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What Size Water Pump Do You Need for Your RV: RV Water Pump Troubleshooting

Updated: 6 days ago

Choose the right RV water pump size for optimal performance! Troubleshoot common issues and keep your water system running smoothly.

rv water pump

Having a reliable and efficient water system is essential when it comes to enjoying the great outdoors in the comfort of an RV. The heart of this system is the RV water pump that ensures a steady flow of water while on the road or parked at a campsite. A high-quality RV water pump can make all the difference in providing a seamless and enjoyable camping experience. However, like any other mechanical device, these pumps may encounter issues from time to time.

Understanding how these pumps work and being equipped with troubleshooting knowledge can be the key to a smooth and hassle-free experience while exploring the great outdoors. But if your camping party isn’t too familiar with the specifics of an RV water pump, don’t break a sweat! We’ve done the homework for you, so check out our guide below on the A to Z of RV water pumps. Whether you're a seasoned RV owner or a newbie, read on to discover everything you need to know about keeping your RV's water system flowing flawlessly.

How Does An RV Water Pump Work?

The RV fresh water pump is a crucial component in ensuring a smooth water supply within the vehicle's plumbing system. Acting as a heart for water circulation, it efficiently transfers water from the onboard freshwater tank to the various faucets, toilets, and showers throughout the RV. This becomes particularly invaluable for adventurers who love boondocking or exploring off-grid campsites where water connections are unavailable.

Commonly, freshwater RV pumps work on a 12-volt system. Though it is different from a 110-volt RV water pump, both pumps are similar in their working as they both ultimately only use 12-volt power. For the 110-volt RV water pump, the 110-volt power is directed into a power converter that changes the 110-volt to 12-volt charge, allowing the pump to function. The water pump’s ability to run off the RV’s battery bank grants RVers the freedom to have access to water wherever their travels take them. With the RV water pump's dependable performance, travelers can experience the joys of nature without compromising on essential amenities.

Factors to Consider When Choosing an RV Water Pump

When it comes to RV water pumps, striking the right balance between reliability and efficiency is essential. Here are some important factors to consider when choosing an RV water pump for camping:

PSI (pounds per square inch)

PSI is a unit of measurement used to gauge the pressure factor of water pumps. Typically, an RV needs only around 45-70 PSI to fulfill all its water requirements. Opting for a higher PSI means that you will receive a more powerful pump that can exert excessive pressure. This can also lead to potential long-term damage to the water pump itself and even to various components within your RV's plumbing system.

Flow Rate

The flow rate refers to the volume of water the pump can deliver per minute. First consider your water usage demands, such as the number of faucets, showers, and appliances you'll be using simultaneously. Then choose a pump with a sufficient flow rate to meet your requirements. Experienced travelers usually advise that a 2.5-5.5 GPM (gallon per minute) is a decent flow for most RVs.

Power Source

RV water pumps typically run on the vehicle's 12-volt system. However, some 12V RV water pump models may offer additional power options, like running off the RV's battery bank. Select a pump that aligns with your power setup and ensures reliable operation during camping trips and when disconnected from external power sources.

Self-Priming Capability

A self-priming RV freshwater pump can automatically remove air from the system and initiate water flow without manual intervention. This feature simplifies the setup process and prevents potential damage caused by the RV water pump spitting air, which can be significantly detrimental for RV users in the long run.


Consider buying a water pump from a reputable brand known for producing long-lasting and dependable products, one that might also be able to offer a warranty on your purchase. A durable pump can withstand the demands of travel and ensure long-lasting performance, while a reliable warranty provides added protection and support in case of any unexpected issues or malfunctions. For example, our water pumps are backed by our lifetime replacement policy, one of the best ones on the market.

What Size Water Pump Do I Need for My RV?

The size of the water pump needed for an RV depends on several factors, including the size of the RV, the number of water fixtures (sinks, showers, toilets, etc.), and the desired water flow rate. In general, most RVs use water pumps with a flow rate of around 3 to 5 gallons per minute (GPM). Here's a breakdown of water pump size recommendations based on RV size:

1. Small RVs (e.g., teardrop trailers, pop-up campers):

- Recommended Water Pump Size: 2.0 to 2.5 GPM

- Description: Smaller RVs with limited water fixtures and lower water demands can benefit from a smaller water pump size. A 2.0 to 2.5 GPM pump should provide adequate water pressure for basic needs.

