Is Your RV Water Foamy? This Might Be Why.


RVing is one of the best ways to get out and see the country. It immediately transports you to a care-free time where it’s just you and the open road – traveling to wherever your heart takes you.

However, when you depend on your RV for almost all your needs it can be a problem when something goes wrong. Luckily, in the case of foamy RV water, this can be an easy fix.

Why is my RV water foamy? Foamy RV water is usually caused by left-over antifreeze from winterizing your RV. Some of the antifreeze remains in the line, causing a foamy residue until you can flush it all out.

If you have experienced foamy water, you know that it can be frustrating. Read below to get the answers to how to completely eradicate the foam from your water so you can safely drink and bathe in your RV once more.

What Causes Foamy Water In A RV?

If you see foamy water in your RV, you’re probably getting it out after winterizing it for the season.

When RV owners winterize their RVs, they normally add a non-toxic antifreeze to the water system before putting it up. The anti-freeze keeps the lines from freezing during winter.

When flushing the system out the following spring, it can be hard to get all the anti-freeze out of the tanks.

Related reading: 5 Practical Ways To Unfreeze Water Lines In RVs (That Actually Work)

However, you must put the work in to flush the lines completely so you can have clean and safe water in your RV.

To flush your water system, you can use either of the following:

  • RV water pump
    • Garden hose
    • City water supply

Follow these useful tips to completely drain your water system:

  • Drain your freshwater holding tank
    • Turn on your water pump
    • Open your water faucets, including outside and inside, if necessary
    • Run water through your system for at least 10 minutes
    • Flush toilet three or more times while water is running through the system
    • Wait until your water runs clear to close faucets
    • Turn off pump
    • Remove bypass mode from hot water heater
    • Replace all your water filter cartridges
    • Dump your holding tanks at an approved site

Remember that, if you did not put the hot water heater in bypass mode, you will need to drain that tank as well.

Also, if your water has an aftertaste after flushing, you can add baking soda directly to the drains to get rid of the nasty taste.

You may have to run water through your system for several minutes. When it becomes clear in all your faucets, including your hot water faucet, you’ll know it’s time to turn the water off.

Faucet Aerators

Some people may believe it is the aerator in their faucet causing foamy water, but this is probably not the case.

Aerators are small screens made of mesh that are placed into the end of the faucet.

They break up the water flow with streams of air so that it feels like you have a full flow but it’s actually just water separated by air.

This can reduce your water flow and save you on how much you use from your RV tank.

However, if you have an aerator it can make it look as if foamy water is even worse than it is. By aerating the water, the foam mixes with the air and appears to be even foamier than it actually is.

Don’t worry about this – just keep flushing your system out until the water runs clear.

Foam Only In The Hot Water Line

If you have foam but only coming out of your hot water faucet, you may have antifreeze in your hot water heater or your bypass line for the hot water heater.

If you believe the antifreeze is only in the bypass line, do the following:

  • Flip the bypass valve back onto bypass
    • Run clean water through the line
    • Do this several times until the water runs clear and you have no more foam

Antifreeze in your hot water heater will take a longer time to clean. In this case, do the following:

  • If you have an anode rod, remove it now
    • Drain your hot water tank completely
    • Fill tank completely
    • Drain again
    • Do this several times, flushing the lines out as well
    • Reinstall anode rod, if you have one

When you have no more foamy water coming out of your hot water faucet, you’ll know you got it all. You can also taste the water.

If it has a soapy, chemical taste, you need to flush your tanks and lines again.

An anode rod is a rod put inside your hot water heater to keep rust away from metal parts in your hot water heater.

Basically, it protects your metal parts inside your hot water heater from corroding because it does the corroding for them.

Changing The Anode Rod

If you do have an anode rod in your hot water heater, it will need to be changed every couple of years. To change the anode rod, do the following:

  • Turn off electricity and gas to the hot water heater
    • Drain all water from hot water heater
    • Open the RV water heater door
    • Look in the bottom for a hexagonal bolt
    • Unscrew anode rod
    • Inspect anode rod

The anode rod is screwed into the RV water heater drain plug so should be easy to find.

When you inspect the anode rod, take a look at the mass as opposed to the original mass. If the rod has lost 75% or more of its original mass, it’s time to replace it.

Replacing an anode rod is as easy as installing one. Simply screw the rod into the RV water heater drain plug. If you like, you can wrap the threads in Teflon tape. Don’t over tighten the rod.

Bacteria In Your Water Lines

If you haven’t sanitized your lines in a while, you may get some algae growing in your lines.

This is a sure sign you need to sanitize as soon as possible. The algae may also cause some foaming problems in your lines.

To sanitize your system and get rid of any algae, do the following:

  • Drain your freshwater tank
    • Mix 1/4 cup chlorine bleach for every 15 gallons of water
    • Fill your freshwater tank with the chlorine bleach mix
    • Using your water pump, run water through all your lines
    • Fill the hot water heater with the mixture as well
    • Once you smell bleach in all lines, allow to sit for up to 12 hours
    • Drain out all leftover water
    • Refill tanks with clean water
    • Flush system several times with clean water

Flushing your system after using a chlorine bleach solution may take several tankfuls of water. Keep at it until the water flushes clear and it has no chemical smell or foamy residue.    

Regardless of whether you have algae in your lines, you should use the above steps to periodically sanitize your RV water system and you should always do this when you de-winterize your RV.

Related reading: Why Does My RV Water Smell Like Sulfur? – 4 Ways to Fix It

The Final Word

The open road is calling your name and you don’t need problems like foamy water to impede your travels.

Always put your RV up properly during the winter when not in use and make sure that you de-winterize your RV before heading out in the Spring.

Prevention goes a long way in minimizing problems when you’re on the road. It’s a lot easier to handle all these chores at home or in a trusted location than it is an unfamiliar campground.

Using the steps above, you should have clean water lines in no time and be ready to resume your travels along the highways and byways of the country. Happy RVing!

Recommended Reading

For more helpful articles about RVs please check out our articles below:

No Or Low Water Pressure In Travel Trailer? Here’s What To Do

This Is What Happens to Solar Power When Batteries Are Full? – (FACTS)

This Is Why You Need A Water Pressure Regulator For Your RV

Does RV Insurance Cover Water Damage? What You Need To Know

What Size Air Compressor Do You Need to Winterize an RV?

Does RV Insurance Cover Water Damage? What You Need To Know

Mike Gilmour

Hi, I'm Mike, co-founder, and editor of RV and Playa. My passion is traveling (with my RV) and enjoying the day at the beach (Playa)! Well, I originally created this blog as a way to share what I've learned by experimenting with the RV lifestyle, and I want to help others develop in life through new skills and opportunities.

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