How Long Can You Store Fresh Water in Your RV Tank?

About the Author

Tom Davidock

Tom has been working in the outdoor recreation and environmental fields for over 25 years and writing about for the past 15. Whether it's camping, or RVing, Tom provides first-hand kneowldge of the information outdoor enthusiests need to enjoy adventures on the road. Tom has had his content featured in industry-leading news publications including RV Business, RV News, and RV.com. Tom is also the author of "Used RV: The Complete Guide for Buying a Used RV."

One of my favorite things is heading out in my RV to a remote area and enjoying nature disconnected from the grid. But along with the freedom and adventure comes the question every RVer eventually asks: How long can you store fresh water in your RV tank? Well, folks, the short and sweet answer is about two weeks. But don’t worry; we’ll cover all the details below, including tips on extending that timeframe and ensuring your water remains clean and safe.

The Basics of Fresh Water Storage

When relying on your fresh water tank for your potable water, ensuring the quality of the water is essential for a worry-free experience. Generally, freshwater in an RV is considered safe for approximately two weeks, provided that the tank is filled with clean, potable water and is maintained properly. Beyond this timeframe, the risk of bacteria and algae growth increases, particularly when the water is exposed to heat and sunlight. Factors including tank cleanliness, temperature, and water usage frequency can also impact this guideline. RV owners should always be aware of the general rule of thumb: if in doubt, change it out.

If you don’t use your freshwater tank regularly, it’s a good idea to sanitize it between trips. Also, if you leave water in the tank for a long time without changing it, it’s a good idea to sanitize it after you drain it and before refilling it, 

Keeping It Fresh: Tips and Tricks

Maintaining the freshness of your RV’s water supply is essential for safety and having access to potable water. Here are some great tips to help you keep your water clean and fresh.

Drinking Water From Sink

Regular Tank Cleaning

Regular maintenance is crucial for prolonging the life of your freshwater tank. Clean your tank every few months using a mixture of household bleach and water (a quarter cup of bleach for every 15 gallons of water). Let it sit for a few hours, then thoroughly flush it out. This process eliminates lingering bacteria and keeps your tank fresh. Remember to clean and sanitize not just the fresh water tank but also the potable water hose, holding tank, and low-point drains.

Use Quality Water Filters

Installing a good-quality water filter ensures that the water entering your tank is clean, reducing the chances of contamination. Filters also improve the taste and smell of your water, making it more enjoyable to drink. Consider adding a charcoal filter to remove chlorine taste and other impurities.

GLACIER FRESH RV/Marine Water Filter with Flexible Hose Protector
$28.99 $25.99 ($13.00 / Count)
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06/05/2024 06:56 pm GMT

Keep It Cool

Heat accelerates the growth of bacteria and algae. Bacteria thrive in temperatures between 40°F and 140°F, with the optimal growth range being 70°F to 120°F. To prolong the freshness of your water, park your RV in shaded, cool areas whenever possible.

Monitor Water Usage

Be mindful of your water consumption and refill frequency. If usage is low, store less water and refill more often to ensure the water remains fresh.

Water Treatment Solutions

Use water treatment solutions with safe, non-toxic chemicals to inhibit bacteria and algae growth. These solutions help maintain the freshness of your water supply for extended periods. Below are some good options to have on hand when it comes time to use your tank,

STAR BRITE Aqua Water Treatment & Freshener - 16 OZ (097016)
$17.09
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06/23/2024 05:05 pm GMT

Ensure Proper Flow and Protection

Monitor the flow from your faucets to detect potential issues early. Protect your water lines and tanks from freezing temperatures in colder climates to prevent damage. This includes your fresh water tank, grey water tank, and black water tank.

Additional Water Storage

Carry portable water containers for transporting extra water when staying in areas without hookups. Use water bottles and gallon jugs for additional drinking water storage.

Signs Your Water Needs Changing

Even with all the precautions, sometimes your water needs to be changed. Here are a few signs that it’s time to dump and refill:

  • Unpleasant Smell or Taste: If your water starts to smell or taste off, it’s a clear sign that it’s time for a change.
  • Cloudy Water: Clear water is generally safe, but if it starts to look cloudy or has particles floating in it, it’s time to replace it.
  • Slimy Tank or Hoses: If you notice any slime inside your tank or hoses, it’s a sign that bacteria or algae are growing, and the water needs to be replaced and the system cleaned.
RV Water Filling

Emergency Situations

There might be times when you can’t replace your water as often as you’d like, such as when boondocking in a remote location. In these cases, it’s crucial to have a backup plan. Carrying water purification tablets or a portable water filter can be a lifesaver. These tools can help make your water safe to drink if you’re in a pinch. I also suggest bringing separate drinking water with you and using your tank water for showering and doing dishes.

RV Water System Components

Understanding your RV’s water system is essential for maintaining a freshwater supply. Key components include:

  • Fresh Water Tank: This is where your potable water is stored. Regularly cleaning this tank is crucial to avoid health hazards.
  • Water Pump: Essential for drawing water from the fresh water tank to your faucets, shower, and toilet.
  • City Water Connection: When parked at an RV park, you can connect your RV directly to the park’s water supply using a potable water hose, bypassing the fresh water tank.
  • Water Heater: Provides hot water for showers, washing dishes, and other needs.
  • Water Lines: Carry water throughout your RV. Regularly inspect these for leaks or buildup.
  • Water Filters: These can be installed at various points in your RV’s water system to ensure clean water.
  • Black Water Tank: Holds waste from the toilet. Keeping this tank clean and sanitized is essential to avoid health hazards.
  • Gray Water Tank: Collects water from sinks and showers. Like the black water tank, it should be regularly cleaned and sanitized to prevent buildup and odors.

Conclusion: Play It Safe

Ultimately, the best practice is to err on the side of caution. While fresh water in your RV tank can last about two weeks, factors like temperature, tank cleanliness, and water source quality can influence this timeframe. Regular maintenance, using a good water filter, and monitoring your water quality are key steps to ensuring you always have safe, fresh water on your travels. So, fellow RVers, stay hydrated, stay clean, and keep those adventures rolling smoothly. Happy travels!

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