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Thursday, June 26, 2014

How long can you keep water "safe" in your RV tank?

Stix and brix home owners are encouraged to have a "go bag" ready in case some kind of evacuation is called for. Grab and go. How about your RV? While we try to keep our rig ready to go at a moment's notice, sometimes that "evacuation" isn't due to flooding, wildfire, or earthquake. Sometimes the desire to bug-out just means we want to get away from the every day pressures.

Having your RV sitting in the driveway, "ready to roll" on a spur-of-the-moment trip is one of the gifts of our lifestyle. Got propane and gas in the tanks? Holding tanks empty? If you keep a few clothes in the rig, some non-perishable food items, and grab whatever else from your house 'fridge, your RV is up to an "instant getaway." Ah, but what about the fresh water tank? How long can I safely keep water in it before worrying about "bugs"?

Our "germ free" society seems to be bent on scaring us to death. If you believe the TV commercials, if you don't wash with "antibacterial soap," you're sure enough going to drop over dead. It's no wonder that many RVers worry about how long it's safe to keep water on board. Some even think they should drain their water heater between outings.

We checked with Uncle Sam's water storage safety experts on the subject storing "home prepared" drinking water, and here's the thinking of the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA).

Much depends on the quality of your water source. If you're filling up your RV tanks with water from a "known" good source (a municipal water supply as an example) then stop worrying about the water. Before you fill, make sure your tanks are properly sanitized. Not sure how? Check out our post on this subject.

Using a drinking water-safe hose, fill your tank from your safe supply. Make sure the tank is securely capped to keep out unwelcome pests and road dust. Now settle back and relax. According to FEMA, "Replace the water every six months," is all that's required. What about water in your water heater tank? Remember, when you fire up the heater, a lot of bugs are likely to be cooked to death. And if the water supply you originally filled up with is good, then the same "six month" recommendation applies.

If you're really worried about water quality, FEMA suggests you purchase commercially produced drinking water, and keep it closed until you need it. It should be good until the "use by" expiration date printed on the bottle.


  1. For all I know the warer we drink has been on earth for millions of years, It basicaly is disosaur pee ! so Waht me worry

  2. I could be wrong and everyone has their preference, but I drink from and refill 5 one gallon Great Value plastic vinegar jugs and a 5 gallon Coleman reserve jug from Walmart to refill them. One gallon lasts me a day or two. I seek out good tasting municipal water spigots, ones without any strong chlorine taste.
    My fresh water holding tank I consider great for showers. I just like to think doing it this way keeps the water fresher tasting for not going through all those RV pex plumbing lines or sitting in RV holding tanks, but it's only my opinion.