This post contains affiliate links (I get a commission at no extra cost to you for purchases made through links in this post).
Are you curious about how to fill up a motorhome, RV, or caravans water tank for your first trip, or are you interested in how it works? Don’t worry; I will cover that and more in this article, so you have come to the right place!
To fill up a motorhome, RV, or caravan with water, you first need to locate your fresh water tank and make sure that the top lid is closed; near the water tank on the outside of your vehicle, there is a water intake valve, fill the water tank via this hole with potable water using a hose, watering can or jerrycan.
There you have a summary to give you the general idea but don’t worry; a step-by-step guide on how to fill up the water tank comes right below.
1. Locate your water intake valve and fresh water tank
The water intake valve will be visible outside your motorhome, RV, or caravan, and it can look quite similar to a fuel cap, so make sure you know which one is which! Otherwise, you could fill up the fuel tank with water or the fresh water tank with fuel! Yes, I have heard stories about this happening!
Be aware, it can look similar to a fuel cap!
The water intake valve usually is somewhere in the middle of the motorhome on the left or right side and is generally marked with the text water around it.
From the intake valve, the fresh water tank is usually situated very close by; it could be under a couch, inside the floor, or in some other storage compartment where it is insulated and protected from freezing temperatures.
2. Ensure the fresh water tank is clean and closed
A good guideline is to open up and check inside the fresh water tank if it looks clean before refilling it or every other time, and when you do this, ensure that the lid is closed since if it’s not, water will flood out from there when you refill the tank.
If you want to know more about whether it is safe to drink water from your motorhome, RV, or caravan or not and how to keep the water in good condition, check out my other article on that subject.
3. Find a potable water source
How I refill my water tank depends on what water source I have access to; the most preferred one is a potable water tap where I can connect a food-grade water hose that will reach my motorhome. At campsites, they always have one of those water taps, which makes life easy; it is expected at houses and sometimes gas stations. When you find this, you can quickly fill up the water tank with your food-grade water hose.
If I don’t find a potable water source within reach of my motorhome for a hose or one that I can’t connect to, I will use a watering can or jerry can with a good pipe designated for potable water only.
If you don’t have access to a potable water source, a more long term solution is to install a proper water filtration system and water pump that can act as your potable water tap as long as you have access to any water source, such as a lake or river.
Since im wild camping all the time, this is an option that im looking into more and more and will hopefully build and upgrade to a solution like this, but it is not something many people would actually need.
4. Use clean and food-grade equipment
It is not only the water source that needs to be potable water for you to be able to drink the water inside your motorhome, RV, or caravan, the tools used to refill the water need to be as well.
Public places and campsites sometimes have a water hose connected to their water tap. You don’t know how long it has been there or what people have done to it. If there is a place to empty black water nearby, such as on campsites, people who don’t know any better sometimes use the public hose and its hose pipe to clean out their black water tank/toilet cassette, so be aware of this and at least use your hose pipe, I mostly use my water hose as well.
Get a food-grade water hose with a hose pipe and a set of different-sized connectors that you can use to connect your hose to different water taps. Please keep this in your motorhome easily accessible the whole time, so you use it every time you refill water and only handle drinking water.
If you can’t use a hose, ensure you have a watering can or another can with a long pipe that will fit nicely into your water intake valve and same principles here, make sure it is clean and in good condition to handle potable water.
5. Fill up your fresh water tank with potable water.
It is time to fill up the water tank via the water intake valve using clean food-grade equipment.
If you use a water hose, you usually need to hold the hose when it’s refilling if there is high water pressure; otherwise, it will just fly out of the intake valve, and you will get wet. This has happened to me a couple of times because I wanted to save time and do other things meanwhile the water tank was filling up, but now I have come to terms with the fact that someone needs to stand there and hold the water hose to ensure it doesn’t fly everywhere.
Whether you refill with a hose or some can, you will notice when the tank is getting full when you start hearing a difference in the sound the water makes while refilling, and a couple of seconds later, water will start splashing out from the intake valve.
A tip to not get wet when the water comes splashing out from the intake valve is to always stand on the side of it holding the hose and not in front.
6. Close the water intake valve and put back your equipment
Now when the water tank is full, and your motorhome, RV, or caravan is ready for a trip, make sure you close the water intake valve; the cap usually has a lock on it that I recommend using just in case some idiot is hating on motorhome owners and puts something inside your water tank which could harm you. At campsites or such safe areas, I don’t bother, but while wild camping / boondocking it can be easy to park in the wrong spot around bad people.
With your water intake valve closed, you need to get back your equipment; make sure to empty the water hose or can properly to avoid stagnant water inside and water leaking from the hose into your storage compartment.
Where Does The Water Go In a Motorhome (RV)?
Now that you have filled up the fresh water tank, you can start using the water system inside your motorhome, but where does the water go after going down the drain?
The water that is used inside a motorhome, RV, or caravan goes to a grey water tank, it is a holding tank for all of the used water, and it is usually the same size as the fresh water tank; a good rule is to always empty the grey water tank at the same time as you refill the fresh water tank.
To learn more about the grey water in a motorhome, how to empty it, and what nasty things happen when it gets full, check out my other article about it.
Learn How To Empty The Fresh Water Tank
To keep the water tank in good condition and prevent the water from getting stale and full of bacteria, drain the fresh tank if you won’t use the water within two weeks from refilling it.
Draining the fresh water tank is a relatively straightforward process where you need to locate a drain valve underneath the motorhome or a drain plug inside the fresh water tank and open it to drain the fresh water tank.
As always, when it comes to motorhomes, RVs, and caravans, there are a lot of tricks and different ways of doing things, and in my other article, you will learn how to drain the fresh water tank the best way, and you will even get a cleaner grey water tank at the same time!