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Old 08-25-2015, 11:14 PM   #1
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Disinfecting Fresh Water Tank

We just purchased a used travel trailer, and I would like to disenfect the fresh water tank. I have read that you use bleach to do this. I've never done this before. How do you recommend getting the bleach into the tank? Also I have read mixed reviews on whether or not to let the bleach water into the hot water tank. Any tips will be greatly appreciated!
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Old 08-25-2015, 11:31 PM   #2
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One method I have read about on this site to get the bleach in the tank is to use a funnel and pour a few ounces of bleach in to the end of the water hose you are going to use to fill your tank. Just keep the hose high so it won't run out. Connect it to your trailer and when you turn on the water it will be forced into your fresh water tank. Don't use to much bleach!

As far a hot water goes, you are not drinking it plus it already get sterilized by heat. Just don't run the hot water until you are finished sterilizing the fresh water tank and no bleach should get into it.
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Old 08-25-2015, 11:33 PM   #3
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I too am interested in the proper treatment of the FW tank.

It seems like every time I return from a trip is has enough water (any may be an issue) that I worry about it getting funky between trips.

How do others handle this?
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Old 08-25-2015, 11:51 PM   #4
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At the start of the season I dump a cup of bleach in the holding tank fill using a funnel. Then I fill the tank about 3/4. Then towing it around to my driveway it sloshes around. I activate the water pump and turn on the kitchen cold water faucet, bath cold water and run the toilet until I smell bleach. Since its the start of the season the filter is removed from winterizing. At the end of the day I open the drain and drain the tank empty. Then I rinse by hooking up my home city water.
For the rest of the season there is no worries because I only fill off my house which is city water containing chlorine already so it stays clean.
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Old 08-25-2015, 11:51 PM   #5
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FWT sanitization a la FR:

Forest River RV Online Owners Manuals


Navigate from FR Travel Trailer English..., click on Plumbing then Sanitization.
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Old 08-25-2015, 11:54 PM   #6
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Originally Posted by dalford View Post
One method I have read about on this site to get the bleach in the tank is to use a funnel and pour a few ounces of bleach in to the end of the water hose you are going to use to fill your tank. Just keep the hose high so it won't run out. Connect it to your trailer and when you turn on the water it will be forced into your fresh water tank. Don't use to much bleach!

