I see it.  Wrong, or backwards voltage and possibly it is running continuously and not building enough pressure to shut off.  It’s a 12VDC pump so when hooked to shore power it still runs off the converter which puts out 12VDC.  When running off the battery it should make no difference, unless you had your battery removed for the winter and upon reinstalling it you hooked it up backwards.  Of course if you did that it is likely many other things are toast as well.  

  • Tim Anderson

    I have a 2012 Sabre, Shurflo water pump. I filled the tank and turn the pump on and I get water for a couple minute with no pressure and all I get is air. I turn on the hot water and I get air. I have bled the air off by using the popoff valve and turn the faucet on again and get nothing. I have worked on it all weekend and cannot get any water pressure….just get air.

    • Curtis

      Tim,  Pop off valve?  I’m not understanding what you mean by pop off valve.  Shurflo pumps are self priming.  If there is water in the tank, and no damaged water lines or fittings from not being properly drained before winter storage, it will prime itself, build up pressure, and shut off.  If this isn’t happening first make sure you haven’t closed a water valve preventing water from getting to the pump.  The next step is to check for ice damage between the tank and the pump.  If there is a crack it will suck air, not water.  The last possibility is the pump itself is damaged, possibly due to water left in it over the winter.

  • Osmechanic

    I have a 2011 shamrock hybrid camper,last year the water pump worked fine & i drained the tank using the pump,not much water was in it. And this year the pump wont pump water,tank is full filter is clean and i dont see any leaks. water works fine hooked up to city connection ,any ideas ? No valves have been touched as i dont have to winterize being in the deep south.

    • Curtis

      Osmechanic, Even the Deep South occasionally drops below 32 degrees.  All it takes is one night where it unexpectedly drops into the teens and bingo the small amount of water that remained in the pump causes it to freeze and crack.  I’d check the pump fittings for cracks if the pump runs but doesn’t move water.  Next step would be changing out the pump.  Next year I’d hook an air compressor to your city water port and blow out the water lines.

      • Osmechanic

        I am going to check the fittins but as for freezing i doubt it,we havent had a winter at all here ,which means we are gonna have one hell of a summer … Hopefully no more katrinas ..

  • Eric

    i have a 2010 dutchmen and everytime i turn the water pump switch on it blows a fuse?  Help please!

    • Curtis

      Eric, The first step is to determine if the problem is the pump or the wiring.  Disconnect the positive wire at the pump.  Install a new fuse and flip the switch on.  If the fuse still blows you have a short in the wiring or a bad switch.  If the fuse doesn’t blow check for voltage where you disconnect the wire.  (not on the pump, but at the wire coming from the fuse). If you have power the problem is the pump which is likely not repairable.  Order a new on amazon.com, a heck of a lot cheaper than from an RV dealer.

  • Mike

    Sounds like the kind of guy i should ask this question:  Did the anti-freeze job last fall, and undid it last month.  Everything seems fine – but – we notice the water pump, which was a zippy quick little thing last summer, is now slower, takes a long time to get up to pressure, and runs pup pup pup pup as quiet as a mouse.  Unlike last season when sounded like a good sized woodpecker.  Could I have air in the lines somewhere, or, would that even make a difference.

    I appreciate finding you on line here.  Thanks for your experienced opi9nion, if you’re willing.

    Yours, Mike

    • Curtis

      Mike, If you’re running off the battery it may have a low charge.  Another possibility. if there is an inline filter between the tank and the pump it may be partially plugged.  Does the pump have a good ground?   Air in the lines wouldn’t be an issue as long as there are no cracked fittings where it could be sucking in air.   The pump is self bleeding.  It concerns me that it sounds quieter, but make sure all shut off valves are in the correct position before you assume the pump is faulty.

  • madsal

    Curtis,
    I have a problem that seems similair to what other people have posted.  I have a 2007 Weekend Warrior with a shurflo water pump.  My problem is the pump will not shutoff and the water pressure is dismal at best.  It nevers gets or stays strong.  The pump will run strong and loud (normal loud) and its obviously building pressue.  Eventually, the pump quiets down to a low hum but never shuts off.  The water pressure is some what strong initially but quickly dies off and its always sputtering, like thier is air in system.  I’ve put a guage on the outlet of the pump and it shoots up to 50 psi quickly and shuts off (like it supposed to).  I’ve inspected every water line and fixture I can and I can find absolutley no evidence of water leakage.  RV place said to replace air gap in hot water tank, followed thier instructions…no change.  Any help would be great.

