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Upgrade your RV water pump

March 12, 2011 by Larry Cad · 32 Comments  
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A couple of years ago I decided to upgrade the water pump in my motorhome.  I did this for a couple of reasons.  First, I wanted to be able to take a nice, hot, shower with lots of water pressure.  Second, I can’t resist tinkering with the RV!  I did some research and decided on the Shurflo Extreme series, 5.7 because at the time, it was the state of the art in RV water pumps.  I was really looking forward to the increased water pressure and flow at my shower head.

As with any RV project, this one was not simple.  And as with most RV projects, there wasn’t enough room to do the conversion.  However, with a lot of maneuvering and manipulating I was able to mount the new Shurflo into the same area as my old OEM pump.  One thing I did do was check out and upgrade my electrical supply system for the pump.  My original OEM pump was fused with a 10 amp fuse which was adequate for the OEM pump.  However, the new Shurflo is designed to do more work, and thus pulls more amps than the original one.  For this reason, Shurflo recommends a 15 amp fuse for the 5.7.  Before installing a larger fuse, I checked to verify that the wire feeding the new pump was large enough to carry the additional amps, which it was.

The next problem was that the OEM Intellitec water pump controller, P/N 00-00145-100 was rated for a max of 10 amps and Shurflo recommends changing to the larger Part Number:00-00776-200 that is designed to handle 15 amps.

After I got the new pump installed and plumbed, I installed the new controller and wired everything, I tried the pump to see how it worked.  While the pump did produce a lot more pressure and flow, I was really surprised at how much NOISE it made.  It seemed like every pipe in the RV was rattling and shaking and pounding.  The flow was great, but the noise level was intolerable.  Something had to be done.

 I have spent the subsequent 2 years working on silencing my new pump installation and have achieved only partial success.  I installed a loop of flex hose on the output of the new pump to absorb vibration.  I thoroughly attached every piece of water line I could see, touch, or feel.  I used foam tubes to wrap the water lines to keep them from banging on the floor, and walls.  Where the water line passed through walls I used silicon caulk to seal the holes and hold the water line steady.  All this work has significantly reduced rattling in the piping system to the point that I can live with the system.  I intend to continue to work on silencing the system in the future.  One point here is that I really don’t want the water pump to be totally quiet because I want to know if there is a water leak or a spigot left on which will cause the pump to run periodically.

I am very happy with the operation of the pump as regards water flow, but I really don’t like the way the pump cycles on and off because the flow varies widely during operation.  This spring I plan to install an expansion tank in the system to act to absorb fluctuations.  I will post an article when I get that done.

My original reason for starting this article was to discuss various pump options for your RV.  As I started writing, I thought it might be a good idea to share the above experience with you first.  In the next article we will talk about pump ratings and characteristics.  Until then, good camping.

Larry

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Comments

32 Responses to “Upgrade your RV water pump”

  1. Nick Murabito on March 13th, 2011 5:28 pm

    I have this pump in my motorhome. Actually, my motorhome came with this pump. I just replaced my old pump as the control head froze and cracked. It is a loud pump. I too am trying to do whatever I can ro reduce the noise. The flex tubing will help. However, when I read the installation instructions, I am pretty sure it said to NOT use an expansion tank. You need to double check this fact before you actually add one. If you do add one, I’d be interested in how it works. I, like you think it would help.

    Nick Murabito

  2. trailertrashrick on March 13th, 2011 5:51 pm

    Hi Larry, Thanks for the great articles.

    Ah, the memories! I did this mod about two years ago. I replaced a perfectly good OEM pump only to find out that the controller was bad. I can’t find the controller, so I wired a lighted switch in the utility bay. I turn the pump on when we leave for a trip and whenever I connect to water, I turn the pump off.

    First the bad, that pump is heavy! Holding a heavy pump up while starting a screw is no fun at all. I also have the flow variance that you noticed and I have an expansion tank. I think this means the pump is oversized.

    Then the good. RV manufacturer support for end users runs the spectrum from the worst I’ve ever seen to the best. Shurflo is on the best side. They have an excellent website and their customer service is courteous and helpful.

    Finally, I have hooked up domestic lavatory braided supply lines in a loop on both sides of my pump and the noise is not too substantial. You can hear it run if you’re standing near where it’s mounted, but nowhere else in the motorhome.

