By Gary Bunzer
Are you experiencing decreasing water pressure from your RV faucets? Here are a couple of things to check. Remove the faucet strainer at the outlet of that bathroom faucet set. It simply unscrews from the outlet. There may also be a flow restrictor component inside, depending on the brand of faucet used in your motorhome. A flow diverter may also be present — usually a white plastic piece with holes in it. It basically directs the output flow to a certain pattern. Be sure all the components in the tap outlet are clean and free from all obstructions. It’s common for mineral deposits to accumulate in this strainer assembly. It’s possible that significant flow restriction at the faucet would cause back pressure at the water heater. As an annual procedure, it’s also a good measure to perform this simple maintenance task at every faucet in the RV.
Additionally, some faucet assemblies have removable stems for both the hot and cold faucet valves. In some cases, these can be removed for cleaning. Again, it depends on which brand the manufacturer originally installed.
Your situation could also be caused by an issue originating at the rear of the water heater. Gain access to the rear of the heater from inside the RV. You’ll probably see a set of bypass valves used for winterizing. First check the valves themselves. You will either have a one-, two- or three-valve setup that allows you to bypass the water heater for winterizing purposes. Be sure the bypass valves are in the correct position and that the appropriate valves are either fully opened or fully closed.
There should also be a check valve at the cold water inlet to the water heater. The cold inlet is the bottom-most fitting. The check valve is a one-way backflow preventer that allows cold water in and prevents the heated water from migrating out of the water heater back into the cold piping system. It’s possible the check valve is partially open; again, mineral deposits can prevent the spring inside from closing off the valve completely. This is probably the source of the whistling noise you hear. You can obtain a new check valve at your local RV accessory store or on Amazon.com. It will attach with common pipe threads. Be sure to obtain the correct size. You will have to drain the water heater in order to remove the cold water line plumbed to that check valve fitting. Flush out the water heater as you drain it. There are aftermarket hose attachments available to aid in this process. This will help eliminate those pesky mineral deposits that can migrate to the faucets.
When installing the new check valve, apply a pipe thread sealant approved for freshwater systems to the male threads and carefully thread the new valve into the heater, taking care not to cross-thread it! Then simply re-attach the cold water inlet tubing to the new valve, apply water pressure to refill the heater and check for leaks. You’ll know the water heater is filled when you have free-flowing water from each hot faucet in the motorhome. It may take a minute or so of running to rid the system of air, but this should eliminate any blockages and that whistling noise.