    Thanks

  • Curtis

    madsal, “Air Gap”, that’s a new one on me, never heard of it before.  RV water heaters are suppose to be full of water, no air at all.  Your pump has a built in pressure switch.  If it can’t build up pressure, by sucking in air through either a cracked fitting or line, it won’t shut off.  The other option is there is a water leak somewhere allowing pressure to bleed off.  The last possibility is the pump is damaged and needs to be replaced.  A replacement pump can be had on Ebay or Amazon.com for around $60.

  • 1985anderson

    Does anyone know why our motorhome water pump Caughes air when running? When the water is hooked up directly to the spicket , this is not happening…just when the water pump is working.

    • Curtis

      1985anderson, Some how air is being sucked in by the pump.  Possibly you have a loose or cracked fitting somewhere between the tank and the in port of the water pump.

  • Mejc99

    After filling my fresh water tank and turning on the pump.  Water is pumping out the external city watter connection.  I have no internal pressure at the sinks or shower.  any ideas?

  • Curtis

    Mejc99, Yes, the check valve that is part of the city water connection has failed.  Replacing the city water connection is a simple do-it-yourself project.  This link will take you to a variety of replacement connections    http://tiny.cc/7sx0ew

  • Tom R.

    I have an ’05 Aerolite Dutchman. I summarized my camping
    trailer this spring and pump system was fine. On out 1st trip out I mistakenly
    left the pump switch on and while draining the fresh water tank. Once we
    reached our destination about an hour away, I realized I had left the pump on.  I then turned off pump until I filled the
    water tank. Once filled, I turned pump on and pump ran for a minute or two and
    then shut down. (as usual)  From there on after when using water, the pump
    will not kick on unless I use a large amount of water. (it used to kick on as
    soon as facet was open)  Now with the
    pump off, I still have great pressure for almost 2 to 2 1/2 minutes.  I always thought the pump was on a demand
    system.  Previously when I turn on the
    facet the pump would kick on, but once you shut the facet off the pump would
    run for a second or two, and then shut down.  Now it seems like it has a bladder tank.  But to the best of my knowledge, I do not have
    that kind of system.   FYI – I have a
    SHURflo pump.  Any ideas?  Thanks.

    • Curtis

      Tom R.,  I can’t tell from here but they do make bladder tanks for RVs as an add on so the pump doesn’t run every time you want a cup of water.  What’s strange is before the pump did cycle for small amounts.   My only thought is maybe you just didn’t notice that the pump didn’t come on for small amounts but now that you thought you may have damaged something you became aware of it.  I guess the key is if you still have good pressure you can’t fix what ain’t broke.

  • Shop_dog_down

    I have a 1996 westport 5th wheel that when I use the A/C and it is running I can’t use any of the lights because it shuts off my A/C any suggestions?

    • Curtis

      Shop_dog_down, I’m betting you don’t have enough power.  If you are using a generator it may be too small, not enough watts.  If you’re plugged into house power and using a cord longer than the one attached to your RV you will have a voltage drop?  Even if you’re using only the existing power cord, if you are running it through a electrical plug adapter that allows you to plug into a house style outlet you are reducing the amount of power to the RV.  House wiring and outlets are rated at 20 amps.  RV outlets, when wired properly, are rated for either 30 amps or 50 amps, depending on the needs of your RV.  Any extension cords you may be using must be larger in wiring gauge than the original RV cord or you will have low voltage for sure.  Your AC is trying to save it self from burnout but sooner or later you will fry it by not making sure you have a good supply of 110VAC with adequate wattage as your power source. 

  • Slingshot27

     any ideas?

    • Curtis

      Slingshot27, I’d check for trash at the inlet side of the pump.  Sometimes bits of plastic left from manufacturing can find their way to the pump and plug things up.

  • cindy

    I filled the fresh water tank. I turned the pump on. I got some water then it stops. The pump is still running. I got all the air out still all i get is a little bit of water. What am i doing wrong?

    • Curtis

      Cindy, I’d look for something plugging the water line between the tank and the pump.  Could be bits of plastic or something that was floating around since the RV was built got into the suction line and is either plugging it from inside the tank or more likely bits and pieces are plugging it right at the water pump.

  • http://profile.yahoo.com/TU4BYDCGMOSCWTUX5V5WLQV2G4 Breeze

    I filled fresh water tank. Turned on pump. All it does is spit and spudder like it has nothing but air in the lines.

