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Old 04-26-2016, 11:54 AM   #1
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Flushing Your Fresh Water System: A to Z

***** This has been moved from another location *****

I wander among the forests with my wife and two Blue Heelers. Our camping is primarily Off the Grid without power, water or hookups. There is important preparation required when depending on a pair of AGM International batteries and no Solar.

The Water Pump and System requires some attention. A lot more if you are in the Off the Grid for longer stationary camping. We do, as an alternative to Solar, are trying a Honda generator with our latest Airstream. Our 2006 came with a small factory installed Solar System and did provide decent recharging.

Today our primary power users are the Water Pump and the refrigerator fan to draw air out to keep the ammonia system cool. The furnace we are able to avoid during Mountain camping as the evenings may be cool, but the multiple layering of covers keep us comfortable. If below freezing outside... the furnace is used to maintain some comfort, but not necessary.

The noisy Water Pump and a pump that runs and runs...

- Noisier on battery as it is a slower RPM. As battery voltage drops... it gets noisier. Quieter on 120volt as it runs at a higher RPM. This you must accept as normal Operating Procedure.

- BEFORE you set off to Disney World RV camping or the Wind River Mountain dispersed camp sites... you must prepare your water system. This is not a one paragraph solves all solution, as you can already tell.

- If you are connected to a city water system with a hose to your trailer fresh water connection... just ignore the rest of this Thread. Your system is not using the Airstream's water pump. Find something more interesting to read.
*********
- If you are OFF the city water system, pay attention or you will be one of a hundred posting and posting the same questions and getting all kinds of responses. You must close the hot, cold and fresh water drains under your axle(s). If you hook up the hose and water and air is coming out from under the trailer... you missed something. Also the Hot Water tank plug. It must be secure or it will drip, drip and drip. Plumber's putty or some plumber's tape. Whichever works for you.

FILL the fresh water tank. This may be the best water you will find on your trip... although in the Rocky Mountains many of the Forest Service offices have excellent well water! After purging, top off before leaving town.

If you do not fill your fresh water tank enough, and go through the next procedures, the fresh water sloshing may expose the water inlet to the pump to air... and you have to purge the system, again.

- First... hook up a hose to your City Water connection. Go to each faucet and purge the air from each. Your Hot Water tank is also filling at the same time, so give it time to fill. Purge the hot water lines, even though you do not have hot water on electrical or propane. Purge the shower inside and the outside shower. Purge the AIR OUT.... as much as possible. When the faucet is not expelling air... GOOD. This removes many feet of air needing to be purged for no service camping at the site.

- Second... while using 120v power at home, fill your fresh water tank. Turn the Water Pump switch to ON. The water pump will run quieter but there is still AIR in the SYSTEM. You have to purge each faucet and shower head of air. AIR is the problem. Not the pump. Not the water tank level. AIR, AIR... AIR in the system.

Do not forget to purge the TOILET, or the outside shower head.

- Third... if the pump is slowing down, water line pressure is near the automatic pump shut off level, flip the pump to OFF. Then back ON. If the pump does not restart, you are 95% there. If you use a faucet, turn it off and the pump sputters and does not get to pressure top shut down... you have AIR in the system. Eventually... you will remove all of the air and the pump is maintaining pressure and stops.

- Fourth... Leave some of this fresh water in the Grey and Black water tanks for sloshing while traveling. If too much water, we use a plastic sink bowl when we purge our sinks and toss the water out into the yard. We then put several gallons in the Grey and Black tanks for sloshing. Cleans the tanks. Or you can just drain them in your driveway. Depends how you cleaned your Black Water from your last trip. Most people ignore that as well, and that is another THREAD.

- Fifth... After all of this is done, which takes 30 minutes for us, when you arrive at a campsite, some air moved around and you may have to eliminate it if the water pump spurts and stops, or you flip the switch ON then OFF to ON... and the pump does not restart. After a little use, you should be good for the rest of the trip.

- Sixth... NEVER LEAVE YOUR PUMP turned ON when towing or leaving the trailer. Even if everything is 100%... do not forget. Or if you do not care... you may want to visit the How Do I REPLACE a Water Pump threads. Just smart. Much like turning lights off when on battery power.

NOBODY explains this to you when you buy your trailer. You believe you are doing something wrong. It is that you do not know and most do not want to spend this much time trying to explain to you how to do what might appear to be a simple procedure. It is NOT SIMPLE.

We only have the HOT water when needed for showers. We heat small amounts for dish washing in a coffee pot on the propane stove. We are tight when it comes to wasting money when not necessary.

Once you figure it out, or just ignore this effort to educate you... this is the best advice on the water pump to date. The pump is noisy. Your Air Conditioning system is noisy. Your ceiling exhaust fans are noisy. Get use to it. It is normal. This is a TRAILER. If you do not like the noise, open the windows and get over it.
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Old 04-26-2016, 11:57 AM   #2
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Preventative Maintenance is SMART Airstreaming

NEW trailers need to have the fresh water tank... filled 50%, and let it slosh for the first time you are ready to actually use the fresh water. The tanks have some 'new' film of chemical that tastes lousy, but maybe fine for washing dishes.

