RV Pump Overheating and Shutting Down? (Troubleshooting & simple Fixes)

A working RV pump can make the difference in having a memorable experience when out dry camping. Unfortunately, there’ll always be that one time when equipment fails to work as expected, for example, – the water pump shuts off as you use it.

If you’re having a problem with your RV pump overheating and shutting down, it is likely caused by inadequate ventilation, a blocked inlet, a faulty pump, loose wiring, or a faulty switch.

Read on to find out what may cause your water pump to overheat and shut off and what you can do to get it working again.

Why your RV pump shuts off when hot

The motors in the pump usually have an inbuilt safety feature – the thermal overload switch that cuts off the current flow to the motor should its temperature exceed the safe operating level.

This protects the motor from burning out.

The overload then resets, allowing the pump to resume running when the temperature levels are within the safe zone again.

Why your RV pump may be overheating and How you can fix it

Your water pump should be warm to the touch when running.

If it’s hot to the touch, then there is a problem with several possible causes that you can look into.

They are in two groups – likely causes for an existing pump and a new pump install.

This has been done to help you quickly pick out the ones that are likely to apply to your situation faster.

Note: Some may seem obvious, but you can’t imagine how many hours are usually wasted when the obvious is ignored and the focus is directed to the more complex issues.

If you are dealing with an Existing RV pump

Any RV water pump with a few years behind it will eventually develop problems. Below are some of the most common reasons your RV water pump is shutting off for your RV water pump troubleshooting.

#1. The pump is poorly ventilated

Check and make sure that the pump is well-ventilated.

Motors generate heat as they run and form the electrical resistance and friction from the rotation of the motor and pump bearings.

With good airflow around the motor housing, the motor/pump remains cool to the touch.

Should the pump be installed in a poorly ventilated space, the temperature can build up to an excessive level, shutting off the pump.

Fix: Remove any obstructions restricting good airflow around the pump. Rerun it and see if the problem is solved or not.

#2. Blocked inlet filter that slows down water flow

Blockages in the pump inlet can cause the pump to run dry and overheat. This can be caused by extreme mineral buildup, debris, or anything that isn’t water in your inlet. It’s a good idea to check your inlet filter periodically.

Fix: Inspect the inlet filter to the pump and remove any residue blocking water flow into the pump.

#3. Loose wire connections at the motor

Loosely fitting cable connections can spark, which creates a high resistance and voltage drop at the motor connections.

This lowers the voltage drop at the motor, resulting in a higher current draw than the motor can handle, causing high temperatures. Loose wiring can also cause other problems, such as flickering lights.

Fix: Following the recommended safety precautions, open the motor connections box. Tighten any loose cable connections. Confirm that the wire connections to the motor are firm and clean.

#4. Pressure switch is faulty

Is the pump pumping when the faucets are closed? A functional pressure switch turns on the tap when a faucet or shower is turned on.

It detects a drop in water pressure when a faucet or shower is turned on and starts the pump.

If faulty, the pump may continue running even when all the faucets are turned off.

To confirm this, you can listen for the motor hum when the faucets are closed.

Fix: Try cleaning the pressure switch itself. If that doesn’t help, adjust the pressure setting. If neither solution works, replace the pressure switch.

#5. The pump may be faulty

A pump on its way out can heat up more than usual.

If the wiring, connections, and water flow are checked and confirmed as working as expected, yet the pump is heating up, then there is a strong possibility that the motor is about to fail.

Fix: Consider replacing the pump.

If you are dealing with a New RV pump

Even newly installed pumps can have problems. Most of the time, these problems are caused by poor installation. Sometimes the problem is with the model of the pump, and occasionally, the pump was simply sold defective.

#1. You may have loose wire connections at the motor

Loosely fitting wires can cause the motor to overheat. As with an older water pump, if a new RV water pump has bad wiring, it will overheat. This can be as simple as double-checking your connections.

Fix: Secure the loose wiring you find and test as you go. If it does not work after securing any loose wiring, but you are certain it is a wiring issue, you may need to hire a professional.

#2. Undersized water pump

Is the new pump capacity smaller than what is recommended for your rig?

Is the new pump able to meet the water demand requirements? An undersized pump cannot meet the flow requirements and can overheat.

Fix: Confirm the recommended pump specifications; if undersized, replace it with one that matches the water flow requirements of the RV.

#3. Blocked water inlet into the pump

Check the pump inlet for any restrictions clogging the filter screen.

Low water flow to the pump can cause it to run dry and overheat if run for extended periods.

Fix: Inspect the pump inlet screen and remove any debris that may be blocking water flow to the pump

#4. Faulty pump

Lastly, it is unfortunate but possible that you purchased a faulty pump. A faulty pump may also overheat on its own. This can mean that everything is installed correctly and with the correct specifications, and it still overheats and shuts down.

Fix: If your pump is covered under warranty, replace it as soon as possible.

Summary of RV pump overheating and shutting down

If your RV’s water pump is overheating and shutting down, if it’s a new installation, you’d want to confirm that the cable connections to the motor and pump sizing for the rig are what is recommended.

For existing pump installations, a good first step is to confirm that the pump is well-ventilated, the inlet screen is clear, and allows good water flow.

It is also possible that the pump is failing and needs to be replaced!

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