An interesting debate came up while troubleshooting and fixing our RV slide out leak.
El Jefe suggested that whenever dry-camping, we should turn off our water pump at night and when we leave the rig unattended for a long time. I didn’t like the idea of doing this because the water heater needs to remain pressurized or the element could burn out.
Turning off the pump does make sense. It can avoid a big mess if a leak were to occur in our absence. René actually found a discussion online where one poor soul allowed his pump to run intermittently all night, only to awake to a seriously flooded compartment and empty freshwater tank.
However, our Arctic Fox manufacturer recommends pressurizing the water heater before turning it on. To me, this clearly means keeping the water heater pressurized whenever it is on.
For the few days we were investigating our leak, René insisted that we turn off the pump. I conceded. As far as we can tell, our water heater element was not damaged. But who knows how long it would take to actually burn up. And it’s not like it was dry – it was full of hot water. It wasn’t working very hard here in Florida either!
I suppose the best thing to do, would be to turn off both the pump and the water heater. But I like my warm shower in the morning. We finally agreed to follow the manufacturer’s recommendations. We leave the pump on and pay close attention to the water pump.
If you ever hear your pump engage regularly without any faucets on, turn it off and start looking for a leak!
But if you hear it once in a while, don’t panic. I’ve determined that it is normal for the pump to engage for a few seconds up to a few times a day. It must compensate for pressure lost by evaporation in the water heater, or air escaping the faucets.