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Old 02-06-2016, 11:30 PM   #1
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Sanitizing the freshwater tank

First time today...

I siphoned 5 gallons of water with 1-1/4 cups of chlorine bleach into the tank, let it sit the recommended 4 hours, now I'm draining.

It's taking forever to drain, so I opened up the grey-water tank, turned on the pump and opened all the faucets.

Am I going to break something doing it like this? I just don't have 8 hours to drain 75 gallons from the fresh water tank so I can fill it up and do it all over again.
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Old 02-06-2016, 11:40 PM   #2
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It certainly drained faster, only took about 30 minutes. Now I have the low point drain open and giving it another 15 before I fill it up and get all the lines rinsed out.

Should I rinse it twice, or just once?
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Old 02-07-2016, 05:04 AM   #3
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From everything I've read, you only need to rinse once. That said, I rinse twice as I don't want any residual bleach taste and/or smell in the water.
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Old 02-07-2016, 08:24 AM   #4
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After bleach and water rinse some people can still smell bleach use white vinegar 1 cup per 15 gallons of water fill system and follow steps used with bleach. Once this is done it is safe to use your water system.
How to care for your RV water system - Rods RV Needs
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Old 02-07-2016, 09:25 AM   #5
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I always use the pump when sanitizing the system. It drains the tank faster and helps move any crude out of the lines.

I rinse for a long time too. I'll put a little water in the tank, while the low point drain is open, and flush the lines, just keeping enough water in the tank to dilute the remaining bleach water. Once I feel the tank is fairly dechlorinated I then fully rinse it once or twice, draining it by the low point and pump. When all done, I connect to the city water connection for one last pipe flush. The whole time the grey water tank valve is open. It takes a bit of time, when done the smell of bleach is gone.
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Old 02-07-2016, 09:51 AM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ecksdude View Post
First time today...

I siphoned 5 gallons of water with 1-1/4 cups of chlorine bleach into the tank, let it sit the recommended 4 hours, now I'm draining.

It's taking forever to drain, so I opened up the grey-water tank, turned on the pump and opened all the faucets.

Am I going to break something doing it like this? I just don't have 8 hours to drain 75 gallons from the fresh water tank so I can fill it up and do it all over again.
Did you run the chlorinated water into all the lines and fixtures too before letting it sit? I usually top off the water tank after after getting the chlorinated water to all fixtures (and toilet) before letting it sit.

Running it into the holding tanks is no issue.
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Old 02-07-2016, 03:57 PM   #7
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Yes, ran it into all the lines.

Overnight now, sheesh this takes a while.

I've filled and drained the tank now on my 5th time and there's still chlorine taste in the water.

Moving forward I'm considering using something less extreme than chlorine bleach. I should think sanitizing with a mix of water and hydrogen peroxide would be perfectly acceptable if done reasonably often, and wouldn't make the water taste like a swimming pool. At least, that's how we used to store water for long periods of time and it was perfectly palatable.

If the next rinse doesn't accomplish the task, I'll be throwing vinegar in there.
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Old 02-07-2016, 04:02 PM   #8
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A thread I found about using Hydrogen peroxide had people worrying about the plastic the tank and water lines are made from, but based on this seems like it shouldn't be a problem... hmmm....

Material Compatibility with Hydrogen Peroxide
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Old 02-07-2016, 04:28 PM   #9
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Practically got the filling/draining down to a science. Takes 39 minutes to fill the tank, and 40 minutes to empty it into the grey water tank using the pump.

At least I don't have to sit there watching it anymore, LOL!
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Old 02-07-2016, 04:29 PM   #10
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I rinse for a long time too. I'll put a little water in the tank, while the low point drain is open, and flush the lines, just keeping enough water in the tank to dilute the remaining bleach water.
How do you keep just enough water in the tank? Do you leave it on tank fill and just turn the city water on low?
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Old 02-07-2016, 07:15 PM   #11
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Yes, make sure to distribute the chlorinated water through all the lines, faucets, showers, etc. before letting it sit. Afterwards, open all taps/showers/ - everything - and run it out. It's sanitized water, so I just let it dump (as long as I know my gray tanks were empty before I started the process). It will not hurt grass, nor any of your plumbing.

