An RV Water Softener System – Why You Really Need One

In this article I’ll be discussing an RV water softener system, and why you might need one.

First of all, let’s get into the subject of what a water softener actually does. Because it seems like an odd name. After all, how do you soften water?

How Does An RV Water Softener System Work?

Well, the way a water softener works is that the water from the faucet goes in one side of the water softener.

And then in the body of the softener there’s resin particles that attract the hard water minerals out of the water.

In other words, they grab these minerals away from the water as it flows through the water softener.

Then the water flows right on up and out the other side of the softener and into your RV.

Now without a water softener there’s hard minerals in the water like calcium, magnesium, iron and so on.

And these minerals just keep building up in your RV water system. They build up in your RV pipes, in your faucets, in your appliances, and so on.

This buildup of mineral deposits just goes on for quite some time. And eventually it creates problems!

What Happens Without An RV Water Softener System?

Now there are several bad results that can come out of hard water. And number one is bad taste.

Bad tasting water is certainly something you can tell right away. But hard water also causes odors and rust stains.

Yes, if there’s iron in the water you’ll start to notice rust stains in your sinks and on your kitchen appliances.

Also, believe it or not you can actually have dry skin from hard water too.

So all of this building up in your appliances and your faucets is not good. It will shorten the life of your appliances and you just keep having problems over and over with them.

So it’s something that really does need attention. It’s not an imaginary problem at all!

And interestingly, nearly 85% of homes in the US are dealing with hard water.

So again, it’s not a a problem that happens every now and then. Or is an issue in only a few places here and there. It’s a very prevalent problem!

Do You Need An RV Water Softener System?

So what I recommend is to find out if it’s something you need to address in your RV travels.

To do that, you could get a test kit for your RV water and then see what it tells you about your water hardness.

I think that most likely you’ll be surprised. That’s because usually you’re going to find that you’re dealing with some hard water issues in many RV parks and campgrounds.

You know, campground water to begin with has all sorts of issues. And we have found that it can be very suspect as you travel from park to park.

You just never know what you’re going to get for water when you are in a campground.

And that’s why a lot of RV owners have water filters. And of course, water filtration is a very good thing to have in your RV.

It can get rid of the larger particulates in the water and things like that. But water filters do not soften the water.

And that’s the last necessary step to make sure that you are enjoying the best quality water possible.

So you need to remove those hard water minerals that can cause so many problems for you and your RV.

The Benefits Of An RV Water Softener System

And I feel strongly that once you have a water softener you’ll notice a real difference in your water quality!

It’s hard to explain, but just the feel of the water is different. You’ll begin to notice that your soaps and your cleansers suds up more. Your shampoos just work better and so on.

And your shower nozzles don’t get clogged easily anymore. And your appliances will be cleaner inside and they will function better and last a lot longer.

So there’s a lot of good things that come from having soft water for use in your entire RV.

Now let me describe how we use our own water softener system here in our RV.

A Little Bit About RV Water Filtration

First of all though, I made a video a while back about the water filtration system that we use in our RV.

And you can go watch that if you like first. Because what I explain in that video is that I actually use two different methods of filtration for our RV water.

Click here to watch my video on RV water filtration

This is for the water that we use in the sinks and shower and things like that.

The first filter is a blue water filter that almost everybody recognizes. It is a very common type of RV water filter that you often see many RVers using.

And we actually like this kind of filter as the first stage of water filtration for our RV.

Then the second water filter I use is in our water bay in the RV. And it’s very similar to a house water filter.

It’s also a higher quality filter than just the blue one that we use at the water faucet in campgrounds.

But between the blue filter and the house filter we get really good filtration for our RV’s water.

Where The Water Softener Fits In With Water Filtration

So then, what I like to do is put the water softener in between these two filters. That way there is a little filtration first out of the the blue filter before the water goes into the water softener.

Then the water goes into the house filter before it goes inside the RV.

I have to say that we find that this system works very well for us and really handles our water needs well.

Now of course, you can set it up any way that you want for your RV and your needs.

And really, as long as the water is softened before it goes into the RV, it’ll work just fine.

