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Sanitizing the water tank


aunut

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I just watched a video by an rv tech in which he said to never use bleach because it will harm the seals. He said to instead use Hydrogen Peroxide. The video ended before he said how much per tank. Has anyone heard of this? If so, how much should you use? Also, if this will do the job and is much safer to use, why have I not heard of it? All the other techs in videos are still recommending bleach, which I have always used.

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I have to ask : have your seals ever leaked ?

 

And at the recommended dosage of bleach , it's pretty watered down . Likely , to the point of not mattering to the seals .

 

I would think that it would take more HP than bleach to do the same job . And , diluted HP would also have to be in contact with whatever surface longer than bleach to be as effective .

 

But , I'm no chemical engineer , so ...

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I just watched a video by an rv tech in which he said to never use bleach because it will harm the seals. He said to instead use Hydrogen Peroxide. The video ended before he said how much per tank. Has anyone heard of this? If so, how much should you use? Also, if this will do the job and is much safer to use, why have I not heard of it? All the other techs in videos are still recommending bleach, which I have always used.

 

Unless you're raising baby harp seals in your black tank or own an RV made with "PB" (polybutylene) plumbing from the late 90's, then bleach won't hurt anything.

 

RV plumbing is PEX, ABS, or polyethlene -- all pretty much immune to bleach.

 

The only "seals" in the plumbing system are used on the gray & black gate valves (probably Santoprene) and the rubber seals on your RV toilet. Santoprene is bleach resistant, but rubber is not -- so don't let bleach remain in your toilet for extended stays.

 

Hydrogen peroxide? I believe off-the-shelf hydrogen peroxide is a 3% solution. To match bleach's disinfectant strength, you would need a much stronger solution of hydrogen peroxide (like accelerated hydrogen peroxide) or you would have to heat up the hydrogen peroxide before using it.

 

Why bother? Bleach is cheap & it works.

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I know folks that use hydrogen peroxide, but it doesn't have anything to do with bleach harming their seals and such. They prefer it to bleach because it is naturally occurring and breaks down in the environment into simply oxygen and water. It also doesn't seem to require as much flushing to remove the unpleasant odor and taste of chlorine. It DOES however take quite a lot of it to perform as well as bleach does. That doesn't seem important to them though.

 

I still use bleach.. or rather HTH (high test hypochlorite). It's in power form and around 60%-70% chlorine (compared to 3%-6% at the store) so it's something I don't mind keeping on hand rather than toting around a bottle. I've never had any issues.

 

Have to agree with Zulu, "Why bother? Bleach is cheap & it works."

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I have been using chlorine bleach since we began RVing more than 30 years ago and so far, no problems from that. I suspect that the main reason for using hydrogen peroxide would be that chlorine leaves a taste behind that they say hydrogen peroxide doesn't. I have never tried it mostly because I know that a bleach mix works and because chlorine is what the public water companies use. I have seen an ozonator in use in place of bleach and that is reported to work just fine, but I have not used it either. The quote which follows comes from the EPA.

 

Hydrogen peroxide (H2O2) is rarely used in drinking water treatment as a stand-alone treatment process. H2O2 is a weak mirobiocide compared to chlorine, ozone, and other commonly used disinfectants. Consequently, it is not approved by regulatory agencies as a stand-alone disinfection treatment process. However, there are a number of technologies where H2O2 is used as part of the treatment program. The advanced oxidation process (AOP) uses H2O2 in conjunction of O3 and/or UV light to produce hydroxyl radicals (·OH), which are very effective in removing taste and odor (T&O) compounds, and inorganic and organic micropollutants. H2O2 can also be catalyzed with iron, to produce hydroxyl radicals by Fenton's reaction.

Addition of H2O2 in conjunction of UV light and/or ozone produces powerful hydroxyl radicals, which are more effective than ozone or UV alone. AOP involving hydroxyl radicals in drinking water treatment is used to remove various persistent organic and inorganic micro-pollutants. O3/ H2O2 and UV/ H2O2 have been successfully used to oxidize many persistent pesticides, T&O compounds, pharmaceutical and hazardous chemicals that may be present in surface and groundwater.

