Getting to know our home a little better

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Thursday 19 June 2014

Getting to know our home a little better

One thing I didn't mention in our last post was a problem we've been having with our motorhome's water system. When we'd been living in the Hague, we hadn't needed to fill up and use our the water system. The same was true back in the UK for part of our tour since we could use friends and family's facilities.

But, that all changed when we set off last week so we filled the vans 54 litre fresh water tank ready to start using the facilities for the first time since we'd drained the system in Durham. However, arriving in Bergen op Zoom on Friday night we turned on our pumps to fill the system, heard some gurgling for a few minutes and suddenly lots of splashing, outside the van. Water was gushing onto the floor from some sort of overflow pipe instead of coming out of our taps.

Long story short, we could just about get a dribble from our taps when the pump was on but only with 90% of the flow ending up on the floor outside, which is a bit of faux pas in motorhome circles as it looks like your dumping waste water on the floor and we were already starting to get frowns from neighbours. We felt a bit silly and after making sure all the taps that should be closed were closed and crawling about under the van to find the pipe it was coming out of we gave up and resorted to flannel washing with bottled water.

The story continued over the weekend but there was nothing we could do about it until Monday when places opened again. If you've seen the previous post you might remember George and Mildred, the Dutch couple we met in Besancon who'd been on the road for 10 years. Well, when we in passing mentioned to George our the problem on Monday morning we discovered he was also a big DIY fan and previously a mechanical engineer and before we could do anything he was in the motorhome, under the cupboard and unbolting pipes, getting the floor a bit wet as the tank wasn't empty yet. His advice and encouragement was to remove the cold water drain valve since it must be that part and carry on since we wouldn't need the drain anyway.

The offending part
Fortunately (it turned out) his wife who'd been very patient finally called him home and they drove off before he could do it himself but he left me various bits of pipe and connectors to do it on my own. However, later that day I suddenly had the realisation that none of the leaking made sense if it was the drain tap at the base of the tank since it did fill up most of the way. After another half an hour digging around I realised there was another overflow (not mentioned in the manual, thanks Truma) to let air in the top of the tank and our water was coming out of that. I concluded the one way valve was bust and we needed a new one.

So instead of me essentially breaking our water system by removing the wrong bit, we spent a hot sweaty Tuesday, with the help of two very friendly people in Besancon Tourist Office, trying to track down a motorhome dealer who had the right part, which we eventually manage by about 5pm. They even fitted it for us “tout suit” and after a few seconds of waiting nervously as the tank was refilled, suddenly we could flush our toilet again! (Glad he offered to fit it as I had tried to remove the broken value but it was very tight!)

There is another upside to all of this though, in that we now feel a lot more confident in the motorhome and understanding how it works. Before the water broke it still felt like a bit of a black box and we were nervous about something going wrong. Now, having spent some time poking about and getting a repair done it all feels a lot more manageable and we're more confident and relaxed and we're cleaner! Thanks to George's encouragement and advice to get to know your motorhome and where possible try to diagnose faults yourself and then go to a shop asking for a specific part, we saved money and time and hope to do so in the future as well if anything else goes wrong.  

In the repair shop

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