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We’ve been considering installing RV hookups at home for water, sewer, and electrical. We would like to do this so we have a place to store the RV but also so we can live in or service our RV right at home. But, there are steps we must take to ensure we do things the right way.
So how do you smoothly connect water, electric and sewer hookups to your RV at home?
1. Build a Gravel or Concrete Parking Pad
2. Run a Water Hookup to the RV
3. Run an Electrical Hookup to the RV
4. Install or Use Your Existing Permanent Sewer Hookup
In this article, we will run through some home RV parking hookup ideas so you can install your own RV hookups right at home. Please be aware that depending on where you live you may need permits to install permanent RV hookups at home. So, check with your local officials before you begin any work.
Build a Gravel or Concrete Parking Pad
If you want your RV hookups to go as seamlessly as possible, you will want to build a gravel or concrete pad. This setup allows your RV to rest on a flat surface outside of your home. Ultimately, it will keep the weight of your RV from settling into the ground. If you were to park your RV on grass sooner or later, the ground will settle, and your RV will no longer be level.
To build a gravel or concrete parking pad, you should first measure the length and width of your RV. You want to make the pad about 4 feet wider and 4 feet longer than your RV, so you have room to walk around the RV. You should also consider the height of your RV to make sure you don’t hit any overhead power, phone, or cable TV lines.
To build a gravel pad, you will need to start by leveling the area where you want to install the pad. You should plan to make the gravel pad 4-6 inches deep. The heavier the RV, the deeper the gravel. Once you dig out and level the area install a layer of filter cloth over the dirt BEFORE filling with gravel. Most people don’t know to install the filter cloth first. The filter cloth keeps the dirt under the gravel from eroding so you don’t end up with spots that sink.
I recommend using #57, or #2 washed gravel for your gravel pad. Do not use pea gravel because your rig will sink right into it. I also do not recommend using crush and run, which is gravel mixed with gravel dust. Crush and run is very dirty and you will track the stone dust into your RV, and maybe your house too. And lastly, I absolutely do not recommend using recycled concrete. Recycled concrete typically has wire mesh or rebar in it, which is metal used inside of concrete to add to its overall strength. Use recycled concrete, and I guarantee you will get a flat tire at some point.
To build a concrete pad, you will need to dig and deep enough to install 4 inches of gravel below the 4-6 inches of concrete you will then pour on top. You should still use filter cloth under the gravel, and I recommend using crush and run gravel and tamping it down under the concrete. When pouring the concrete, you will want to use 2 x 6’s to build a form, so your concrete pad has a clean edge all the way around. Also, you should install wire mesh in your concrete pad or buy concrete that has fiber mesh mixed into it for added strength.
Also, I do not recommend trenching under your parking pad for your water or electric lines. I realize that if you take a shorter path the cost of materials will be less expensive. But, if there is ever a problem with either of those lines you may have to dig up your parking pad to make a repair. And, the trench lines are likely to settle at some point which will cause the pad to sink in those spots.
If time, tools or know how aren’t on your side, you can always hire a contractor to do the dirty work for you.
Install Sturdy Posts for Your Water and Electrical Hookups
When the pad is complete, it’s time to install 4 x 4 posts for the RV hookups. You can use the leftover concrete if you installed a concrete pad to do this. Or, you can just buy a few bags of concrete and dry pack the posts if you installed a gravel pad.
Dig a hole for each post about 8 inches in diameter and about 30 inches deep. Install the posts as level and plumb as possible and then pack with leftover concrete or just pour the dry concrete right from the bag around the post. (This is called dry packing and the moisture from the ground will seep into the dry concrete mix and it will harden up. If you live in very dry climates this method will not work and you will have to mix it with water before packing around the post.
Obviously, you will want the water and electrical posts to be on the correct side of the RV to make hooking up the electric line and water hose as easy as possible.
Install the Water Line Hookup First
First, dig a trench from the water source to the post for the water hookup. Why dig a trench? Well, you’ll need something that you can run the waterline through so it doesn’t get damaged or freeze. You’ll want to strategically position your post and trench. (Knowing this may affect where you choose to install your post in the first place)
Before you dig your trench, you should call Miss Utility. or whatever service is in your area, to come out and mark all of the existing utility lines on your property. In fact, in Maryland, where we live, it’s the law.
Calling a utility marking company can help prevent you from hitting an existing water, power, or gas line! And it is expensive to pay the repair bill if you hit one of these lines.
Digging the trench for the waterline is the hardest part of setting up the waterline. It’s labor intensive because you have to dig down below the frost line. Or you can rent a trenching machine at Home Depot so you can get the waterline installed below the frost line for your area of the country. A frost line is how deep the ground freezes during winter. Once you know the frost line depth, be sure to dig below it or the water line could freeze.
