Saturday, April 2, 2011

The saga of the water pump

Our motorhome has -- as do most RVs -- a water pump. The main purpose of this pump is to allow us to have running water when we are not connected to “city water.”

Our motorhome also has a 2-gallon water/pressure tank that serves two main function:

  1. It smooths out the flow of water. Without the pressure tank, whenever we would turn on a faucet (if not on city water), the water flow would speed up and slow down as the pump cycled. Nothing really harmful, just a little annoying. If you have well water, you have a larger version of this tank.

  2. It keeps the pump from turning on every time we want to wash hands or just run a faucet briefly. Again. Nothing harmful about the pump turning on for a short period of time.

Recently, the rubber bladder that maintains the pressure inside the small tank ruptured.

Unfortunately, the tanks are very expensive. An exact replacement is about $200 plus shipping. But even if I replaced the tank, we would still have an 11-year-old noisy pump. So I thought that while I am in the water bay taking out the old tank, I might as well put in a new pump. Helping me make this decision is improved RV pump technology. Newer pumps (which operate at a variable speed) eliminate the “pulsing” action and the need for the small water/pressure tank.

So we decided to remove the old tank and install a new variable speed water pump. Sandy and I both read ForeForums, the internet-based forum for Foretravel owners, where we have learned a great deal and we try to contribute when we can.  I learned that there are two major makers of water pumps for RVs.  One is Shurflo, but they have a bad record with some owners on their third replacement of the same model.  The other company AquaJet has a better record – so we went with AquaJet.

Pump replacement 001

This is a view of the storage bay which holds the water pump and a lot of plumbing and electrical connections. 

To get to the pump, I had to remove the panel and shelf. We have learned that Foretravel likes a sleek look and hides many components behind panels and/or in out of the way spaces. Because the wiring is only 12 volts it is not necessary to have wires neatly contained within conduit.

Pump replacement 007

The blue tank is the pressure tank that failed.

It took me the better part of Friday and Saturday to successfully install the new pump. I also had to make two trips to Lowe's and each time I bought more stuff in case some issues popped up that I had not anticipated.  I have a huge amount of stuff to return.

Pex issue 009

Tank and pump are gone.

At the end of the day on Friday we were not able to run any water inside the coach and the toilet had to be flushed by pouring water from a bucket. Real elegant. And I was beginning to doubt that I could get this done on my own.

Pex issue 013

This configuration of PEX tubing with lots of connections and a solenoid valve became problematic when one of the connections started to leak as I was removing it.  I had to rent a special tool to re-crimp all of the small black bands seen on the blue segments of PEX. That step made the leak go away.  If that had not worked I would have had to do a lot more work.

I got some encouragement and some good advice from other Foretravel owners and by 6:00p.m. today Sandy and I had it completed.

water pump.2 004

New pump in place.  The loop of white hose is called a “quiet loop” and dissipates vibration from rushing water and adds to the quiet operation of the system.

Next we had to sanitize the entire water system and that required 128 ounces of bleach. To get the bleach into the main tank, we would open up the water filter canister and fill it with bleach and then open the valve that permits “city water” to enter the 110 gallon storage tank. We did this 6 times until all the bleach was added. We will let it sit for 24 hours, drain it and then refill with fresh.

While this was another exhausting project it is really worthwhile.  We now have to make a conscious effort to hear the new pump.  It is that quiet.  There was no missing the noise from the older pump.

Stay tuned.


  1. Congratulations on your new and quieter water pump! It is a great feeling when you are able to figure things out and fix on your own. Nice!!

  2. Our pump is noisy and I'm hoping one day to get it replaced. But it's working so we'll hang in there with it. Good job. Maybe you could come change ours out? LOL

  3. A very good post George! I am happy to see that you were able to complete the installation of your new pump. Thanks for the good pictures and description as you went about the new installation, all very interesting to me.


  4. I'm sure some where down the road we'll (meaning Greg) will have to replace our water pump. Good to see such good directions. Love your nature pics, also the neat photo emails you've sent! We plan to be in Park of the Sierra's in the next month or so, can't wait to eat at El Sid. Wish you two were there!!

  5. George,

    Next time take a look at the Sharkbite PEX connectors. No crimping, just push it in and it locks tight.


  6. Very nice blog!!! Thanks for sharing information regarding Electronic small water pump. It is really very helpful in gardening.