By Russ and Tiña De Maris
Moving from a permanent large home to the confines of an RV and fulltime living will result in making many lifestyle changes. One of them is access to hot running water. Sure, you have a water heater in your RV. Typically it’s a six-gallon job, while your old land-based heater was probably 40 or 50 gallons. All is not lost: Most of you won’t be doing piles of laundry, so the biggest adjustment will be showers.
First, think “Navy shower.” You get in the shower, turn on the taps and adjust the temperature. Rinse off. NOW turn the valve on the shower head to turn off the flow of water, without turning off the mixing valves. Soap up, stick shampoo in your hair. Water back on, rinse off. For some this just isn’t satisfying, but with the “necessities” taken care of, now you can flip the valve open and “drain the tank” without fear of running out of hot water with shampoo on your dome.
But there’s something about a longer shower that’s heaven, particularly after a stressful day. A lot of things can affect the heart-warming quality of your shower. Water flow delivered from your rig’s water pump can be “choppy,” ranging from a nice, high-pressure flow at the full-up pressure end, down to a screamingly weak-sister flow, the one you get just before the pump cycles back on. An accumulator tank added to your plumbing supply line can help even out those flows. Or check into an RV park and hook up to “city water,” for a more assured even flow rate.
If showers are an important part of your emotional life, you’ll probably want to ditch the standard factory-equipped shower head. They deliver water, true enough, but one stream doesn’t necessarily fit all. Some swear by shower heads specially marked for RV use: oft cited are the Oxygenics models. We found a lower-priced residential shower head at a big box store worked wonders for the varying moods of shower takers, and without busting the budget.
Some full-timers who have “pilot light” water heaters rarely allow the main burner of their heater to come on. They simply leave the heater set on pilot when in warm climates, and let the pilot light heat the water in the tank. By so doing they reduce the amount of LP used and don’t suffer the “blowtorch” noise of the main burner popping off anytime day or night. Those with an electronic ignition often simply “turn on” the heater a few minutes before needing water, then shut it off when they’re through.
And from a related “practical showering tips” thought factory. When you’re done with your shower, don’t waste a lot of time letting scum, grime and mold have a chance to catch up with you. Use a little squeegee to wipe down the walls and shower floor. In fact, our appointed “shower attendant” thoroughly wipes down our shower with a towel after shower sessions, making the shower space available for storage, as required. Some RVers swear by doing a final wipe-down with a dryer softener sheet – the theory is they clean away dirt and leave it all fresh. Don’t know – never tried it – we don’t use dryer sheets.