2. Mid-size RVs (e.g., Class B, Class C motorhomes):

- Recommended Water Pump Size: 3.0 to 3.5 GPM

- Description: Mid-size RVs with more water fixtures, such as kitchen sinks, showers, and toilets, may require a water pump with a higher flow rate. A 3.0 to 3.5 GPM pump should handle the increased water demand.

3. Large RVs (e.g., Class A motorhomes, Fifth Wheels):

- Recommended Water Pump Size: 4.0 to 5.0 GPM

- Description: Larger RVs with multiple bathrooms, larger water tanks, and additional amenities may need a more powerful water pump to maintain sufficient water pressure and flow throughout the vehicle. A 4.0 to 5.0 GPM pump is suitable for these larger setups.

It's important to note that the actual water pump size needed may vary based on the specific layout and water fixtures of the RV. Additionally, factors like water tank capacity, water system design, and personal preferences for water pressure should also be considered when choosing the right water pump for your RV. Always consult the manufacturer's recommendations and specifications to ensure the best fit for your RV size and water requirements.

A Beginner’s Guide to Installing an RV Water Pump

Whether you are replacing an RV water pump, want to know how to prime an RV water pump, or need an RV water pump upgrade, we’ve got you covered! Follow our step-by-step guide below to learn how to install a pump all on your own.

Gather relevant tools first:

Before starting, gather all the necessary tools and supplies to install the water pump, so you do not have to waste time on equipment while you’re changing the pump. You'll need appropriate-sized hoses, hose clamps, Teflon tape, a screwdriver, a wrench, a utility knife, and, of course, the new water pump for your RV to get started!

RV water pump

Turn off your RV’s power and water supply:

Start by turning off any power supply to your RV. Ensure the pump does not have any current running through it and even turn off the breakers at the inverter so that the RV battery doesn’t have any electricity running through its wires. Additionally, also turn off the water supply to your RV water tank with pump by shutting off the main water connection or turning off the RV water pump switch. Remember to drain the water system in your RV. You can do this by turning on all the faucets and fixtures inside to remove all the water from the system. This will prevent water spillage during the installation.

rv water pump

Install the new pump:

Find the RV water pump switch location and disconnect the hoses and electrical connections from the old water pump. Take note of how the hose were connected for easier installation later. Then, position the new replacement RV water pump in the same location as the old one. Connect the hoses to the appropriate fittings on the pump, ensuring a secure fit using hose clamps, and attach the electrical wires to the corresponding terminals on the new pump. Make sure the connections are secure and insulated to avoid any accidents!

rv water pump

Prime your new RV water pump:

After ensuring the wiring is secure, turn on the water pump and let it self-prime. If your new pump is not self-priming, you may need to do it manually. Follow the manufacturer's instructions on how to prime an RV water pump.

rv water pump

Secure the pump in place:

Do a quick troubleshooting by turning on the water supply and checking for any leaks around the pump and hose connections. Tighten any fittings if needed. Once you are satisfied with the installation and everything is working correctly, secure the pump in place using screws or brackets. Remember to clean up any debris or tools from the installation and turn off all the faucets. With that complete, you’re good to go!

RV Water Pump Troubleshooting

When you’re on the road and relying on a steady water supply to satisfy your needs, RV water pump issues can be frustrating. Consistent maintenance and quick troubleshooting when RV water pump failure issues arise can prevent many common issues and ensure your needs are met. Here are 5 common RV water pump troubleshooting issues and their fixes!

  • Why do I have low water pressure in my RV?

Your RV may have low water pressure because of several reasons. These could include a clogged or dirty water filter, air trapped in the system, or a failing water pump. In order to fix it, you can start by checking and cleaning the water pump filter or replacing it if necessary. If you need to remove air bubbles from the system, turn on all the faucets and fixtures and allow the water pump to run until the air is flushed out. However, if the issue persists, inspect the pump for any signs of damage or wear and consider getting it repaired or replaced.

  • Why is my RV water pump not working properly?

There are many reasons for an RV water pump not working. Consider a blown fuse, a dead or weak battery, or a faulty RV water pump pressure switch as reasons why the water pump may not be turning on. But the fix might be an easy one. First, check the fuses and replace any blown ones. Ensure the battery is charged and can provide enough power to the pump. Test the RV water pump on/off switch and consider replacing it if it's defective.

  • Why is my RV water pump noisy?

