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Why Does My RV Water Pump Keep Running? Try These Troubleshooting Tricks

One of the worst sounds to an RVer is when their water pump keeps running randomly. This cycling can indicate an issue with the water pump or the water system itself. Don’t delay looking into this because it could cause some serious damage to your RV.

Today, we’re looking at why your RV water pump keeps running and what you should do. Let’s get started.

What Is an RV Water Pump? 

An RV water pump is a part of an RV’s fresh water system. The pump sends water from the fresh tank to an RV’s faucets, toilets, and showers. This is an essential component for camping in locations without a water source or a water connection at the campsite. Its even handy for a quick roadside stop because you have running water.

RV water Pump
An RV water pump is usually installed in a water bay or cabinet somewhere in the RV.

The pump pressurizes the water lines in the system, which means when you open a faucet or flush the toilet, it releases the pressure, and the water comes out. The pump detects the pressure loss and begins pumping to repressurize the lines. Water continues to pump through the lines until you close the faucet, and the pump detects the proper pressure in the pipes.

Pro Tip: Keep an ear out for these 5 Weird Noises Your RV Water Pump Makes and What They Mean.

Why Does My RV Water Pump Keep Cycling? 

There are a few reasons why your RV water pump keeps running. You’ll want to take note of how often it cycles. If your RV water pump keeps running every so often, it’s likely due to a slow leak in the system. You’ll want to have this checked out because even a small leak can cause significant damage to an RV.

If your water pump keeps running and you have not found a leak, you’ll want to check your pressure switch. These small sensors turn the pump on and off according to the pressure in the water lines. These switches have set limits and if the limit is set to high it will not turn off. Also loose wires or a failing pressure switch can cause the pump to keep running.

pressure switch location rv water pump

If your pump is cycling on and off when running a faucet this may be normal operation. The pumps come on and off based on the water pressure and it will fluctuate when flowing water.

However, before you panic, make sure no one is actively using the water to shower, do dishes, or rinse off items with an outside shower hose. These actions will cause the pump to run continuously when everything in the system is functioning as it should.

How Often Should an RV Water Pump Cycle? 

An RV water pump should only cycle when using water, and the system loses pressure. If the water pump in your RV cycles when you’re not actively using water, you should immediately look into it.

When you’re using water in your RV, the pump will run more often the greater the water flow is from the faucet. The pump will run continuously during high flow situations like doing dishes or showering. However, if you slow the water flow to almost a drip, it will cycle very slowly and may run every 5 to 10 seconds.

If you randomly hear the pump cycle quickly every few hours it may just be that the pump is losing a little pressure internally. If you have not found any leaks this may be a normal operation for your pump, but many will not cycle at all for many hours or days if not used.

Pro Tip: Understanding the ins and outs of your RV water system can be complicated. Learn more about How Does an RV Water System Work?

Try These Troubleshooting Tricks to Stop Your RV Water Pump from Running

If your RV water pump keeps running, you can check a handful of things before panicking. You may not have to haul your RV to a repair shop or call a mobile technician to come to you. Many of the issues are pretty simple fixes that just about anyone can take care of in minutes.

Check If a Tap or Valve Is Open

First of all, check all the taps and valves in your water system to see if one is open. Some RVers have discovered outside shower valves were left on, and the hose would release pressure sporadically. This slight pressure loss will cause the water pump to cycle for a second or two while it repressurizes the water lines.

Anytime a valve or faucet is open, the water pump will cycle. So it’s a good idea to be aware of the water usage in your RV before getting too concerned about issues with your water pump.

One common mistake some people make is leaving the outside shower on and switching the pump off. The next time it’s turned on it might spray water outside without you knowing it.

outside rv shower
make sure the outside shower is off if your pump keeps running

Make Sure Your Water Source Is on the Correct Setting

Some RV water systems have complex setups that require the adjustment of knobs and switches for them to function correctly. A knob not being positioned correctly to open a valve can disrupt the flow from the fresh water tank to the various faucets, toilets, or showers in your RV.

You may need to adjust your water system a couple of times while camping. Try using one setting while filling your RV’s fresh water tank and another when camping. Check your owner’s manual for any specific adjustments you might need to make on your rig when using the water pump.

water pump settings RV

Check for a Water Line or Connection Leak

If your RV water pump keeps running at regular intervals, it can be a sign of some sort of leak. The more the water pump cycles, the more intense the leak could be. So you must check your water lines or at the connections.

If you can locate the cause of the issue, it may just require you to tighten a fitting. You can often do this by using a wrench or applying plumbers’ tape to the threads. Look under all of the sinks in your RV and any water connections you can locate. No matter how big or small the leak, it will likely have a puddle of water near the loose connection or leak.

