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5 Weird Noises Your RV Water Pump Makes and What They Mean

5 Weird Noises Your RV Water Pump Makes and What They Mean

RVs can make a lot of weird noises. After many years on the road, we have heard a lot of them and can tell you some should send you into a panic, while others are entirely normal. Many RVers hear noises from their water pump and immediately think the worst. However, the RV water pump noise you hear can tell you a thing or two about your rig.

Today, we’ll walk you through a handful of the weird RV water pump noises you might hear. Let’s dive in and get started!

What Is an RV Water Pump?

An RV water pump is vital to an RV’s plumbing system. The pump pressurizes the water lines and helps move water from the freshwater tank to wherever the water is needed. It could be a shower faucet, toilet, or sink. Water pumps allow RVers to use their RVs in places with no water spigot nearby to provide water to an RV. It opens the possibilities to camping in remote areas and other off-grid camping options.

Many times the water pump is located near the water tank, and many times in a bay or utility cabinet. It’s important to know where your water pump is and be able to lay eyes on it quickly in case something goes wrong. A major leak from a water pump can do a lot of damage to an RV.

Excited RV Faucet
Without an RV water pump, you couldn’t use your faucets when camping off-grid.

Should You Hear the Water Pump in an RV?

While it may be concerning at first, hearing noise from your RV’s water pump is normal. Hearing the hum of your water pump running means it’s pumping water to an open water faucet, toilet, or shower head. However, you should only hear the water pump when you’re using water.

Very loud pumps can be annoying and there are ways to quiet them down, but hearing the pump is not always a bad thing. When you hear the pump it indicates water is flowing and is a reminder to be conservative because you are not hooked up.

If you hear the water pump running and all the water fixtures are closed, you could have a major situation. The first thing you need to understand about water pump noise is when it runs. When you first turn it on it will run for a bit to pressurize the lines, but should shut off within a few seconds. In larger RVs, it is possible that it will run for up to a minute if the system is completely depressurized.

As the pump starts pressurizing the tone of the pump will change until it shuts off because of pressure building. The more you hear the pump the more you will start to understand its normal sound. If your pump is making any noises besides a hum as it pulses, you’ll want to investigate to ensure there’s nothing you need to repair.

How Long Does an RV Water Pump Last?

Under normal circumstances, an RV water pump should last approximately 10 years or longer. However, this is under ideal circumstances and assumes you’ve properly maintained it. If you don’t take care of your water pump, you can expect its lifespan to shorten. 

Some full-time RVers who regularly use their water pump will have to replace it after five to seven years. Replacing an RV water pump is an inexpensive and straightforward repair that just about anyone with basic DIY skills can handle.

Need to replace your RV water pump? Discover your best options here: 5 Best 12V RV Water Pumps.

RV water pump and water lines
RV water pumps can last up to 10 years.

How Do I Know if My RV Water Pump Is Bad?

One of the most obvious signs that your RV water pump is bad is that you won’t get any water when you open a fixture. Another significant sign is if you experience irregular or inconsistent pressure in the lines.

Water pumps also have sensors that turn them off when full pressure is reached. If this sensor fails is also possible that the water pump will not shut off.

Essentially, if there are any water issues in your RV and you’re trying to use the water in your fresh water tank, you’ll want to investigate your water pump first.

5 Weird Noises Your RV Water Pump Makes and What They Mean

You should be comfortable noting the normal operational sounds of your water pump and understand its normal on-off cycle. Every RV is a little different but in general, the pump should only run when running water and then for a little while after. Anything outside of normal could indicate a problem.

Besides changes in normal operational patterns, there are a few different sounds you might hear that could indicate something else. Let’s take a look at some of these different things you might encounter.

Growling or Churning

You should only hear a faint hum when using your RV’s water pump. If you’ve been using the water in your fresh water tank and begin to hear growling sounds, you’re likely running low on water. Check the gauges to see how much water is in your freshwater tank. Filling it up should resolve these noises.

