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Old 05-08-2007, 12:03 AM   #1
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1979 31' Sovereign
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Tutorial on water system?

With the end of the rainy season coming soon (I hope!), I'm gearing up to tackle some plumbing issues in our '79 Sovereign. One is urgent, the other isn't.

The urgent one: Since this winter, when the water pump is left unused, 40L of water seems to stay in the tank for a few weeks, but when the pump is used, 40L seems to go away really fast. I'm assuming that this is because there's a leak when the tank is pressurized. (The pump is brand new, and there was no noticeable leak last summer). I'm assuming after reading through a few of the posts here that what I have is a leaky valve, where the leak shows up under pressure. The trailer was not winterized (my bad ;-(), but then again, I don't think it's gotten cold enough this year that things should have frozen -- but I could be wrong). It's very possible that it suffered harder winters before we owned it.

I'm a visual thinker, and I'd love to have a better mental picture of what the freshwater water system is like. Am I right about the following:

- When I pour water into the water inlet on the street side, the water goes into an unpressurized holding tank (IIRC, with a large capacity). That tank is above the axles.

- The water pump (in the bathroom) takes water from that tank and forces it into a smaller water tank (where?) which is pressurized (when the taps etc. are off). There is a clear plastic "bell" thing inline near the water pump -- what is it and what does it do?

- There is a circuit of pipes out of that water tank to the taps.

In addition, I'm unsure as to the pump pumps water into a single tank, or one for cold and one for the hot water.

I'd love to turn off as many parts of the system as possible to narrow down the location of the leak e.g. the toilet, shower, sinks, etc. Is that possible? Is there a diagram on the web of the various valves (where they are in the circuit) and where they're located on the trailer? (Unfortunately I left the owner's manual in the trailer in a remote location).

I haven't looked at the city water hookup -- I understand that that's bypassing the pump, and depends on city water providing the pressure.

The non-urgent issue is that the water heater doesn't work. According to the tech who looked at it, it's holding water fine, but the heating part doesn't. He sold me a replacement unit that I'm planning to install "someday" so we could have hot water, but I haven't gotten around to it. I'm not likely to embark on that just yet except if it helps solve the urgent problem. But I'd love to collect information about how to do it, things to watch out for, etc. So any pointers welcome!

Thanks for any pointers! I'll keep reading the archives...

-david
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Old 05-08-2007, 04:12 AM   #2
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1993 21' Sovereign
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David, there should not be a second, pressurized tank in your system. Try filling the tank, and turning on the water pump. When it shuts off, wait and see how long it takes for the pump to cycle on again. If it takes an hour or more, your systm doesn't have any leaks, at least not serious enough to lose that much water.
Your trailer should have three valves to drain the water system for winterizing, it is possible one of them is partly open, or leaking, and your water is pouring out on the ground from that. Your water pump has a check valve on it to keep city pressure water from going back through it into the fresh water tank.
The clear plastic thing should be between the water tank and water pump, it keeps large debris from getting into the pump and damaging it.
Your water heater not heating will not contribute to the loss of water.
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Old 05-22-2007, 11:29 PM   #3
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Looks like at least one of the winterizing valves is failing -- now what?

Overlander63, looks like you were right.

Last weekend, I got to try out the trailer again and noticed that when the pump is on, there is a constant drip from the clear drain tube that looks like it's coming from the valves in the attached pictures (of the part of the plant that's on the left when looking inside the compartment above the bumper). That is, if I turn either of the two valves in the pictures, a lot of water comes out, but even when shut, there's always a drip. After the pump is turned off, the leak continues for a while then stops (presumably until the pressure drops).

Now, for a list of questions!

I didn't trace the entire plant -- the two valves are for the hot and cold circuit, correct?

I don't know the vintage of this tubing -- is it PEX, or some other plastic (the trailer is a '79)?

What do I need to replace the valves? I'm assuming some cutting tool, some tubing, replacement valves, crimper rings and a crimping tool.

It looks like there's not much room in there to just cut out the valves and put in both a replacement valve and some junctions. I assume the crimps can't be cut and then the plastic fragments reused. Then again, maybe I can stretch the space that the current valves are using a bit?

