When we left Minnesota the weather was well below freezing so I decided to forgo de-winterizing, leave without testing the water systems and instead do that once we got to where it was consistently above freezing. That meant that if I had a problem with the pump, water heater, tanks or plumbing I would find that out five hundred or a thousand miles from home.
That would be a pain.
My first plumbing anomaly showed up before we left when I noticed RV antifreeze on the van floor back by the fresh tank, pump and drain valves. I was concerned that it had leaked out from the plumbing over winter, perhaps from an improperly winterized pipe or pump. I could not find a source and eventually figured it was just some mess left over from when I winterized last October. We watched it on the way through Iowa and concluded that was the case.
After de-winterizing in a Kansas State Park, we noticed that the fresh water pump would run for a second every few dozen minutes. The pump doesn’t run unless there is a drop in pressure so there must be something causing pressure to drop. I brushed it off as perhaps the pump itself leaking back into the fresh tank and causing the pressure drop. But I also noticed a small amount of water dripping from the campervan body seam through the weep holes on the driver side rocker panel. The dripping could be from many sources – driving through a puddle, condensation, dew – or it could be from inside the van from the plumbing or tanks. I let it slide until I was pretty sure it was a actual leak from the inside of the campervan.
Two plus two equals four, and a water drip plus a running pump equals a plumbing leak. So yesterday morning I snooped around enough to determine the approximate location – behind either the bathroom or the refrigerator, inside the van not outside, and not from the grey or black tanks. (The water from the black and grey tastes different and isn’t clear).
After taking apart as much of the bathroom as possible in a campground fifteen hundred miles from home and finding everything dry, I pulled open a panel and reached under the fridge to see if I could feel any dampness or water. At the limit of my reach and ability to contort I felt damp insulation, up behind the fridge and between the inner and outer body panels of the van. That made sense, because any water in that area would have to drain down through the seam at the bottom of the rocker where the inner and outer body panels are joined. Because I’d already had the fridge out I knew what was back there – plumbing for the bathroom sink, toilet, black tank flush and outside faucet. A bit more contortion and blind feeling and I narrow it down to the area around the outside faucet.
Not having an endoscope handy, but able to reach my cell phone up between the body panels and snap a photo confirmed that the outside shower was the problem. The photo below shows a drop of water where none should be.
The outside faucet is removable from the outside or the van. Pulling it out and simply tightening the coupler seems to have stopped the leak. A day later the coupler is dry and nothing is dripping from the body seam.
But the pump still runs for a second every hour or so, and tonight the pump decide to start running on its own, and stay running until I hit the power switch.