But we find that this arrangement actually makes the water softener last longer before you have to do a little maintenance to it.

Maintenance For An RV Water Softener System

Now let’s talk a little bit about maintenance for your RV water softener system.

That’s because there is a little bit of maintenance that goes with water softeners. And you need to know about that in advance too.

But the good news is that it’s not a lot of work, and it’s so cheap and easy to do.

Remember those resin beads that are inside the water softener that we talked about?

I mentioned above in this article how they attract all the hard minerals out of the water that passes through the softener.

Well, there comes a point that they get kind of saturated. You know, they have grabbed all these minerals out of the water for a while.

And those mineral deposits keep building up until finally there comes a point that there’s just not enough resin to keep softening the water.

So there has to be a way to get those minerals loosened off of the resin and then get them out of the water softener.

That way the resin in the softener can work like it should again.

Recharging Your RV Water Softener

And the way to do that is with regular old table salt. It will do the job just fine.

So first of all, go ahead and take the top off of the water softener. This is the very top. Not the where the hoses connect to the softener, but the very top cap.

The next step is that you get your box of regular table salt ready. And again, let me emphasize that there’s nothing special about this salt. And it’s very cheap to buy!

Now you pour it into the water softener. Just empty the entire box of salt into the softener through the top.

Once you do that, then you can turn on the water faucet and allow the water to start going in through the water softener again.

But don’t use too much water pressure at first. You just want it moving through at a nice little flow that’s barely coming out the other side of the softener.

What’s happening is that table salt is now rinsing those hard water minerals off of the resin beads.

And then those minerals are being taken right out of the water softener as the water flows out the other side.

How To Know When Your RV Water Softener Is Recharged

So rinse the water softener at a very low pressure setting for about 15 minutes. Then you can turn the flow of water up much higher to fast rinse for another five minutes or so.

After that is finished, test the water coming out of the softener with your test kit. This will help you know whether the softener is working correctly again or not.

You could also take a little cup and drink some of the water to see if you still have some salt taste left in it.

If the salt taste is gone, and if the water is soft that’s coming out the other side, you’re all set!

At this point you have regenerated your water softener and it’s ready for another period of solid service.

So once it’s regenerated, make sure that the top is back on really good and go ahead and reattach the outlet hoses.

Then it’s right back in the system and ready for use for another few weeks or so.

Conclusion

Now let me say that we love our water softener! In fact, everything that uses water in our RV benefits from the water softener and just works better.

Click here to view the RV water softener system that we use on our rig

We just love the feel of the water that comes out of our RV faucets whether it’s in the kitchen, or bathroom.

In fact, I would say that overall, our RV water softener system has been one of the best purchases that we have made.

And therefore we feel very confident that we can recommend water softening as a an important part of RV life.

After using it on a daily basis, we feel it will make a real difference for you just like it has for us!

The Truth About RV Washer Dryer Combo Units

RV washer and dryer combo machines are usually found in larger rigs like Class A motorhomes.

This is because they take up a certain amount of space that smaller rigs just can’t provide.

But for many RV owners, giving up the space for a washer and dryer combo is well worth the trade-off.

Everybody has to do laundry at some point. And if you don’t have a built in washer and dryer installed in your RV, your choices are limited.

In fact, you will most likely have to wash your clothes at either a campground facility or a nearby laundromat. And there are drawbacks for both of these choices.

Either way, you will probably have to sit with your clothes while they are being washed and dried.

On the other hand, having a washer/dryer in your RV allows you to do other things while the laundry is being done.

Also, the machines in campgrounds and laundromats can be dirty at times and even greasy from the previous users.

And then there is the expense involved in using those machines that can also add up over time.

Disclosure: Please note this post may contain affiliate links. This means – at no additional cost to you – I earn a commission if you make a purchase using our affiliate links. I only link to products and companies I use and feel comfortable recommending. The income goes toward supporting the free content on this website.

Pros And Cons Of RV Washer/Dryers

The main benefit of an RV washer and dryer combo unit is their convenience of use. You lose no travel time to bring your clothes anywhere else to do laundry.

You also don’t lose the time babysitting your clothes while they are being done.