In the Fenton process, H2O2 and iron generate hydroxyl radicals through a catalytic process. The process is based on electron transfer between H2O2 and iron ions. The hydroxyl radical produced during this activation process is a strong oxidizing agent able to oxidize organic compounds. The advantage of this process is that no energy input is necessary to activate the hydrogen peroxide. However, the main disadvantage of this process is the additional water pollution caused by adding the iron salt. Solid iron blocks have been used to avoid water pollution with iron salt; however, leaching of metal ions makes this process problematic. Fenton's Reagent has proven to be very effective in the treatment of organic molecules. However, the process is expensive because additional residuals, which require disposal, are generated and a continuous supply of feed chemicals is required.

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During 16 years of full-timing and two RVs, we've never sanitized the water tank. We used the tank water for everything including drinking and cooking. We dry camped and boondocked a lot and got our water from many sources. However, we did use a filter for the water coming into our tank and also a 'taste' filter at the kitchen sink. The key is using good filters. We got ours from RVFilterStore.com He attends many RV shows including Quartzsite and if you have any questions he is very patient over the phone.

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What I know about hydrogen peroxide is that when they poured it on my dog bite it fizzed up like champagne. What I've read since then is that hospitals no longer use it. It apparently looked impressive but didn't really do anything.

 

But think about how many of us have used bleach in our tanks for how many years. Do you not think we would have noticed by now if doing so caused problems?

 

Linda Sand

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During 16 years of full-timing and two RVs, we've never sanitized the water tank.

 

I'm not quite that daring.. but good to note to self.. "don't drink gypsies lemonade". ^_^ You know I'm joking of course.. properly filtered from known potable sources is generally more than safe, IMHO.

 

But think about how many of us have used bleach in our tanks for how many years. Do you not think we would have noticed by now if doing so caused problems?

 

Case in point.. it's a "known".. it's safe and no detrimental affects that I'm aware of.

 

I was able to receive a reply from the couple I mentioned earlier. Don't quote me.. I haven't really done any personal research.. but they said that they use 3X the bleach concentration when sanitizing their tank and lines. I can see the merit in reduced flushing and "green" affect, but don't feel it's to the point to me personally that I will alter my water treatment plan.

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What I know about hydrogen peroxide is that when they poured it on my dog bite it fizzed up like champagne. What I've read since then is that hospitals no longer use it. It apparently looked impressive but didn't really do anything.

 

But think about how many of us have used bleach in our tanks for how many years. Do you not think we would have noticed by now if doing so caused problems?

 

Linda Sand

 

If you think HP does no good , you better do a little more research .

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I still use bleach.. or rather HTH (high test hypochlorite). It's in power form and around 60%-70% chlorine (compared to 3%-6% at the store) so it's something I don't mind keeping on hand rather than toting around a bottle. I've never had any issues.

 

Have to agree with Zulu, "Why bother? Bleach is cheap & it works."

I hate to correct you but "HTH" is a brand name what you are referring to is calcium hypochlorite it is mostly packaged as 65% available chlorine when purchased at a pool supply store and can be as high as 85% . That is unless purchased at a home supply store such as Lowes or home depot then it will be around 42% to 49% the reason is that at this concentration if it gets in contact with oils or fuel it will smoke but not flame whereas the 65% will flame ( our government saving us from ourselves again) ,but will cause extreme heat that could cause a fire.

Be extremely careful if using this chemical as it can react violently when added to water given the right circumstances, that being certain minerals or contaminates in higher concentrations.

Also as a reference this product will leave an inert residual in your tank its not harmful but sometimes will show some white flics in the water.

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I hate to correct you but "HTH" is a brand name what you are referring to is calcium hypochlorite

Also as a reference this product will leave an inert residual in your tank its not harmful but sometimes will show some white flics in the water.

 

You're probably right. I just ask for high test hypochlorite at the pool store. The packaging is sometimes different, but "HTH" may very well just be a brand. In years of use though.. I've never noticed any residue or flakes in the water. I DO know that it's important to dissolve it in hot water before using. Maybe that makes a difference?