Do the process in Post #1 for priming to clean out the insides of the hot and cold water lines. Then the sloshing of the fresh water tank to clean off the interior of the fresh water tank.

Our 2006 Airstream we did none of the above. Made coffee the first morning we went camping and it may as well been insecticide coating the tank.

Drain the entire system on the last leg of your trip home. The trailer moving will slosh around and catch any sediment in the tank and it... may ... run out of the open valve between the axles.

Returning Home:
Open the fresh water tank valve to drain
Open the hot and cold water system valves in the same area between the axles

Next Trip if after months in a hot, humid climate. Flush the water lines and the fresh water tank. Then Prime the Pump. Now we have MILDEW to consider. This way you can avoid the Clorox chemical to kill the Mildew. City water already has Chlorine so this should fix you up.

We had no problem for eight years using the 2006 just doing maintenance like this.

Practice HOME water system purging:

Your home water system must also be a consideration if you are gone for months. Especially during the Winter months, if power is lost.

Winter months we actually shut the water off into the house. Open outside water valves, open all of the interior water valves and DRAIN THE HOUSE WATER SYSTEM. We do not drain the soft water tank. Usually in an area where the ground temperature and salt brine is not as likely to FREEZE. After six months of being away... your water will get... funky.

We then do the reverse and FLUSH the system like it is an Airstream without wheels.

Not everyone cares. We are on Well Water and no chlorine. But... in the Winter all water will freeze if the temperature within the home gets into the mid 20's and lower.

We had a neighbor on another street, who had a second home in Hawaii. He left his water system ON, which was his first mistake. He shut his furnace OFF, which was the second mistake. When Spring arrive at 6,400 feet elevation in Colorado... he had a telephone call. Water was running of the house. He could not even find a local plumbing company to come out and give an estimate for repairs. Sheet Rock, floors, split water lines... A lesson learned the hard way.

Same thing can happen to your trailer stored with Fresh, Grey, Black tanks and a pressurized water system in the Winter Months outdoors. The cost would be extreme.

Much is just sitting down and thinking 'what can go wrong'?

Boondocking for Greenhorns and new to Off the Grid camping will get an ear full. It is best to hear about someone else going through all the things that can go wrong. There are thousands of trailers that depend on simple preventive measures to avoid big problems.

... and do not forget to put Trailer Antifreeze into your sink and shower traps.

See... you may have forgotten that.

None of these ideas can be done in twenty words or less. Some people avoid reading a lengthy post. They will, some day, NOT be able to avoid the long three page repair and reconstruction sheet. Some time, a dollar of water and some trailer antifreeze will let you sleep when the trailer is in storage... or on the road.

I do not care either way. But... if I am BUYING a trailer... these are the first things to check. If the current owner will not pressure up the system and you can actually find the water system and hot water tank DO WORK... you are buying AS IS and they buy a trailer that is not trashed out once you own it.

Time to walk with Nancy and our two Blue Heelers. Our camping season begins in TWO weeks. We practice what we preach. Aware Airstream owners can avoid all of these problems with a NEW trailer, or buying a USED trailer. AS IS is not a warranty.

Good luck and as Roy Rogers said... Happy Trails to You!
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Old 04-26-2016, 11:59 AM   #3
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Voltage to Water Pump creates 'different sounds'

I have a 2014 International.

You are right, the water pump is 12 volt. When connected to 120volts the voltage converter is running 13.7 volts into the system. The water pump's RPM is higher and quieter.

When on batteries, off the grid, the batteries are being drained, voltage is decreasing, and the water pump's RPM decreases, becomes noisier at less than 12 volts and when the battery is drained... will not run at all. Never drain your batteries that low. There are threads concerning how low, many say 10 volts is getting low enough... but I am not discussing 120volt and 12volt systems about your water system priming.

I just avoided adding another paragraph, but now that it is being discussed, everyone is aware. When the trailer is not connected to 'shore power' the microwave will not work, as it is 100% dependent on 120volts.

'Priming' the pump was meant like drawing oil from a well. You must remove excess air from the system. The Water Pump will run, but if full of air... it will not pump, nor draw from the fresh water tank, water into the system until the air is removed. How long it would require to run the water pump with a full fresh water tank to reach pressure...is something I would not do and never would, myself. Much like a straw in a glass of soda.... but again, this becomes another topic.

Now, does everyone understand that no matter how long you make a discussion, you cannot possibly include EVERYTHING. But many can answer similar questions with two sentences. I am just not that clever.
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Old 04-26-2016, 12:03 PM   #4
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Flushing the Fresh Water quirks with air bubbles

I had requested that this post to be moved to the Fresh Water System from another earlier in the week. Well... this was the best I could do.
*******

I should have titled this: Flushing the Water System.

When I used 'Prime the Pump or else...' I did not imagine a major pump discussion. Flushing the Water System is very important. Swapping out water pumps is not my interest.