  • Curtis

    Breeze, If it’s the first time out for the season make sure you have all the water shut off valves open.  Make sure you have a good flow of water coming to the pump.  If the pump must lift water from a tank mounted lower than the pump you may be sucking air through a cracked fitting somewhere.  The last possibility is the pump is bad and needs to be replaced.

  • Towod

    I have an older 1984 taurus that I am referbing, I had a broken water line and the hot water tank has a huge hole in the bottom. I have bypassed the hot water tank and replaced the broken line. The water pump does work and I get good pressure everywhere but when i quit running water the pump will cycle on and off every few seconds with no wate running. I have looked for more leaks and checked all of the connections and have replaced the filler hose, vent tube and pickup lines up to the pump.

    any ideas as to why the pump would continue to cycle?

    Thanks

    • Curtis

      Towod,  If it is cycling every few seconds it is either leaking back within itself bleeding off the pressure or there is still an undetected leak.  Possibly the toilet is letting water accumulate in the bowl slowly.  If your waste tanks aren’t filling up and no water is found leaking anywhere in or under the RV the pump may be the culprit.

  • Wallbanger440

     My 92 allegro bay m-home fills the fresh water tank to over flowing and comes out the filler!  when hooked up city water!

    • Curtis

      Wallbanger440, the check valve in the city water connection has failed.  You need to replace the city water connection, a cheap and easy do-it-yourself project.  Here’s a link to a variety of styles:     http://tiny.cc/5b3ofw

  • Keegan

    Our 5th wheel is connected to a water supply.  Cold water flows from the cold water faucets but water does not flow from the hot water faucets.  2 valves on the back of the hot water heater are in correct position to have hot water but nothing comes through the faucets.  Water heater is full of water.

  • Curtis

    Keegan, Are there only 2 valves, or is there a third one between the two.  Most bypass systems have 2 valves to stop water from going into the water heater and a third valve to allow water into the rest of the RV.  Here’s a link showing all three valves and how they operate.  
    http://cunninghamcampers.com/parts/?p=4711

  • Ann

    Can you tell me if you run a water pump and have attached pressurized water at the same time will that damage the water pump?  I hear the water pump constantly humming when it is turned on

    • Curtis

      Ann, Your suppose to leave the electric water pump off when using city water.  It might cause damage, I don’t know for sure as I’ve always left it off.

  • Lthomas425

    I have a 2009 Weekend Warrior LE3505.  My hot water heater isn’t heating up the water.  It turns on and I see a flame and the gas is blowing but the water doesn’t get hot.  Any ideas?

    • Curtis

      Lthomas425, If you are seeing the large burner flame, not just a pilot flame, you have a very dangerous situation.  Most likely the water heater bypass valves are in the bypass position and there is no water in the water heater.  Loosen the drain plug for the water heater and verify there is water in it before you go any further or you risk meltdown of the aluminum tank and a fire.

  • Rcruiser

    I have a 1991 Fleetwood Flair motorhome. I think the water pump is bad, but I can’t find it. Could you tell me wher it might be located?

    • Curtis

      Rcruiser, I can give you some ideas but every RV is different so I have no way of knowing for sure.  Often they are mounted near the fresh water tank.  Mine is accessed through a rear basement storage compartment.  You can assume it is mounted at the same or lower level than the water tank so that water will automatically prime the pump.  Sometimes it’s inside a kitchen cabinet, or maybe a bathroom cabinet.  It’s should be somewhere that plumbing is going to be between the water tank and any of the fixtures that use water.

  • Rcruiser

    I’m having trouble getting water to the faucets, and I don’t hear the pump running. Could you tell me where the pump is located on a 1991 Fleetwood Flair motorhome?

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1608832211 Richard Ackerman

    Curtis is there a check valve in the tank.. it seems the water pump will not prime or loses its prime over time.

    • Curtis Carper

      Richard, No the tank doesn’t have a check valve. The only check valve in the water system is part of the city water connection. If it fails water will come out the city water port when you turn the pump on.