CPVC pipe is easy to install and it is rated for installation both above and below ground. Just make sure you do not use purple primer on CPVC pipe and that you use the proper glue rated for CPVC. After running your water line through the trench, you’ll run the water line up the post. Before securing the water line to the post, wrap the water line with heat tape. This will keep the water line above the frost line from freezing. Then secure the line with pipe clamps and fill in the trench. So long as your line is secure, you shouldn’t run into any problems hooking up your RV at home. Add the faucet, and you are almost done.
While you still have to set up the electricity and sewer lines, you’ve got the first part under your belt! It’s a rewarding feeling, especially when you’ve done it all yourself. So go ahead and celebrate, but not for too long—there’s more work to be done.
Installing the RV Electrical Hookup at Home
Hooking up electric service to your RV means figuring out some details about your rig. In this case, you’ll want to figure out what number of amps your RV pulls. This will determine which breaker box and outlet you purchase for your electrical line. You should also decide if you want phone and cable TV service for the RV because the electrician can take care of those items too.
RVs typically pull two different amperage levels. So, figure out whether yours is 30 amp or 50 amp. Refer to the owner’s manual for this information. Another option is to look at your RV’s male electric plug since the two amp options look different. In our case, our RV can run on a 110 volt line so all we need to do is plug into an existing outside receptacle.
If you need 30 or 50 amps of electricity, it’s probably best left to an electrician do the work. I highly recommend hiring an electrician because the electrical line will need to be run from your breaker box, or a sub panel to the RV. A licensed electrician will be able to determine what size electric line you need run from your house to your RV. By having a dedicated 30 or 50 amp circuit installed for your RV, you will be able to run all of the appliances in your RV. I also recommend having a 110 outlet mounted on the electrical post, so you have somewhere to plug in your heat tape for the water line during the winter.
To save yourself some money you can install the trench for the electric line from the house to the RV. And since you will possibly have rented a trenching machine why not just get it done so, you aren’t paying an electrician top dollar to dig it for you. You’ll want to dig a trench from your house to the post. But first, have the electrician show you where and how deep to dig the trench. You can ask him to show you when he visits to give you an estimate for the work. This way, the trench will be ready when he arrives to do the job.
Do note that you’ll want the electric line to be a separate trench. Don’t share the trench with the water line. Just like the water line, secure the electrical wire to the post with u-shaped clamps.
Turn off all appliances and breakers before plugging in and install a good 30 amp surge protector or 50 amp surge protector before plugging the RV into the new electrical receptacle. A surge protector can help to ensure that the appliances in the RV don’t short out in case of an electrical surge. It’s incredibly expensive to replace the electrical appliances in your RV. So, whether at home or at a campground you should always use a 30 amp or 50 amp surge protector.
How to Install an RV Sewer Hookup at Home
There are a few ways to accomplish setting up an RV sewer hookup at home. They are hooking up to the existing public sewer system, hooking up to your private septic system, or installing a sewer tank.
Hooking up to your existing public sewer system is the easiest way to drain your black and gray water tanks, but it also may be illegal where you live. So, you will need to check with your local jurisdiction before attempting to hook up this way. But if it’s legal, it’s as simple as hooking up your sewer at a campground. Just look for the sewer cap in your yard, remove it and hook up your sewer line.
The process is similar if you have a septic system on your property, but you may need to install a 4-inch pipe from the septic holding tank, so you have something to connect to.
Adding an RV in-ground septic tank to your yard is the last solution to the sewer hookup problem because it can be very expensive to bury a holding tank. And then after it’s installed you will have to pay to have it pumped out when needed. You will also probably need to have a contractor install the septic tank for you and then you just hookup like at a campground.
Consider Using a Compost Toilet
There’s an alternative to septic tank setup. Compost toilets are eco-friendly and help you avoid having to install a tank on your property. In a self-composting toilet, the liquid and solid wastes are kept separate, but how?
Liquid waste goes in the front compartment and is tossed outside in a safe location when full. Meanwhile, solid waste finds its way into the back section. Natural ingredients like mulch or moss help it break down, and compost and a fan helps avoid any smells before they begin. You can then deliver compost build-up to your outdoor composting pile. Composting toilets aren’t cheap but they are certainly less expensive than installing a septic holding tank.
RV Hookup Installation Costs
The costs for water sewer and electrical hookups can vary quite a bit depending on how much work you can do yourself, what type of sewer system you need and if you need to pay for permits in your area.
Below are some cost ranges for RV hookups at home:
- RV Water Hookups – From $20 if you do it yourself to $750 if you hire a plumber
- RV Electrical Hookups – From $100 if you do it yourself to $1200 if you hire an electrician
- RV Sewer Hookups – From $0 if you can hook up to your existing sewer or septic system to $3500 or more if you have a sewer tank installed.
It can be really easy or pretty complicated and expensive to install RV hookups at Home. But it can be done! Just be sure to do your homework up front to know if this option will work for you. For some very good related information about parking an RV on at home check out these other articles we wrote.
Do you have any thoughts or ideas to share about installing RV hookups at home? Please share in the comments section below!