Sanitize Hot Water Tank - Fiberglass RV


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Old 06-15-2018, 05:52 AM   #1
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Sanitize Hot Water Tank

When you sanitize your fresh water tank, do you bypass hot water tank or not?
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Old 06-15-2018, 06:06 AM   #2
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Huck, we are in the process of working on this issue because of the strong smell of Nitrogen Sulfide in our hot water tank. Research into this issue outlines the flushing process to include using vinegar as the sanitizing agent, suggested by Atwood, bicarbonate of soda, peroxide or bleach.


We will be sanitizing the entire system on Gladys because we don't know anything about the maintenance schedule and feel it prudent to get everything cleaned out. We have decided to use a diluted bleach and to pump this solution through out the entire water system to clean everything.


This is the first time we've added any water to the fresh water tank because we almost always camp at a camp ground with shore power/water. However, we do want things to be clean and ready, just in case. We first up the water heater for the first time since our purchase of Gladys and it was a sulfur smelly mess so we are working on neutralizing that smell.


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Old 06-15-2018, 08:19 AM   #3
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Huck, we are in the process of working on this issue because of the strong smell of Nitrogen Sulfide in our hot water tank. Research into this issue outlines the flushing process to include using vinegar as the sanitizing agent, suggested by Atwood, bicarbonate of soda, peroxide or bleach.


We will be sanitizing the entire system on Gladys because we don't know anything about the maintenance schedule and feel it prudent to get everything cleaned out. We have decided to use a diluted bleach and to pump this solution through out the entire water system to clean everything.


This is the first time we've added any water to the fresh water tank because we almost always camp at a camp ground with shore power/water. However, we do want things to be clean and ready, just in case. We first up the water heater for the first time since our purchase of Gladys and it was a sulfur smelly mess so we are working on neutralizing that smell.


bill (not laura)
Magnesium anodes often react with certain waters leading to the rotten egg smell . They make an anode that uses different metals that supposedly solve the problem . We use a magnesium anode and have only had the smell issue when traveling to the Western and southern US .
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Old 06-15-2018, 09:38 AM   #4
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We sanitize the entire system, and sometimes have a bleach smell. I rinse more thoroughly when that happens. Flushing with vinegar after bleach treatment is said to remove the bleach smell.
As to the anodes - if the magnesium one is eaten quickly, the alternative is an aluminum one, but this is said to be much less effective at protecting the WH tank, and used only if magnesium does not last.
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Old 06-15-2018, 09:48 AM   #5
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The whole pupose of a sacrificial anode is to deteriorate.


How does a sacrificial anode work?

The anode is made from a metal alloy with a more "active" voltage (more negative electrochemical potential) than the metal of the structure it is protecting (the cathode). The difference in potential between the two metals means the sacrificial anode material corrodes in preference to the structure.
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Old 06-15-2018, 09:49 AM   #6
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Smelly water tank

We used a tablespoon of Bleach and I would recommend no more than that or you will be tasting bleach forever. It worked for us as we put it in then filled the tank again which also went through the HWH and all lines then we took it over a fairly rough road and cleaned it out as best we could then drained tank and put in fresh and did the same procedure a cple of times more and now we have sweet water and a clean tank.
my tank holds 60 Gallons of water, hwh is 6 gallons.
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Old 06-15-2018, 10:52 AM   #7
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When you sanitize your fresh water tank, do you bypass hot water tank or not?
Huck,

When you sanitize the fresh water tank I anticipate that you are using some beach, which contains chlorine. Running the mixture from the fresh water tank through the hot water tank would be a lot like having a chlorinated municipal water supply run through the hot water tank at home. This happens all the time in most homes, so I can't see any reason not to do it with your trailer.
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Old 06-15-2018, 11:22 AM   #8
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Huck,

When you sanitize the fresh water tank I anticipate that you are using some beach, which contains chlorine. Running the mixture from the fresh water tank through the hot water tank would be a lot like having a chlorinated municipal water supply run through the hot water tank at home. This happens all ithe time in most homes, so I can't see any reason not to do it with your trailer.
The same reason that people dont want to run RV antifreeze through the water heater. The water heater does not completely drain. Typical heater used in eggs leaves about a quart behind when you drain it. If its pure antifreeze.. it will be hard to dilute it to anything close to pure water. In case of sanitizing, the concentration of sodium hypochlorite (bleach) is typically MUCH higher that the chlorine in a municipal water supply. It has to be to disinfect the system in a few hours. So you end up with a relatively high concentration of sodium hypochlorite in the water heater even after flushing the entire plumbing system. You can repeatedly drain and flush the water heater and eventually get rid of the bleach smell, but its not that easy.
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Old 06-15-2018, 02:09 PM   #9
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Effective Flushing

