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Old 04-19-2014, 08:01 PM   #1
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1976 31' Sovereign
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Water pump & tank questions

I've got a 76 31' Sovereign and a million questions. I'll keep this post related to two in particular though.

Firstly, am I correct in assuming that:

1. There's only one fresh water tank, and it gets filled via the hose when you're hooked up or the little opening by the main door when you aren't.
2. The drainage for my water is either using it and it drains via the sewage pipe, or if just falls back out of the water connection near the bumper (where you hook up to city / RV park water).

I believe that's all true. But when I fill it up and cap that city water connection, then throw on the water pump switch, I get nothing. I can hear the pump but no water through the sinks.

Can a water pump make sound but not work? Is there any way to test this out?
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Old 04-19-2014, 08:27 PM   #2
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I am about sure that the only way to get water in the tank is to fill the tank via the fill port near the entry door.

While I am not sure that there is no other mode for filing the tank, as I stripped out all of my old plumbing quite carelessly, I am over 95% that the plumbing won't fill the tank.
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Old 04-21-2014, 06:04 AM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by clicknathan View Post
Firstly, am I correct in assuming that:

1. There's only one fresh water tank, and it gets filled via the hose when you're hooked up or the little opening by the main door when you aren't.
No. There is a screw-in fitting (female garden hose fitting) for municipal water. There is a capped inlet that is bigger than a garden hose, for filling the freshwater tank. The plumbing system has check valves to ensure that water pumped from the tank doesn't go out the municipal inlet, and water from the municipal inlet doesn't go into the tank.
Quote:
2. The drainage for my water is either using it and it drains via the sewage pipe, or if just falls back out of the water connection near the bumper (where you hook up to city / RV park water).
No. There should also be a drain on the bottom of the fresh tank, with a valve, to aid in winterizing and disinfecting.
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Old 04-21-2014, 06:36 AM   #4
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To expand a bit further.

The city water connection, where you hook up a garden hose to get pressurized water into the water system, should have a check valve in it to prevent water from flowing back out of the water connection. That connection is an inlet only.

Your water pump also has a check valve in it, and it will prevent the water from the system (while hooked up to city water) from filling the fresh water tank.

As I understand it, some models of Airstreams had a valve you could open to let you fill the fresh water tank while connected to city water. I do not know which models or years had that option.

In addition to the fresh water tank drain, there are low point drains to completely empty the fresh water system. Location varies greatly by model of trailer. If you do not know where they are, start looking under the trailer for two small water lines close to each other coming out of the bottom of the trailer. The low point valves will be inside directly above those lines. These empty the water lines only, not the fresh water tank or water heater.

Also, there is a drain on the water heater.
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Old 04-21-2014, 05:30 PM   #5
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1976 31' Sovereign
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Thank you everyone for your input! And excuse me for my pretty significant lack of knowledge on these matters.
The plumbing system has check valves to ensure that water pumped from the tank doesn't go out the municipal inlet, and water from the municipal inlet doesn't go into the tank.
Maybe something's awry with ours, as I can confirm that if I unhook the water hose / municipal inlet, all of the water that's still in the system will drain out. Also, I've filled up the tank to overflowing via the external filling area (which is just left of our door / above the battery on our model), and it disappears somewhere. I'm about to fill it up again without being connected to the city water to see if I can figure out where it's coming out, but I'm fairly certain it comes back out the water hose.
In addition to the fresh water tank drain, there are low point drains to completely empty the fresh water system. Location varies greatly by model of trailer. If you do not know where they are, start looking under the trailer for two small water lines close to each other coming out of the bottom of the trailer. The low point valves will be inside directly above those lines. These empty the water lines only, not the fresh water tank or water heater.
In my manual it states that there should be 6 of these altogether.

