This is our list of 7 Must-Have RV Plumbing Accessories – gadgets and tools that we would not travel without. Great plumbing accessories are essential for comfortable RV living, whether you are in an RV full time or part time.
If you think about it, one of the main reasons why it is better to be alive now than a couple of hundred years ago is … plumbing! Just stop for a second and imagine life without it. Not pretty. On a guided tour of the Versailles Palace, we were told that there was a reason why the ladies of the court had small dogs trailing them everywhere – because their enormous skirts made it impossible for them to sit down and utilize the rudimentary bathrooms … so, the dogs were batting cleanup all day! Apparently they didn’t do the best job in the word, which is why the royals had so many castles – when one got too smelly, they would move on to the next. A different form of nomadic life, to be sure! Personally, I would rather live in a tiny RV with basic plumbing, than an enormous castle with no usable plumbing!
Of course, plumbing in an RV is more complicated than in regular homes. You have to be a bit more hands-on about it, and you have to take steps to protect your systems against potential irregularities in the sites you visit. Fortunately, with the right gadgets, you can take good care of one of the best things in the world: plumbing!
RV Must-Have Accessory #1: Adjustable Water Pressure Regulator
Every time you pull into an RV site with hookups, one of the first things you are going to do is hook up your water inlet pipe. But the trouble is, every RV site is different. Water pressure varies enormously, and it even varies in the same park from day to day. Why is that a problem? Picture this: a family with a brand new Fifth Wheeler pull into an RV park, hook up their water, and head off for a hike. When they get back, their entire rig is flooded, because the water pressure was so high it blew out their pipes. Living the dream …
This is one of the worst things that can happen in an RV, but it is so very easy – and cheap – to prevent. A good quality, adjustable water pressure regulator lets you know exactly what is going on, and gives you the power to regulate your water pressure to your own preferences. We recommend this Valterra A01-1117VP Brass Lead-Free Adjustable Water Regulator. It is working well for us. The best thing about it is that it by default it is set to 40 psi, which is a safe pressure. So when we use it, all we have to do is screw it in, and let it protect our water system.
Note: Because we once had a disastrous flood in our condo, I am very nervous about floods. Every single time we leave the RV for longer than an hour, I switch off the water. This might be over-kill, but really, it takes two seconds, and to my mind, it is an easy precaution to protect your RV even more.
RV Must-Have Accessory #2: Black Water Valve
An RV vacation is all about living the dream, right? Parking next to a spectacular lake or ocean, firing up the BBQ, kicking back with a beer or a glass of wine. Well yes, that is a big part of it. But there are also a number of much less fun activities that simply have to be done, to keep the dream running along smoothly. Most people would agree that the single worst chore that is absolutely essential is draining the black tank. What can make this task worse is having even the smallest amount of sewage drip onto you or your campsite. Unfortunately, this is really common with the standard system.
At first, I though that this valve was in the “Nice-to-Have” pile. That was until the first time we camped without a sewer hook-up, and had to dump a week’s worth of grey and black water before we left.
We always find getting packed up, battened down, and hitched up quite stressful. It is literally the ONLY time my calm, competent, wonderful wife ever yells at me. So then you add in having to stop and dump smelly fluids for half an hour. AND then, when I undo the sewer cap on the RV, for some reason some of the fluids were WAITING right there, and spewed out forcefully on my sneakers and jeans. Lovely. Then I had to try and clean the mess on the ground, as well as hose myself down in the freezing cold. And then drive 150 miles with wet pants. Suddenly, a black water valve moved from the “nice-to-have” pile to the “Top Priority” pile. I bought one of these black water valves the next day. It was a cinch to install (even for me, and I am NOT handy), and it works perfectly.
All in all, this Valterra T58 Twist-On Waste Valve is a must-have. You attach it to the black water outlet, and it enables you to block the residue until you have hooked up the hose. Absolutely nothing can leak out. This gadget is cheap, and really is worth its weight in gold. Such peace of mind, knowing I will never again be sprayed with an interesting mixture of grey and black water! Actually, I should have put this gadget at No. 1!!!