All water pump newbies have felt this in their bones - why is the RV water pump noise so loud? If your RV’s quiet water pump suddenly causes noise during the pump's operation, it might be due to a loose mounting in the last installation, a damaged impeller, or worn-out bearings can. You can fix this by tightening the pump's mounting to eliminate any vibrations. Inspect the impeller for any signs of damage or debris and clean or replace the RV water pump if necessary, especially if the bearings are worn out.

  • Why is my RV water pump running intermittently?

If your RV water pump runs intermittently, it means that your RV water pump keeps running even when no water is being used. This can be because of a faulty pressure switch or the RV water pump leaking in the plumbing system which can cause the pump to cycle unnecessarily. To fix this, start off by checking and testing the RV water pump switch location to see if it's working correctly and replace it if needed. Check all water connections and fixtures for leaks and repair them to maintain proper pressure in the system.

  • Why does my RV water pump run dry?

If you’re wondering why your RV water pump is not pumping water despite you troubleshooting all other concerns, it might be because of a lack of water in the freshwater tank. Forgetting to fill the fresh water tank before running the pump or a faulty RV water pump check valve that doesn't detect water levels can cause the pump to run dry. For future runs, always ensure the freshwater tank is adequately filled before operating the water pump. If the pump doesn't have a built-in safety mechanism to prevent running dry, consider installing a separate low-water cutoff switch or sensor to protect the pump from damage.

Tips for RV Water Pump Maintenance

Regular care and maintenance is the key to keeping your freshwater RV pump systems in optimal conditions. Running an intervention can get difficult on the road, so here are our tips for RV water pump maintenance! With these, you can minimize the risk of unexpected breakdowns and costly repairs.

  • Regular inspection:

Conduct routine visual inspections of the 12V water pump RV system, hoses, and fittings to check for any signs of leaks, corrosion, or physical damage. Addressing issues early can prevent more extensive damage and costly repairs later.

  • Clean the filter:

Clean or replace the water pump's filter regularly to prevent debris buildup and clogging. A clean filter ensures optimal water flow and maintains the pump's efficiency.

  • Keep the pump dry:

Avoid exposing the water pump to excessive moisture or standing water to prevent RV water pump from pulsing. Elevated water levels around the pump can cause electrical or mechanical issues and lead to premature wear.

  • Use a strainer:

Install an RV water pump strainer or filter on the freshwater tank's intake hose to prevent debris from entering the pump. This simple addition helps protect the pump's internal components and ensures a smoother water flow.

  • Winterize properly:

When temperatures drop, be sure to properly winterize the water pump and the entire RV water system. This includes draining the water lines, adding antifreeze, and protecting the pump from freezing to prevent potential damage. If you aren’t sure on how to keep an RV water pump from freezing, check out some beginner guides online for visual aid.

  • Address leaks promptly:

If you notice any leaks around the water pump or plumbing connections, address them promptly. Leaks not only waste water but can also cause damage to the RV's interior or electrical components.

  • Lubricate moving parts:

Be sure to follow the manufacturer's recommendations to regularly lubricate the water pump's moving parts, such as the diaphragm and valves. Proper lubrication helps maintain smooth operation and extends the pump's lifespan.

Is Replacing Your RV Water Pump Worth it?

Lastly, we come to the age-old question: should I replace my RV water pump or not? It’s important to remember, water pumps are one of the most essential features of your RV and their proper functionality ensures that you have a reliable and smooth journey. Without the 12-volt water pump RV system working correctly, you could face serious issues when on the road. These could include a disruption in daily activities, risk of damage to the RV plumbing, and even a complete water shortage. It’s only after following through with the appropriate troubleshooting or consulting with a specialist and confirming that the pump might be malfunctioning, that you should consider replacing it.

A pump that’s shown signs of declining performance for a long time may result in further issues and the ongoing RV water pump replacement costs aren't cheap. Other than that, frequent breakdowns, leaks, or inefficiencies that can’t be resolved through regular maintenance also indicate an unreliable pump. To prevent unexpected water supply issues during travels, especially if you are traveling with family, it is advisable to upgrade to one of the pumps recommended above as they are some of the best RV water pumps in the market.


Understanding your RV water pump and being prepared to troubleshoot common issues can significantly enhance your camping experience. A well-functioning water pump ensures a steady water supply for all your needs on the road, providing comfort and convenience during your adventures. Keep an eye on this guide for your RV water pump issues, and you’ll be good to go. Happy camping!


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