1 & 2 in the rear trunk (I've attached a fairly crappy picture, I believe these big red handles are what they're referring to)
3, 4 & 5 under the galley sink. I looked all underneath the sink for these. The previous owner replaced all of the original plumbing with PEX, I wonder if there's a chance he could have removed these completely, and if so, that would leave me pretty shanked, right? Anyone with a 76 era model (specifically I have a 76 31' Sovereign with rear bath if that helps narrow it down) who can confirm where these are located?
6 near the hot water tank "accessible through the exterior access panel". I've attached another photo here of that area, where I light the pilot, control the heat level, etc. I'm assuming that something in this photo is what they're referring to, though there's no "red valve" like in the other photo. I'm also gonna go ahead with my gut here and say that whichever thing they're referring to here is not open, or I'd have hot water pouring out of this area.



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Old 04-22-2014, 06:50 AM   #6
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If you disconnect the hose from the city water fill, and water comes back out of the trailer through the connection, then the check valve is bad. No water should ever come out of the city water fill. In your era of airstream, I believe the check valve is not part of the city water inlet, but is a separate valve located just inside the inlet connection.

Do you have any plumbing skills? Personally, I'd remove the old check valve and buy a new city water inlet with a built-in check valve. Most RV stores will carry one. For reference, here's the one we bought from Vintage Trailer Supply:

City Water Intake

On the low point drains, yes, it's possible the PO removed some of the low point drains when they re-did the plumbing. How many you really need depends on the layout of your plumbing. If everything is higher than the low point drains you still have, with no low spots in the water lines to trap water, then you really only need two of them. One for the hot water lines and one for the cold water lines.

If the red valves in the trunk connect to pipes that go down through the floor and exit out the bottom of the trailer, then yes, those are low point drain valves. With water in the system, open them and see if you get water running out of the pipes under the trailer.

On the water heater, the galvanized pipe at the bottom, under the burner tube, is the drain for the water heater. Remove the plug in the end of the pipe and the water heater will drain.

Regarding filling your fresh water tank, do you have the pump running when the water disappears? Or does the water disappear without the pump running? If the pump is running, and the city water fill check valve is bad, then it's highly likely that you are pumping your fresh water tank out of the city water fill. A quick fix would be to put a cap on the city water fill. And it should be capped when not in use anyway to keep dirt and critters out of it.

One last note in case you're not aware of this. While connected to city water, do not have the water pump on. Only use the water pump while not connected to city water and using the water in your fresh water tank.

Chris
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Old 04-22-2014, 08:12 AM   #7
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You definitely are missing a check valve in the municipal water inlet line. And without that valve the pump will not pump water through the faucets either. There could be other problems as well. As a quick check you can seal off the inlet with a cap, put water in the fresh water tank, and try the pump. The pump works by suction from the fresh water tank. You should be able to hear it run. Run it for a few min and see if it starts to pressurize the system. The most common pump problem would be a air leak on the inlet hose that keeps it from priming.
I had to replace the check valve when I first got my trailer. Ours is a mid 80's rear bed and the water inlet and check valve can be accessed under the bed or through the roadside rear compartment. The water pump on ours is under the floor of the closet. Yours may differ significantly. But you need that check valve unless you want to live with capping it off each time and having to pump the entire system full each time with the pump. With the check valve operating there is no delay or problem with using the pump. I replaced my check valve maintaining the original plumbing pretty much. Now that I know about PEX I would just replace as much of the line as I need with PEX and a new check valve.
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Old 04-24-2014, 05:52 PM   #8
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Okay so I got a little connection added to my city water intake with the check valve. So that's nice.

Didn't help with the water pump situation, which I presumed it wouldn't, but at least that situation is sorted out.

Filling the water tank I can now say that it doesn't all leak out, so another bonus there.

However, throwing the pump on even for 15 minutes doesn't produce any water from the taps, however it does seem to force water back out of the intake (the "manual" intake for the water tank, not the city water) every 30 seconds or so in gulps (even with it closed & locked).

Not sure if that particular peculiarity turns on any lights for anyone.

I suppose my next step is to check the hoses for leaks. I see the larger white hose that leads from where I'm filling the tank up through the manual entry, it runs into the floor of the Airstream (this is all below our stove) and I presume from there directly to the water tank. Then a black hose comes up from that same area and into the water pump, another hose goes from there to what I'm thinking is the filter (which is below the fuses near the main door / behind the stove on ours).

I'm thinking that large white hose & those two black ones are the first to try and check for leaks & blockage / replace if needed.