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Once again, what concentration? For how long? The excessive use of chlorine produces THM's which is a carcenogen readily absorbed by humans, more easily absorded through the skin vs drinking water. How does one prevent the plastic from absorbing the THM's and releasing it in subsequent tanks of water? Your links address that subject.

How do you adjust the ph in your fresh water system so chlorine works best to "kill" algae, as that one link states? Human infants under 2 are quite vulnerable to chlorine poisoning, even at safe levels for adult consumption.

I just found a link that explains how to remove algae from a tank, and it does not apply to a closed tank, as pressure-washing or scrubbing the tank walls is required to remove algae, which then must be filtered out or you wind up drinking it anyway.

 

Yarome, I think you are referring to Sodium Dichlor instead of the brand name HTH .http://www.watersafetymagazine.com/chlorine-by-any-other-name-is-not-the-same/

I've used Sodium Dichlor for years, I first read about it on Art Kanpp's website, which is no longer available. Art is the man who wrote about removing algae from an RV fresh water tank using ordinary soap N water first, then following with through flushing, sanitizing with Sodium Dichlor and repeat flushing. His website was at members.cox.net, but the site will not load for me.

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We each use the method that we feel is best and most of us recommend that method if it has worked well for us. There is really no reason for anyone to feel the need to use a method that you don't feel will work or that you feel is unsafe. For me, the methods that I suggest have been working for many years and with no ill effects on anyone in our family. For that reason I do share the information about what I do to sanitize our RV potable water system and to keep it clean, but if people prefer another method that is what they should do. We each must choose what information to trust and do what we believe is best.

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  • 11 months later...

I have a little truck camper. I only bleached my system after I bought it new 7 years ago. I noticed today the clear water lines are black with mold. I never drink the water, just wash my hands and shower in it, so I didn't think much about sanitizing it.

How often should I bleach the system to keep the mold away?  I drain the water tank after every trip and seldom keep water in the system more than 2 weeks at a time.

I read the link here about sanitizing and it says to bleach the hot water tank. Shouldn't the hot water tank be clean from the heat? I drain my hot water tank after every trip.

I used to get black mold in my cassette toilet. Now I use a cup of window washer fluid in each gallon of water for the holding tank. No problems now.

Thanks

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Where are you filling your fresh water tank?  If you were routinely fiilling from municipal sources you wouldn't be having this problem.   Actually draining the system and leaving just a trace of water which warms and allows mold to grow is probably how it got started.  Give it a good shock, rinse 2-3 tank fulls adding vinegar, then fresh water from a chlorinated system.  Then don't dump the water, rather make sure you are getting it from municipal sources and keep the tank full.  Leaving just a little water behind is far worse than having it full.

Barb

 

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I don't entirely agree with what Barb said, but mostly I do. If your water hose to the hydrant has a long length of it that is exposed to the sun that can degrade the chemicals in the municipal water supply to a point where algae can grow in some cases. Even if you get all of your water from RV parks, there are a significant number of them whose water comes from wells and even though the water is safe and has been tested, it probably has no lasting chemical agents in the water that you put into your RV system. In more rural areas, well water is very common.

On the water heater, there are forms of algae that only grow in hot water and algae is the most common cause of bad smelling hot water.  Any time that your water is exposed to air, it will also be exposed to algae spores.  

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16 hours ago, Barbaraok said:

Where are you filling your fresh water tank?  If you were routinely fiilling from municipal sources you wouldn't be having this problem.   Actually draining the system and leaving just a trace of water which warms and allows mold to grow is probably how it got started.  Give it a good shock, rinse 2-3 tank fulls adding vinegar, then fresh water from a chlorinated system.  Then don't dump the water, rather make sure you are getting it from municipal sources and keep the tank full.  Leaving just a little water behind is far worse than having it full.

Barb

 

I pretty much use tap water. When I first got the camper I kept water in it for 6 weeks in the summer. It got eggy and that was when I sanitized it. Maybe if the water was always being flushed out it would be good to leave water in it. I also have to winterize so can't keep it in year round.

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