RV Handiwork: Fresh Water Tank Repair (No Luck)

17 12 2010

The saga of our fresh water tank leak continues…

After some consultation with the internet and Glenn from To Simplify, I decided to try to patch the mechanic’s failed patch using fiberglass cloth and epoxy. The big issue with epoxy is that it doesn’t bond to polyethylene, which is exactly the plastic that the tank is constructed from.

I ended up using plumbing epoxy. The stuff is so cool. It’s hand moldable and reminds me of James Bond because there are two substances that need to be mashed together. Once they are mashed together, you have three minutes to work with it until it explodes! (Okay, fine. Until it hardens.) Twenty minutes later the epoxy is hardened enough to drill into it!

I put down fiberglass cloth over the area that I was going to epoxy, in the hope that the cloth would help the epoxy bond to the polyethylene. At first I planned on being super careful to not let the epoxy touch the piping next to the patch area, but then I realized that this was a final shot. If it didn’t work, the solution was probably going to be a new tank anyway and the cost of cutting the tubing and replacing it with new tubing would probably be a few bucks. The epoxy would bond to the tubing and would hopefully block off that area as a water escape route.

The Original Patch Done By Our Reno Mechanic

The Original Patch Done By Our Reno Mechanic

Applying the epoxy meant taking off the front of our couch, which was surprisingly easy. Once the epoxy was applied, we waited a day for it to fully harden and then filled up. No dice. The leak was much more moderate than it had been previously, but it was definitely still there. As a temporary fix, I put a towel underneath the leaking area and, changing the towel every 12 hours or so, managed to soak up whatever water was leaking.

The Front Of Our Couch... In Our Kitchen

The Front Of Our Couch... In Our Kitchen

The Fiberglass Cloth

The Fiberglass Cloth

The Epoxy

The Epoxy

That solution was very temporary, because I didn’t want the damp towel to dampen the rug and wood beneath it. Mildew wouldn’t be good. We joyfully used the onboard water for a few days, and then gave up. And guess what! To compound things, it looks like we may have a very small leak in the PVC pipe immediately after our water pump. Or the leak may be from the water pump itself – hopefully not, but the pump does sound different. Another thing to get fixed.

Reassembled Couch

Reassembled Couch

So, the next step is to pick a mechanic who we want to give a crapton of money to. I want to solve this problem soon and for the long run, so that probably means a new tank and potentially a new water pump.

Glenn gave us a mechanic recommendation, which will be my next phone call. Having onboard water made me realize how much I missed it, and given that it seems like we’re going to spend a lot longer in the RV, it’s time to get it fixed.

posted by jay

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One response

18 12 2010
Matt

Good luck with the fix!
I battled with our exterior shower for weeks (after numerous leaks and fully flooding our main storage compartment 3 separate times) before finally coming up with a solution that worked (knock on wood).

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