Pull the plug on your hot water heater and drain separately before starting the rest of the rinsing - it acts as a reservoir trapping several gallons of bleach water, and it takes a long time to flush just by running the taps/shower/etc. Ditto for filters if you have any - although you really should have removed/bypassed them before doing this - the chorine really shortens the usable life of the charcoal in the filter.

The rinse water (after you've run the taps for a few minutes) is below swimming pool concentrations, so is very safe to drink, even if it does have a smell.
I find about 20-30 gal is all I need to rinse with to get rid of the smell. Without separately draining the heater, it can be many times that amount.

I'd advise making sure to drain everything (especially the heater) if it will sit unused in warmer weather for more than a week or two. See all the threads about sulfur smell from the heater - it frequently is caused by bacteria growing in the stagnant water. And then you get to sanitize in camp, where the time it takes is not appreciated....
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Old 02-07-2016, 07:28 PM   #12
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I found this article about using a little different method. I haven't used it but it sounds like something I might give a try.
How to Clean RV Fresh Water Holding Tanks | eHow
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Old 02-07-2016, 07:32 PM   #13
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When I sanitize, after it has sat, I empty the fresh tank using the drain and drain the water heater. Then I run some water in the tank with the drain still open to rinse the tank, then close the drain and fill the tank and go inside and start running water through the lines. I run the water for several minutes at each fixture except the toilet. That's all it takes for us.
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Old 02-07-2016, 09:54 PM   #14
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I found this article about using a little different method. I haven't used it but it sounds like something I might give a try.
How to Clean RV Fresh Water Holding Tanks | eHow
I maintain a pool at home, and the Sodium Dichlor works well for that. The active ingredient is...chlorine, or basically bleach! BUT..as noted in the article, it is HIGHLY concentrated. So the risk of overdoing it is very, very high. After all, we're only trying to treat 25-75 gallons, not the 25,000 gallons in a pool! And that would be bad, especially for anyone who accidentally gets a splash in the eyes or drinks it if it didn't quite all get flushed. Carrying a quart of bleach is far safer. You have to work much, much harder to overdo it!
And yes, dichlor will also leave behind a bleach smell/taste if not rinsed out well, which it too must be.

BTW - dicholr is $30 for 5 lbs (enough to last your whole RV lifetime!) Bleach can be found as cheap at $1.50 for a gallon!
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Old 02-08-2016, 04:21 PM   #15
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Not sure why all the talk about the water heater, honestly, the instructions in the manual were pretty clear that should be bypassed during this operation. Previous to this I had used a compressor to remove all water from the system, and since the water heater was drained, compressed air blown through, and then bypassed before all of this, I think it's safe to say the water heater doesn't have anything in it, nor will it until we are ready to use it again.

It took me 6 full rinsings to get the bleach fully out of the system. I do need to find a simpler way in the future. This wastes WAY too much water, it's a 75 gallon tank. That's a waste of 450 gallons of water for anyone counting. Eek!
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Old 02-08-2016, 05:50 PM   #16
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I siphoned 5 gallons of water with 1-1/4 cups of chlorine bleach.
Are you sure that's the right amount of bleach?

Most now-a-days is concentrated. The stuff I uses says 2 teaspoons per gallon of water for a 200ppm solution.

My 23B manual calls for a 50ppm solution if you plan to leave it in for at least 4hrs. Thus, 50ppm = 1/2 teaspoon per gallon.

with a 75gallon tank, you'd want (75 * 0.5) = 37.5 teaspoons = 0.78 cups...if you're going to leave it in overnight.
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Old 02-09-2016, 01:45 PM   #17
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Are you sure that's the right amount of bleach?

Most now-a-days is concentrated. The stuff I uses says 2 teaspoons per gallon of water for a 200ppm solution.

My 23B manual calls for a 50ppm solution if you plan to leave it in for at least 4hrs. Thus, 50ppm = 1/2 teaspoon per gallon.

with a 75gallon tank, you'd want (75 * 0.5) = 37.5 teaspoons = 0.78 cups...if you're going to leave it in overnight.
This might be why it took so many rinses, now that I think about it. Yes, I am using concentrated bleach.

And I still just followed the instructions in the manual for 1/4c per every 15 gallons in the tank. Though it does note that you are shooting for a 50ppm solution... I may have overdone it...
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