fresh water tank flush procedure

Discussion in 'RV Tips & Tricks' started by azcarl, Aug 29, 2006.

  1. azcarl

    azcarl New Member

    our motorhome is in storage for period of time. usually I have 1/2 tank of fresh water. when we pull it out of storage for our next trip I want to flush and sanitize the tank.

    the question is what is the best way to do this?

    most folks use a few cups of chlorine bleach for a standard tank. but there seem to be growing reports from users that the bleach taste/odor sticks around for a long time. does anyone out there have a technique which does not use bleach and still has good results?

    your comments are welcome.
     
  2. rlmurraysr59

    rlmurraysr59 New Member

    Re: fresh water tank flush procedure

    Use a bottle of vinegar. Drain the tank, which you should do prior to storage especially in cold climates (and I pour in a couple gallons of RV anti-freeze), then refill it to about 2/3 full and pour in the vinegar. Then you can take a drive down the road and around some curves. Let the water slosh around in the tank for a while. Run the faucets until you can smell the vinegar water. Smells like a salad. Drain and flush the tank with fresh water and flush the lines too. Vinegar is a very good disinfectant, cleaner, and diluted doesn't smell bad. Won't harm your tanks either.
     
  3. TexasClodhopper

    TexasClodhopper Senior Member

    Re: fresh water tank flush procedure

    I thought it took chlorine or alcohol to kill the bad bugs? Does vinegar kill those bugs? Did I miss something about sanitizing?
     
  4. DL Rupper

    DL Rupper Senior Member

    RE: fresh water tank flush procedure

    Hey azcarl, welcome to the forum. I guess my question is why don't you drain and santitize the tank before you put it in storage. Leave the drain plug open and the tank should dry out. You don't get near as many nasty green things growing that way.
     
  5. Grandview Trailer Sa

    Grandview Trailer Sa Senior Member

    Re: fresh water tank flush procedure

    I always use bleach like he uses vinegar.

    On thing I DON'T do is put anti freeze in my fresh water tank. I don't like it, don't do it. Even when I winterize, I don't. What little water that is left in the tank will not hurt anything during the winter.

    All manufactures I have delt with say to put a cupfull of bleach in the tank, fill part way with water, slosh it around, pump it through the lines and drain.

    Had to do the same thing when I built my house 12 years ago. Dumped a gallon in my well, ran it through the house faucets until I did not smell it anymore. That satisfied my county, at least 12 years ago.
     
  6. azcarl

    azcarl New Member

    RE: fresh water tank flush procedure

    hi DL,

    good question, why not store the RV with the fresh water tank empty. certainly we could do that. wonder if there would be any down side to that? we are in a warm desert climate so freezing the tank in winter is not an option.

    if we did adopt a policy of storing with the tank empty do you suppose we would then be able to just fill it to the desired level prior to travel and off we go, or would there be a fill and empty process to go through to prepare the fresh water tank - I do not recall ever seeing comments or reports about this method.

    what do you think?

    azcarl
     
  7. azcarl

    azcarl New Member

    Re: fresh water tank flush procedure

    hi RL,

    vinegar was a thøught that ran through my mind also. it is amazing the multiple uses mankind has found for vinegar, and this one is certainly no exception. vinegar is actually a mild acid, acetic, with various flavorings for different uses. normally intended for culinary purposes it has applications far beyond that. I once came across a paper listing some 200-300 uses.

    then there was an instance where baking soda was suggested. at the rate of 1 lb per tank. not sure how it would work. maybe someone out there knows something about this method.

    in any case in the coming months I will give both a try and see what results are achieved. thanks to everyone for their comments.
     
  8. TexasClodhopper

    TexasClodhopper Senior Member

    Re: fresh water tank flush procedure

    I would be afraid that baking soda would harm the pump, but I've never heard that.

    I would agree with Ron about the vinegar if you did the vinegar flush straight from DRY storage. Yeah, that sounds like it would be a refreshing flush then.
     
  9. DL Rupper

    DL Rupper Senior Member

    RE: fresh water tank flush procedure

    azcarl, as long as the tank was sanitzed prior to storage and was completly empty, it shouldn't require more than a quick flush with fresh water. In my case I store in a cold climate occasionally, so I have to rinse out all of the pink anti-freeze. In any case, I wouldn't use more than a cupful of bleach and rinse it out within a couple of hours. That way you shoudn't have much odor. The baking soda is good if you only leave it in a short period of time while you drive around and rinse it well. Never had too much of a problem in 12 years with my fresh water tank. In the hot summertime if your fresh water has been in the tank for 2 weeks without use, it is a good idea to add 1/4 cup of bleach to the water and fill the tank. Let it sit for 1-2 hours and drain and refill to clean out the green stuff. We had a problem once in the summer with algae and it clogged up our water pump, so I take preventive maintenance action in the summer also. Good luck. :)
     
  10. ARCHER

    ARCHER Senior Member

    Re: fresh water tank flush procedure

    Anybody know where the drain for the fresh water tank is located on a 1989 Winnebago Chieftain? I've had it for four years (never used the fresh water tank, only city water). I know the pump works. Also, is there a bypass for hot water tank and fresh water tank for winterizing the water system. Sounds weird, but we use the unit all winter in sunny south so don't ever worry about winterizing normally, but would like to flush/sanitize the entire water system before we head out this fall. Any ideas? ;)
     
  11. DL Rupper

    DL Rupper Senior Member

    RE: fresh water tank flush procedure

    Hey Archer, I have no clue on a winnebago. However, mine is located right underneath the fresh water tank and is a standard outdoor water faucet. Just turn it to open. Maybe yours is similar.
     
