Accumulator Tank Replacement

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    Joe Hunnicutt

    As a serious part-timer I’ve made a number of modifications to the rig that not only help me whether boondocking or on full hookups.  One of the things that I did a few years ago was to install a Jabsco 1 liter accumulator.  The reasoning behind this stemmed from me witnessing and helping repair more than one RV water system that went KABOOM due to over pressure caused by a water heater that had sublimated the air pocket out of it leaving the plumbing system to absorb the expansion when the water heater started from dead cold.

    The Jabsco came from Amazon for about $70 and I fitted it under the kitchen sink tapped into the cold water line.  It’s served me well for a number of years but last spring I noticed that I was getting more line pressure after the water heater fired up than I was used to or frankly wanted.  I depressurized the system and checked the bladder pressure on the accumulator and found that it was zero, no surprise there.  I pumped it back up to 10 psi and within a few days I was back to zero so it was obvious that the bladder had failed.  Since it was very near my end date for goofing off and my real job loomed close on the horizon I just filed it away for a future project although I was not thrilled to have to dump another $70.

    In the meantime, a couple of years ago I goofed when I winterized and failed to take out the manifold for my reverse osmosis system leaving it in the rig during a below zero weather event.  Upon arrival in whatever southern state I was headed to that year I found that the RO system was fatal and it was cheaper to just buy another system from Lowes ($140) than to replace the manifold ($135).  Consequently I wound up with a spare three gallon accumulator tank from the replacement RO system and stuffed it into one of the overhead compartments where it’s resided since.  Can you guess where this is going?

    Yesterday a trip to the hardware store to pick up some fittings ($32) and I was ready to install my new accumulator tank but where to put it?  Since my wife passed away earlier this year I’ve found that I have more room under the bathroom sink that previously and the tank would sit in there nicely within a foot or two of a cold water line.  A couple of compression fittings and a sink flex hose was all it took and viola!!  I now have a real accumulator that makes a difference.

    I filled my fresh tank yesterday so I could run off that for a few days and listen to the pump just in case my plumbing skills weren’t up to standard and I must say that I would NEVER put a smallish accumulator in again.  The three gallon tank actually has a working capacity of two gallons (about a gallon is taken up by the pressure bladder) and it is amazing how much this thing smoothed out my water system.  I can still hear the pump and no change was made to the noise level but I isolated that years ago by mounting it to a folded over mouse pad and insulated the outbound line for about five feet so it wasn’t obnoxious to begin with.

    Although the pump will run for a given time for a given volume of water used, the accumulator now pushes water through the system and the pump doesn’t cycle on and off like it used to.  Theoretically this will cut down on the wear and tear on the pump pressure switch leading to longer pump life but who’s to say, I’ve never managed to wear one out so for me the main advantage is more even pressure.

    So… if you’re one of those people who is thinking about an accumulator or needs to replace the one they’ve already installed keep in mind that a larger tank has its advantages.  The link below is for a two gallon tank from Amazon that’s less than $45.


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