A Back Flow Preventer Has Limitations

Ever notice that brass device secured to the faucet at your campsite? It is a Back-Flow Preventer.  This is a required item in many states, counties and municipalities to meet health and safety codes.

What is a Back Flow Preventer?

A Back-Flow Preventer, much like a Check Valve, only only allows fluids to flow in one direction. The difference between the two is that a Back-Flow Preventer has built in vents to release the liquid under pressure once the faucet is shut off or it loses pressure. A Check Valve has no such means to release built up pressure. This makes disconnecting a hose that is under pressure difficult and potentially give you a baptism when disconnecting.

A Back flow preventer protects the water source, but not the business end of the hose.Will it Protect You at the Dump Station?

There are people out there, and we’ve mentioned this before, that will fill up their fresh-water tank using the Dump Station hose. Some will say that they only use the water they are filling their tank with for flushing their toilet, not for drinking or cooking. But that same water is what they are washing their hands and dishes with too.

While there is a Back-Flow Preventer attached to the water source at the Dump Station, it doesn’t completely prevent  water from your black tank from entering the hose itself. Often, if the hose is long enough, RVers stick the dump station water hose down into their toilets to flush their black tank if their RV isn’t equipped with an external flush connection. Those who use portable toilets (tent and pop-up campers) also use that same hose to clean out their potties.

Danger! That Hose is Not for Your Drinking Water!

These hoses are NOT sanitary! Nor are they safe for filling your fresh-water tank even if you aren’t planning on drinking it. I can’t understand why it is so hard to convince people of this.

If you are using the dump station’s water hose, you are using a hose that was stuck down into fecal matter or one that has been drawn up into it, making the hose most likely contaminated inside and out. Water that you’ll most likely use to wash your hands and dishes. (And I’ve heard it argued, hand and dish soap kills such germs…but remember you rinse with the same water which means re-exposure). The same hands and dishes you will prepare and serve food with.

Your unexplained gastric distress could have been caused by transfer of toxic microbes into your fresh water supply.  Preventing such exposure is easy…Read the signage, heed the warnings. Use your own hose to connect to a safe water source. Disinfect the spigot with a mist of diluted bleach and water before connecting your hose.  Sanitize your fresh-water tank and hose regularly. Inspect your water supply hoses for obvious signs of mold growth. If there is a pink or green slim inside of the hose, replace it immediately!

Watch others to see how they are filling their water tank or connecting to their site’s water source. Yes, I’ve seen RVers use the same hose for flushing their black tanks as they use to supply water to their RV. Remember, if they are family or friends…new or old…their sanitary practices could affect you. How they wash and handle anything that comes into contact with food and beverages potentially has health consequences for you if you wine and dine together.

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Gerald Voigt

Gerald's interests are wide and varied. His work career started in the United States Air Force and since then has worked in logistics management, retail & service management as well as manufacturing. He's an author, photographer, pilot, radio show host and marketing consultant who enjoys RVing which allows him greater freedom to explore, meet new acquaintances and serve his clients.