If anyone thinks that sounds like a poor plan of attack though, I'm all ears!
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Old 04-25-2014, 07:56 AM   #9
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We had a somewhat similar problem this spring in that our pump stopped running, instead of running water through the taps when we were working on our spring sanitization (it is a 1 year old pump). It turned out to be clogged strainers in the kitchen and bath taps. I would guess you have a blockage somewhere in the water lines fairly close to the pump and water is getting forced back out of the inlet by the pressure. How old is your pump? Maybe your filter is clogged?


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Old 04-26-2014, 02:00 PM   #10
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Thanks everyone for your continued help. Your ideas and feedback have been miraculous in getting this less-than-mechanically-inclined plumber newbie pretty far along.

I removed both hoses that connect to the water pump, one goes from the tank to the pump, it was clear, the other goes from the pump to the filter, and it and the filter were clear. While I was under there, I made a miraculous discovery! Seems that the PO has capped the line that I believe should be connected to the water tank. Here's a little diagram of what I'm working with:



I'd love any feedback on whether I have this all right or what I've got wrong, and then the final question there is the big one.

1. The brown line labeled "Outside Manual Fill" is a large tube that goes directly to the spout where you fill her up outside of the Airstream (ie, "manual" fill not city water).

2. Then the red line comes out of the water tank and goes to the pump.

3. The blue line then comes out of the water pump and goes to the filter.

4. The purple line goes from the filter back down to the water tank, though I can't tell if it hooks back into the water tank or just disappears down there somewhere as it's too tight to get my head or even my hand in to feel around where it terminates.

5. Now for the miraculous discover part. :P The PO has the green line capped. It runs to the cold water line beneath the sink, comes to a T, and then splits to the sink itself one one end, the other end (along with the hot water pipe) goes back underneath everything to the rear / city water / hot water tank.

SOOOOO.... I'm wondering a few things:

A.) Does the water from the tank go into the pump through the red line, back out through the blue, through the filter, and then down through the purple line. And would anyone know where that went to and what the best likely route would be for me to try and get to wherever it leads. Does it just go back into the water tank?

B.) Where should I be looking to hook that capped green line back up to? The unknown terminus of the purple line (if it doesn't go back into the water tank)? I can't see anywhere else in there it would get hooked up to.

Crossing my fingers that I'm 90% there and not still around 10%...

Thanks again for all of your generous time!
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Old 04-26-2014, 02:22 PM   #11
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Looking at this picture:

http://www.airforums.com/forums/atta...7&d=1278558014

Makes me think that maybe I'm supposed to make a T connection where the red line (in my drawing) comes out of the tank itself...

Or could I just hook the green line to the filter where the purple line currently comes out?
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Old 04-27-2014, 04:18 PM   #12
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I don't see a diagram in post 10.


Chris
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Old 04-27-2014, 04:53 PM   #13
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Clicknathan,
My 76 has the same exact water pump setup.
The hose that comes out of the water pup is supposed to be hooked to the capped water line to the main system. The (clear) line from the tank that comes FROM the pump now is a vent and is supposed to be hooked up to the small outlet in the water fill door.
Hope this helps.
TomJ
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Old 05-21-2014, 04:37 PM   #14
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I ended up figuring this all out, with lots of help from Eagle & Bear, and a friendly RV store mechanic I bumped into.

My pump was old, not original, but old. And it was BIG. And I didn't want to take the stove out because we're full-timing. The job took me a solid 7 hours, and probably would have been multiple days so no fridge + 3 kids and two ladies onboard with me would have been weird.

Anyway, the PO had everything hooked up backwards, and capped, and the pump worked but was really loud, and leaky, so it couldn't push everything up to the faucets when I finally got it all hooked up anyway. I replaced the pump (which was a trip trying to get it out of there without removing the fridge, but there's an access point behind some small shelves under the sink, and then another one at the main door, which combined got me everywhere I needed to be.)

Replaced it with a Sureflo and we're golden now. If anyone has any questions ever about where all of this stuff goes, now that I'm a mild mannered expert on the subject I'd be happy to return the favor of this wonderful community.
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