  12. TexasClodhopper

    TexasClodhopper Senior Member

    Re: fresh water tank flush procedure

    Archer, that's where mine is, too. It is one of those ball valves, but you have to get at it from inside.
     
  13. hertig

    hertig Senior Member

    Re: fresh water tank flush procedure

    The drain will be in the bottom of the tank. In the motorhome, it is a ball valve coming out the side. In my old trailer, it was a plug screwed into the bottom of the tank (which I replaced with a valve).
     
  14. rlmurraysr59

    rlmurraysr59 New Member

    Re: fresh water tank flush procedure

    The Baking Soda would be to freshen the water, don't know about sanitizing it. But it would absorb some of any bad ordors in the tank. That is true about the uses of vinegar too. Even good for a sunburn. Thanks for the tip about the anti-freeze, I won't pour it in the fresh water tank anymore, realized you were right. My Southwind has a large valve next to the fresh water tank behind a panel in one of the storage compartment. Maybe the Winnebago has the same feature. It is a real big valve and drains quick. The bypass valve for the water heater would probably be next to the water heater and have a low point drain valve going down too.
     
  15. ARCHER

    ARCHER Senior Member

    Re: fresh water tank flush procedure

    Tks all, I'll check this coming week for drain on tank, etc. Gotta work on Furnace also, so better get busy soon for trip South. :)
     
  16. s.harrington

    s.harrington Senior Member

    Re: fresh water tank flush procedure

    You should drain the tank completely before storing it. Close everything to keep the bugs out and then when you do have to flush it with bleach make sure that you fill and drain the tank 3 times. Also never leave the bleach in for more than 3 hours as it will start to soak into the plastic.
     
  17. jla956

    jla956 New Member

    Re: fresh water tank flush procedure

    Saw the following on RV Roadtrips the other night. Lots of great RV episodes on the DIY network, or you can go to their website to review all the past shows.
    ________________________________

    Interior Maintenance: Cleaning the Fresh Water Tank
    Learn the steps to cleaning an RV's fresh water tank.
    From "RV Roadtrips"
    episode DRVR-103 -- More Projects »

    Host Gary Bunzer leads the Fortier family through the various steps of cleaning an RV's fresh water tank, which includes emptying the tank of water or antifreeze and refilling it with fresh water.

    After installing an interior filter strainer and flushing out the system, Gary shares a homemade recipe to rid the water of unnecessary containments.



    PHOTO

    Figure A
    Materials:

    internal water filter
    chlorine
    funnel
    measuring cup

    1. Empty the tank of water or antifreeze.

    Tip: This project should be done at home. Most RV parks will not allow you to do this inside the campground.

    2. Refill tank with fresh water using an accessory water filter (figure A). This will ensure the water going into the tank is already filters and safe to drink.

    3. Chlorinate the fresh water system with a homemade recipe:

    * 1/4-cup bleach for every 15 gallons

    Pour directly into the fresh water tank with a funnel.

    4. Turn on the water pump.

    5. Open the pressure and relief valve on the water heater, which will flush water out of the water heater. Do this for about five to 10 seconds. You'll smell bleach. This will rid the tank of unwanted calcium chips and deposits.

    6. Then open all hot-water and cold-water faucets. When water is flowing freely and you've smelled bleach for about five to 10 seconds, shut them off.



    RESOURCES:

    Water Filter
    Hydro Life
    Website: www.hydrolife.com
     
  18. andercloyd

    andercloyd New Member

    RE: fresh water tank flush procedure

    I could use some advice on this procedure. How do you effectively get the bleach into the system? The place where we hook up to city water is inside a bay, up near the top by the bay door. I can't seem to get a funnel in position there. The last time I tried to do this procedure, I resorted to pouring the undiluted bleach into the white fresh water hose, lifting it to get as much into the system as I could, then hooking it up to city water to fill the tank. Optimally I would like a way to dilute the bleach first, but I had an awful mess trying to use a funnel at the end of the hose and pouring it it, with it filling up and spilling back out at me.
    I have a Georgie Boy Cruisemaster, and if the tank (which is under the bed) has another fill hole, I haven't discovered it.
    Any suggestions?
     
  19. jc2

    jc2 Junior Member

    RE: fresh water tank flush procedure

    This is my procedure:
    1. Temporarily remove any water filter if any when using bleach or vinegar treatment. I also make sure the water heater is not bypassed for both procedures.
    2. I fill my water tank with 1/4 cup bleach per 15 gal of water 1-2 times yearly depending how much we use the rig. Turn on hot/cold faucets until bleach smell is evident. Let sit 4-6 hours then drain tank(s). Refill tank with fresh water, run hot/cold faucets again until bleach smell disappears or is barely evident.
    3. 1-2 times per year, I put 1 gal of generic white vinegar per 15 gal of water into the water tank and and turn on the hot/cold faucets untill I smell vinegar. Let sit for 2-4 hrs to give the vinegar time to dissolve any calcium deposits in you tank(s)/water lines/faucets,etc. Drain tank(s) and refill with fresh water. If the smell of vinegar is still evident, mix 1 cup of baking soda with 1 gal of hot/warm water and pour into freshwater tank.
    4. Reinstall any water filter.
    This may seem like a hassle but so is having the "trots" from a dirty tank.
    :laugh:
     

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