The noises typically occur when air gets into the system. Don’t panic if you continue to hear the growling until you run a generous amount of water through your system. You may continue to notice that the water pump growling continues for some time until all of the air is out of the lines.

You might also experience water spitting in the sinks because air is getting into the lines.

My RV Water Pump is TOO loud

Excessive Vibrations

Many RVers experience a very loud RV water pump noise due to its mounting. Manufacturers will often secure water pumps to the floor of an RV with nothing more than screws. An easy way to minimize noises from vibrations is to remove the screws and install a piece of foam padding underneath the water pump. You may need to use longer screws, but the foam padding should minimize the vibration noises.

We have added additional padding like foam or carpet pieces to each of our RVs over the years and it has helped the noise out a lot.

RV water Pump with carpet padding under it
This is one of our RV pumps, note the carpet padding under it.

Random Cycling

A water pump should only cycle when it needs to pressurize the water lines. If the water lines are airtight, the water pump should only cycle when you open a faucet or use water in your RV. If you’re hearing random cycling, it’s likely a sign that you have a small leak in a line or a check valve failing on the water pump.

This is one of the main reasons why many RVers only use their freshwater tank. It helps them to become aware of any leaks in their water system. If you only use the city water connection, a leak could go undetected for weeks, months, or possibly years. Water leaks can do a tremendous amount of expensive damage to your RV. It could even cause mold to grow in your RV, which could cause a serious health situation.

Never underestimate a water leak! Find out why Water Damage Is The Biggest Downfall of RVs.

Water Line Leak In RV with floor damage
Water leaks can cause expensive water damage, so it’s best to address them as quickly as possible.

Banging in Walls

Some RVers have discovered a banging noise inside their walls when running water. This is often due to RV manufacturers running water lines too close to walls and unsecured. They vibrate as you use water because the pump pressure changes, which causes them to bang against the walls. It’s also possible that the vibrations of the pump itself could shake the lines and cause them to knock against things.

Sometimes, you’ll need to reroute the water lines or add padding to minimize the noise. Another thing that can be done is to use flexible water line connections to the pump. This allows the vibrations of the pump to flex the lines and not transmit into the lines. There are lots of kits to do this.

Silence

One of the worst noises you can hear when you use your water pump is the deafening sound of silence. This could be because you’ve blown a fuse or completely burned out the water pump. If you’ve replaced the fuse and still have issues, you might want to have a multimeter to verify power is getting to the pump.

If you know how to use a multimeter, you can test the various connections on your water pump and diagnose the issue. This can help you decide whether you need to repair or replace the water pump. Water pumps are relatively inexpensive and easy to replace. If you have basic DIY skills, this is one project you can tackle yourself. You don’t need to call in a professional to do it for you.

How to Replace an RV Water Pump — Best RV Water Pump Replacement Technique — Easy DIY Project

Not All RV Water Pump Issues Are Bad

We’ve got bad news for you. If you expect your RV’s water pump to be silent all the time, it’s not. An RV water pump will hum along as it pumps water from your freshwater tank to where you need water. So you don’t need to panic if you hear your RV water pump making noises. You simply need to know the difference between the normal RV water pump noises and those that should raise some concern.

Have you repaired or replaced your RV water pump? Share your experience in the comments below.

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About Mortons on the Move

Tom & Caitlin Morton of Mortons on the Move gave up the stationary life for one where they are constantly on the move. They are full-time travelers, television hosts, and digital media producers.
They left their jobs, sold their house and possessions, and hit the road in September 2015 in their full-time “home on wheels”. Since then they have traveled the US, Canada, and even internationally by RV.
Now, they are Discovery Channel & PBS TV Co-stars of The RVers, producers of “Go North” on Amazon Prime, co-founders and instructors of RV Masterclass, and contributing authors for Hwy.co and an Arizona travel guide.

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