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Topic: The Truth About Sanitizing Your RV Water System

Posted By: AtlantaGuy on 09/01/11 07:40pm

I recently got a new RV fridge with an ice maker and I’d like to use the ice maker. Since I’ve always used bottle water for drinking while camping, I started looking into what I could find out about sanitizing an RV’s water system.

The general concensus on the web seems to be that for sanitizing, I should use ¼ cup bleach for every 15 gallons of water in my holding tank. However, I got out my motorhome manual and it clearly states 1 gallon beach for each 15 gallons of water. Now I’m confused.

I'd like to know what you guys think about the following:

1.) What is the correct bleach / water ratio?
2.) How long should the bleach solutuion remain in the tank to kill all the bugs?
3.) How often should the system be sanitized?
4.) I store my unit in a garage where the inside temp frequently gets over 100 degress. Does this mean I should sanitize more often?
5.) I assume I’ll need to sanitize the icemaker line too. Correct? What about the water heater?
6.) Can too much bleach damage RV components such as the pump?
7.) Should I worry about sanitizing the water hose as well?
8.) Should the water tank be cleaned with a mild soap solution every now and then as well as rinsed with the bleach? (Bleach may kill mildew but it really doesn’t remove it, right?)
9.) How many of you have never sanitized, drink the water from your RV and just don’t worry about it?
10.) Generally, will one rinse with fresh water remove the taste of the bleach after it's drained?

Thanks for your input / help..

* This post was edited 09/02/11 09:20am by AtlantaGuy *


2011 Winnebago View 24K
2013 Honda Fit


Posted By: ScottG on 09/01/11 07:52pm

You'll spend days trying to get all that bleach out of the system. The 1 gallon figure is either a mis-print or somebody woefully misinformed.
Use a 1/4 cup for every 15 gallons and you'll be able to smell how strong the bleach is at your tap. Leave it in at least 2-3 hours - I leave it in overnight. Then flush with fresh water or you can even use some baking soda to help get rid of the taste.


Posted By: jbbrick on 09/01/11 07:54pm

If you put in a gallon of bleach I don't think you'll EVER get it out of the system. Read the Oct issue of Motorhome mag, there is an article on this issue. They recommend 4 oz per 15 gallons but there are other lower ratios for normal camping needs.


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Posted By: dave17352 on 09/01/11 08:18pm

1 gallon per 15 gallons would be a disaster!


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Posted By: bluegypsy on 09/01/11 08:58pm

Water-to-bleach ratio notwithstanding, to answer some of your other questions: We live in our MH full-time (just over 3 years now), we almost never use bottled water. We sanitiize the water tank and lines about once a year (if I remember). Replace the water filter that came standard with the rig every 3 months or so (if I remember). We've never sanitized the water hose, but have replaced it a couple of times. We do run the water/bleach mixture through the hot water lines, but we turn off the water heater and purge it of hot water before the bleach goes in, then drain/fill the fresh tank twice, running water through all the pipes and into the grey and black tanks (hence giving them a good clean-out at the same time). This includes the icemaker. Usually takes 2 loads of ice for the ice to start smelling bleachy, then 2-3 loads after the lines are purged for the bleach to go away. Then hot water heater goes back on.

Since we full-time, and boondock often, we're constantly running "new" water through the fresh water tank. If you don't use the fresh water tank much (by always having city water hookup or intermittent RV use), you may have more chance for bad stuff to accumulate in your tank, so should sanitize more often.


Bluegypsy (that's the RV's name)

Map shows where we've lived and worked, travelling through doesn't count....



Posted By: SDcampowneroperator on 09/01/11 09:30pm

Dept. Of Health recommendation is to ' shock' to a concentration of 100 ppm for 1 hr, or 50ppm for 4hrs to achieve total sanitation.
Look at the bleach you are using and do the math. Good idea to do it anytime rig has been unused or in doubt of supply.


Posted By: Bumpyroad on 09/02/11 06:49am

be sure to run bleach solution out thru all of the various spigots, etc. and let it sit overnight for best results.
bumpy






Posted By: 1rooster on 09/02/11 06:50am

The way I do it is put 1/4 cup of bleach in a gallon of water. Add THAT mixture for every 15 gallons of water capacity for your unit. For me, I have a 90 gal fresh water tank. I put 6 gallons of the mixture in. Fill the resr of the tank with fresh water so that it over fills a bit. The book for my RV says let it soak at least 4 hours. Drain an flush the lines.


Posted By: Moderator on 09/02/11 07:25am

Moved from Lifestyle


Posted By: marielw824 on 09/02/11 07:50am

Bleach is a POWERFUL chemical/cleanser. I agree with the 1/4 cup per 15 gallons and the smell will be strong. I don't know if you'd ever get the bleach out if you did 1 gallon /15 gallons. wow .... good thing you asked around.


Posted By: Jagtech on 09/02/11 07:57am

After your final rinse and fill, a couple of small capfuls of concentrated lemon juice will leave your water tasting and smelling fresh.


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Posted By: reno6 on 09/02/11 08:41am

Just put 1/4c of bleach per 15g of fresh water. Run the mix through all fixtures that you want sanitized.