In fact, the combo units use the same drum to both wash and dry. And this means that you don’t even have to transfer clothes from washer to dryer. And these machines do a very good job and are known to be reliable.

The cons of RV washer/dryer combos is mainly related to their size. Because they are designed to take up as little space as possible, you can’t do large loads of laundry.

This may be an irritation at first if you are used to doing laundry in larger washers at home.

But as you learn to use the machine correctly, you simply adjust to the smaller load size. And you plan on doing laundry more often to make up for the smaller loads.

But you may notice that during the spin cycle, the vibration from the washer will shake the RV a little bit. Again, this is a minor issue for most but some find it disconcerting when compared to a home washer.

Also, you will have to get used to machine washing clothes in a different way. When we first got our Splendide washer, my wife thought it wasn’t working properly.

This is because the drum would just roll back and forth for a while. Then it would roll over a few times, then go back to the back and forth motion.

After a call to the manufacturer assured us that it was designed to work that way, we let it do its job. And sure enough, our laundry came out just fine.

How To Use A Washer/Dryer Combo

As mentioned above, you will need to adjust the size of your laundry loads and do them more often.

Although the combo unit can both wash and dry your clothes automatically, you may choose to air dry your laundry.

Some RVers put a portable drying rack in their shower or outside on their rear ladder for this purpose. This allows you to wash more loads while air drying them as they are done with the wash cycle.

Also, you will need to use a laundry detergent that is made for these washers. It will be labeled “HE” (High Efficiency) on the detergent bottle.

This keeps the amount of suds down in each laundry load while still doing a great job cleaning your clothes.

Tide makes a great detergent for these units, but most other laundry brands have their version as well.

If you use regular laundry detergent, it will produce too many suds and overflow. So be sure to use the HE version of your favorite laundry detergent.

You also can use a mild fabric softener like Downy but no dryer sheets can be used in these units.

And every now and then you will want to empty out the lint trap that is usually located at the bottom of the unit.

What Is The Best RV Washer And Dryer?

This is the Splendide washer/dryer in our bedroom:

Our Splendide RV washer and dryer combo
Our Splendide washer/dryer combo

For many RV owners, the best RV washer/dryer combo is made by Splendide. You can find them in many full-time RV rigs these days. However, Splendide makes both a ventless and a vented model.

But there is a big difference in customer satisfaction between those two models. By far, the preference of most RV owners is for the vented machine.

On Amazon the vented units have a 4.5 star rating and the ventless model only 3.5 stars. So my recommendation is definitely for the vented model. That’s the one that we have.

If your RV did not come with a washer/dryer combo installed, make sure that is has been plumbed for it first.

And be sure that your RV electrical service can handle the additional load one of these machines can place on it.

Then have it installed by a professional who is familiar with this kind of installation. Otherwise, you can have a mess on your hands that can be costly to fix.

Click here learn more about the Splendide RV washer and dryer combo

(This is an affiliate link for the product on Amazon. It does not cost you any extra to buy the product using my affiliate link if you choose to do so)

Conclusion

You don’t have to own a washer dryer combo unit to keep your clothes clean while RVing.

There are plenty of campgrounds and laundromats that can help you stay up with your laundry needs.

But if you have the room in your RV, I can heartily recommend the Splendide washer and dryer combo as it has been a real pleasure to use in our motorhome.

My wife basically plans on doing one load a day on average. By doing this she keeps up with the daily laundry for us both.

And since the machine washes and dries the clothes automatically, it doesn’t really take up much of her time to do laundry.

When larger items like bed covers need to be done, she plans ahead to use a commercial machine at a convenient laundromat. This system has worked well for us in our RV travels.

Of course, what works for us may not be best for you. Everyone who travels by RV has different needs and circumstances, so your mileage may vary.

But we are glad to have the convenience that a washer dryer combo unit brings to our RV life.

I hope that this discussion of washer/dryer combo units for RVs has been helpful.

Please let me know if you have any questions that I didn’t answer. You can include them in the comments below.

As always, have safe and happy travels my friends!

Your RV Water Heater Anode Rod – DIY!

