When you’re camping in your RV without water hookups, you’ll need to find a way to fill up your fresh water tank. This water if for doing dishes, taking a shower, using the toilet, and for drinking. Some of the most amazing places you can camp won’t have water to hook up to where you’re parked, so learning how to fill your fresh tank is key to boondocking and more rustic camping!
How To Fill Your RV Fresh Water Tank
Here’s a simple step-by-step tutorial on how to fill up your fresh water tank:
Step1: Locate the Intake for Your RV Fresh Water Tank
On our RV, the fresh water fill intake is right next to the regular city water connection, on the driver’s side of the RV. Some RVs have a threaded connection for the fresh water tank, some just have a hole in the side that you rest the hose in. Ours doesn’t have threads, so we just hold the hose in place to fill up.
Step 2: Park Your RV as Close as Possible to the Water Source
Pull your RV up nice and close to the water source so your hose isn’t stretched too tight. It is also extremely important to make sure you find a POTABLE water spigot. Many dump stations have a water connection but they are used for washing sewer lines and SHOULD NOT be used for filling your fresh water tank.
Step 3: Connect Your Fresh Water Hose to the Spigot
Using a quick-connect hose connection can make this easy-peasy! Make sure you are using a designated fresh water hose. These hoses are usually white. They are made with a different material than regular garden hoses, specifically drinking water safe and should not be used for anything other than your drinking/fresh water. (Do not use them for flushing waste tanks or rinsing sewer tubes!) It can be a good idea to use a water pressure regulator here as well. You will screw on the regulator to the spigot and then your hose to the regulator before you start filling.
Step 4: Connect Your Fresh Water Hose to Your RV
For us, we use an right angle adaptor on the end of our hose so we can prop it in the hole that fills our fresh water tank, there are no threads. If your fresh water tank fill hole is threaded, a right-angle adaptor can be really helpful as well as to not create too much tension on that connection with a hose sticking straight out the side. It is also a really good idea to have a water filter hooked up to this side of the hose. Not all water is created equal, we have had a very unfortunate experience with forgetting our filter and then turning on our faucets to reveal brown water flowing! Learn from our mistake!
Step 5: Turn on the Water
Time to start filling that fresh water tank!
Step 6: Watch the Gauge Inside the RV
This is easier with two people, but someone needs to be keeping an eye on how full the tank is using your tank monitors inside the RV. Once your tank is reading full, time to turn off the water at the spigot. Or, ya know, just wait until water starts spewing out the fresh water fill hole….that works too!
Step 7: Coil your Fresh Water Hose up to Store
We like to connect the two ends of our hose together so it is in a loop, this way we don’t have to worry about dust, dirt, or bugs crawling into it while it’s stored under the RV.
Where to Find Fresh Water
Before you get to your destination, check to see if the campground has a fresh water fill station. Many campgrounds do have fresh water on location and you can pull up there before you get to your spot. If it doesn’t, you’ll need to fill before you get there.
Campground Fresh Water Hookup
These are usually near the sewer connection (if there is a sewer connection) at the campground. Make sure the water is potable before you follow the instructions above to fill your fresh water tank. Often times they will also have potable water spigots near the restrooms that you can either pull up to and fill, or use your portable water jugs to fill and then transfer to your RV.
Potable Water at an RV Dump Station
Making sure you are filling up at the correct spigot. DO NOT USE THE SEWER RINSE OUT SPIGOT TO FILL YOUR FRESH TANK. You can use crowd-sourced apps and websites like Campendium or The Dyrt can help you locate dump stations around the country. Often the reviews on these sites will be able to let you know if the dump station also has potable water you can fill with.
Highway Travel Center
Loves and Pilot Flying J travel stations will often have a faucet you can hook up to and fill your fresh tank. You will usually need to pay to fill your tank at these locations.
Some rest stops will have a faucet that you could potentially hook up to for fresh water. Campendium or The Dyrt sometimes also specify rest stops and can let you know if there will be water there ahead of time.
How to Re-fill While Parked in a Campsite with No Water Hookups
A couple of portable 6-gallon water jugs are a must if you are camping for longer than your fresh water tank will last in a place with no water hookups. You can drive to any area with a faucet and fill your portable jugs and bring them back to your RV. They can get very heavy, so you need someone strong to lift them and pour the water. If you have a threaded fresh tank connection, get a tank vent to allow air to exit your tank as you pour water in. You can also get a pump that you’ll need to power with your car battery, or a drill pump that is powered with a cordless drill!
Our best camping spots have been the ones where we have had to fill our fresh water tank before arriving. While it is a little extra effort to have to fill instead of camp in a full hook-up spot, it is so worth it!
Here are a few additional tips to consider before you head out to your epic camping adventure!
- Traveling with a full fresh-water tank is heavy and can lead to lower fuel mileage. If you can, plan ahead and find a place to fill your tanks close to where you plan to camp
- Do not ever fill your tank with non-potable water. If no potable water is available and you are in a bind, you can fill jugs and boil the water before you use it. Always boil the water for three minutes and then allow to cool. You can also buy water purifying tablets to have on hand, just in case.
- Consider a secondary water filter inside your RV. We know from our several years of fulltime travel that water around the country is very different and sometimes quite questionable, even the potable stuff. We always filtered the water at the hose when the water went into our fresh tank but we also used a Berkey Filter on our counter for our drinking water. We felt comfortable washing dishes and brushing teeth with our fresh water, but for drinking and cooking we liked to have the double filter. A Berkey is the next best thing to reverse osmosis and cleans out most contaminates. We use it in our house as well, and we will literally never camp without it (even though it does take up precious counter space!)
- Don’t forget to periodically clean/sanitize your fresh water tanks to keep them from growing yucky things. You can buy a special fresh water tank cleaner, or like us, you can just use white vinegar as a natural option.