  • wrongwayrver

    Good reading here!!
    I installed a accumulator tank last year and I am attemping to reset the pressures. I drained the system and set the A-tank to 10psi, I ran the pump to full pressure meassured psi at the tank it read 55psi assume cut out 45lbs (2088 pump) then i drained the the system until the pump kicked in then shut pump off and closed tap. Tank pressure read 45psi now I am assuming pump cut in is 35 psi so i set tank pressure 3 psi below cut in. Question is 35 psi to high for pump cut in? second I am getting spurting or puttering of the pump just before it cuts out

    • Curtis

      Wrongwayrver, Resetting pressures? Sorry, that’s something I’ve never had the need to address. Accumulator tanks provide a cushion of air to allow small amounts of water to be used without the pump immediately running. Should be no reason to mess with pump pressure as I see it. As to the question 35psi cut in pressure seems a bit high to me since most water system regulators (on the hose at the faucet) are set around 40 psi.

  • Wes

    We just bought a used 1972 Wilderness travel trailer and we can’t get the water to work.
    The pump is on and it blows a little water and a lot of air. The pump continues to run.
    Also where can we locate the 12 volt electrical panel. We can’t seem to find it anywhere.
    Thanks

    • Curtis

      Wes, Have you verified that water is available at the pump for it to pump? It sounds like it’s pumping air. Have you let it run long enough to fill the water heater? It will push air until the water heater is filled too. A lot of times the electrical panel is located on the side of the bed. I had a Wilderness travel trailer back in 1976 but I don’t remember that far back. Seems there was a panel near the floor in the kitchen in that one.

  • Janet

    We have installed 3 water pumps and there is water flowing to the pumps but it still wont pump water…anyone have any suggestions?

    • Curtis

      Janet, Have you been hooking them up with the water flow pointing the right direction? In toward the tank, out toward the plumbing, there may even be an arrow on the pump indicating direction of flow. Another possibility is something plugging the water line coming from the pump.

  • Savage

    I have a 2001 Nomad Ultra Lite travel trailer and I cant find the on off switch for the hot water pump. Can anyone help please

    • Curtis

      Savage, There is no such thing as a hot water pump on an RV. If you mean the Water Heater often the switches are kind of hard to find. They can be mounted under the edge of the counter top, or even almost out of view behind the end of the sofa. If you mean the fresh water pump, they are usually mounted in the hallway on the same panel as the water level monitors.

  • Dot

    rv pump will not hold prime, after about 5 seconds the flow decreases significantly

    • Curtis

      Dot, Three possibilities, either there is a cracked fitting allowing air to get in the line from the tank to the pump or there is debris in the line between the tank and the pump or the pump is not working well enough to maintain water flow.

  • Karen

    Hi Curtis, I bought a 2009 classic cruizer le when I turn on the cold water, hot comes out first and the same thing happens when I flush the toilet. When I turn on the hot water I only get hot water for about a minute than it goes cold. Looked at the valves and there is only two valves and they are both in the on positions what could be the problem.
    Thanks Karen

    • Curtis

      Karen, Look closer, there are 3 valves. The middle one needs to be in the off position or cold water will run into the hot lines.

  • Jim Penner

    I have a 5th wheel 2004 cougar
    hot water wont run threw taps. but all cold water taps work fine
    either when i use holding tank or street water hot wont work

    • Curtis

      Jim Penner, Check the bypass valves for the water heater to make sure one isn’t in the wrong position.

  • Jim Penner

    where do you find this valve in the 5th wheel

    • Curtis

      Jim, If a bypass kit was installed it is located on the back side of the water heater. There are 3 valves. One to shut off the cold water coming in, one to shut off the hot going out, and in the middle between the in and out water lines is the bypass valve which is the one that may be in the open position allowing cold water to go directly to the faucet instead of into the water heater only. WARNING!!! Always make sure the water heater is filled with water before igniting the burner. An empty water heater tank may melt and cause a fire.

  • ashley

    I have a 95 seven seas by Cobra and when filling the tank for fresh water and then trying to use it inside there is no pressure and when we can outside the water was all spilling out. Any ideas of what it could be?

    • Curtis

      ashley, I’m assuming the water is pouring out the city water hook up. If so, there is a check valve built into that water connection and when it fails water will come back out there when you turn the pump on. This link http://tiny.cc/8l35jw will show you a variety of replacements. Which ever one looks similar will do the job for you. It’s a simple do-it-yourself item to replace.

  • Jeff

    Here is another one for you… I’ve got a 2012 Rockwood Roo that has a water pump that had a ‘kink’ in the line, wouldn’t let water get through because the hose had a big bend that stopped water flow. I’m guessing that it may have affected the pump because it’s never really worked right. I cut the hose and put in a different one that won’t kink, but the pump still won’t draw water out of the tank. I’ve eliminated all the other possibilities of problems – if I use my drill pump, it works fine pulling water out. City water hookup – no problem. Even hooked the drill pump up to draw water from the tank, then into the Shurflo pump, then it pressurizes OK. I’m wondering if I have burned out the pump just enough that is still runs, but doesn’t have enough suction to pull water out of the tank?

