RV Water Pump Problems & Solutions

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RV water pumps are usually pretty trouble-free.

One of the most important things you can do as an RV owner is to drain your RV water pump each winter before storing it for the season.  Winterizing your RV’s water system will go a long way toward preventing any problems from occurring next spring.

Fortunately, if your RV water pump does fail, diagnosing water pump problems is fairly straightforward.

Here are some common RV water pump problems:

  • If your pump makes a lot of noise, here’s how to quiet a noisy RV water pump. (More tips here and here.)
  • If water starts running out onto the floor as soon as you turn on the pump, then you might have a burst water line instead. That’s just one of many possible problems you could face if you don’t get all the water out of your system before the freezing temps hit this winter.
  • If you’re wondering whether you need to run the RV water pump when using city water, the answer is NO.  You do not need to run your pump when hooked to another water source.  It’s used to pump water out of your RV’s fresh water holding tank when you are not hooked up to city water.

Need to replace your RV water pump? Here’s how to do it in an older RV:



I’ve been involved in RVing for over 50 years — including camping, building, repairing, and even selling RVs and motorhomes. 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, 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. To date, I've shared my RV knowledge in over 300 articles here at The Fun Times Guide! Many of them have over 25K shares.

62 thoughts on “RV Water Pump Problems & Solutions

  1. Hi,Im pretty handy,very mechanical,been boating,and rv world for 35 years.I just hooked up a new pump,it  it goes on,builds up pressure,stops,but every 10 seconds  it goes on real slow for a few seconds.I have no leaks,very good pressure and its a brand new 6.9 gpm pump.What can be causing this?

  2. Ken, If it only pulsed once or twice an hour I would consider that normal.  No leaks is a relative thing, you may not see any water leaking but if there is the slightest air leak the pump may be loosing pressure enough to cycle the pump.  Check the fittings and lines between the tank and the “in” side of the pump.  Also don’t forget the city water hook up.  There is a check valve behind the hose connection that may be leaking water out that hose connection.  

  3. I installed a new water pump.  The motor works but it still won’t pump water.  What do you suggest I try now?

    1. Dcolson709, From here the best I can say is verify you have water at the “in” side of the pump.  If water is present and the pump is hooked up in the correct direction it should work.  

      1. we just developed a similar problem, only with a pump already installed. when we filled our tank the last time and tried to use the water without being hooked to city water. We can hear the pump working but no water comes out. Never had this problem before.

        1. If you hear the pump running either there is no water available for it to pump which could be caused by a valve between the tank and the pump being closed or debris blocking the water supply. Make sure water is actually available at the pump.

  4. My pump run for a few seconds about every 20 to 30 minutes. I’ve checked all my connections and everything is dry. What’s the odds that the check valve went in the pump. My camper is 2 years old.

    1. Rob, That’s pretty much normal operation. At least every RV I’ve ever had does that and I’ve owned about 30 of them. If the occasional cycling bothers you during the night, turn the pump off. For the most part I tend to leave the pump turned off during periods I’m not using it.

      1. Sorry, but I do not think this is a pretty normal operation.
        a) There could be a thiny leak, maybe even underneath the RV, or just a dropping water faucet
        b) The pump itself could have a problem
        c) There could be air in the system that gets pressurized.

        There are many options. But it is not a normal condition.

  5. Hello. I have a question: I am hooked up to the City water and the water pump is off. Our fresh water was only filled to 1/3. I noticed water coming from our fresh water fill outside of the RV and also other water dripping from various outlets outside. Upon further investigation we found that our fresh water tank was not only full, but OVERFLOWING. How did this happen? Is there a fix for this?

    1. Tara, The city water port on your RV has a check valve built into it that prevents water from going into your fresh water tank when you are hooked to city water. You can get a new (RV city water hookup) on Amazon.com or at any RV dealer. It’s an easy DIY change out and the part won’t cost you much either.

      1. I am assuming that this is the hookup outside…? How does this prevent water from back-flowing through the pump, filling the tank… I’m having the same problem… I am thinking that this check valve must be on the pump… Thanks for the help.

