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Sanitizing fresh water aftermath

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Just put bleach into my fresh water system. Many years ago I had a procedure that added a step: after draining the bleach solution out add fresh water with X amount of baking soda to the fresh water system, leave it in there for X hours then replace the tankfull with clean water. This was supposed to eliminate the residual taste. Does anyone have info to fill in the X's

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You gotta love Google.

We used a half cup of baking soda to a fresh water tank. Our fresh water tank is about 55 gallons. This is after putting 1/4 cup of bleach to every 15 gallons of waterin fresh water tank. We drain the tank and fill tank with 1/4 cup baking soda and fillfresh water.

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That is exactly what the RV water tank freshener sold at Camping World and other stores contains, baking soda.

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When I replace the sanitized tank with water I just go with fresh. To me, a little odor elimination from the fresh water tank is not worth the trouble, but then my nose is 75 years old.

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I have just been using hydrogen peroxide  works perfect and no after taste.  Kills things that bleach doesn't.

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On 8/13/2019 at 10:06 PM, desertdeals69 said:

I have just been using hydrogen peroxide  works perfect and no after taste.  Kills things that bleach doesn't.

We've been through this before, you will have to completely fill  your fresh water tank with 3% hydrogen peroxide, and soak for a minimum of 150 minutes,, to kill every bacteria in the fresh water system.https://www.cdc.gov/infectioncontrol/guidelines/disinfection/disinfection-methods/chemical.html

No drinking water treatment courses I am aware of, to prepare for taking a state exam for licensing for a water treatment operator,  address using H2 O2.

How do you know your system is sanitized without continual lab testing? Unlike Chlorine residual levels, there is not a simple positive way to test for residual H2O2. Factor in the porous plastic tank and plumbing are harder to insure contact with every surface, and you see the difficulty involved.

That is the only reference  I can find that even mentions using H2 O2 for disinfecting drinking water, the following from the CDC,EPA and WHO does not mention H2 O2 for disinfecting drinking water:

https://www.who.int/household_water/research/technologies_intro/en/

https://www.who.int/water_sanitation_health/hygiene/om/linkingchap6.pdf

https://www.epa.ie/pubs/advice/drinkingwater/Disinfection2_web.pdf

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12 minutes ago, RayIN said:

We've been through this before, you will have to completely fill  your fresh water tank with 3% hydrogen peroxide, and soak for a minimum of 150 minutes,, to kill every bacteria in the fresh water system.https://www.cdc.gov/infectioncontrol/guidelines/disinfection/disinfection-methods/chemical.html

No drinking water treatment courses I am aware of, to prepare for taking a state exam for licensing for a water treatment operator,  address using H2 O2.

How do you know your system is sanitized without continual lab testing? Unlike Chlorine residual levels, there is not a simple positive way to test for residual H2O2.

That is the only reference  I can find that even mentions using H2 O2 for disinfecting drinking water, the following from the CDC,EPA and WHO does not mention H2 O2 for disinfecting drinking water:

https://www.who.int/household_water/research/technologies_intro/en/

https://www.who.int/water_sanitation_health/hygiene/om/linkingchap6.pdf

https://www.epa.ie/pubs/advice/drinkingwater/Disinfection2_web.pdf

By my own tests I determined that it works.  Newmar had a seminar on the subject and recommended the usage of hydrogen peroxide for sanitation.  I had a kitchen sink faucet rinser hose that the water coming from the hose stunk really bad.  I treated it with bleach and it seemed to clean it up but in a few days the odor would return.  I treated it with hydrogen peroxide and the smell went away and was still gone 6 years later when I sold the coach.  I talked with a water sanitation engineer at a chemical plant and aaked him about it and he said they use it all  the time.  The way I use it is to drain the fresh water tank and fill the hose with 1 pint of hydrogen peroxide and then hook it up to the faucet.  Fill the tank with about 15 gallons.  Run all the faucets cold and hot more on the hot (to flush the hot water heater) and let it sit for about an hour.  Then I fill to what ever capacity I need and go on my trip. 

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DD, whats the procedure with 100 gallons of fresh water capacity to get the entire system flushed with HP?

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Joe, the way DD described is the best way, use the 15 gallons with 1 pint, flush the system, then finish filling with fresh water. I usually try to deplete as much of the 15 as possible before filling the tank.