    • Curtis

      Jeff, It does appear you have eliminated all other possibilities.

  • Ronnie Schnell

    Hi Curtis, I am new to RV’ing and have a 2013 Fleetwood bounder with a Shurflo water pump. When I am on city water it is fine. When I run off the tank it sounds like a jack hammer and goes on and off, and the water stream pulsates as well. I tuned off the city water but almost sounds like it is cavitating or something, not sure. Can you help?

    • Curtis

      Ronni Schnell, The way you word your question leads me to believe you are using city water and running your pump at the same time. You need to turn off the pump if you are using city water. With city water pressure working against the pump you could damage the pump especially if you don’t have a water pressure regulator in the city water line.

  • Guest

    Hi there! I have a 2006 Dutchmen Denali travel trailer. We’ve always camped plugged in. We tried to dry camp last summer and we couldn’t get water out of the fresh tank. The pump turned on for a bit and then cycled off. It would just spit and sputter water but no volume. We found out that we were told incorrectly that we needed to have the pump on when we are hooked up to a water source. Sounds like we have probably burned the pump out? Thanks!

    • Curtis

      Guest, That’s possible. Before you replace the pump double check that you don’t have a shut off valve closed between the pump and the tank.

      • Ryghlet

        Oh thank you..will do that first.

  • Ryghlet

    Hi there! I have a 2006 Dutchmen Denali travel trailer. We’ve always camped plugged in. We tried to dry camp last summer and we couldn’t get water out of the fresh tank. The pump turned on for a bit and then cycled off. It would just spit and sputter water but no volume. We found out that we were told incorrectly that we needed to have the pump on when we are hooked up to a water source. Sounds like we have probably burned the pump out? Thanks!

  • S Bedon

    Hello Curtis, just replaced my water pump today, but the new install is not working right. I turn on the switch and the pump goes on for an instant, spits a little water and then it shuts off, five seconds later it repeats. I have gone over the wiring and it seems right, i have nothing hooked to the out put and a 40 gallon gravity full of water on top of the pump. Tried a couple of different things like hooking up city water, flowed right through the pump, switched polarity on the wires, I hope you can help me! Thanks S

    • Curtis

      S Beldon, Ohhh! I’m concerned you may have done more harm than good. Red wire is positive 12DC and black wire is negative 12VDC. Switching polarity, not a good plan. It must be right the first time or likely it will burn up. The pump’s not designed to have direct pressure city water hooked to it, city water pressure can be as high as 100 psi and will likely damage the pump too. The best I can say is make sure the wiring is correct, make sure you have a supply of water, then if it doesn’t pump you may have damaged it already.

      • S Bedon

        oops failed to mention the pump is 120 v 60 h
        and the city water was just a trickle

        • Curtis

          S Bedon, In that case, sorry but I have no idea what your setup is.
          RV pumps are 12 VDC. Your’s is something I’ve never run across.

  • sarah

    My 2003 coachman catalina will only pump 1/3 of the water in the holding tank then it acts like it is empty but I know it isn’t because I can pull the plug outside and the other 2/3 of the tank will drain out on the ground.

    • Curtis

      Sarah, That’s an interesting problem. If the problem is consistent, meaning always after 1/3 tank it stops pumping water, I can’t think of anything that would cause that. If it’s random, meaning sometimes it pumps 1/3 of the tank and sometimes it pumps less, or more, than maybe there is a piece of plastic floating around in the tank that settles over the suction fitting stopping water flow to the pump. Often during manufacturing such things happen that don’t cause a problem until sometime down the road.

  • Dean Sigman

    My pump runs continually some times after running a faucet it the Rv. But if I run the shower briefly I can hear the pump prime turn off the shower and the pump will shut off. Air leak? Bad pump?

    • Curtis

      Dean, Being that it only does it sometimes I’d lean toward the pressure switch within the pump. Probably easiest to replace the pump.

  • Kenneth

    my pump started running when tank was empty. switch would not turn off. replaced switch but still won’t turn off. it does run ok when tank is full but still won’t turn off checked wiring every thing seems ok but the wires leading to my relay switch has the hot wire and the ground wire but the wire leading from switch
    to the pump is also hot even if it’s not connected could this be a problem with the pump or in the wiring. STUMPED NEED YOUR HELP.