        1. Jack, understood the two ports are on opposite sides, but if the check valve that is part of the city water port is faulty the water will track backwards through the pump into the fresh water tank when you hook up to city water. Trust me, that’s how it works.

          1. Thanks, Curtis. I found some stuff in the check valve allowing back flow. In my case, that valve is in the pump head. Tested and working… Thanks, again…

  6. My RV water pump works for a few seconds then changes pitch for a few seconds. when it changes pitch the discharge line shakes and bounces around making a lot of noise. No problem with the flow of water though, just the noise. This happens with all taps in the trailer but not with a continuous flush in the toilet, only then does the pump run smoothly.

    1. Jay, Is this a change from it’s past operation, or has it always worked that way? Assuming it’s not something new the only idea I can think of is that when the faucets are opened water flow isn’t as high as when the toilet is flushed. The restriction could make the pump sound different but I doubt it would make any difference in the life of the pump. If it’s a new issue check the mounting of the pump. If it’s loose and allowed to move around that might increase the noise level. If the pump’s going south, you’ll know it when the water stops running. I can’t think of anything you could do to the pump to improve the situation since water flow is unchanged. If there’s a filter at the pump I’d clean it to make sure there’s no unusual restriction from debris in the line.

    1. Frank, disconnect the wires right at the pump. Turn the breaker back on..Though most 12 Volt things are fused, and not protected by a breaker. If the breaker holds, the problem is the pump. Replace it. If the breaker pops, the problem is in the wiring someplace.

  7. I plugged my city water connection in and turned on the water. I found water running from a black box on the backside of the hot water heater mounted just below the insulation. What is the black box?

    1. Cory, Hard to say for sure, but if it’s part of the water heater it may be the temperature sensors that turn the burner on and off. Either way looks like you have a problem that will require removing the water heater. You can probably find a parts breakdown on line using the make and model numbers in your search.

      1. Thank you for the reply. I was able to pull it and found that the storage tank was cracked wide open. I guess for over 8 years old, this is the first issue that I’ve had, I can’t complain. Now to search for a replacement.

        1. Cory, if the tank was split you can pretty much count on the fact that it was put up last fall without the tank being drained and the first cold snap froze and split the tank.

  8. Curtis, I have 2004 Shasta RV. I only use city water and for some reason this spring I have zero water pressure out of any faucets and toilet. I never use the water pump or FH holding tank because we have a city water hookup. I have replaced the check valve on my water heater and did not fix anything. Any help would be appreciated.

    1. Bill, It sounds like the pressure switch part of the pump has failed. I don’t know if you can get parts but I’d recommend replacing the pump. About $60 on eBay.

  9. When my fresh water tank is full(30 gal.) the water pump works fine…but it begins to pump like the tank is empty when I still have a third of a tank left (10 gallons ) whats up?

    1. Scott, That’s a strange one but I’ll take a guess. What elevation is your pump in relation to your water tank? If it’s under a cabinet and the full water level in the tank is higher than the pump, it will be primed just by filling the tank. When the tank gets pumped down to a certain point where the water level drops below the pump your pump stops pumping as well as it should. If your pump is unable to maintain a prime and draw water from a lower level it is probably failing.

  10. hi Curtis
    we are on city water with a regulator on at the tap end and the pump switch for pump is off
    when we turn a tap on or flush we have a loud noise (which is gotten steadily worse) and when we do it the noise is coming from the pump we tried taking out the fuses to see if it would stop but no

    1. I’m afraid you have me totally stumped. I have no idea how a pump without power can make noise when you open a faucet using city water

      1. That is exactly what it is doing, it is bizarre
        Have had a second person look at it to verify what we are finding and he is baffled
        Could the pressure from the city water be to high for the regulator that may be causing it to maybe just causing the noise , the pump is very close to the city In take , also close to battery
        This is a 2002 wild cat by Forest river 27 foot 5 th wheel
        Can forward pics

        1. I’m afraid that without actually hearing it myself I have no idea what to even guess it is. If the pump still functions properly when city water is not being used, I am absolutely clueless what would be making the noise.

