RV manufacturers are not known for having much sense regarding interior design. As long as it is functional, they will immediately think that it is good enough. However, there are some details, like the faucets for instance, that you wish you can simply tear off and replace with new ones.
If you are asking “RV faucets vs. home faucets: what’s the difference?” then you have come to the right place. You will not only learn about these different kinds of plumbing fixtures. You will also find out why most people swap out the faucets that came with their RV for the same kind that they use in their homes.
Are Home Faucets Compatible with your RV?
Here is the deal. RV faucets might look identical to the ones that you use in your home but that is only at the surface. If you take a look under your RV sink, you will find that the faucets are designed to fit with the plumbing of your RV. If you look closely, the faucet for RVs can be connected to flexible hoses that are the standard plumbing systems in RVs.
In comparison, your faucet at home has metal, threaded connectors that allow it to be connected to threaded metal pipes and hoses with adapters. Just looking at the connectors alone, you will find that using home fixtures for your RV will take a bit more work and lots of imagination.
Can you Use Home Fixture in RV Plumbing?
The answer is yes. You can find adapters that you can connect to traditional faucets so that you can use them in place of the old RV faucets. You can find these kinds of adapters in most RV specialty stores. They might also be available in your big box store.
Except for the connectors, everything else about RV faucets and sinks is identical to the ones that you use at home. The spacing between the hole cutouts in the sink and even the way that you tighten the faucets to secure them to the sink, everything is the same.
Reasons for Replacing RV Faucets
You don’t like the feel of plastic fixtures – Most RV manufacturers, in their effort to reduce weight as much as possible, use plastic faucets and other plumbing fixtures. Although they work perfectly fine for the first couple of months, there is just something oddly weird about using plastic faucets.
First, the texture of plastic and acrylic is not the same as the solid feel that you get when you use metal fixtures. Also, when your hands are wet, it can be quite difficult to get a good grip on plastic knobs.
Plastic faucets look tacky – No one has ever said that they want to replace their stainless steel faucets with plastic. Some people will say that plastic fixtures have their own charm but they will change their minds if they were given a chance to use proper metal fixtures.
Plastic faucets do not last long – You will be lucky to find a plastic faucet that can last an entire year without leaking. You may want to choose plastic fixtures because of their cheap price and because they are light in weight but basing your decision solely on those factors might cause you to compromise their durability and longevity.
Plastic faucets will usually crack and start leaking after a month or so of regular use. This means you will be replacing faucets quite often. It would have been better to spend a bit more on a quality piece of metal fixture and have something to use for many years to come.
How to Connect Residential Faucets in your RV?
If you are tired of wasting water because of your leaking plastic faucet, the one that came with your RV, then you are probably ready to take the plunge and replace it with a proper set of metal fixtures. However, when you checked out your local RV store, all you find are the same old plastic faucets.
You now wonder if you can just use regular residential fixtures instead. They do look the same as the ones in your RV so there should not be any problems right? If you jump into this project blindly then you will encounter quite a lot of problems.
However, since you are here, you will know what to expect and what you will need to connect a metal residential faucet into your RV.
What to Expect?
There are lots of beginner RVers who thought that they can just swap out the old plastic faucets with the metal ones that they recently bought. However, once they tried to take out the old faucet, they notice that the input connectors are the wrong size.
This is common practice in most RVs. They will use smaller diameter tubes and pipes so that they will not need that much water pressure to circulate the water throughout the vehicle. This means that faucets that are meant for regular home use will have input connectors that are too large for the input tubing.
What You Will Need
Fortunately, the problem of having an input tube that is smaller than the connector in your faucet is easily remedied using a regular straight adapter, which will require you to cut off a portion of the flexible input hose.
Alternatively, you can use a straight connector, which screws onto the input hose of the RV and allows you to screw in the residential faucets. Aside from the adapter, you will also need some silicone sealant, Teflon tape, a couple of basic plumbing tools, and a bit of time.
Connecting a Residential Faucet to your RV
Step 1 – Turn off the freshwater supply of the RV
Before you loosen any bolts, you should first turn off the water main of your RV. There have been so many stories of DIY newbies who took their tools to their plumbing without turning off the water main first. Let us just say that their RV never smelled right after that incident.
Step 2 – Remove the old faucet’s input connections
You just need to peek underneath the sink and you will find the tubes that provide hot and cold water to your faucet. Using two wrenches, gently loosen the connectors. It is best to have a washbasin or a bucket handy to catch any water that will spill out from the tubing.
Step 3 – Remove the old faucet from the sink
You just need a large wrench to loosen the plastic nut underneath the faucet. This clamps down on the sink, securing the faucet in place. Once you remove this plastic nut, you simply pull out the old faucet. If your old faucet has been doubly secured in place using silicone, then you might need to apply a bit more force to pry it out of the sink.
Step 4 – Preparing the new faucet
If the old faucet was secured in place using silicone or plumber’s putty, use a scraper to remove any residue left on the sink. Then wrap a bit of Teflon tape on the treads of the faucet’s connector. This will provide some added protection against leaks.
Step 5 – Connect the new faucet
Insert the new faucet into the holes in the sink. Don’t worry about the sizing. The holes are pretty much standard. Before you screw the attachment nut underneath the sink, you can place a bit of silicone or plumbers putty on the faucet to prevent water from seeping underneath the sink. Secure the faucet using the attachment nuts underneath the sink.
Connect the straight connectors to the input tubing first. You might want to use a bit of Teflon tape to make sure that the joint is watertight. Use two wrenches to attach the connectors to the hot and cold input hoses. Be careful not to overtighten.
You should then connect the hot and cold hoses to the appropriate connection and just tighten them enough that there will not be any leaks later.
Step 6 – Turn on the water and check for leaks
Once all of the connections are tightened, you can turn on the water main and turn on the faucet. Check underneath the faucet for any leaks. If you find any water leaking, turn off the main again and tighten your connections a bit more. If there are still leaks, apply more Teflon tape on the treads and tighten the connections properly.
Serious RVers do not like the plastic faucets that come standard in their vehicles. Some even go as far as abhor them vehemently and you cannot blame them for feeling that way. Plastic faucets and fixtures are quite tacky and they do not last very long. It is such a shame that real metal fixtures for RVs are rare and are often expensive.
It is a good thing that you can use fixtures meant for residential use in your RV. You just need the right parts, some basic tools, and a bit of plumbing knowledge. So, the next time you ask yourself, “RV faucets vs. home faucets: what’s the difference?”, you’ll know that those meant for home use are infinitely better.