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Sanitizing Water Tank


SWharton

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We RV 5 months of the year. Each year when we pull the RV out of storage the first thing we do is clear out the antifreeze and sterilize the tank. Recently we have read that most people(at least that is our perception) don't bother sterilizing. Are we spending a lot of time(75 gal tank) when we don't need to or is this a personal decision?

 

Thanks

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Tanks, water heater and all your pluming, everything but the carbon filters in your water filter systems.

 

We had a crop of something really ugly growing in our basement plumbing even through the tank and water looked fine. Never would have seen it if I wasn't at the back of the basement on my back working on some wiring that had gotten snagged.

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We too believe in sterilizing of the fresh water system. When we first started to RV we didn't know much about it and never gave such things any thought. But after a trip that we took as a family in early spring, sometime in the early 80's and like usual had done nothing but fill the water tank and go, by noon our first day after spending the night drinking the water, all three boys and both of us had stomach cramps and diarrhea. A trip into the nearby ER we were told it was from bad water caused by some type of fungus that grows in plumbing. Since that time I have faithfully gone through the process at least annually and anytime that we take the RV out of long term storage. You may never have the problem, but if you do it will be a learning experience! :wacko:

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You need to sanitize the tanks. Even as fulltimers who do use our tanks fairly often, we sanitize at least twice a year.

 

Jack,

As a full timers, how is it that you only use your tanks fairly often?

I use my tanks everyday. I can't help the OP as I have never sanitized by tanks since I bought the coach and did it the first time.

I don't know what happens in there when the tanks are left empty over a Winter but I know that, personally, I would flush, clean and sanitize after a period of storage.

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I don't understand why this is a mystery to you Bill. We volunteer and stay in the same spot for months at a time. With full hook-ups, there is really no reason to operate off of the fresh water tank or use the pump. We generally have plenty of water pressure and flow with the "city water", so we don't mess with the pump.

 

When boondocking or on the road, sure, we use the tank and pump. But when set up for a long period of time, no. We know dozens of others who also volunteer full-time, and I don't think that I know of anyone who regularly operates off of their tank and pump when in this type of situation.

 

Different strokes, I suppose...

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Hummmm! Maybe I should sanitize my 80 gal tank this summer.

I have Full Timed in this MH for 11 years 9 months so far. And have never have sanitize it the first time yet.

Every winter it has had only well water in it for 7 months.

 

All drinking/cooking/Ice making water does go through a General Ecology filter.

Filter replacements are not cheap, but are good for 2,000 gal of filter. More then a year in my case.

 

After the 7 months(Tank is keep full all that time) of well water use and the first use of city water with chlorine.

.There is some foamie water for a short time that comes out. :) Using city hook up.

 

Only time I have had any stomach cramps and diarrhea durring those 11 plus years.

Is when I have drank that stuff the doctor has me drink before a colonoscopy. :(

 

I only use the tank water while traveling, campground pressure to low for a shower or electric power outages.

99.9% of the time I use the city water hook up.

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I use Sodium Dichlor (halfway down page) for sanitizing our plumbing system. Just one teaspoon of powder will sanitize a 100 G tank and plumbing system. I bought one pound about 5 years ago, put it in an air-tight bottle, and still have over half remaining. It does not have the aftertaste of household bleach, nor does it contain heavy metals like some household bleach. Download the MSDS and comply with all recommendations for handling.

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I full-time and use city water about 80% of the time, however, I keep about 1/3 tank of fresh water to use while on the road. I sanitize my fresh water tanks about every two months, more often if I have been in hot places and not using a lot of tank water. Just makes me feel better.

 

I just add about 3/4 of a cup of chlorine bleach directly into a half-full tank and add about a gallon of water to make sure it gets washed down. I do this before a day's driving so it gets sloshed around and goes through the plumbing since I run the taps a bit. When I get somewhere, I add more water to the tank and use it only for bathing and toilet flushing until I use up the tank full of water.

 

As long as the water tastes good, I drink it from my tanks between sanitizing since I hate to use bottled water and don't have room for a filter pitcher in my refrig.

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I just add about 3/4 of a cup of chlorine bleach directly into a half-full tank and add about a gallon of water to make sure it gets washed down. I do this before a day's driving so it gets sloshed around and goes through the plumbing since I run the taps a bit. When I get somewhere, I add more water to the tank and use it only for bathing and toilet flushing until I use up the tank full of water.

No question that will do the job for the tank, but what of the rest of the system? One of the places that is most common for algae to hide is in your water heater as there are critters that prefer the hot water and since it isn't hot enough for sensitization effect, it is needed there. We also once had some cloudy ice cubes due to algae growing in the water line up to the freezer of the refrigerator. It didn't seem to effect us but the ice looked ugly. It is usually a good idea to use a little less sanitizer and then run it completely through the water system, including the toilet and ice maker. Here is a complete instruction on how to sanitize the entire fresh water system.

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An old yachtie trick to "sweeten" the water is to let the tank go to empty then pour in a whole bottle of very cheap vodka, then fill the tank. In a 50-100 gallon tank you are not going to be affected by the alcohol at that dilution, it sanitizes the dregs at the bottom of the tank and helps improve off tasting (any water not like your home town) water.

What bothers me the most is the algae that tends to grow in the inlet water hose. I tend to dose it now and then with a couple of cups of bleach.

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slightly off topic, this was the first time I've really worked at cleaning out the black tank (lots of fill and dump, using the rinser, wand etc). I was surprised at the amount of TP residue I was able to flush out.

 

Tank is running as clear as my fresh tank when I dump it now. :)

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  • 4 months later...

No question that will do the job for the tank, but what of the rest of the system? One of the places that is most common for algae to hide is in your water heater as there are critters that prefer the hot water and since it isn't hot enough for sensitization effect, it is needed there. We also once had some cloudy ice cubes due to algae growing in the water line up to the freezer of the refrigerator. It didn't seem to effect us but the ice looked ugly. It is usually a good idea to use a little less sanitizer and then run it completely through the water system, including the toilet and ice maker. Here is a complete instruction on how to sanitize the entire fresh water system.

Thanks a lot, Kirk, for the link. I have searched the whole internet and finally found the simple solution.. After using the "pour the bleach in the water hose" method for so long you finally awakened me to such a simple method of using the water filter canister as injection point for the bleach. Guess I haven't been reading the right solutions for this. Been full timing 17 years and still have a lot to learn. To clarify what I learned this morning, this is a quote: "or if you use a canister water filter you can remove the filter cartridge and pour the chlorine into it." Thanks again!

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  • 3 months later...

We sanitize every six months or so. We always sanitize coming back from Mexico. We only use the fresh water tank for showers/washing dishes and utilize 5 gallon (20 liter) water jugs for drinking and cooking after the 80 gallon tank of fresh water from US is gone. We use the water pump and fresh water tank(81 gallons) even for the three times we were at an RV park this last year.

 

We just use household bleach for this and follow the directions that a number of blogs suggest for sanitizing the piping and tank.

 

Reed and Elaine

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  • 3 weeks later...

But how do you keep airborne things out of the water system? Are you saying that you never sanitize the freshwater system?

 

I'm not sure how anything airborne would get into the system. There's a screen on the vent, a cap on the hose fill, and those are behind a locked door. With continuous use for the past 12 years, we haven't had any issues.

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