  11. Hello i jist got a 89 bounder and cant figure out why is it that im connected to a water source and have the bypass valve to fill the fresh water tank but the tank keeps getting full and im not gonna use it i just want to use the city connection could the water be bypassing somehow the water pump and going back into the tank could i be missing a valve i cant figure it out

  12. So I have a 1990 winniebago and everytime I turn on the water pump the generator dies. But if you turn the ignition switch on it works normally.

        1. It sounds like you have a bad short somewhere but I don’t know where to suggest that it is. Too many things involved for me to give you any real Direction over the internet. Best I can suggest is tracing the power, or should I say the lack of power back towards the battery from the components that don’t work

  13. One comment, The son-in-law used the trailer and completely drained the water tank. The pump would run but not pump, even after filling the tank. Hooked the faucet (pressured) up flushed all the air out of the lines. That primed the pump enough to then work off of the tank. Without doing this you could think the pump was bad and needed replacement. Just a heads up.

  14. Great article.. I didn’t see the issue with mine however. I overflowed the fresh water tank for about 15 minutes and water was gushing out of the escape valve, but that’s too small to alleviate all that water pressure so there is some kind of pressure valve near the water tank that prevents all that extra water pressure from reaching the water pump and automatically cuts off the supply? Problem if this is correct is that valve is under flooring and I would have to cut the flooring to reach and open it? I confirmed the pump works with outside water source and no water is currently going to the water pump after I over flowed the fresh water tank… your thought, thanks

    1. no there is no check valve to prevent excessive pressure from getting to the pump. In some instances there is a shut off valve in the line going between the water tank and the pump. If that valve is shut no water would get to the pump. If you have not created a leak from the excessive pressure you probably have not done any damage. I would be more inclined to believe you have a shut off valve turned the wrong way stopping water from flowing from the tank to the pump. The other possibility is there maybe a filter in line between the tank and the pump most likely right at the pump that may have been damaged from the pressure and is not allowing water to pass.

      1. Thanks and yes, that’s what I meant, a shut off valve. Do these activate by themselves? I didn’t touch anything on it, just the over flow with my garden hose to the freshwater tank which likely activates it? I don’t see any access to this shut off valve since it would be under the flooring about 2-3 feet from the pump, is that typical.. thanks

        1. If there is a shut off valve it will be visable. If there was any debris in the water tank like piece of plastic from Manufacturing it may have plugged the output of the tank. If you can blow compressed air back into the tank through the water line at the pump it might clear the line.

  15. While winterizing my 1999 Dodge Roadtrek last winter, I accidentally displaced the check valve at the water fill intake when I depressed it too hard. It spewed water and then the antifreeze came through so I knew it had been winterized at least. When I went to de-winterize, I think I was able to reseat the check valve with a blast of water (not too hard, but hard enough) from my garden hose. When I turn the pump on now, it is not spewing water out of my water fill intake and the water is coming out of my faucets. All good, right? My question is this: Before I winterized last winter, when I would go to turn the pump on, it would always make a brief pumping noise (like for a second) and then shut right off. Then it would come back on and pump when I turned faucets on. But now, since I reseated the check valve (I think), when I go to turn the pump on, it makes no noise at all. It comes on and pumps when I turn the faucets on, but it makes no initial sound at all when I turn the pump switch on. Is this good, bad, or indifferent?

  16. okay I have a problem, we winterized our 5th wheel last fall and knew we needed a new pump so we have just installed it and after filling the fresh holding tanks all we are getting is air and a bit of water flowing out of our hot and cold taps. we connected to the direct water intake from our house and have no problems, but as soon as we disconnect and try using our pumping system we lose all pressure, it is a brand new pump, so it brings us to think it is a problem between the fresh water tanks and the pump. any ideas out there as to what to trouble shoot next?