RV Must-Have Accessory #3: Robust RV Sewer Hose with a Clear Elbow
You absolutely must have a good strong sewer hose to empty out your black water tank. Bizarrely, these do not come standard with all RVs. I have heard sad tales of people on their first trip, suddenly realizing they just don’t have this essential item. And even if it does come standard, this thing is as vital as your tires. So check the quality of the sewer hose, and if it seems even the tiniest bit suspect, upgrade to a quality item that is rated for freezing conditions, such as the highly rated Dominator RV Sewer Hose Kit. Make sure you have an extension too – every RV site is different, and you don’t want to find your hose is too short to reach the dump tank!
This is not an area where you want to skimp – just think about how much fun you will have if your cheap sewer hose explodes while you are emptying out your black tank. Finally, make sure you get a sewer hose with a clear elbow so you can monitor what is coming out of your RV. When I am draining the tanks, I pull up a comfy chair and keep a watchful eye on everything that comes out. And when I am done, I flush the black tank for about 10 minutes more, until I am sure that the water is running clear and no more toilet paper is coming out. I don’t really know how anyone manages without a flush system for the black tank – it is extraordinary how much more gunk comes out when you are flushing it out. Fortunately, our RV has a flush system for the black tank – and that, coupled with the clear elbow, enables me to make sure the black tank is completely cleaned out. Of course, that is vital to eliminate smells – and it also ensures that the tank level monitors can work properly.
RV Must-Have Accessory #4: A Great Shower Head
The good news is that your RV will come with a shower head. The bad news is that it is almost certain to be garbage. It will be cheap plastic, and will provide unsatisfactory water pressure. If you are going to be RV-ing for long periods, you really owe it to yourself to ensure you can take at least halfway decent showers.
Fortunately, it does not cost much to replace your RV shower head with a much better one.
The Oxygenics shower heads are very highly recommended. They mix air into the line for greater pressure, and they enable you to stop the flow while you soap up. The Oxygenics Fury comes with a low flow of gallons per minute, a lifetime guarantee, and 5 spray settings. This is the one we have, and Maggie absolutely loves it. I usually use the public showers when we are in RV parks, to save wear and tear on our rig. However, Maggie loves the convenience of showering in our own unit, plus the options available on the Oxygenics Fury shower head.
If you want a cheaper option, the Oxygenics Body Spa has just one spray setting, but otherwise offers very similar features.
Personally I am happy to spend money on the best shower head I can get, as I really love my showers! Below is our shower with our Oxygenics shower head. It took me second to install it. It does ship with quite a bit of hardware, but if you already have a shower head, you simply unscrew your old one and screw this one on.
RV Must-Have Accessory #5: Sewer Hose Support
This device will cradle your sewer hose, protecting it from objects on the ground, and letting you create a downward flow that will ensure you get good drainage, and don’t leave anything nasty in the hose. This one is made from sturdy, long-lasting plastic and comes with a handy carry handle to pick it up and put it back in your storage. Most full-timers, and even those who just spend a lot of time on the road, consider this must-have accessory to extend the life of your essential sewer hose.
RV Must-Have Accessory #6: Water Filter
You will be using water supplies at a variety of places, and have no way of knowing what the water quality is like. Contaminated water can make you sick, so a water filter a necessity. Most RV owners simply attach an inline unit to their hose that combines carbon filtration and sediment removal.
If you are RVing full time, you may prefer to get a bigger, faster water filtration setup, such as the filter cartridge system below.
If you want to delve deeply into the complex choices for RV water filtering systems, check out this excellent post on Choosing the Best RV Water Filter.
RV Must-Have Accessory #7: Water Bandit
This is an ingenious, cheap gadget that ensures you can get water from any tap, even if the thread is stripped or incompatible with your hose. Keep a Water Bandit in your glove compartment – when the time comes that you need it, you will be so glad you got it!
With the right RV accessories, you can enjoy all the comfort and convenience of electricity and plumbing with complete peace of mind!
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