Pro Tip: To fully understand your RV water pump, you’ll need to know What Does an RV Accumulator Tank Do?

RV water lines
Check the fittings around your RV water lines for leaks.

Make Sure the RV Water Pump Filter Is Clear of Debris

You may not know it, but a water pump has a filter. This helps prevent dirt and debris from getting to any of the sensitive components in the pump. If it gets clogged, it can create drops in pressure in the water pump. 

First, access your water pump to check for any debris. Then, unscrew the mesh screening cap and softly scrub it with a toothbrush or wire brush to clean off any deposits sticking to the filter. Finally, put everything back together and make sure it’s tight.

Determine If the RV Water Pump Has a Leak

If your RV water pump keeps running, it could also be a sign of a leak in the water pump itself. This could result from a crack or fracture in the pump’s casing. If this is the case, you’ll likely need to replace the entire unit. However, an RV water pump is relatively inexpensive and is a simple enough job that almost anyone can do.

Make Sure the Pressure Switch Is Working

A faulty pressure switch can also cause your RV water pump to keep running or run irregularly. This could be a loose connection, faulty wiring, or a bad switch. You’ll need to use a multimeter to test the connections and confirm whether the switch is the issue.

Typically only a few screws hold them in place. However, if you’re in the middle of the trip, you likely won’t have a spare pressure switch. Take note of your water pump’s brand and specific model number to ensure any replacement part you buy is compatible.

Pro Tip: Ensure you have the best water pump installed by getting one of these 5 Best 12V RV Water Pumps.

How Do I Reset My Water Pump? 

RV water pumps don’t have a reset on them. However, you may have to reset the pressure switch on the water pump. If the pressure switch functions, simply flip it up and down until it begins cycling at the appropriate time. It’s as simple as that.

rv water pump switch
You can turn your pump on and off, but its not really a reset.

Can You DIY Fix an RV Water Pump?

RV water pumps are relatively inexpensive to replace, typically less than $75. They’re relatively simple systems that often can last several years when you take care of them. When they do fail, you can typically buy replacement parts to fix the pump yourself, as many of the pieces are pretty standard. 

Because they are relatively inexpensive, replacing the entire unit may cost less than hiring someone else to fix it. By the time you pay for any parts and the labor, it’ll likely cost you more than if you had purchased a new one. 

Have you ever had an RV water pump that would keep running? Tell us in the comments!

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About Tom Morton

Tom, a Pacific Northwest native, is our technical genius. Born in Washington and raised in Alaska before settling in Michigan. He's the man who keeps our operation running, both figuratively and literally.

With a background in Electrical Engineering, Tom specializes in RV solar systems and lithium batteries. He made history as the first documented individual to use a Tesla battery module as an RV battery. Tom has personally assisted countless RVers with system installations and has educated thousands more through his videos and articles.

Cinematography is another of Tom's passions, showcased in his work on the Go North series. You can see his camera skills on display in The RVers TV show on Discovery Channel and PBS where he also stars as a co-host.

Tom's mechanical expertise extends beyond RVs to boats, planes, and all things mechanical. He's renowned for taking on maintenance and repair projects single-handedly and is often spotted underneath RVs, making him the technical backbone of our endeavors.

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Eric Palmer

Wednesday 21st of June 2023

I own a 2021 Forest River Surveyor but had never used the 12 volt water pump system . I decided I may need it because of an upcoming week's stay in Acadia with no amenities. After filling the tank with fresh water, I turned on the pump and waited for pressure to build. After the pump shut off, water seemed OK but not a lot of pressure. The next time I turned it on, the pump kept running and wouldn't shut off. I have checked for leaks...none. Thought there was not enough water in the tank, so I topped off. Pump keeps running, but very low pressure. Certainly not enough for a shower! It doesn't seem like the pump is building enough pressure to shut off. Possibly a switch adjustment? It's brand new. I don't know where to begin troubleshooting. Also, the pump is mounted upside down because of plumbing configuration(I assume), but have read it should not matter. The pump is a Max Flow (yellow). Any thoughts would be appreciated. Thanks...Eric.

Mortons on the Move

Thursday 22nd of June 2023

Direction should not matter. Seems strange for use, could be an infant pump failure. Does water flow ok without the pump in the system? Could also be a clogged prefilter, these pumps dont have as good of lift as they do output pressure so it could be struggling there, however it should still get to pressure eventually.

Dale Jag

Tuesday 5th of April 2022

2 things worth mentioning. If your battery voltage is low, the pump will continuiously run. Also, if you have a swamp cooler (evaporative water cooler) the resivor may be filling and the pump will run on and off.