Do a large number of small flushes instead of one or two big ones.
A small flush will remove the bleach or antifreeze more effectively that a large flush, and wastes less water.
Tilt the trailer up down or sideways toward the drains to get more out of the tanks.
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Old 06-15-2018, 04:48 PM   #10
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You could always use a wet/dry shop vacuum to pull even more water out of the tank. You can get micro cleaning accessories for those vacuums that have a small diameter, flexible hose. Great for sucking water out of small spaces such as an RV water heater tank.
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Old 06-15-2018, 04:56 PM   #11
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I use one of these to flush my water heater. Cheap ( at Camping World ).
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Old 06-15-2018, 04:58 PM   #12
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to drain the hot water heater, I pull the anode out, and then I use a rv water heater flushing wand, which is a plastic tube about 2' long with a right angle end... if I was winterizing a trailer (we don't have 'winter' here), I'd leave the anode out until its time to de-winterize it.
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Old 06-15-2018, 07:05 PM   #13
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I will be leaving Minnesota to meet my new-to-me Casita in Texas in about 2 weeks. I am a complete newbie with so much to learn. The Casita has been sitting since October, and I had plans to sanitize the fresh water tank but hadn't thought about the hot water tank. I will definitely need to do this, yes?
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Old 06-15-2018, 07:34 PM   #14
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I will be leaving Minnesota to meet my new-to-me Casita in Texas in about 2 weeks. I am a complete newbie with so much to learn. The Casita has been sitting since October, and I had plans to sanitize the fresh water tank but hadn't thought about the hot water tank. I will definitely need to do this, yes?
With a trailer that has been sitting since Oct, the chances are very good that you will have much more to worry about that has priority over sanitizing the plumbing. For the rest of this season I would plan on bottled water for consumption, using the on board water for non-consumption. Winterize in the fall and then next spring (or is it early summer in MN?) you can worry about de-winterizing and sanitizing. Maybe sooner if the more important things are dealt with sooner.
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Old 06-15-2018, 08:06 PM   #15
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The same reason that people dont want to run RV antifreeze through the water heater. The water heater does not completely drain. Typical heater used in eggs leaves about a quart behind when you drain it. If its pure antifreeze.. it will be hard to dilute it to anything close to pure water. In case of sanitizing, the concentration of sodium hypochlorite (bleach) is typically MUCH higher that the chlorine in a municipal water supply. It has to be to disinfect the system in a few hours. So you end up with a relatively high concentration of sodium hypochlorite in the water heater even after flushing the entire plumbing system. You can repeatedly drain and flush the water heater and eventually get rid of the bleach smell, but its not that easy.
Gordon,

That's a good point, and one that I obviously hadn't thought through.

The formula for water supply disinfection is basically C x T where C is the concentration in parts per million (ppm) and T is contact time in minutes. So, yes, if you want to reduce the time, the chlorine content needs to be higher.

I have basically just chlorinated our trailers water systems by using the local tap water which probably runs about 0.3 ppm of free chlorine. Various minerals and any organic matter will impose a "chlorine demand". However, if the system is basically (kept) clean to begin with, the chlorine will stay in there indefinitely until it is able to evaporate into free air. So, I am effectively using a very low concentration and a very long time when I add the local municipal water to our trailer.

Likewise, I can generally smell the chlorine in local supplies when we are on the road. Chorination is pretty broadly used. I used to work with a few systems that didn't chlorinate, but most of them have gone that direction after having bacteriological hits and having to do all the public notification that now entails. There's a reason that the annual reports are called "consumer confidence reports"; water systems don't like issuing public notifications when things go awry.

We actually don't drink much from the trailer's system because I can't readily inspect the tank's interior. This is actually sort of funny as I know from experience what the inside of municipal water mains, storage and pumping facilities look like. It isn't necessarily as pristine looking as you might like to think it would be, particularly for old cast iron mains. But I do drink that water.

When home, we put our tap water into plastic pitchers and leave them on the counter to evaporate the chlorine. Otherwise, the chlorine is too strong for my taste. It generally tastes much better after 24 hours or so.

When on the road, we generally use a portable two-gallon container that I can readily inspect for our "potable" supply.
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Old 06-18-2018, 10:56 PM   #16
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With a trailer that has been sitting since Oct, the chances are very good that you will have much more to worry about that has priority over sanitizing the plumbing. For the rest of this season I would plan on bottled water for consumption, using the on board water for non-consumption. Winterize in the fall and then next spring (or is it early summer in MN?) you can worry about de-winterizing and sanitizing. Maybe sooner if the more important things are dealt with sooner.
I should have made clear that the trailer and I will be making Texas our home base from now on. Please tell me a bit more about how I will begin to address those things I will have to be much more worried about. I am ready to do whatever is necessary and get whatever help you suggest to ensure that my trailer is livable, safe, and road-worthy.
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Old 06-19-2018, 04:12 AM   #17
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I should have made clear that the trailer and I will be making Texas our home base from now on. Please tell me a bit more about how I will begin to address those things I will have to be much more worried about. I am ready to do whatever is necessary and get whatever help you suggest to ensure that my trailer is livable, safe, and road-worthy.
Hi, from looking at your profile it looks like your TT is a pretty new rig and is in Texas. Don't think you're going to have to de winterize or worry about leaks for a while. Flushing the water system with chlorine would be a good idea...just cuz. Having the bearings repacked and brakes checked would be good if for nothing else but to have a date for when it was done last.
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Old 06-19-2018, 05:14 AM   #18
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I should have made clear that the trailer and I will be making Texas our home base from now on. Please tell me a bit more about how I will begin to address those things I will have to be much more worried about. I am ready to do whatever is necessary and get whatever help you suggest to ensure that my trailer is livable, safe, and road-worthy.
OIC.. Dave made a few good points. I still like the idea of not using the on-board tank for personal consumption, preferring bottled water of filtered water in my own container. Esp at first.

My main concern was that trailer had been sitting for about nine months. But that could mean anything from its been completely neglected for that time, to its been unused but well cared for and properly stored. Or any point in between. So I cant guess what might need attention but when you get into it and start to find out what it needs there is a lot of help to be had here.
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Old 06-19-2018, 06:09 AM   #19
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Thank you, that helps!
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Old 06-19-2018, 06:11 AM   #20
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thanks
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