RV Basics: Understanding Fresh Water Plumbing for Beginners

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Welcome back, everyone!

This is the next video in our “RV Basics” series, where I try to give you the talks I wish I had gotten when we started RVing.  These videos are not very technical at all, and if you’re a new RVer, they should make things a lot less stressful as you try to figure your systems out that first time.

In this one, we’re going to tackle the basics of your RV’s fresh water plumbing system.  This is one of those things that makes RVing so much more comfortable than other styles of camping and traveling – having running water with you, wherever you go.  It’s not complicated at all, so everyone should be able to follow along, regardless of the make, model, type, or age of your RV.


Our friends at Winnebago sponsored this video, along with all the videos in my “RV Basics” series, so thank you Winnebago! They want you all to be educated and ready to hit the road without any extra stress. Hope you’ll check out the other videos, too:


➡️ Understanding RV Electrical

➡️ Introduction to Waste Water Plumbing

➡️ How To RV in the Winter

➡️ Dry Camping and Boondocking Best Practices


Any questions, sound off below and I’ll do my best to answer!


James is a former rocket scientist, a USA Cycling coach, and lifelong fitness buff. When he's not driving the RV, or modifying the RV (or - that one time - doing both at once), you can find him racing bicycles, or building furniture, or making music. In his spare time, he works for a large IT company.

    6 thoughts on “RV Basics: Understanding Fresh Water Plumbing for Beginners

    1. Sandra Sturm

      Hi James,
      Great video! We just downsized to a Winnebago Travato (which we love) but it’s the first time we have not had a gravity fill for the fresh water. We love to Boondock (and unfortunately frequently don’t have access to a water spigot). Any suggestions for how to refill the tank from a water container?

      1. James - Post author

        Is your Travato newer? If it has a water center control panel (with a bunch of levers on it), you should be able to set the levers to siphon water into the fresh water tank from the hose input. Then you take a short length of hose and put it into your jug (as you would antifreeze) and it will pump the water into the fresh tank.

    2. Graham Smith

      A great job, as usual. One thing you didn’t touch on is pros/cons of only turning on the pump when needed and not leaving city water on all the time. I know this is kind of debatable but I’ve seen enough minor drip, drip, drip, leaks turn into troublesome puddles that I never leave the lines pressurized. This is particularly true with city water – with the pump, you will hear it “burp” from time to time if there is a leak but there’s no such warning with city water.

      1. James - Post author

        Thanks, Graham – and I agree with you!
        In our own personal RV, we *never* hook up to city water and always use water from our on-board tank. Besides the reason you mentioned, this also keeps the water in the onboard tank turning over and fresh, AND prevents an accidental overfill of the grey tank.
        I didn’t include it in the video because it’s technically not necessary to know or do that in order for a beginner to use their RV.
        It’s a good habit though.

    3. Brian

      Great stuff James.
      Basic but for someone who might not have ever had to dive into some repairs on an RV, stuff like this is gold.

      I bought a used truck camper in 1985. Loved that unit, but zero information came with it, had to learn through the school of hard knocks.

      I have a story for you for when you do the Black Tank episode…


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