I have a problem with my new-to-me travel trailer. The water stinks. It has an odor that is not chemical in nature, more like organic. I think maybe I have bacteria or other growth in my pipes. I am fulltiming in a CG right now, and I checked with the folks next door and they have no water issues, so I don't think it is the CG water. the TT was bought used, and I wonder if maybe not all the water was drained 100% before it was stored. The PO used compressed air and opened that faucets one by one to get water out, but I suspect that this would have left some water in the low spots. (Is this correct?)
I have tried running bleach through the system with success. I just poured some in the city was hose, hooked it up, and blew it through. I also tried to let the solution sit in the pipes for a while with the same method, but I only let it sit an hour and who knows what my concentration ended up being.
Anyhow, my new plan of action is to drain it 100%, let it dry out a bit, then bleach-sanitize it again. However, I don't know how to drain it better because I don't know where my drains are. Could anyone tell me where they are most often found?
Any suggestions from experience on fixing the odor issue?
You need to sanitize the water system. You can use bleach or fresh water tank sanitizer. If using bleach, use 1 pint to 20 gallons. Drain the system as if you were going to winterize, tank, water lines, and water heater. Fill the fresh water tank with the solution. All the way to the top and overflowing. Pump the solution through the entire system, water heater included. You need to be able to smell the chlorine in every faucet. Don't forget the outside shower and the toilet. Top the tank off until it overflows. Now you need to let it set for 24 hours. Drain the system, fill with fresh water and flush all the lines until the chlorine smell is gone. The set time is the most important, you have to give it time to kill everything in the system. If you don't, your problem can come back.
2010 Ram 3500, Crew Cab, Long bed, 4 x 4,Dually, Lights & Siren!
When sanitizing a universal formula is to mix bleach with water in a gallon jug and 1/4 cup bleach for each 10 gallon of water capacity. Empty into the FW tank, then fill the tank and pump solution through all water lines and leave it sit for four or five hours. Drain, flush (probably a couple of times) and you should be set to go.
Good luck / Skip
2011 F-150 HD Ecoboost 3.5 V6. 2550 payload, 17,100 GCVWR - 2004 F-150 HD (Traded after 80,000 towing miles) 2007 Rockwood 8314SS 34' travel trailer
US Govt survey shows three out of four people make up 75% of the total population
We have very good water where I live....but....there has been a few times when we get a spike in sulfur content. It is not enough for me to smell but my neighbor says that he can detect it. A number of years ago I filled the water tank in our PU a day before we left for a trip. When we got set up, the water smelled so bad I had to drain it all and then flush the tank with new. Luckily we were close to a hose. I sanitized when we got home and didn't have a problem until about a year later. I sanitize each spring and drain the FW tank each time we get home. I fill the tank before the next trip and flush a bit through the pipes just to make sure everything is fine. It has been about 8 years and this system is still working for me.
Sanitize, sanitize, flush and go. My system. There will be no charge to you if you choose to use it.
2008 Toyota Tundra, Double Cab, 5.7L V8
2006 Airstream 25 FB SE
You definitely need to sanitize. Don't just use the city water system. Use the amount of bleach skip said. Premix it with about a quart of water. Fill your fresh tank about halfway, THROUGH THE GRAVITY FILL, not the city water system, pour in the bleach mixture, finish filling the tank. USING THE PUMP, not your hookup pressure, run water through each outlet, hot and cold, until you smell bleach. Be sure to use enough hot water to empty and refill the water heater. Then let the bleach water stand in the lines for at least 4-5 hours.
You should have some low point drains sticking down from the belly. Open them and drain everything. Refill the tank with fresh water, flush the lines again. Do this process a couple of times and you will be good.
You should also mix up some bleach and fill your water hose with it and let it stand in the hose for several hours.
