RV Plumbing: The importance of an o-ring

RV Plumbing: The importance of an o-ring

The Tin Can Travelers April 9, 2018 No Comments

On a recreational vehicle (RV), the smallest parts of its various systems are essential to the overall well being of both the RV and the owner! This was a lesson quickly learned on the first day of our new journey. After four days of hard work moving boxes to our storage unit, visits to the dump, moving items into the RV, and cleaning the apartment, we finally checked out of our apartment with only minutes to spare. We didn’t have the energy, or desire, to hookup the RV to the truck and move down the road, so we settled for taking a spot at Oak Plantation Campground to take a much needed shower and rest.

After getting the RV stabilized and the electric connected for the air conditioning and lights, I removed the water hose from storage and connected it to the riser. Once I made the connection from the on site faucet to the RV and pressurized the system (turned the water on), water started to leak from the bottom of the trailer right under the water connection. So what did I do?…of course… I let it run awhile. Yes, I know, dumb! So after a minute or two I cut it off and reassessed the situation: connection from riser to hose tight, check, water pressure regulator installed on hose prior to connecting to the RV, check, connection tight and secure at where the hose met the RV, check! I pressurized the potable water line again, and it leaked again. Frustrated and confused I went into the RV to talk to Rebecca, who was putting things away in the kitchen. I told her my (our) problem and asked her to open the cabinet below the sink to see if any water was there. Oh was there…..and after a whole roll of paper towels and cursing like a Sailor, I got to work.

We had our RV in the shop for about 5 weeks in November and December getting some warranty issues corrected. I asked, after dropping it off, if they would be winterizing the unit since temperatures were expected to drop, and they said “yes.” With this knowledge, and water beneath the water filter under the kitchen sink, I attempted to tighten all fittings. If you’ve ever tried working on an engine in one of those new micro mini cars that are on the road today, you might understand how hard it is to work under the sink in an Airstream. With everything tightened and feeling confident, I pressurized the system again but was met with the same results….leaking! I then removed the water filter and put the factory piece of pipe back in its place, pressurized the system again, but we had flooding once more.

Now, angrier than a kid having to go to bed without dessert, I removed the pipe and examined its ends and the fittings with the skill of a surgeon. I saw that one end of the fitting (the end that was not leaking) had a white in color o-ring, but the other end of the fitting that was leaking did not. Simple solution – put an o-ring on the other end, reassemble, pressurize, and the problem should be fixed, right? But did I have an o-ring? I looked through the junk stored in my odds and ends box and found a smaller box of assorted sizes of o-rings. I found the properly sized o-ring so desperately needed, and then with some effort, and about 20 minutes of work, I got it on the fitting. Now reassemble and pressurize!!!! Rebecca stood by with the cellphone, with me on the other end and a flashlight in hand. Outside, I pressurized the system with confidence. I then heard Rebecca’s voice screaming through the phone “TURN IT OFF!!!!” Leaking again, I gave it one last try. I disassemble the pipe and pushed the newly installed o-ring further down on the fitting. I didn’t have the o-ring fully seated, so there was still hope! I reassembled the pipes and pressurized the system one more time! There were no instructions coming from the cellphone to turn the water off, so I hesitantly asked for a report. Good news at last…..no leaks and we could take a much needed shower! Everything in a RV is important….. even the smallest o-ring.

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