Liquid Problems at 75 MPH

"Pull over NOW!"

That's all I heard from the back of the camper after one of the kids was fussing and crying. Becky went back to respond and shouted to the front, "Pull over NOW!"

There are a million things than run through my brain while the motorhome is rolling at 75MPH down the road.

Did we get hit?

Did the awning fall open again?

Did Josiah have a seizure?

Did one of the kids hurt themselves?

I mean any number of things could have gone wrong right?

So I start slowing down and getting onto the shoulder.

Not knowing what is going on I'm just doing my best to stop the home on wheels. When from the back I hear Becky, shouting this time:


What in the world could be so wrong that had to be so urgent?

At that moment Alia came to tell me that the toilet was overflowing.

"Oh S$#%" was the literal phrase that went through my head.

Slamming on the breaks on the shoulder I envisioned poop bubbling up from the toilet and sloshing forward to the carpet.

There's a scene in "RV" the movie which came to mind (thanks Dave Gilman!)

Once I got unbuckled I saw wet carpet and one should at that moment be relieved that the children and the motorhome was indeed alright, but poop on the carpet was not exactly a comforting thought ;)


Becky was still freaking out and said "SHUT THE WATER OFF!"

In my mind I'm wondering how will shutting off the water stop the toilet overflowing?

It's amazing how fast one's brain can move when you're in one of these situations.

Yet at the same time I'm standing there going... how DO we shut the water off?


Water off....


Well if we were in a campground we'd shut it off at the hose...


But we're on the side of the interstate.


Oh yeah, there's a pump. and a pump switch.

It's right there,


And then a sigh of relief from Becky.

That all happened in a matter of seconds but it seemed like an eternity and I'm still not sure why shutting the pump off will help the toilet overflowing issue.

Until Becky explains that the hose on the back of the toilet came loose and was spraying water everywhere.


Fresh Water.

Clean Water.

Well that's a relief.

Until I look in the toilet room and see 4 inches of standing water.

Water is the enemy of a motorhome.

Water damages things.

So while parked on the shoulder of an overpass we go to work grabbing dirty laundry, sheets and blankets to mop up the water. We're going to be back in Michigan tonight, and so we don't need to sleep on these sheets with these blankets anymore.

(or so we thought)


We were planning on replacing this toilet and putting a shutoff valve in this line and perhaps change from these types of clamps. But we weren't fast enough. This came loose while driving and flooded the motorhome!



About 7 or 8 minutes of mopping up the water (oh yeah, we don't have any towels along, so any fabric works as a towel in a bind right?)

And then Becky asks "Is that normal?" pointing at the front of the motorhome.

I step up and say "yeah, the hazards are on, so that's why it's making the clicking/whining sound." Becky didn't accept that, and said I don't think you're hearing all of it.

So I stepped all the way into the cockpit and realized there was a pump whining, I saw smoke, and the temperature gauge was way off the charts.


What in the world?

How is this possible?

It can't be.

I mean yes, the engine is running, but we've only been on the road for 30 miles, less than an hour.

How in the world could we be overheating?

So I drive it off the overpass to the shoulder of an onramp. I just didn't feel comfortable where we were, walking around the the front of the motorhome.

I shut it off and a bunch of smoke billows up from the front.

Yup, the smell, the smoke, the gauge, they all say we've overheated.

Yet how could this be? We're only in the appalachian mountains in Kentucky, and we've driven it through the Rockies. How is this possible, plus it's 9am and we've only been driving for less than an hour.

How is this possible?

I get out, fire extinguisher in hand. What if it's a fire? That'd be hot.

The neon green fluid running out in front of the tire tells me, no fire. You've overheated,



Ironically we were running low on fresh water, so we had purchased two gallons of drinking water last night. Funny part is without tools (specifically a long funnel) I could not get the water into the radiator. Here's a gallon of water, here's a motorhome thirsty for water. But there's no way to get it in. Ug.


Too bad you can't see the fluid, this was taken 30+ minutes after we stopped... you might be able to see the fluid on the ground.


There's nothing like seeing the mechanic's legs under your house. The kids had a ball watching him.


Talking with the mechanic while he's working inside the doghouse.

So we called and a mechanic came, looked at it and said it'd be fine to drive the 4 miles to his RV Repair shop.

Once we arrived they dug in and discovered the fan clutch had given out. Driving down the road the air keeps it cool. Idling on the side of the road the engine/road heat overheated it because the cooling fan would not spin.

So we're waiting in Corbin Kentucky for the part to arrive (2 hours) and the mechanic to do his work.

Hopefully this is the only thing we need. Hopefully we'll be back on the road soon.

So we had a bit of liquid problem today.

Water leaking.

Antifreeze boiling over.

And hopefully we'll get back to Michigan today.


As Becky just said:

"Not exactly our kind of slow travel... but ya know"


Paul Kortman

Dad of 4, husband, blogger, digital marketer, follower of Jesus. I podcast at and own We're on this crazy journey to travel the world as a lifestyle. Looking for help in how to live as a digital nomad family? Join this Facebook Group!

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  1. Kathy

    Paul, you may not remember me but we were your next door neighbor on Mayfield when you were growing up. David, Lisa, and Cheryl are our kids. Cheryl sat for you and Gwen a lot. Anyway, a bit of advice on your awning problem. When we travel with our RV, we use zip ties to hold the arms of the awning together so the wind don’t catch the awning and pull it away from the side. Just two straps on each side…one near the top and one mid way down. Pull them tight.. When you need to use your awning…just cut them off. We never travel without a supply of them.

    • Paul Kortman

      I totally remember you! It’s fun to be reconnected after the decades :)

      You’re the second person in two days to recommend the zip tie supply. That for sure is going on the list of tools/supplies to have with us!

  2. Terese

    As I read your blog posts, your adventures play out in my head like a big screen movie. Your cross country drive is just a small taste of what life will be like during your next leg of your adventure lifestyle.
    Your will be in a different country, and most likely not be able to call up a mechanic that will come to you. Hope you have a mechanic well versed in your motor home, that you could call and trouble shoot over the phone. Buy a repair manual on your motor home. It may be your saving grace.
    That pump switch is something that should always be OFF while you are going down the road. If some one needs to use the toilet and flush while going down the road, it can be turned on long enough to flush, but then back off. Why??? So there isnt another liquid problem. If the pump had been off, and the water supply line had come off, there might have been a little water on the floor from what was in the hose, but that would be it. Since the pump was on, when the line came off, it let the water flow. the pump happily kept up pumping the water out as the hose was off.
    Happy travels on this breezy day.

    • Paul Kortman

      Thanks Terese for being a part of our journey! We feel like you’re always there to join us and help us out. It’s fun to be connected like this!

      We have a great mechanic in Newaygo and another in Belding. Yet neither of them even know we have a motorhome yet :)

      This is just practice for the many adventures ahead of us, but we hope to be better equipped in a couple months. As it is today this is the first time we’ve been “broken down” but the plan is to “break it in” as best we can before we leave. Chances are we’re going to be doing a ton of repairing ourselves in time.

      As for the pump switch, I thought that was just for the paranoid folks out there. But experience is a great teacher! So we’ll be doing better from now on with that.

      There are so many other quirks of having never owned a motorhome that come up from time to time. Like last night the stove wouldn’t light, the fridge wouldn’t run on gas and the heater wasn’t blowing hot air. We had just gotten the propane tank filled so I wasn’t sure what was going on. I thought the messed up our regulator or something, only to find out (30 minutes later) that the gas supply switch (located in the kitchen 1 inch off the floor) had been turned off by one of our kids or the cousins.

      We’ll know to check that first next time the stove won’t light!


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