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Tips for fresh water whilst on tour

After spending a few days in a caravan, it’s a surprising discovery to see how much water us humans actually use on a typical day – a minimum of 23 litres.

This means you are going to be faced with carrying at least 23kgs from tap to caravan per person per day, unless you are lucky enough to have a fresh water supply direct to your site.

The easiest way of carrying water from the tap back to your caravan is in a rolling barrel water carrier such as the Hitchman Aqua Roll. A short length of food-grade filler hose with rubber nozzles that fit over the tap is helpful to have with you as well, for directing the water cleanly from the tap into the water carrier. You can also use this product to connect to the Whale 12v submersible water pump installed on the outside of your Caravelair caravan.

Virtually all new caravans use 12-volt water pumps and whichever unit is employed, it’s necessary to dunk the pump in the water supply and shake it around underneath the water before plugging the inlet in, to eliminate air locks.

Dos and don’ts

  • Do be meticulous about hygiene at the water point
  • Don’t let children play round the taps
  • Do make a habit of switching off the pump when you are away from the caravan
  • Don’t injure your back carrying heavy containers
  • Don’t waste water – it is precious!

Cleaning water containers, pipes and related equipment

Whether leaving your tanks full or totally empty during longer periods of storage is a hotly contested issue. However, properly treated water is fine to stay in your tanks for a period of time.

After a bout of water contamination or a prolonged period of storage, you may find it necessary to clean your tanks and plumbing. First you need to decide on a cleaning agent, and then you need to flush all the plumbing in the caravan before completely draining and rinsing the tanks.

A range of agents can be used to clean a caravan water system, including bicarbonate of soda and/or white vinegar, a bleach solution and commercial products such as Tank Cleen by Camec. Make sure you follow the instructions provided on the pack carefully and don’t use domestic bleach. You should also clean out any connecting hoses and fresh water containers at the same time.

  • Completely drain the system (open all taps to allow air in, enabling the system to drain quickly).
  • Remove any fitted water filters and replace them with a short length of hose or empty filter cartridge (this will ensure the filter is not affected by the disinfectant/sterilising solution being used).
  • Fill the system by using the pump with a disinfectant or sterilising solution (check that the solution at full strength appears at all taps and at the shower if you have an ensuite in your caravan). Allow this to stand for the recommended period of time.
  • Drain the system down completely.
  • Thoroughly clean the outside of all taps and connectors with a cloth soaked in the disinfectant or sterilising solution.
  • Then flush the system through with clean drinking water until there is no trace of the disinfectant or sterilising solution at any tap.
  • Replace the filter.

Filters should be replaced at the recommended intervals, regardless of how often they have been used.

Water pumps: operation and maintenance

Most caravans are equipped with submersible pumps, and a good quality submersible pump should give unfailing service for 10 years or more, but many develop faults more frequently – so always carry a spare, especially if travelling over long distances to some of our less populated areas.

Troubleshooting

Motor not running

  • Is the battery empty? Try the lights to see if they work.
  • Is the pump switched on at the distribution unit? Many caravans have a control switch.
  • Has a fuse failed? Fuses are usually fitted at the distribution unit in the wardrobe (or under the front seats if you are in a camper).

Motor running but no water at the tap

With a submersible pump, air sometimes gets trapped in the casing. Disconnect the hose from the input coupling and swing the pipe so the pump gently strikes the side of the water container, under the surface. This usually dislodges air bubbles. Check the filter regularly and clean if necessary. If there is internal damage, the pump can be serviced or repaired by the supplier. One of the seals or O-rings inside the assembly sometimes fails and pump chambers cease to be airtight. Spares kits are available but repairs would normally be referred to a specialist.

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