    • Curtis

      Kenneth, I assume we are talking about a 12 VDC pump in an RV. I’ve had one person who was confused about a 110 VAC pump is why I ask. That said, I know of no RV that uses a relay in the water pump circuitry. If it’s properly wired you have the + lead hooked to the red wire at the pump and the -lead hooked to the black wire. The pressure switch inside the pump turns the pump on when a faucet is opened and turns it off when the faucet is closed. Possibly the battery or + lead is always hot and the – or negative wire is the one that goes to the switch on the wall so you can turn the pump on and off. If that’s the case, if that negative wire gets shorted anywhere between the pump and the wall switch, the pump will run. If what I’m saying makes sense to you, tracing the wire won’t be much of a problem for you. More likely what I’m saying is totally Greek to you which means I’m not much help. You may need to find someone who understands automotive electrical work to help you find the problem. There’s not much I can do for you from here.

  • Judy Thompson

    my truck camper spits water every time i turn the faucet on. Is there a cure for this?

    • Curtis

      Judy, If the water tank is full and you’ve made sure any shutoff valve between the tank and pump is open, then it’s time to make sure you don’t have an air leak between the tank and the pump. Next it’s time to make sure any inline filter either separate from the pump or internally part of the pump isn’t plugged. If you’ve gotten this far without finding the problem there is a good possibility the pump has failed.

  • guest

    Curtis, I have an 08 Coachmen Wyoming and when hooked up to city water pressure, with the pump off, when flushing the toilet or using the sink, you can hear the pump come on as if it is turned on, but according to my monitor panel, we are not using any of the water in my fresh water tank. I’m not sure if its actually the pump that I am hearing turn on, but its in the same area and sounds just like it. I’ve had this problem for about 3 years now, any suggestions?

    • Curtis

      Guest, I guess the best thing to do would be to check for voltage at the pump when the switch is turned off. If there is no voltage at the pump when you flush the toilet the pump isn’t making the noise. Beyond confirming the pump isn’t the cause, I have no idea what it could be.

  • Victoria

    Curtis, I have a 2004 Aljo camper and well when we first moved into the camper a 6 months t
    he water worked just fine, yesterday the water just stopped coming on. I have no idea whats going on, could you please help!

    • Curtis

      Victoria, I need way more information to help you…Does the water work using city water? Does it work using the 12 volt pump? Do you hear the pump running? If not, have you checked for 12 Volts at the pump when the switch is on?

  • David Bain

    First, thank you for this resource When I turn on the water pump in my RV, it will run with little to no water. When I disconnect the fitting, just after the pump, I find some water. I re tighten the fitting, then I can hear the pump working harder, and finally up to pressure and off.I seem to always have to go through this drill to get normal operation. The pump should be self priming, Right? .

    • Curtis

      David, Yes the pump should be self priming. You may have a small leak on the inlet side of the pump causing it to suck air. I’d check all the fittings on that side of the pump first. Also age of the pump may be a factor too. The valves inside the pump may be leaking and need a little help to get the prime going.

      • David Bain

        I thank you again. After I check for leaks before the pump, would it be feasible to remove the cover from the pump to look for trouble?

        • Curtis

          David, Sure, you might find debri in the pump that is keeping it from priming properly. Rebuilding a pump is hardly worth the effort, a new pump can be had on line for less than $75.

          • David Bain

            Ultimately, it was the pump. Mfg. date 7/81. Mine went this long without a strainer inline. Do you think I should bother?

          • Curtis

            David, With 33 yrs of service I sure wouldn’t loose any sleep over it.

  • waltkaiser

    I have a peculiar problem with my pump. I has worked perfectly for 6 years now. Recently it became a “run on ” pump. We boondocks a lot so the pump gets used a lot. When my batteries are above 13 true pump operates correctly, when the ten is running it operates correctly, BUT when the ten is not running and batteries are below 13 it runs on and on and on . Where should I start looking.

    • Curtis

      Waltkaiser, Interesting problem. My only idea is that with low voltage it just can’t operate efficiently (fast) enough to build up sufficient pressure to shut off. If, when using the Generator, it shuts off and doesn’t cycle occasionally I tend to rule out an air leak on the suction line. I guess the pump is just showing wear. If it continues to be an issue for you replacing the pump is about the only suggestion I can give.

    • waltkaiser

      Curtis, thanks for the quick reply, have decided to replace the pump.