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29 minutes ago, kaypsmith said:

Joe, the way DD described is the best way, use the 15 gallons with 1 pint, flush the system, then finish filling with fresh water. I usually try to deplete as much of the 15 as possible before filling the tank.

That seemed too simple to work effectively. I was always under the impression you had to fill the fresh tank with the proper ratio of HP and run it all out through the system. 

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1 hour ago, kaypsmith said:

Joe, the way DD described is the best way, use the 15 gallons with 1 pint, flush the system, then finish filling with fresh water. I usually try to deplete as much of the 15 as possible before filling the tank.

I don't drain the remainder of the 15 gal, I just fill the tank.  Hydrogen peroxide is safe to drink, you can even brush your teeth with it!

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10 hours ago, kaypsmith said:

Joe, the way DD described is the best way, use the 15 gallons with 1 pint, flush the system, then finish filling with fresh water. I usually try to deplete as much of the 15 as possible before filling the tank.

OK, please explain how 1 pint of 3% H2 O2 diluted into 15G of water(result is a 0.00025% solution) can disinfect anything, since a 3% total solution is the absolute minimum to disinfect  tank and drinking water according to the CDC (see link in my previous reply). How does that 15G get in contact with the remaining empty tank to disinfect that? To maintain a 3% solution you must buy 120, 1 pint bottles of H2O2, which = 15G

In order to use 100% H2O2 (impossible to buy) to dilute into 15G of water, it would still take 57.6 oz to create a 3% solution.

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To each his own.  I don't like the taste of bleach and the way I've been doing it the last 10+ years along with hundreds of others suits me just fine.

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I've read more threads about sanitizing fresh water systems than I care to admit, and one step seems to be missing from all of them. In all the various threads and hundreds of comments, in all the online articles about methods to sanitize, I don't remember reading about anyone testing their system to evaluate the actual condition of things - not to see if sanitizing is necessary and not to see if it was successful.

Seems like the reason we want to sanitize is to ensure that the water we're drinking is safe. In order to know this, the water needs to be tested. Anyone living in a house with a well should be familiar with this process. You take a small sample (following the proper procedure) and bring it to the local testing office. In a few days you get a printout with details about what's in your water. At our house here in Wisconsin, the local county office charges only $30 for a basic test which includes a bacteriological test. The complete test is about $50, and includes testing for various other possible water components and/or contaminants. If your local county office doesn't offer this service, there are many places you can send water for testing across the country which can be found online.

So now we have this current thread about removing the taste of the bleach after sanitizing. What's the connection to my point about testing? Simple - I'd suggest that the best way to avoid having to deal with removing the bleach taste is to not sanitize unnecessarily. I've read about some people sanitizing their system multiple times a season, all in the hopes of removing some contaminant that may or may not be present. For many (most) RVs, I'd suggest that sanitizing multiple times is a waste of time and effort.

Rather than going through all this by sanitizing needlessly, just take a sample for testing. If it comes back clean, then you can skip the sanitizing and carry on. If it shows some type of contamination, then you have work to do. But, you at least have a printout in front of you showing exactly what it is you're trying to clean. Then, after running through the sanitizing procedure, you can re-test the water and learn if your process actually accomplished what you needed it to and resulted in safe water. If after running through your normal procedure you still have a contamination in your water system, then it would be time to figure out what went wrong with the process and why it didn't clean things out properly. Once you get things figured out, sanitize again and retest. This way we're not guessing and will know for certain the status of the water supply in our coaches.

Many of us test the oil and coolant in our coach engines to determine the status - why not do the same for our water supply?

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4 hours ago, richard5933 said:

I've read more threads about sanitizing fresh water systems than I care to admit, and one step seems to be missing from all of them. In all the various threads and hundreds of comments, in all the online articles about methods to sanitize, I don't remember reading about anyone testing their system to evaluate the actual condition of things - not to see if sanitizing is necessary and not to see if it was successful.

Seems like the reason we want to sanitize is to ensure that the water we're drinking is safe. In order to know this, the water needs to be tested. Anyone living in a house with a well should be familiar with this process. You take a small sample (following the proper procedure) and bring it to the local testing office. In a few days you get a printout with details about what's in your water. At our house here in Wisconsin, the local county office charges only $30 for a basic test which includes a bacteriological test. The complete test is about $50, and includes testing for various other possible water components and/or contaminants. If your local county office doesn't offer this service, there are many places you can send water for testing across the country which can be found online.

