How to Fix a Broken Water Pipe in a Travel Trailer

by John Cagney Nash

Water damage in travel trailers results from either an internal or external source. Leaks from the outside are intermittent depending on precipitation, but a broken water pipe leaks every time the system is pressurized. Water systems in travel trailers are usually made from high-density polyethylene polymer -- usually called PEX piping -- or standard PVC pipe.

Disconnect the city-water connection; turn off the 12-volt water pump and drain the system at the external drain-cock. Follow the leak and trace it back to its source.

Create free access to the source of the leak by removing panels or cabinet interiors. This does not typically cause much disruption, because most travel-trailer water systems are confined to a relatively small area. The fresh-water storage tank is under a bed, sofa or dinette close to the galley, which is adjacent to the bathroom and the city-water inlet.

Cut through the pipe with a fine-toothed hacksaw. Cut to either side of the leak if a small split has occurred in the PEX or PVC; this is most frequently caused by water freezing and expanding inside the pipe. A split of an inch or so in length is usually repaired by cutting out the split, and replacing the damaged piece of pipe with a straight coupler.

Obtain a compression-fitting straight coupler. Take the sawn-out piece with you to ensure you buy a fitting of the correct diameter. Use a craft knife to remove burrs from both cuts, slide the straight coupler into place and finger-tighten the external nut on either end of the fitting. Reinstate the pressurized water supply, and check that no water is spraying from either end of the coupler. Use a properly-sized wrench to tighten the nuts in one-eighth turns until the joints are sound.

Replace a run of pipe if the damage is greater than 1 inch in length. Cut out the damaged run with the fine-toothed hacksaw, and buy replacement pipe and two straight-couplers. Cut the replacement run to length, and install one coupler at either end between the new and the undamaged pre-existing pipe.

Reinstall any trim, paneling or cabinets.


  • close Fix a water leak in a travel trailer as soon as it is noticed. Travel trailer manufacturers usually construct floors and internal walls from particle board, which need not rot to become structurally unsound. Particle board often separates after as little as one soaking.

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About the Author

John Cagney Nash began composing press releases and event reviews for British nightclubs in 1982. His material was first published in the "Eastern Daily Press." Nash's work focuses on American life, travel and the music industry. In 1998 he earned an OxBridge doctorate in philosophy and immediately emigrated to America.

Photo Credits

  • photo_camera coach, trailer image by Greg Pickens from