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Water Treatment for RVs: Is Your Water Safe?

by Mark Timmons August 04, 2020 1 comment

If you have ever visited a campground, you already know that many of the water supplies you find make Flint, Michigan look like a walk-in-the-part. Iron, nasty tastes, rotten-egg odor, stains, high chlorine and just plain horrid water is commonplace across campgrounds all over North America. Add in the fact that even water that tastes OK, can be chemically or bacterially contaminated, and you can see this is a serious issue.

RV Life published an article in June of 2017 entitled Are You Drinking Contaminated Campground Water? (link: In part, Rene Agredano wrote:

You wouldn't take a sip out of your RV sewer hose, but connecting to some campground water supply lines could be just as disgusting and dangerous to your health.

Recent news headlines show that contaminated campground water is an ongoing problem around North America. Unfortunately you can't smell it or taste one of the most frequent contaminants, E-coli bacteria. Campers lacking RV water filtration systems are playing Russian Roulette each time they connect to a water supply.

Ms. Agredano ends by giving this advice:

  1. Fill your water tanks from a municipal water source.
  2. Install a RV water filtration system.

Choosing a RV water filtration system can seem overwhelming. Manufacturers offer many different ways to purify water but if you enjoy camping in rural locations, you may want to consider an Ultraviolet Light Sterilizer. Water purification experts say that UV light sterilizers can be used for an entire RV water system, not just drinking water. These systems don't usually cost as much as the second best RV water purification option, a Reverse Osmosis system. “RO” systems, as they're called, remove most contaminants from your RV water supply.

Don't leave home without a good RV water filtration system. After all, your intestinal health and even your life could depend on it.

As the author mentioned, there is a solution for these issues although there is no magic filter that solves all of these problems and if you are looking for such a thing, you can find it in Aisle 17, right there with Santa Claus and the Easter Bunny. If you don't get my sarcasm, let me spell it out: It does not exist! However, we do have engineered systems that can solve all of these problems and give you absolutely wonderful water.

US Water Systems frequently retrofits Motor Homes and other RVs with water treatment systems. You can roll into our World Headquarters and Manufacturing Facility in Indianapolis, Indiana and in less than a day, we can install a water treatment system that will deliver the best water this side of heaven.

True Story

Several years ago, a family asked us to retrofit their Luxury RV with a water treatment system that would handle just about any quality of water across the USA as they embarked on a year-long tour of America. About a year later, when the family got back, they called and asked if they could get the same type of system for their home, because the kids would not shower in the house as the water in the Motor Home was vastly superior and everyone got their drinking water from the RV. So, we fixed them up with the same type of system for their home as well.

What Do I Need for My Motor Home or RV?

A lot depends upon what type of motor home or RV you might have, as well as your budget. Whether you have a $12,000 Travel Trailer or a $2,500,000 Luxury Coach, we have a solution that will fit your lifestyle and pocketbook. Let's look at some popular methods:

Stage 1: Basic Filtration

This is where any successful water treatment system starts. We have filters that are 2-1/2 x 10, 2-1/2 x 20, 4-1/2 x 10 and 4-1/2 x 20. The 2-1/2 filters typically will flow 3-8 gallons per minute (gpm) which is all you really need for a smaller travel trailer or RV, but many times we encourage people to use the larger format filters (4-1/2), not because of flow rate, but because of the capacity. The larger the filter surface area, the better the filtration.

Whenever possible, use a larger filter for better filtration. I recommend that you utilize a 5- micron pleated pre-filter. Sediment depth filters (often called spun poly or melt blown filters) do not have enough surface area and string wound filters are highly inefficient. I have had many people tell me but string wound filters last a long time. Of course, they do because they don't filter very well. Hands down - the best sediment filter is pleated filter. Pleated polyester to be exact. A 5-micron pre-filter should be the first step in a successful and sustainable water treatment system.