  3. butterbean carpenter on March 13th, 2011 6:00 pm

    Howdy Larry,
    Where you been, boy?? I thought you’d got mad at us!! High water pressure will always make pipes rattle, especially ‘lite-weight’ ones… That’s probably why they only put ‘lite-weight’ stuff in MH & campers… I put a more powerful one in my TT
    when my wife left it on and burned the quiet one up and it vibrates some… Thanx,
    for the info and don’t work so hard!!!

    Smooth roads & balmy breezes!!!!!!!!

  4. Barney on March 13th, 2011 6:06 pm

    I don’t have this specific pump model, but did add an accumulator (expansion tank) to my system. It stopped the short-cycling and reduced the noise some.

    One big plus for the accumulator was the elimination of pressure build-up that was due to water expansion from heating the water. Due to the nature of the water system, the pump becomes a check valve and blocks reverse flow. As the water expands in the water heater, it has nowhere to go and the water heater safety valve would blow off a little pressure. Also, some of the PEX tubing joints would weep a bit. All fixed with an expansion tank.

    The data sheets for the pump can be found here:
    http://legacy.shurflo.com/pages/rv/rv_categories/potable_water/extreme.html
    There was no reference regarding expansion tanks in any of the literature.

  5. Rick Fisher on March 13th, 2011 8:04 pm

    My 2007 Alpine came with this pump and it never delivered much pressure or flow and would run randomly even when new (no leaks). If you read the Alpine forum on IRV2 you will find much dissatisfaction with this pump. They don’t recommend a tank because it is supposed to vary its flow to demand, which it never does. Finally mine just kept running so I replaced it with a FloJet 2.9. Half the rating at 1/3 the price but it delivers more water than the ShurFlo ever did. I did install the expansion tank because that has always improved the performance of water pumps.

  6. Jim G on March 13th, 2011 9:31 pm

    As the saying goes, timing is everything. One of my plans before the start of RV season was going to be replacing the existing water pump, to try to increase pressure, alleviate some of the noise and reduce the frequent cycling for short duration water use. But after reading some of the preceding comments, perhaps I would be better off with installing an expansion tank. I confess to ignorance about the functions and feasibility of an expansion tank, so if anyone would care to shed some light on this it would be most appreciated.

    By the way, I dont know exactly what I currently have for a pump but it is the standard equipment style for a Four Winds, Class C, 2007 model year. All I know is there is a rocker switch for it on the control panel but I have no idea about the amps, etc.

  7. riggarob on March 13th, 2011 9:57 pm

    I just installed a 5.7 in my motor home. Used the 10 amp controller as per instructions. Also, it states to do NOT use an accumulator, although, I was wondering if the 2 gal one might work. The 1st one leaked, and, as you said, great customer support they sent me a new one I just installed. As I am dry camping, she let me just send her the label from the pump in xchange for the new one. I love the power this thing has, and since my rig was made in ‘08, the pex is really well hung, so only the silencer lines were needed. Another thing, CS person said this pump was to be discontinued, in favor of the new 3 gal/min “revolution” pump, and was offered one instead of the 5.7. I declined. I like the power (albiet,some problems) of the 5.7.

  8. Geoffrey Pruett on March 14th, 2011 9:27 am

    Share the view that too quiet is a leak waiting to hide until the carpet squishes. Since we have triple (side by side) water filters on ours killing all the pulsing noise is probably not possible. Unless you have bled it out of your hot water tank there is an expansion area at the top which seems to do the job well enough. If the overheat valve drips then the air at the top has been filled in. Draining the hot water tank and refilling will correct this. Made this error when adding a “hot rod” electric element and held the over heat open to speed up the process. Should be filled with a tap open even if it seems slow. Since our pump is just to the left of the headboard I do cringe at the noise from an early shower as the boss likes to sleep in.

  9. Jim on March 14th, 2011 5:23 pm

    My 2006 Lazy Daze came with the 5.7 pump. As of October 2009 I had replaced 6 of these. They either simply failed or leaked at the head. I tried the Revolution pump rated at 3 gpm and it has been working well for over a year.