As far a hot water goes, you are not drinking it plus it already get sterilized by heat. Just don't run the hot water until you are finished sterilizing the fresh water tank and no bleach should get into it.
The part about the (Hot water gets sterilized by heating) is only true by (Being Over 212 Deg.) this is not the case in a RV Water Heater! Youroo!!
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Old 08-26-2015, 11:46 AM   #7
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A caution, bleach and stainless steel, your hot water tank, don't get along.
There are other ways to skin that cat.
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Old 08-26-2015, 11:58 AM   #8
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Originally Posted by 05CrewDually View Post
At the start of the season I dump a cup of bleach in the holding tank fill using a funnel. Then I fill the tank about 3/4. Then towing it around to my driveway it sloshes around. I activate the water pump and turn on the kitchen cold water faucet, bath cold water and run the toilet until I smell bleach. Since its the start of the season the filter is removed from winterizing. At the end of the day I open the drain and drain the tank empty. Then I rinse by hooking up my home city water.
For the rest of the season there is no worries because I only fill off my house which is city water containing chlorine already so it stays clean.
X2 Later RJD
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Old 08-26-2015, 12:19 PM   #9
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For the best advice and step by step videos go to RVgeeks on YouTube.
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Old 08-26-2015, 12:50 PM   #10
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Don't put the bleach in first. Put some water in the tank, then some bleach, and then add the rest of the water. Do a Google search on the subject so you find out the right amount of bleach per gallon of water. Lots of info on the issue. To little won't work and to much will leave the bleach smell in the water for a long time.
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Old 08-26-2015, 01:08 PM   #11
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FR Georgetown operators manual says 1/4 cup (non-scented) per 1 gal water. Pour into tank. I poured solution into hose using funnel. Then hooked up hose to potable water source, filled tank as per manual and ran all outlets until smell chlorine. "Leave sit for at least 3 hours, then drain tank"; partially refill tank and flush out lines. Then drain the tank. So says FR.
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Old 08-26-2015, 01:35 PM   #12
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We own an Aliner liner and the manual suggests using(point) . 13 times the number of gallons of fresh water capacity for the number of ounces of bleach to sanitize the tank. Add the bleach with water, use a funnel, etc. Run the pump to get bleach water throughout the system. Leave in 4 hours., then drain, fill with water and drain again. Make sure to run the pump again until no bleach smell. Our water has no taste or smell. I have always used bleach to sanitize potable water container, when camping and hiking. I think it works.
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Old 08-26-2015, 01:43 PM   #13
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For the rest of the season there is no worries because I only fill off my house which is city water containing chlorine already so it stays clean.
Not always true. The chlorine in the city water rapidly evaporates out and will have little effect after a while especially if stored in hot weather. (Same reason you need to add chlorine to pool or hot tub daily). To see for yourself. Fill a glass with city water. Cover lightly and place in warm room or garage for two weeks. Most likely something you want to drink.
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Old 08-26-2015, 02:25 PM   #14
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Not always true. The chlorine in the city water rapidly evaporates out and will have little effect after a while especially if stored in hot weather. (Same reason you need to add chlorine to pool or hot tub daily). To see for yourself. Fill a glass with city water. Cover lightly and place in warm room or garage for two weeks. Most likely something you want to drink.
Sorry I should of mentioned but my coach doesn't sit, especially 2 weeks. Never had a problem but I hear what you're saying.
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Old 08-26-2015, 06:50 PM   #15
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Once, in 2 or 3 years, on RV park water, my hot water got nasty smelling. I put Clorox bleach (not too much) in water tank and pumped it through system, & let set a few hours. Opened faucet (water heater was off) and used water pump to empty tank and water heater. Hooked back up to RV park water and never had any more problem. That was BEFORE all chlorine bleaches were "concentrated", which seems to make foam. Perhaps you could find some non-concentrated bleach at a dollar store or some such.
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Old 08-28-2015, 05:34 PM   #16
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I have a blue fresh water tank I sometimes use to add water to the tank at state parks when I need to. So what I do each spring is fill it, add a cup of bleach, pour it into the water tank, then fill it up. I figure that helps sanitize that blue tank each spring. I pump water throughout the plumbing system, no water heater. It sits over night. Then I drain it.
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Old 08-29-2015, 09:38 PM   #17
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Too much chlorine

EPA guidelines for disinfecting water are 1 teaspoon of 8.25% bleach per 16 gallons of water. There are 48 teaspoons in a cup. Unless there has been black water in your tank, you don't need much clorox. City water usually has a chlorine residual, so when you fill your tank with fresh water the chlorine stays for a while and kills bacteria in the tank. When I bought my used trailer, I used a lot of chlorine, because I didn't know what was in the tank. It took me 4 tanks of water to get rid of the taste. If you're staying a long time, you could add a teaspoon or two of bleach and it won't affect the taste too much.

Emergency Disinfection of Drinking Water | Emergency Preparedness | US EPA
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Old 08-29-2015, 10:16 PM   #18
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To sanitize fresh water tank prior to long term storage:
  • Remove water filter
  • Activate water heater bypass
  • Drain water heater
  • Mix 1 tsp of bleach (plane, no additives) for each gallon of water. 70 gal = 70 tsp = 11 1/2 oz (1 1/2 cups) Mix with water in a gallon jug
  • Add mix to fresh water tank then fill with water
  • Rock rear of trailer to complete mixing process or drive a few miles
  • Run treated water through all faucets and toilet until you smell bleach

Pre-trip :
  • Drain and fill fresh water tank twice
  • Connect house water to trailer
  • Run fresh water through all faucets and toilet
  • Shut off house water and turn on pump
  • Run cold water through one faucet to clear tube from fresh water tank
  • Reinstall water filter cartridge
  • Deactivate water heater bypass
  • Open vent at top of water heater to facilitate filling then close
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