Pleated filter cartridges outperform wound, spun, melt blown, resin bonded and other ”depth” type filter elements because these cartridges are pleated to provide increased surface area and longer life.

Stage 2: Carbon Filtration

Carbon filters are very effective at removing chlorine, chloramine, chemicals, pesticides, tastes and odors. It should always be preceded by a 5-micron filter and the carbon filter should be at least 10 microns (so as to not easily plug up). This carbon filter is for the purpose of water for showering, cleaning and washing dishes - I am not advocating that you drink this water, although it will certainly be better than the untreated water. I'll get to that later.

It's a bad idea to use a carbon filter without a sediment filter ahead of it, because it cuts down the life of it dramatically, and unless you are trying to remove lead, it would use a carbon filter that is at least 10 microns. Carbon filters are for the purpose of removing chlorine, chemicals, pesticides, tastes and odors, not sediment, so make sure the sediment is taken care of before the carbon. Packed GAC (granular activated carbon) is a cartridge that is cheap but is dinosaur technology. Carbon blocks have surpassed GAC as the best method of carbon filtration, but if you need higher flow rates, radial flow carbon filters are your best option.

Stage 3: Iron Filtration:

Many campgrounds have well water and a large percentage of well water contains iron (or rust as many people call it). It causes reddish, dark stains and is intolerable. I suggest utilizing a radial flow iron filter to filter this out (unless it is extremely high). If you happen to be at a campground where there is no iron, there is no problem. It's only there for iron issues.

Stage 4: Sub-Micron Filtration (Optional)

You don't have to use this stage, but I like the peace-of-mind that it provides. This filter uses electro-adhesion to remove sub-micron particles to below .01 microns. The US Water Systems Interceptor Filter has a has a layer of pleated material manufactured of Nano Alumina Fibers that have a Zeta potential of 51 millivolts. Many contaminants are actually "magnetically" removed from the water supply and "secured" in the Charged Filter. It reduces Chromium 6, bacteria, cysts, virus and lead.

Stage 5: Ultraviolet Disinfection

UV is the most advanced method to destroy bacteria on the market today. It assures nearly 100% destruction of bacteria, parasites, virus and cysts. Most importantly, it gives you the peace-of-mind in knowing your water is bacterially safe. You never know what kind of water quality you will find in a campground and UV is just the best way to assure that your water is microbiologically safe, especially if you have the Interceptor Zeta filter ahead of it.

Stage 6: Water Softener (Optional)

After all of the above stages, you may want to have the best water for cleaning, showering and bathing and the benefits that a water softener provides. There are manual water softeners, which mean that you have to make up a brine solution and regenerate it every few days or automatic softeners which regenerate automatically based upon usage.

There are a variety of water softeners of different sizes for Motor Himes and RV's. They include manual units like our ESCORT or fully automatic ones like our Traxx Mini.

Stage 7: Reverse Osmosis (Optional)

Many people with motor homes and RV's consume bottled water and the amount of plastic waste that is generated is immense, to say nothing of the space that bottled water takes up. More and more people are using a reverse osmosis system for drinking. A RO system removes the widest spectrum of contaminants of any water treatment process and you can have an unlimited supply of bottled water available right from a faucet at your kitchen sink. If you like to buy American, US Water Systems has the ONLY 100% Made in USA Reverse Osmosis System. Guess what we named it? The All-American RO (well duh)! We even have one that provides alkaline water if you are into the healthiest water possible.

So, what you many needs may depend upon you own personal preferences. Do you want to eliminate bottled water and plastic bottles? Do you want to shower and wash in chemical-free water? Do you want soft water for bathing, washing clothes and protecting your RV plumbing investment? Whatever degree of purity you decide is right for you, US Water Systems can deliver it, day-after-day with consistency.

Happy Trails!

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1 comment

August 07, 2020 Terry Lyles

Great Blog and thanks for the innovation from a wealth of knowledge and experience! Thanks Mark

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