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Old 06-29-2020, 05:46 PM   #1
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Sterilizing FW tank

Our TT has been parked for awhile and we have postponed all of our travel plans till fall because of the pandemic. I emptied the fresh water tank and refilled using bleach then ran bleached water into all the lines. Is there a downside to just leaving the bleach in the system? I know the strength of the bleach will diminish over time, but could it have bad effects on the HW tank, pump or fixtures?
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Old 06-29-2020, 06:13 PM   #2
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Depends on how much you used. If it was just 1 oz per 60 gallons you're okay. If you poured a gallon in there, you might have dissolved the rubber seals here and there and ruined the bayonet valves where you dump (if much of it got into the grey tank).
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Old 06-29-2020, 06:33 PM   #3
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What he said!!
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Old 06-30-2020, 06:43 AM   #4
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Thanks Jim. The formula I had was for 2oz per 15 gallons. That is what I added, but I think I will drain and re-fill just to play safe.

Thank you both for your thoughts.
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Old 06-30-2020, 08:43 AM   #5
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The formulas I use came from a retired chemist who worked his 40 year career at a city water treatment plant. I found his web site 16 years ago. Back then he was and had been a long term avid RV'er. He was asked all the time about the holding tank water purification so he came up with some formulas for his RV'ing readers. He also went into detail about how the tanks were made along with the type of plumbing used in RVs at the time, most of that info I've forgotten.

I lost track of him and his web site over the years so I can't link that, but I did have the foresight to write down what he said were the appropriate amounts of bleach and other products to use under certain circumstances.

This is what he came up with for the drinking water holding tank:

For a troubled system: 0.13 * tank size = oz of bleach (Ex 7.8oz / 60 Gallon tank). Run through every faucet, leave in tank 24 hours. Drain all tanks and refill, run that water at each faucet and the toilet. Repeat if necessary.

For Preventative Maintenance (PM): 1 oz bleach / 60 gallons (this amount kills bacteria and other nasties). Do this when you don't trust the water supply. Normally not needed.

For removing smells: 1 & 1/2 cup vinegar / 60 gallons; some well water smells of sulfur.

To Sweeten water: 1/2 cup baking soda / 60 gallons; for hard water areas this does help, you'll notice your coffee feels softer.

So you can see there are times you can add more than the 1 oz bleach / 60 gallons but you take a chance of ruining the seals at the faucets if it sits in there too long. And it does drain into the grey tank as you're running the water and sometimes gets in the black tank so it can damage the bayonet valves which can cause them to leak a little. At least that's what others have said.

I once over bleached my tank and then soon after found the correct amounts to use...but it hadn't been in there long so no damage occurred. After flushing and refilling there was a strong taste of bleach so I dumped the tank again. Then over the next couple months the taste slowly dissipated. Since I only used it for coffee and a little cooking, it was tolerable. Learned my lesson though, don't use too much bleach. Note that you can taste even the PM amount if you have a glass of water, but not if you make coffee with it. According to that chemist, that PM amount is the amount a typical municipal water treatment plant uses during early spring when there's lots of nasties in the water. He didn't recommend any bleach under normal RV'ing circumstances.

He also recommended avoiding any bleach with additives, perfumes, or thickeners and just use the cheap stuff. I don't recall what he said about Hydrogen Peroxide but I do know that it's recommended usage is 2 qts / 100 gallons.

Anyway, it's not too much of a worry, but you should drain and fill a couple times.
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Old Today, 01:20 AM   #6
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Alternative solutions for sanitizing FW tanks/lines

Another product you can use comes from the pool/wine industry. Namely Potassium Metabisulfite. Only 60ppm is needed to sanitize water, so 60mg/L will treat the water without the flavor or aroma of chlorine (albeit with a mild barely noticeable sulfur aroma) as used in chlorine sanitizers. Properly used, Potassium Metabisulfite will last for 3 or 4 days before it dissipates, saving you water, and money. Best places to buy it is from home beer and wine trade retail stores as it's the food grade quality stuff, and not the pool quality stuff from wally world. Cheers!
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