3 Rivet Member
2013 30' Flying Cloud
Join Date: Sep 2012
I finally found the water leak
After I figured the refrigerator was not the cause of my water leak, I next set my sights on the water heater as a potential cause. I restored the air pocket in the hot water heater, thinking that excess water pressure could cause a water leak. After one day, I thought maybe that had done the trick, as the amount of water was reduced but not eliminated. After a 400 mile drive to Erie, Pennsylvania and a night at Uncle John’s campground, it became apparent that my water leak was still 100% with me. In the morning I discovered quite a bit of water, more than the previous days, but now it was next to the toilet. We keep a pop-up garbage bin there, and it was sitting in water and had absorbed water a few inches up the fabric of the garbage bin. So there was more water, and it was in a new location about 5 feet from where I had found water in the previous days near the dinette. But the timing was the same – I always found the puddles in the morning.
It was beginning to dawn on me that my water leak was not related to the fridge, and not related to the water heater. Somewhere I had a leak in my plumbing, and where the water would show up depended on the leveling of my campsite. If I was slightly nose down, water flowed to dinette. If I was slightly nose up, water flowed next to the toilet. And strangely sometimes I had no water, so I wondered where it was going on those days.
We arrived home the next day, and I parked the AS next to the house. The next morning, I tried to replicate my normal camp morning. Make coffee. Open fridge. Turn on hot water heater. Look for water. Nothing – dinette is dry. Flooring around toilet is dry. I had put down paper towel all over the floor, and it was all dry. Where was my water leak?
I did not relish the idea of taking this to a dealer or even Airstream for repair. Two or three hours, each direction, perhaps for a drop off and a pick up. So even though I had no idea what to do next, I figured I could spend 8 hours looking for the leak, and I would be no worse off. I grabbed a screwdriver and took the dinette apart to get a better look at the hot water heater. It looked fine, as did all of the values, connections, and pipes I could see. I looked at the water pump on the other side of the trailer, which seemed far from my water leaks, but I looked there anyways. It looked fine. Where else to look??? In the small area under the bathroom sink, I could stick my head under the drain and a little ways into the cut out. Oh, I see 4 pipes with screw-by-hand connections. And what do I see if I look at the black plastic along the edge of the trailer? Is that water? Yes it is – a puddle of water. I wonder if any of these 4 screw-by-hand connections could be loose. I try the two that go to the outside shower – each turns about a quarter turn. Is that enough to cause a leak? I try the next one – it is the sewer flush connection – it is tight already. I try the last one – this is the city water intake. It is loose and I can turn it a full revolution before it is tight. Wow, maybe that was the source? I mop up the water as best I can with paper towel. Get it all dry in there. Then I have regret that in all of my excitement, I had tightened all of the connections, and I never really saw where the leak was.
My regret was short lived.
As I examined my situation, hoping the leak was solved, I looked for some time at the city water intake, since it was the most loose of all of the 4 connections. It is still leaking. Drip, Drip, Drip. It is dripping a drop a second. So this is the water leak, along the edge of the trailer, and the water flows depending on the trailer leveling. And if I am street-side down, like I am in my driveway, maybe the water finds an exit from the trailer? But if the connection is tight, why is it still leaking before my very eyes? What, did they not use plumbers tape? I undo the connection entirely, then go outside and remove the entire city water connection. No plumbers tape. I wrap the threads with plumbers tape, reinstall the city water connection. And there is no more leak.
I am not a plumber, but is this a connection that should have plumbers tape? Seems like it to me – a plastic screw connection with water running through it.
Note that when I use the city water connection, I use a water pressure regulator. And in all of my leaks this past week or 2, I was not connected to city water. All of this time I was using the fresh water tank and water pump. But I guess this is still part of the plumbing system, and a leak here will leak as long as there is pressure in the system.
The not-so funny part of this story is that this city water connection was replaced last October at the Airstream service center in JC. Before my warranty expired I had 7 or 8 things that needed fixing, one of which was that when connected to city water, water would spray everywhere outside the trailer. So we just didn’t use city water and had Airstream fix it. There was a missing rubber exterior gasket, but Airstream replaced the entire city water connection – that is what they told me and I noticed that it looked new. Wouldn’t you expect that part of quality control, that after replacing a part of the plumbing, Airstream quality control would run water through it and look for leaks? The repairman knew he had put a new city water connection in – couldn’t he just look there to make sure it wasn’t leaking inside the trailer? It is plainly visible inside the trailer. Ok, maybe not plainly since it is under the bathroom sink and behind the cardboard there, but still if you knew to look at that exact connection it would not be that difficult. Maybe since I knew they had replaced the city water connection, I should have checked it for leaks.
Now that I know where the leak was, I could have fixed it in 15 minutes on the first day I noticed the leak, rather than 10 days later once I got home. But I guess that is the art of problem solving.
Thanks everyone for your ideas and advice – they were all great things for me to try, helped me learn about my trailer, and gave me the drive to keep looking. Thank you all.