Cleaning water tank - Fiberglass RV


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Old 02-24-2014, 07:31 AM   #1
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Cleaning water tank

Once a year I drain the fresh water tank and refill it with fresh water from the hose, but I was wondering how to flush it out and what to use. Is it okay to add a cup of bleach or maybe vinegar and then let it sit for a couple of days before flushing it out, or is there another way to sterilize the inside? The little nozzle under the trailer is painfully slow to drain so it's hard to keep the hose on while it drains out the bottom. I'd only be drinking the water in an emergency, but I'd still want it to be safe to drink. Thanks everyone!
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Old 02-24-2014, 08:04 AM   #2
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You don't mention how big your water tank is, but if less than 10 gallons, a cup of bleach might be a lot to rinse out afterwards.

For my 12 gallon tank I dump in about a cup of household bleach, fill the tank and let it sit for a few hours, run some through all of the water lines and then drain, using both the tank drain and the water pump.

This is followed by at least three more fill and drain cycles with fresh water to dilute any remaining chemical. But I never drink anything from the water tank anyway.

BTW: Fancy tank sterilizing powders etc from the RV store all seem to use the same sodium hypochlorite as is in bleach, and cost a lot more.
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Old 02-24-2014, 08:06 AM   #3
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I store lots of water at the house. Don't ask why! For every 55 gals of water I add 3 oz of bleach. You don't need more than that. Safe to drink too.
If I need to do a cleaning I double that and let it sit for a couple of days if not longer then dump it (re use it) and fill again. I would run it thru the pipes and water heater, need to clean everything out not just part of the water system.I haven't used vinegar to clean out the Boiler tank but that is a good idea to run it thru after the bleach. The stuff is cheap! Ever use baking soda?

Now on the side note..
Vinegar is wonder tool. Very safe. People been using it for ever. I even mix it in water (tea) to drink. I always have about 3 gals of it sitting around. I use it for the health reason (vinegar with the mother in it), cleaning inside out outside of the house. To kill the weeds to keep fleas of the dog. List goes on and on.
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Old 02-24-2014, 08:31 AM   #4
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I put about half a cup of bleach in mine once a year and fill up the tank and then run water through the lines and let it sit for a few hours. Then I drain it all and refill it and run the water through it all again.

A couple of old threads on the topic may give you some ideas:

Water Tank Cleaning.

Cleaning out Water Tank?
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Old 02-24-2014, 08:37 AM   #5
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Thanks, I have the equivalent to a 13 foot Scamp, so I'm sure the tank is pretty small. We like keeping the tank full for emergency uses (living in California we never know when the "big one" might hit and we'd be forced into living in the trailer if the house is condemned) It's basically stocked as our emergency shelter, complete with batteries, porta potty, radio, etc. etc. etc. At least if the house caves in the trailer will just bounce around the carport a bit. I like the use of vinegar, so if there's some residue at least it won't be harmful. I remember going to Europe with my parents in 1970 and dad used to sterilize bottles of water with iodine (I think) tablets. He also keep gallons of used bleach bottles filled up with fresh water in a safe place in case of emergencies. Having survived the great depression and the cold war, he was always prepared. Much more so than us "younger" ones!
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Old 02-24-2014, 08:38 AM   #6
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Thanks for the links Carol, I'll read them next.
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Old 02-24-2014, 12:51 PM   #7
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Keeping a tank full of water, in the California sun, for several months at a time may not be such a good idea.

That nice dark, warm and wet tank becomes a perfect incubator/breeding ground for the single "Bug" that you didn't kill and it will invite all it's relatives over for a multiplication party.

On the other hand, dry tanks don't incubate very well, if at all.

BTW: The "Big One" was recently postponed until 2037 due to budget cuts at the earthquake implementation authority.

Earthquakes... The Ultimate "E" Ticket ride.....
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Old 02-24-2014, 01:00 PM   #8
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Keeping a tank full of water, in the California sun, for several months at a time may not be such a good idea.
I have 100 litres ( 25 gal. ) of water in containers in the carport for the big one. I pour it out and refill twice a year, adding a cap full of household bleach ( non-perfumed ). The chlorine takes care of bugs and dissipates over time.
Tap water also has chlorine in it, which is why I fill the coffee maker reservoir the night before. Don't taste it in the morning.
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Old 02-24-2014, 01:14 PM   #9
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As long as you keep the water in something that the sun cant shine thru and you put 3 oz of bleach in your water will last. But you have to keep it in the shade. Keeping fresh water tanks in a RV is just fine. If your keeping water in a rv and haven't used it, your not camping!
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Old 02-24-2014, 01:16 PM   #10
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This is from BC Earthquake preparation guide:



Water- at least four litres of water per person, per day, in tight-lidded non-breakable containers. That's at least 12 litres per person for a three-day supply.

Keep a supply of water purification tablets in your emergency kit. Water also can be made safe to drink by using four drops of liquid household bleach in 41/2 litres of clear water or 10 drops in 41/2 litres of cloudy water. Replace stored tap water at least every six months.
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Old 02-24-2014, 01:19 PM   #11
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. Keeping fresh water tanks in a RV is just fine. If your keeping water in a rv and haven't used it, your not camping!
That depends on where the water came from in the first place. I have left some well water in my trailers tanks for just a couple of weeks of warm weather - trailer parked under a carport in the shade. Trust me it wasn't a good idea! Took a bit of effort to clean out the tank and the smell. LOL Worst was the stuff left in the hot water tank.....
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Old 02-24-2014, 01:22 PM   #12
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Depends on your well. My grand dad water smelled like rotten eggs. Nasty nasty. SO the water smelled and tasted bad to begin with.
I collect rain water myself. And yes I do filter it if I need to drink it. I have water that is over a year old and it is just as good as the day I put it in there.
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Old 02-24-2014, 02:05 PM   #13
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Usual recommendation is to dilute the bleach, say 1C bleach to a gallon of water before adding thru the water fill. Bit easier on the smooth-bor hose and your clothes and skin if spilled or splashed. It's going to get diluted when the tank is filled but still a good practise with any strong reagent.

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Old 02-24-2014, 03:14 PM   #14
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Originally Posted by Filbert V. View Post
I like the use of vinegar, so if there's some residue at least it won't be harmful.
Vinegar won't be "harmful" to the bacteria and molds you're trying to get rid of, either. It isn't a water purifier, though helpful for removal of scale/mineral deposits left behind.

Bleach is your best bet...for long term storage of water I'd recommend dosing it according to the following EPA recommendations. Link to instructions. The dose is enough to keep the water in a stable, clean, and immediately usable condition for some time. Following that protocol would negate the necessity of periodic further sanitizing of the tank.

Side note:

If filled from an already chlorinated water supply, I'd recommend testing for chlorine residual and adjusting doses accordingly. Link to "free chlorine" test strips
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