If you want your icemaker sanitized then you run the mix through it. If you want your hot H20 heater sanitized, then run the mix through it. The diluted bleach solution is not going to harm anything in your water system.

After a few hours or a few days flush it out with fresh and your good to go. I run a water purifier at my sink that has removes any bleach odor.


Posted By: Queens Carriage on 09/02/11 08:50am

Try this. Drain all the water out of your hose that goes from spicket to MH. Pour one cup bleach in the hose, Conect the two ends together, then move the hoae around to get the bleach throught the hose. Drain the the hoae into a bucket.This is why I also clean my hose.


Posted By: christopherglenn on 09/02/11 10:01am

I add the bleach to the water hose, and use shore water (at the house) to push it into the tank. That way the hose is cleaned, as is the fill pipe, and the tank. Fill the tank till it overflows (to clean everything), then run the pump and allow the bleach out of every tap for 5 or 10 seconds, then up th the low point drains for a few seconds to sanatize the valves. I run it through the WH as well. Son't forget the outside shower (if equipped).


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Posted By: 12th Man Fan on 09/02/11 02:06pm

1rooster wrote:

The way I do it is put 1/4 cup of bleach in a gallon of water. Add THAT mixture for every 15 gallons of water capacity for your unit. For me, I have a 90 gal fresh water tank. I put 6 gallons of the mixture in. Fill the resr of the tank with fresh water so that it over fills a bit. The book for my RV says let it soak at least 4 hours. Drain an flush the lines.


X2


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Posted By: RJCorazza on 09/02/11 02:28pm

When I researched this several years ago this is what I came up with :
Sanitize with 6.7ml 6% bleach per GALLON. This equates to 0.42 cups 6% bleach per 15 GALLONS for comparison. Minimum 4hr contact time, 24h frequently recommended.
Drinking water 0.4ml per GALLON (6ml for 15 GALLONS).

Not to say the 1/4 cup per 15 gallons is incorrect... either solution will create a strong enough mix for disinfection.

Personally, I have switched to a 48% available clorine product (calcium hypochlorite) and use extremely small amounts.
12.5ml per 15 GALLONS for sanitizing, and 0.75ml per 15 GALLONS for drinking water.


Posted By: tony lee on 09/02/11 07:22pm

Whatever source of chlorine you use (and standard unscented household bleach is the way to go) best to buy the smallest amount you can and get rid of it at the end of every season - because it does decompose and ends up being so weak it won't do the job.


Tony
Lots of photos with comprehensive captions at MY PICASA Album
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Posted By: Bumpyroad on 09/03/11 04:28am

tony lee wrote:

Whatever source of chlorine you use (and standard unscented household bleach is the way to go) best to buy the smallest amount you can and get rid of it at the end of every season - because it does decompose and ends up being so weak it won't do the job.



at 85 cents or whatever per gallon, why worry about it? and if it looses some of it's punch, just put in twice as much.
bumpy


Posted By: valhalla360 on 09/03/11 07:31am

We don't worry much about it. 4+ years of travel with no issues. We ocasionally get a batch of city water that has a strong clorine smell so figure that takes care of most of it.

Be careful of doing it too much, too strong or for too long. Plastic and rubber don't like clorine. Once or twice a year at moderate strength and duration, probably won't be a problem but weekly, will probably mean water pump rebuilds on a regular basis.


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Posted By: wa8yxm on 09/03/11 08:44am

I think someone typoed that manual

1/4 cup to 15 gallons seems to be the standard.

Fill.. run it through all lines.. drain
Fresh water, Fill run it through all lines, drain

Baking soda (Say around a quarter pound for each 50 gallons, exact amonut not at all critical) Mix with water, pour in re-fill and pump through all lines.. NOTE if you can test for PH, watch for the strip to change color indicating baking soda present.. Drain.

Fresh water again, Flush lines, (Watch for PH to change) Drain

Fresh water.. Drink.


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Posted By: kedn on 09/04/11 01:48pm

Is 1/4 cup per 15 gal too much to drain into the yard? I don't have a good place at home that wont end up in the grass. Seems silly to pump a full tank through to grey/black tanks and then go dump just to sanitize and rinse rather than just whats needed to get the chlorine smell at the fixtures and then to rinse them out. I'm guessing you end up with most of a fresh water tank left with chlorine mix after you get it spread through the system and sat overnight.


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or
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Posted By: Bucky Badger on 09/04/11 02:45pm

AtlantaGuy wrote:

I recently got a new RV fridge with an ice maker and I’d like to use the ice maker. Since I’ve always used bottle water for drinking while camping, I started looking into what I could find out about sanitizing an RV’s water system.

The general concensus on the web seems to be that for sanitizing, I should use ¼ cup bleach for every 15 gallons of water in my holding tank. However, I got out my motorhome manual and it clearly states 1 gallon beach for each 15 gallons of water. Now I’m confused.

..


Can you scan in that page of the manual


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and
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Posted By: AtlantaGuy on 09/04/11 03:44pm

It's a printed document. I have a scanner but don't know how to upload a scanned document to rv.net.


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