    1. There might be a shut off valve between the fresh water tank And the pump That is shut off During winterizing so you can pump antifreeze through the system .Maybe that valve is not open all the way . Maybe there is debri in the tank that is blocking the Line going to the pump .If there is a filter on the intake side of the pump maybe that is plugged. If there is a leak between the pump and the fresh tank the pump Will suck air instead of water .

      1. okay thank you for your input hopefully that is the answer, i will update when we have the problem sloved

  17. Wonder if you have some answer for my problem.
    My 2002 Jayco Eagle TT pump switch On/Off on the wall is mulfunction. Light is always ‘ON’ either OFF on ON position and pumps would not run.
    – my battery is new
    – LPG is full of gas and open and pointing to the full tank.
    – Portable tank is full of water (city hose is not used)
    – Fuses are ok.

    I’m not sure if pump is bad. Need to fix the master switch first.

    1. I have to assume you have just bought your first RV and can’t figure it out because your question just doesn’t make any sense.
      Your water pump has a switch of it’s own. If the pump is working you will hear it run when you open a faucet or for at least a few seconds when you turn on the switch. This has nothing to do with hot water, and therefore would have nothing to do with your LPG tank being turned on, either full or empty.
      The water heater has a separate switch of it’s own as well. When turned on a small red light (in some cases) will come on, then go out indicating the flame has been established. As long as there is water in the water heater tank you are fine and it will heat the water. If by some chance there are by-pass valves on your water heater the tank may be empty and you are in great danger of burning your RV to the ground as the heat from the flame may melt the aluminum tank and go on to ignite your RV on fire.
      That said, if indeed you are completely new to RV ownership I strongly suggest you take your RV to a legitimate RV dealership and have them show you how to operate the different systems. Bring a note pad, take lots of notes, and accept that it is better to pay someone to show you how than to do damage because you can’t figure it out.

      1. Thanks Curtis for quick reply. I appreciate your response.
        Yes I’m new of owning the Rv, did not get an overview from previous seller. And I just trust him, because he is friend of one of my neighbor, now after few months, if I have question, he seldom call me back for answering my questions.

        Btw water heater seems not working either, don’t know if it need pilot light on or what when I test it with city water connected.
        I saw 2 switches on water heater.
        One red one is next to pump (which red light always on on ON or Off position) which I think it’s an issue.
        The other one is by itself on the kitchen wall also.

        I might need to get Jayco prof service or inspection.
        I’m leaning on your discussion.
        Thank you!

      1. I should thank you. It was the process of typing in the question that answered it. I had no pressure after the pump came on about 20 seconds. Was the tap open when I turned it on, or off? I couldn’t remember and tried opening and closing the tap while the pump was on. It somehow helped it self-prime and build pressure, forcing air out of the lines. A reminder to me that formulating the question in writing can be of help in itself.

        1. That’s true. But also it sounds like you had an air lock that was relieved by opening a faucet allowing it to prime. A common situation that will likely happen again.

          1. Thanks. I think you solved my problem, too. Blew out the lines with air, switched to antifreeze, but it wouldn’t pump, as if pump wouldn’t prime. Suspect I needed to open a faucet.

  18. We have a 2012 Salem Travel Trailer. We did not winterize it properly and the filter casing (clear plastic that holds the wire filter before water enters the pump) burst. I replaced that part and the pump worked great from the holding tank and we winterized the lines. Just hooked up to city water at the RV park and noticed that water was backfilling through the pump into the storage tank. There are no shut off valves between the main cold water line and the pump. We turned off the city water and tried the pump from water tank and it worked well. Is there some kind check valve that should prevent water from flowing backwards through the pump?

    1. The city water port itself has a check valve built into it. I had the same issue with my two-year-old travel trailer. After boon docking for many months I moved into an RV park. In my case I believe it was mineral or sediment build-up that allowed water to slowly bleed into the freshwater tank. My solution was to remove the drain cap and empty the freshwater tank and leave the cap off. After a few days the check valve seated itself properly and city water stopped going into this freshwater tank.

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