If you have an RV water heater anode rod, then you have a Suburban water heater. There are two main brand names of RV water heaters. One is made by Suburban and the other is made by Atwood. Both are fine water heaters and last a long time with regular maintenance.

But a Suburban water heater has a porcelain lined steel tank. This kind of water heater tank is very similar to the kind used in your home water heater.

The only problem with this kind of tank is that it can corrode inside over a long period of time if it is not maintained properly. But to make the tank last a long time an anode rod is inserted into the tank.

This anode rod attracts the corrosive elements in the water and sacrifices itself to protect the tank lining. So every so often you need to replace the corroded anode rod with a new one.

This will keep your Suburban water heater working like it should for a long time!

Annual RV Water Heater Maintenance

It’s generally accepted that you should inspect your Suburban water heater once a year. This involves draining all of the water out, flushing it thoroughly, and replacing the anode rod if needed.

It may sound like a lot to do but the truth is that it is fairly simple and most RV owners can do it themselves.

As you get started, be sure to turn off the water heater itself. It often has a power button on the tank side, so just turn it off. But I always recommend to also turn off all of the power to the RV at the same time. This is just a precaution.

Then turn off the LP gas at the tank too. Finally, turn off the water source to the RV. If you are connected to a city water connection, turn off the faucet at the connection.

If you are using water from your fresh water tank, turn off the water pump. Then let the water in the heater tank lower in temperature until it’s comfortable. This may take a while so I often turn off the water heater hours before I inspect it.

Inspecting Your Suburban Water Heater

Pull the pressure relief valve straight out to release water from the tank

With all of the preparation done, open the pressure relief valve at the top of the water heater. Just pull it straight out. Let the water that escapes drip out until there is no more coming out of the tank.

Now you can begin to remove the RV water heater drain plug that has the anode rod attached to it. You will need a 1- 1/16 socket with an extension and attach it to either a socket wrench or a breaker bar.

I prefer the breaker bar because sometimes the drain plug can get really tight. This is where the breaker bar helps provide more force to remove the plug.

There is also a special tool made for removing both the water header anode rod and the electric heating element. It’s an all-in-one tool and these can be very handy to have as well.

Click here to view the anode rod/ heating element removal tool

Remove the drain plug at the bottom of the water heater to see the condition of the anode rod

Once the plug is removed you should be able to see what kind of condition the anode rod is in. If it is lightly corroded, you can use it again.

But if it is heavily corroded, be sure to have a spare RV water heater anode rod handy for replacement.

The next step is to thoroughly flush the water heater tank with an RV water heater flush wand. These can fit right on the end of a garden hose and you insert it into the tank for flushing.

Click here to view an RV water heater tank wand

Once the tip is inside the tank move the water stream around in all directions. But pay particular attention to stirring up any sediment that may have fallen on the bottom of the tank.

By doing this the sediment is blown up into the water that is escaping at the drain plug. Make sure that you flush the tank thoroughly for a while!

Replacing The Water Heater Anode Rod

After the tank is completely flushed, you can re-insert the old anode rod if it is not badly corroded. If it is in bad shape, just replace it with a new one.

Click here to view a new Suburban Water Heater Anode Rod

And be sure to use plumbers tape on the threads of the new anode rod. Just apply the plumbers tape manually around the threads of the anode rod a couple of times or so.

Then you can insert the anode rod into the water heater and begin to tighten it down. How tight should the anode rod be? Just snug, don’t over-tighten it!

At this point you can turn on the water to the RV again. But be sure to leave the pressure relief valve open as the water goes into the tank. That way the air has somewhere to go as the water fills up in the tank.

When the water starts coming out of the pressure relief valve, you can close it. At this point the RV water heater tank is full.

Now you turn on the faucets inside the RV to remove trapped air on the hot water side. After that is done, you can turn on the LP gas at the tank again.

And then finally the power to the RV can be restored. At this point you should be able to turn on the water heater again and in about 20 – 30 minutes you will have nice hot water in your RV.

And your annual RV water heater maintenance is done!

I hope you enjoyed this article on Suburban water heater anode rod inspection and replacement.

Have happy and safe travels my friends!