What's the black plastic fitting at the bottom of the first picture? A check valve?

Thanks for any pointers!
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Old 05-23-2007, 06:21 AM   #4
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That looks like Pex. I haven't dealt with it, but it looks like you can carefully cut the crimp off the ends of the lines by the valves, replace the valves, and re-clamp the lines. The drawback is you would have to borrow or rent a crimper (buying one is expensive).
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Old 05-23-2007, 07:07 AM   #5
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Davida,

If you want to replace the sections of Pex and fittings, you can use 'Seatech' fittings and not have to worry about any special tools and equipment. They simply push on to any pex, copper or cpvc tubing of the specified size. They will be totally compatible with your system.

I use them almost exclusively now and have not had one leak yet! Just be certain that you seat the tubing all the way in on the fitting. THAT'S IT! Simple and quick.

Lowes and Home Depot both carry them now.
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Old 05-26-2007, 12:25 AM   #6
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Thanks

Sorry for the late reply -- somehow I'm not being notified of replies, i'll have to figure that out.

I just came back from Home Depot and didn't see Seatech fittings, but then again, I wasn't looking. The valve section was a total mess, though.

(I get the impression that canadian home depots aren't quite on the ball).

Anyway, I got a metal valve and a couple of different kinds of crimper rings, and I'll see what my friends on the island have for crimpers. If I strike out, I'll go back next week and look for the Seatech fittings.

Thanks again!

--david
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Old 05-26-2007, 07:33 AM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by davida
Sorry for the late reply -- somehow I'm not being notified of replies, i'll have to figure that out.

I just came back from Home Depot and didn't see Seatech fittings, but then again, I wasn't looking. The valve section was a total mess, though.

(I get the impression that canadian home depots aren't quite on the ball).

Anyway, I got a metal valve and a couple of different kinds of crimper rings, and I'll see what my friends on the island have for crimpers. If I strike out, I'll go back next week and look for the Seatech fittings.

Thanks again!

--david
David,

At HD, you'll probably see them as 'Watts' products in the plumbing section that contains all of the brass fittings as well. I think that Watts may have bought Sea-Tech recently.
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Old 05-26-2007, 07:38 AM   #8
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before you go to the trouble of cutting those valves out just try opening and closing them a couple of times.

sometimes a piece of crud gets trapped on the seat of the valve.

also, they do use washers like household valves and can be replaced.

john
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Old 05-26-2007, 07:50 AM   #9
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Good point John. David, our email notification system has been up and down this last week and not fully functional since Christmas in some respects. You can always find threads and posts you've made by opening your personal profile -- click on your username at the bottom of the AIR Forums portal page when you are logged in.

Links to Sea-Tech fittings can be found on Home - theVAP - The Vintage Airstream Podcast -- a beneficial website for many other reasons too! You don't have to have an iPod to hear how other Airstreamers are putting their babies back together. It helps to not need all the PEX tools if you are doing a one-time job. Sea-Tech makes that possible.
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Old 05-26-2007, 09:23 AM   #10
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I finally got an email notification - we'll see if I keep getting them.

Thanks for the pointers to the podcast. I'd seen mention of it, but haven't carved out the time to listen yet.

john -- good point! I should definitely just try and see if I can't fix them without replacing them!
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Old 05-26-2007, 11:51 AM   #11
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David,
I have a 1978 Ambassador and all of my plumbing is copper. Unknown whether they used both for a few years or if that 1978/1979 was the change out year.
Tom #8848


Quote:
Originally Posted by davida
I don't know the vintage of this tubing -- is it PEX, or some other plastic (the trailer is a '79)?
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Old 05-28-2007, 12:11 PM   #12
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Santa Maria , California
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Polybutylene Plumbing?

David
I have a 78 Excella. The service manual indicates that the plumbing could be either copper or polybutylene. If your plumbing is original and is the polybutylene, you might want to check this web site out. What You Need to Know About Polybutylene Plumbing . I hope yours is PEX. Good Luck..."Mac"
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Old 05-28-2007, 01:38 PM   #13
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7xp: ouch. Thanks for the pointer.

The site doesn't say much about how to tell if what one has is PEX or polybutylene. Any ideas?

--da
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