This article may contain affiliate links where we earn a commission from qualifying purchases. The images and content on this page may be created by, or with the assistance of, artificial intelligence, and should be used for entertainment and informational purposes only.

As a responsible RV owner, you want to make the best decisions for your RV. So, you may wonder, can you leave the RV water pump on? Is it bad? Will it be safe?

Hey, I get it! You are worried about RV repairs, potential water damage, a failed water pump, and the inconvenience a simple switch could make. And, conflicting information from fellow RV-ers on this topic could be confusing. Some people say it is fine to leave the water pump on, while others say absolutely not. And all you want to know is if it is safe to leave your RV water pump on when not in use.

There are two situations where leaving your water pump on is perfectly fine. First, when you are in the RV and if there is a risk of freezing. Your RV water pump should also be off when you are in motion, away from your RV, or sleeping. Leaving the RV water pump on could result in fire, floods, and costly repairs.

Understanding your RV, its equipment, and how and why it functions the way it does is incredibly important. And mistakes and oversights happen often on the road. I don’t want you to panic when you wake up to find you left the RV water pump on. So, let's further explore how your water pump works, the pros and cons to leaving it on or shutting it off, and how you can best protect the life of your RV, and your pump.

When I set off to live my nomadic adventures as a single middle-aged female in 2020, I did so prepared. I learned everything I could about my RV. I watched countless YouTube videos on toilets, water tanks, and everything that could go wrong on the road. The result was a safe and life-changing adventure in which being prepared played a key role. You want to be ready too, right? Yes! That’s what I thought.



When is it Safe to Leave the RV Water Pump on?

When You Are in the RV

The reasons to leave the tank on are far shorter than the reasons to shut it off. It is perfectly acceptable to leave the RV water tank on when you are using the RV. If anything goes wrong, you can shut it off before you have a swimming pool in your galley. Cooking, bathing, using the bathroom, or just hanging out catching up on some Netflix. These are all good times to leave the pump in the ON position.

Cold Weather RV Prep

Another excellent reason to leave the water tank on is during cold weather. You don't want your RV plumbing to freeze, so leaving a slight trickle running will prevent this. But the tank does have to be left on to ensure this.

Once you wake in the morning and the thermostat reads above freezing, heat that coffee on your stove, close the faucets, and shut off the water tank if leaving for the day.

Pro-tip: Don't Depend on the Shut-off Valve

You might be thinking, "my RV water pump has an automatic shut-off valve; won't that prevent any problems if I decide to leave it on?" Um, have you seen RV Disasters lately?

The RV water tank is an "on demand" function meaning water will only flow when a foot flushes, a nozzle is pressed, or a faucet is turned. So, it might be assumed nothing could go wrong if you leave the RV water tank on. But, many things could go wrong indeed.

First, you never know what could knock a valve and turn on your water. From a curious child to an adventurous pet, a wet and wild disaster could be looming. And if you are outside grilling up some epic burgers and bratwurst, you may be none the wiser to the kitten catastrophe brewing inside your RV.

There could also be any number of water tank failures that can cause leaking, ruined furniture, and, worst of all, a spoiled adventure on the road. So, if you want to be safer than sorry, make a habit of turning the RV water pump off when not using water.

When Should the RV Water Pump Be Turned Off?

There are several situations where leaving the water pump on is just a no-no. Add these to your go-to checklists for your RV, and you should be in an excellent position for a long-lasting water pump and adventure on the road.

  • Traveling
  • Connected to City Water
  • Sleeping

Turn Off the RV Water Pump When on the Road

The number one item on my hit the road checklist is "turn off the water pump." When pulling a trailer or driving down the road, you do not want your water pump in the on position.

I once had to signal to an Airstream dripping down the highway to pull over and check its tank. I knew it was coming from the bathroom based on the location of the leaky silver bullet. The couple was very thankful for the warning. They forgot to turn off the pump and the road rattle toggled the bathroom sink on. Thankfully, it was caught before real damage could be done.

Riding down the road traveling from sea to shining sea can be an exhilarating experience. You don't want an RV with an empty tank when you arrive at your destination. Worse, you don't want a wet bed!

City Water Connection

RV parks and most campgrounds have full hookups. Meaning they provide shore power (electricity) and water. When you attach the hose from the water spigot to your RV, you have access to city water. This type of water connection bypasses your fresh water tank altogether, rendering the water pump not needed. So, if it is not required, shut the RV water pump off.

Leaving the RV Water Pump on Overnight Could Disrupt Sleep

If you are lucky enough to have plopped yourself in a brand new, off-the-showroom floor RV, my hat is off to you. But, for many road warriors, a used RV is a great way to get out on the open road.

But with an older RV comes an older water pump, which could bring some unwelcome sounds to your boondocking experience. Water pumps run on ball bearings, which can grind together, creating soothing white noise or disturbing sound effects for your dream life.

So, if getting a good night's sleep in the quiet of a secluded campground is what you seek, turn off the pump and have a sweet and uninterrupted slumber.

The above mentioned are some epic, well-intentioned reasons to take just a few more minutes to shut off that water pump. But they are not the only reasons to do so. You want to be on the road, enjoying the countryside as long as possible. Taking care of your RV is just one way to do that.

  • Extend the lifespan of your water pump.
  • Prevent fire from an empty tank.
  • Protect your battery life.

Could Shutting Off the RV Water Pump Extend its Lifespan?

With any electrical item, the more you use it, the more you wear it out. When you leave your RV water pump on for extended periods, you risk replacing it earlier than expected. So, to stay on the safe side, set the water pump to "on" when using water only. This practice is the key to a long and healthy water pump life.

Prevent Fires From an Empty Tank

Life on the road is busy! There are always things happening. There are chores, meals to prepare, tanks to monitor, hikes to plan, places to see, destinations to plan for, and so on. You can easily miss how much water is in your water tank!

Since water lubricates the pump, having the pump on when there is no water in the tank can be a significant hazard resulting in a fire. So, aside from monitoring your water tank, turn that pump off when not in use.

Preserve Your Battery Life

When you are connected to an external power source, your water pump runs off your battery. The same battery that charges your phone and laptop, keeps your lights illuminated at night, and so much more. A dead RV is the last thing you want to experience when you walk in from a long day of exploring.