2006 Toyota Sienna
Single empty-nester in Middle TN
To answer your question about completely draining your system, there are usually 3 places to drain trailer lines. One is obviously the water heater drain plug The other 2 are the hot water and cold water drain lines. They are usualy visible under the trailer and next to each other. They may have caps or plugs to seal them. If they do not have caps or plugs and are open ended, there will be 2 valves up stream of the open tubing ends. These valves may be under the trailer but are usually inside the trailer at floor level where the tubing penetrates the floor. There are 2 types of valves. Both are usually angle valves. One type has a lever that turns 90 degrees. The other is T shaped and can spin freely by flicking the T like you would pop someone on the ear with your finger. That type is made to pull up on until it snaps up and the valve opens. To close you push down on the T and it snaps back into place closing the valve. My newer trailer has the lever type. My older trailer has the pull type. When draining the system you disconnect the city water hose and then open the low point drains. Then open all the sink faucets. Then open the shower/tub faucets and turn on the shower wand to drain the hose back though the faucet if it has no vacuum breaker. Then finally pull the toilet flush lever to drain the toilet line. Leave the faucets open until the water stops flowing out the low point drains.
Depending on how your water lines run and how level your trailer is there may still be water in some of the lines. You may be able to raise and lower the front of the trailer to help additional water to flow out.
On my trailer the low point drains are furthest forward. The lines run along the floor on the street side to the back of the trailer then accross the back of the trailer to the water heater. The cold line goes from the low point drain, then the city water tees into the line, then the kitchen sink, then the water pump, then the tub, then across the trailer picking up the bathroom sink, then to the water heater located in the right rear corner of the trailer. The accumulator tank and toilet are on the same branch which is between the sink and water heater. The main hot water line runs right beside the main cold water line all the way from the low point drains to the water heater. If I lower the front of the trailer a little when draining the lines I can get pretty much all the water out when I drain the lines. I also park the trailer at home with street side about 2 inches low to help drain the black tanks.
As far as the odor problem after using bleach, does your trailer have an Atwood water heater? If so and the smell is a rotten egg like smell then the water heater may need a vinegar flush too.
The Atwood manual says to drain the WH and reinstall the plug then remove the relief valve and fill the WH with the Vinegar solution using a funnel then reinstall the valve. Instead of removing the refief valve, an easier way would be to drain the water heater then reinstall the drain plug. Then use 4 gallons of straight vinegar and pump it into the water heater using the winterizing connection from the fresh water pump. Then add the additional 2 gallons of fresh water needed to top off the water heater tank (6 gallon tank) through the pump. This will also flush the vinegar from the line going to the water heater. Then proceed as Atwwod recommends.
From an Atwood water heater service manual:
FLUSHING YOUR WATER HEATER TO REMOVE
THE ROTTEN EGG ODOR
1. Turn off your main water supply. Drain you water
heater tank. Reinstall drain plug. Remove the
pressure-temperature relief valve. With a funnel
use 4 parts white vinegar to two parts water. (In a
6 gallon tank that would be 4 gallons vinegar to 2
2. Cycle the water heater, letting it run under normal
operation 4-5 times. At no time do you remove the
vinegar from the tank Once this has been
completed, remove the drain plug and drain the
3. After thoroughly draining the tank, to remove the
sediment, flush the water heater.
If you elect to use air pressure, it may be applied
either through the inlet or outlet on the rear of the
tank or applied through the pressure-temperature
relief valve. Remove the pressure-temperature
relief valve and insert your air pressure through
the pressure-temperature relief valve coupling. In
either case, with the drain valve open, the air
pressure will force the remaining water out of the
If air pressure is unavailable, your unit can be
flushed with fresh water. Fresh water should be
pumped into the tank either with the onboard
pump or external water pressure. External
pressure may be hosed into the unit either
through the inlet or outlet found on the rear of the
tank or the pressure-temperature relief valve
coupling located on the front of the unit.
Continue this flushing process for approximately
five minutes allowing ample time for the fresh
water to agitate the stagnant water on the
bottom of the tank and forcing the deposits
through the drain opening.
4. Upon completion of the steps above, replace the
drain plug and the pressure-temperature relief
5. Refill tank with fresh water that contains no
The Atwood water heater is designed for use in a
Recreation Vehicle. If you use your vehicle frequently
or for long periods of time, flushing the water heater
several times a year will prolong the life of the storage
* This post was
edited 03/15/12 02:24am by mobeewan *
Thanks for your help. I will be working on this tomorrow. I tried today, but I don't have a big enough socket to get the drain out of my water heater. A campground friend is going to bring one tomorrow.
Update: Drained the system and I'm doing the vinegar treatment now. OH BOY you should have seen the lime that came out. Gross! After $41 at Menards, I now have two filter housings, with a 10 micron particulate filter first and a 5 micron filter with carbon second. We'll see how things go once it's all done with the vinegar and sanitized.