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Sanitizing the Potable Water Tank and System


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#1 wolfe10

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Posted 14 July 2009 - 03:17 PM

Sanitizing your potable water tank and system starts with draining all the old water out of the tank and low water drains. If the water was really old, smelled or had any growth, hook up the hose and, with the drains open, let the hose run for a few minutes. Close all drains.

Then pour a cup of bleach in the potable water hose (you know, the white one that is lead free). That will sanitize the hose and any filter as well as potable water system.

Fill the potable tank completely, let it sit an hour. Then open each tap and let it run (on your water pump from tank) until you smell chlorine. It will take awhile for the hot water, since you will be mixing the heavily chlorinated water with 6 or 10 gallons of the old water. This will disinfect your entire system.

Let that sit for a couple of hours, then drain. Leave the tank drain open as you start to fill with fresh water, that will flush a lot of the residual heavily chlorinated water from the tank.

Then after filling about half way with fresh water, turn on the pump and open each tap until no chlorine is smelled.

Drain and re-fill and you are finished.

Other points:

Store water for a maximum of two weeks in the summer and three in the winter (cooler temps slow algae and bacteria growth. So, turn over the water in the tank. Do NOT fill the tank at the beginning of the season then leave it in there as you use CG water at each over-night. When you do use tank water, it will be BAD.

DO use a SEDIMENT ONLY filter for all incoming water. 5 micron sediment only filters are available at Home Depot,etc. Many CG's are on well water. The fine bits of sand aren't necessarily bad for you, but can mess up the pressure switch on your water pump. Do NOT use a charcoal filter for any water that you will be storing-- removing chlorine (which a charcoal filter will do) and then storing the water is a recipe for BAD water. Charcoal filters after the potable water pump are fine.

Brett Wolfe
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#2 TBUTLER

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Posted 14 July 2009 - 10:57 PM

Brett,

Some good points here. I would consider using a different chemical than chlorine. I know this is the standard for public water systems but I haven't used chlorine in years. Chlorine is so corrosive, it chemically attacks seals and other components. I worry about what chlorine is doing to the plumbing in the motor home. Besides valves and seals, the faucets and drain hardware will be attacked by chlorine. I used to add a small amount of chlorine to any stored water but my hoses were breaking down at a high rate. Since stopping this practice, I have had many fewer hose failures. Now I concentrate on keeping the water fresh. My hoses are kept fresh by connecting ends rather than sterilizing them constantly. I use flat hoses and those are thoroughly drained and dried before storing. In addition with each use I give them a good flush with fresh water before making the connection to the motor home.

I am also choosy about the water that I store. If possible I'll use the water for several days in a campground before filling the fresh water tank. If it is exceedingly hard or has any questionable characteristics, I'll not fill with that water and wait for another source if possible. Of course if boon-docking regularly we sometimes don't have a choice but then that water won't be stored for long.

If water has been stored for a longer time than desired, I'll simply drain it and rinse rather than running it through the system. I always keep some water in the storage tank for emergencies so after draining I'll refill to at least half full with fresh water. Being full time it usually isn't a problem keeping the fresh water tank in good condition. It is a different game for those who use their coaches only occasionally.

Finally, we have adopted the practice of purchasing filtered water in bulk for drinking purposes. I don't believe it is possible to maintain a 100% sanitary drinking water source in an RV water system given all the variables in where we get water from. It only takes one bad water source to contaminate the whole system. That combined with the fact that the fresh water is invariably found adjacent to the sewer connection both in the RV and in most campgrounds raises the likelihood of some kind of contamination for even the most conscientious person.
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After 9 1/2 years full time in our motor home and being Winter Texans we are now living at Sandpipers Resort in Edinburg, Texas. Now we are Summer Chickens!

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#3 wolfe10

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Posted 15 July 2009 - 07:10 AM

Tom,

Chlorine has been the industry standard for tank and water system sanitizing. And along with boiling is the EPA's recommended method of disinfecting water: EPA Water Purification Recommendations,

But, as you mention, there are other chemicals that can be used. I have seen information on the use of Chlorine Dioxide (under the brand name Purogene) but it is many times more expensive: Purogene Manufacturer

What do you use?

And while screwing the hose ends together which we do as well, will certainly reduce contamination (and getting water in storage areas!), a damp warm environment IS still a good place for organisms to grow. If the hose is used frequently, this is a non-issue. But if this is the first camping trip in months sanitizing is a good idea.

Brett Wolfe
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#4 Guest_2driftrs_*

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Posted 15 July 2009 - 07:55 AM

Here's a couple of tips to add to Brett's comments you might find useful. First, and most important, DO NOT USE SCENTED BLEACH or bleach that has any additives. Most scents and additives possess the danger of leaving a residual component behind. Fill your water tank to about 3/4 full before adding the bleach - - this will keep the chlorine concentration down to levels that shouldn't harm pump seals and piping. Also, add the bleach to the fill hose when the fill hose is nearly full of water. This should keep the hoses from being attacked as badly as adding the bleach to an empty hose. And because I'm not the most patient person around, I drain the hot water heater before I start because it takes too long to purge the old water with the bleach water.

Jan and Barry

#5 Guest_Wayne77590_*

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Posted 15 July 2009 - 09:40 AM

And our manual states: Remove filter from water filter holder. Place chlorine bleach in water filter holder and replace lid. Run water to fill the tank, leave for several hours, drain, refill, flush, etc., I'm not saying that any method is better than the next, but I'll do what the manufacturer recommends.

