The ability to use a recreational vehicle (RV) as a self-contained unit camped away from organised parks and sites is very important to some owners. For anyone who is remote camping, one of the most important functions the RV must fulfil is to provide a comfortable shower. RV showers may be a single casting or have a base --- called the pan --- that is separate from the sidewall section, and some sidewall sections are manufactured in two or more pieces. The majority of RV manufacturers use fibreglass showers that, because of the motion of the vehicle when underway, can crack and fracture. Installing a new unit is not a complex project.
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Things you need
- Carpentry toolkit
- Plumbing toolkit
- Replacement shower
- Replacement shower fittings
- Trim and/or caulk (optional)
Ensure that the water supply to your plumbing system is turned off. The city water hose should be removed from its outlet. The 12-volt water pump must be disconnected from its live wire so that it does not sense the system depressurising, causing it to power up automatically.
Remove the shower access panel. This will typically be a round plate on one side of the shower or a square panel on the outside of an enclosure wall into which the shower is fitted. The owner's manual for the RV should give the panel's location if it is not obvious.
Reach through the panel space and disconnect the hot and cold feeds, the vacuum breaker and the pipes from the faucet assembly to the shower head.
Remove any aftermarket accessories that have been fitted to the shower, such as mirrors, shelves or a shower curtain rod.
Remove the original shower walls. If the shower is sectional, remove the uppermost piece first and work down toward the pan. There may be decorative trim around the entry that also serves to hold the sides in place and/or discrete fasteners hidden behind shelf supports or mirrors. Sometimes, brackets hold the panels to the enclosure; they can be reached through the panel hole. Take great care to avoid damaging the feed pipework.
Lift out the original shower pan. Some manufacturers place double-sided adhesive pads beneath the pan that stick it to the RV floor. Take great care to avoid damaging the plumbing that transitions used water to the grey water tank.
Note the exact size of the shower enclosure floor to ceiling, front to back and side to side so that you can purchase a replacement that will fit. Getting the correct size is all important in fixing the replacement unit securely in place. There is little weight added to the RV by sourcing the new shower from a home improvement warehouse as opposed to a specialist RV supplier.
Follow the installation instructions provided with your new shower. Simply reversing the removal sequence may make the new shower and its separate components more difficult to manoeuvre, and plumbing connections and safety measures could be missed. The systems that supply clean water and duct away the waste are particularly vulnerable to damage if misfit.
Caulk the edges of the shower panels and pan if necessary, and allow the caulk to cure before using your new shower. Consult the manufacturer's literature to ensure you buy a shower curtain rod or concertina door that will fit, and install a strap or locking feature to stow the curtain or door when you're driving.
Tips and warnings
- Test your work before closing the access panel. Turn on the water pressure and use a dry, clean paper towel to test every joint for leaks.
- Check the flooring in the bathroom after the new shower installation is complete. If any seal or floor covering has been disturbed, it must be made waterproof again before the shower is used.
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