I care less about brands of water pumps. I see plenty of previous Threads speaking about 'priming the pump'. I am sure 'noise level' also comes up frequently. It only creates noise when you are awake and using the pressurized water system. IF... there is air in the system, it is not unusual for the water pump to.... brrrrr... brrrr and then stop. Just getting back to pressure. Some air in the system. Air compresses differently than liquids...

For those who are following this Thread... Flushing your System before use and draining the water system after use... is the theme of this Thread.

Much like the brand of Toilet Tissues to use in the trailer's mini-septic and dump it system... there are many opinions. I have my preferences that work 100% for me. The Flushing the System dialogue on this Thread... works for me.

My wife and I have developed over 10 years of camping in remote places, a system covering anything using a standard Airstream. Other than this time, bringing a Honda generator with us, versus the solar panel... which may be added if the generator lacks... convenience. The Honda generator is another experiment, that will be used a lot this camping season with a number of TRUE Boondocking Adventures in New Mexico, Colorado and Wyoming.

From awnings, to floor mats, to minimal water use for showers and the list goes on... we do use 100% of our fresh water tank for drinking, food preparation and cleaning selves and kitchen utensils.

Threads concerning showering can make my eyes roll back into my forehead. When hooked up to water and power at a RV Park... shower whenever you want. Off the Grid... you must think about your batteries, your water needs for the moment and just cut back a bit on showering... like when you are leaving. You can refresh yourself with a pan of warmed up water out of a Coffee Pot on the gas stove and aaaahhhh, feels great. The local wildlife cares little about how you look and the tent campers can only dream of your living the good life.

Fresh water while Off the Grid is a luxury. Once that is figured out, then ways to conserve fresh water are learned behavior. Our Blue Heelers have a five gallon cube water jug I sit on top of a plastic milk crate, their water bowl below the spigot. Even our dogs are figured into the... program.

You may discover a short cut and get the same results as mine. We would like to hear. This is what makes the AirForums valuable to new and current trailer of any brand owners.
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Old 04-26-2016, 12:11 PM   #5
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Not Easy... but the Best for Off the Grid water needs

We do not carry bottled water to drink. That is what we use our Fresh Water Tank. Since we depend on the quality of the Fresh Water to remain high, you need to prepare the Fresh Water Tank, water pump and the hot / cold water lines to the faucets and shower. Even the toilet water line needs to have the air purged.

Ignoring a procedure will not make your system run better. We are on battery power and use the water pump at a minimum. Only when needed. Our 2014 is not on Solar, so the battery charge must be maintained, or else out comes our Honda Generator. This is our new option to Solar. Solar, by far, is more convenient to charge your batteries. The only real positive with the generator is that when we sell our Airstream... the generator is an option of the sale process.

The text is much longer than the actual time needed to do a complete procedure.

It has worked consistently and our fresh water is reliable. When we are camping off the grid, we even know where our best water supply sources are located. Often at Forest Service facilities. Although the Town or City treated water with chlorine is best, it is not as important when your old water is purged and the system refreshed.
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Old 04-26-2016, 12:30 PM   #6
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Black Water and Toilets...

Black Water and TOILET use.

At home a flush may contain a gallon, 128 ounces or more of water. Your trailer... what? Ten ounces? Not much from all appearances.

When you flush solid matter and toilet paper down the 'hatch' you are building a stalactite. Take a look, if you are brave. Add three gallons +/- depending, if you use the toilet for every bowel movement so when traveling with organic cave structures, they get broken up and can be drained at a dump site. You do not need a Carlsbad Cavern building under your trailer's floor. This seems to be a big complaint among those who are not curious enough to... well, get a good look. Add what you may use in a Septic System to have the microbes enjoy what you have to offer.

Next time using the Pit Toilet in the forest. THIS is what you are most likely hauling in your trailer. Over years, who knows... you could bag it as Bat Guano and pay a professional to clean your black tank. I had a friend who would take a water hose with nozzle and stick it into the toilet and give it a good 'push' out the system. A Black Tank laxative, or sorts.

Same with the Grey Water tank. Add some fresh water to it before leaving. After a few hot days, the grey water will have a strong odor to it as well. Your sink traps will prevent any of this entering the trailer. Just make sure you put water... in the TRAPS.

We camp and are not the casual, normal, humans in the woods. I mix the Frontier Man / Native American Indian techniques of smart nomadic behaviors. You are not in a high rise hotel, or home with a community sewer system. You may need to change some habits. But... if not, many will see your Thread complaining of your Black Water Tank filling up and sloshing onto the fake wood floor in your new Airstream. Some lessons are learned the hard way.

And... freezing your Black and/or Gray water tanks. Wait until you have a hundred pound block whacking back and forth on the way home on the 'melt down' to Florida.

Some stories are for those to avoid, yet for others to understand that many problems can be avoided.

Now... now that I have mowed our lawn, am packing for our Off the Grid camping in New Mexico and then Colorado High Country... I can shut up and might find something constructive to do around the house before we leave.
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