So now we have this current thread about removing the taste of the bleach after sanitizing. What's the connection to my point about testing? Simple - I'd suggest that the best way to avoid having to deal with removing the bleach taste is to not sanitize unnecessarily. I've read about some people sanitizing their system multiple times a season, all in the hopes of removing some contaminant that may or may not be present. For many (most) RVs, I'd suggest that sanitizing multiple times is a waste of time and effort.

Rather than going through all this by sanitizing needlessly, just take a sample for testing. If it comes back clean, then you can skip the sanitizing and carry on. If it shows some type of contamination, then you have work to do. But, you at least have a printout in front of you showing exactly what it is you're trying to clean. Then, after running through the sanitizing procedure, you can re-test the water and learn if your process actually accomplished what you needed it to and resulted in safe water. If after running through your normal procedure you still have a contamination in your water system, then it would be time to figure out what went wrong with the process and why it didn't clean things out properly. Once you get things figured out, sanitize again and retest. This way we're not guessing and will know for certain the status of the water supply in our coaches.

Many of us test the oil and coolant in our coach engines to determine the status - why not do the same for our water supply?

You made some good points.  My test was that the water had awful smell coming out of the rinser,  Bleach wouldn't eliminate it for more than a few days.  Hydrogen peroxide did.

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I have used a chlorine bleach for years. I follow the Mfg's guidelines on amount for my coach. Drain fresh water tank, remove filter, put bleach in hose, hook up to water facet and fill tank. Run faucets to get the bleach smell, then let the system sit for 4 hours or more.  Drain, fill with fresh water, run faucets, drain, fill again if necessary. We don't have a chlorine bleach taste.

DD, good info on using HP if a smell persists.

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1 hour ago, desertdeals69 said:

You made some good points.  My test was that the water had awful smell coming out of the rinser,  Bleach wouldn't eliminate it for more than a few days.  Hydrogen peroxide did.

You probably already know, but sometimes a smell coming from the hot water side is indicative of a failing hot water heater and/or anode rod.

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When using chlorine/bleach, a simple sniff-test is all that is necessary, if  you smell bleach in water at the faucet after an hour, chlorine residual is present; this residual means the chlorine was not completely consumed killing bacteria/germs, thus germs were eliminated.

This has ran its course, I'll stop here.

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29 minutes ago, RayIN said:

When using chlorine/bleach, a simple sniff-test is all that is necessary, if  you smell bleach in water at the faucet after an hour, chlorine residual is present; this residual means the chlorine was not completely consumed killing bacteria/germs, thus germs were eliminated.

This has ran its course, I'll stop here.

Sorry, but if that were the case the county wouldn't require re-testing when a well has to be sanitized as a result of a positive test result. They'd just give it a sniff test. Chlorine/water solution will smell like bleach long after it's lost it ability to sanitize anything.

My take on all this is that the majority of times people are sanitizing their RV water systems it is done as a precautionary measure. Most of the time people don't know if they have an actual problem (other than possibly an offending smell or taste). And unfortunately in those situations where there is an actual problem without testing there is no way to know for certain whether or not the problem has been abated.

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4 hours ago, richard5933 said:

Sorry, but if that were the case the county wouldn't require re-testing when a well has to be sanitized as a result of a positive test result. They'd just give it a sniff test. Chlorine/water solution will smell like bleach long after it's lost it ability to sanitize anything.

My take on all this is that the majority of times people are sanitizing their RV water systems it is done as a precautionary measure. Most of the time people don't know if they have an actual problem (other than possibly an offending smell or taste). And unfortunately in those situations where there is an actual problem without testing there is no way to know for certain whether or not the problem has been abated.