    I read on one boating forum about one guy who was up to number 12 of this pump. I also know of several other folks who have gone through several of these. If Shuflo is stopping production I can understand why.

    I must add that Shurflo’s customer service was always first rate.

  10. Larry Cad on March 14th, 2011 6:45 pm

    Nick Murabito: After sitting through a couple of Shurflo tech seminars, and discussing this issue (expansion tank), I think they believe you don’t have to use a surge tank due to the superior performance of the pump. I still want to try one.

    trailertrashrick: I used a coil of “soda fountain hose” on the inlet and outlet of mine and it did help some. I got the hose at Lowes.

    butterbean: thanks for asking. For the last year DW and I have been handling “family issues”. My FIL passed away last year in May, and we moved MIL up north from Florida, along with selling their home. Lately, MIL has been having more than her share of health issues which is occupying a lot of our time. Smooth roads to you too! :-)

    Barney: thanks for that info. In future articles, I plan to do a comparison of some of the pump options available to RVers.

    Rick Fisher: the spotty reputation of the 5.7 is one of the main reasons for starting this series. I had the opportunity to speak with a Shurflo rep at the RVIA show last December and had a very interesting conversation, some of which I plan to share in future articles.

    riggarob: you are correct regarding the 5.7 being discontinued. Apparently the ongoing problems have forced Shurflo to ditch it. It was a good idea that just never lived up to expectations. I also recognize that Shurflo allows the use of the 10 amp Intellitec controller. However, good judgement would suggest that is not a good idea. If you study the Shurflo literature, the 5.7 pulls 10 amps during normal operation. This leaves no overhead in the pump controller which is not a good way to design electrical equipment.

    Geoffrey Pruett: that is an interesting theory regarding the expansion space in a water heater. I have not seen that in the instruction sheets and wonder if you have a reference for it from the manufacturer. Always looking to add to my knowledge base.

    Jim: That Shurflo is discontinuing the 5.7 is pretty good info, primarily due to all the field problems they are having. However, Shurflo recently upgraded the pump head and the newer ones appear to be working better. Probably a situation of “too little, too late”.

  11. Edythe on March 16th, 2011 9:43 am

    I ahear to the old adage ” if is aint broke don’t fix it “

  12. teddodd on March 16th, 2011 5:08 pm

    I do not understand the concern about a loud water pump . I had one that you could not hear and that was the cause of it failing because I could not hear it running when I was out Of water.

  13. Larry Cad on March 17th, 2011 5:53 pm

    Edythe: now that’s no fun!! :-) )

    teddodd: I do not want my pump totally silent, but I don’t want to wake up the folks in the next site when I flush in the middle of the night either!

  14. Joel T. on April 1st, 2011 11:04 am

    I own a Flojet LF122202A which is similar to the Shurflo pumps although mine is weaker rated at 3.5 amps and 35 PSI but it still makes a racket when turned on. I’m satisfied with the water pressure it provides. Flojet pumps are good quality pumps as well.

  15. Larry Cad on April 1st, 2011 4:08 pm

    Joel T: Flojet and Shurflo make high quality products. However, the 5.7 Shurflo has a well deserved reputation for unreliability to the extent that Shurflo is discontinuuing the 5.7. I will have a review of other Shurflo products in my next post.

  16. Rusty on May 14th, 2011 5:48 pm

    You’re the one with the bairns here. I’m watching for your posts.

  17. ChrisC on July 10th, 2011 8:15 pm

    I had my own problems with the Shurflo 5.7 smart sensor pump so can definitely vouch for it being problematic. I’d added an accumulator tank at the recommendation of a buddy who had had his own issues with that model and it seemed to do the trick. The funny thing was that Shurflo had initially told us it was not required for the 5.7 but when talking with one of their service reps later they not only said it was fine to do, but almost recommended it under his breath.

  18. JC Nowlin on November 17th, 2011 7:47 pm

    New to RVing and am NOT mechanical at all. What can I do to make the shower flow stronger besides installing a new pump which I assume is expensive to have done since a lot of you guys do it yourselves.

  19. JimW on November 17th, 2011 11:07 pm

    So is there a recommendation for a quiet, reliable pump? I have a Jayco Class C and the water pump sounds like an 18-wheeler is coming through the floor with Jake-Brake full on.

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