I had not thought of the hoses. I have several and two just for the back flush. The fresh water hoses are all white and I have a 50 foot, 25 foot, 15 foot, 5 foot. Any and all can be used in tandem. What I had forgotten was the 50 footer does not get used that often, and I need to sanitize it more frequently after use.

Thanks for the reminder.

#6 stevesandidge

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Posted 21 July 2009 - 07:22 PM

read a post from a chemical eng. AND a rv'er, that suggested using the unscented bleach, 1 cup per 15 gal of capacity. and doing all the stuff you all are talking about. but then drain and add 1 cup white vinegar per 15 gal cap and repeating, thus turning the clorine to salt water and thus neautralizing the bleach. drain, breif flush and you are ready fer da road. i am gonna try it, so i will let ya know how it goes.
steve
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steve sandidge
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#7 Rolacoy

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Posted 23 August 2009 - 10:06 PM

We have never used our water for drinking. We carry drinking water. I would like to drink the tank water, but I'm uncomfortable doing it. I read your comments with interest.
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#8 wolfe10

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Posted 24 August 2009 - 09:38 AM

Rolacoy,

We came to RVing from offshore sailboats. There, we had no choice but do drink from our tanks as small unsecured jugs is a seaway would be very dangerous. So we HAD to treat our tanks such that the water remained potable.

Remember, each component of your system is approved for drinking water. It is only if you allow "bugs" to grow in the tank and system that it becomes unfit for drinking. And it is easy to sanitize. This is not speculation or an "opinion". Virtually all RV owners manuals cover this subject, and all I have seen use the inexpensive "basic Clorox" method. Certainly, there are other, more expensive chemicals that can be used. But follow the directions I posted in the my first post and you will be "good to drink".

Brett Wolfe
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#9 Rolacoy

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Posted 24 August 2009 - 10:00 AM

I know you are right. It's just we are slow, we had our MH for two years till we ever used the shower. In a Roadtrek the shower is a curtain in the hall. I had the idea that it would cling to us, I don't like a shower curtain that touches me. But once we used it, it worked just fine. We had never lit the hot water tank till we used the shower. It was 2 1/2 years before we used the stove.

Ok, our next trip I will use the water to drink. I have sanitized it several times as you indicate.
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#10 wolfe10

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Posted 24 August 2009 - 10:10 AM

Rolacoy,

It needs to be sanatized JUST BEFORE you leave on your trip (each trip if the water has been stored over two weeks in summer/three weeks in winter-- MY OPINION on the 2/3 weeks).

Brett Wolfe
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#11 Rolacoy

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Posted 24 August 2009 - 11:13 AM

I know, I will repeat the process before we leave. I want to try using it while we are home, rather get sick here. We have done a lot of work on our MH in the last month so we will probably take a short trip for a night or two once we get it all back together and cleaned up before going to Oklahoma the end of September.
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#12 WayneTKeller

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Posted 04 June 2011 - 07:25 PM

Rolacoy,

We came to RVing from offshore sailboats. There, we had no choice but do drink from our tanks as small unsecured jugs is a seaway would be very dangerous. So we HAD to treat our tanks such that the water remained potable.

Remember, each component of your system is approved for drinking water. It is only if you allow "bugs" to grow in the tank and system that it becomes unfit for drinking. And it is easy to sanitize. This is not speculation or an "opinion". Virtually all RV owners manuals cover this subject, and all I have seen use the inexpensive "basic Clorox" method. Certainly, there are other, more expensive chemicals that can be used. But follow the directions I posted in the my first post and you will be "good to drink".

Brett Wolfe


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#13 WayneTKeller

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Posted 04 June 2011 - 07:29 PM

Brett,
We came from sail boats like you and we have done as you have suggested in our boats and in three motor homes and have never had any problems. All good advice!

Wayne
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#14 jmxx44

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Posted 07 November 2012 - 04:21 PM

Need Owners Manual for 2002 Alpha See Ya. Don't care if it has to be downloaded, just need to read & find the drain for the main water tank.
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#15 desertdeals69

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Posted 07 November 2012 - 07:25 PM

I have been using hydrogen peroxide a pint at a time. With water tank empty fill the water hose with 8 oz of hydrogen peroxide and then fill about 10 gal in tank. Run the waterpump until treated water is in all the lines and waterheater. Let it sit for an hour and then just go ahead and use it, no need to flush. I got rid of smelly water with this method, when I tried with bleach I still had smelly water within 24 hours. I checked with a water engineer with a chemical plant and he said that was the best way to treat rv water systems and that they did it that way in the chemical plant. Hydrogen peroxide is about 88 cents a treatment. This method was presented at a Newmar rally.
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#16 cmarq

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Posted 07 November 2012 - 07:33 PM

I sanitize our tank and system including the hoses, I also installed a Culligan water filter with its own faucet for drinking water. I use the rv4 filter and the water has been tested and is as good as any bottled water. The filter set up and faucet was $60.00 and the better RV4 filter runs about $40.00 online. The filter is good for approx 500 gallons. It gives peace of mind without carrying bottled water and the coffee tastes great.
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#17 desertdeals69

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Posted 09 November 2012 - 09:34 AM

I use a Pur filter pitcher for drinking water. I keep it in the refrigerator so its cold all the time.
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