Two entirely different scenarios Richard, once you submit a water sample for testing to a lab, legalities demand a follow-up and report to the state body governing such. I agree with you that the majority of RV'ers sanitize their fresh water system from an over-abundance of caution, or because others scared them into the act. I cannot recall ever reading about anyone getting sick from  consuming water from their RV.

reference: https://waterandhealth.org/safe-drinking-water/drinking-water/drinking-water-chlorine-odor/

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The best way from my standpoint is to always use good water both in the coach and in the fresh water tank. If the water is good at a campground, pump as much water as possible from the fresh water tank then refill it with fresh water before leaving for the next leg of your journey. And for those of us who are not full-timers, use the same method at home, and replenish the water tank often, this way there should not be a need to sanitize your system too often. If cold water starts smelling musty, clean those filter screens with vinegar and wipe back into the faucet with a rolled towel dipped in vinegar, that's where most of that musty smell and tastes comes from anyway, and don't forget about the hose that you connect to the CG or home faucets, a tablespoon, that's one ounce of chlorine bleach and about a quart of water in the hose, then coiled up and the ends connected together before storing will help keep the hose smelling fresh. If you just bought a coach and want to just make sure about it, the test is the best way to start out to decide if sanitization is in fact in order.

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Can't speak for other jurisdictions, but around here you can have water tested as often as you like at the county office, as long as you pay the fee. The water doesn't have to come from your well, and there are absolutely no repercussions, reporting requirements, or required re-tests unless the sample came from a well that is feeding a multi-unit dwelling or a commercial establishment (like a restaurant).

I too cannot recall reading about an epidemic of illness arising from contaminated RV water supplies. Other than the drinking water filter on our kitchen sink to remove the plastic taste, we run water straight from the tank. I fill from our well at home (via a softener), but will fill on the road if necessary once I quiz the campground to be sure that there are no reported problems or boil-water orders in place.

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Kay brought up a good point question.

Fresh water hose maintenance.

1, Do you keep it full of water and connect the ends together?

2, empty it and leave it air out?

3, empty it and connect the ends together?

I have also watched a camper blow compressed air through one and connect the ends together. 

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To sanitize my water system...I do like DD69 does and I have a 100 gal. tank, same with water hose...been using HP for over 50 years and has not killed me yet.  :lol:  I also gargle with HP as I don't like the taste of mouth wash!

RayIN...go figure. 

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From this thread, I guess we know the following:

  • HP will not kill you when added to a water system as noted above.
  • HP appears to remove odor from water systems.
  • Bleach has a smell that may or may not remain after using it to 'sanitize' your water system.
  • Everyone has their own method for 'sanitizing' a water system.
  • Everyone commenting in this thread is still around to discuss their methods and none seem to have gotten ill from drinking/using water from their RV water systems.

What we don't know is whether any of the methods listed above actually sanitize anything. Without testing, we are all just making an informed guess as to what works for us and doing what makes us feel better about using our RV's water system. No doubt that various methods can be used to 'freshen' a water system and remove odors and such, but to call any of it sanitizing without testing is a leap.

If someone is truly concerned about the safety of their water supply, there's only one benchmark. Take a sample and get it tested. If it comes back clean then use whatever method you prefer to freshen your tank. If it comes back with a contaminant present, follow the recommendations of a reliable health department or other expert to properly sanitize your system. Then get it re-tested to know for certain the process was successful. Do I do this every year? No, but if I bought a used motor home and was concerned I would certainly get the water tested. Same if I suspected something having contaminated the system such as a plumbing failure which allowed waste water to enter the fresh water system.

There are specific recommendations out there from many sources regarding the method to actually sanitize a water system. I have to agree with RayIN that some of the ratios being mentioned are simply not high enough to sanitize a coffee mug, let alone a 75 gal+ water supply system. Freshen it? Maybe. But certainly not sanitize it.

Sorry to keep pushing the point on this, but threads like this trigger memories of all the lectures I sat through decades ago. Especially lectures where we were scolded by the professor for confusing anecdotal evidence for factual/scientific evidence. Same for confusing correlation with causation (i.e. just because HP is used to 'sanitize' a water system and no one got sick doesn't necessarily mean that the HP had anything to do with no one getting sick.)

Getting back to the OP - how to remove the bleach smell from the water system after using it? In my experience the best thing is to thoroughly flush the system. From reading about its use online, baking soda appears to work for removing the odor as well. My only concern would be if the baking soda was not thoroughly dissolved before adding it to the tank. That can be remedied by dissolving the baking soda into water first, and then pouring it in. If the baking soda solution is left in the water system, there can also be some spotting when the water dries on a surface, as the baking soda will still be there. I think I'd flush the system after using the baking soda for this reason.

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