Once a year every RVer needs to sanitize the RV fresh water tank. Here's how:
Your RV's fresh water tank can get stale and sour and a little sanitation will ensure good tasting water all season.
In fact, we do ours about three times a year… in the spring when we de-winterize, in early summer when the weather starts getting hot, and late fall, just before we run antifreeze through the plumbing.
Why you should sanitize the RV fresh water tank
Because you don't want to get sick. Fresh water sitting in a tank can breed all sorts of organisms, many of them unhealthy. Generally, the experts tell us that you should not leave water in the tank for more than two weeks before it starts to get skunky.
In the summer, when those tanks can really heat up, my recommendation is change out that water every week. Don't let it sit there unused between trips for long periods of time.
But even after emptying it and refilling it, traces of those unhealthy microorganisms can be left as a residue in the tank. You need to kill them and the best way to do that is by sanitizing your tanks.
At the least, unsanitized water will taste sour. It may smell. It will be increasingly distasteful. You could get diarrhea… or other unpleasant and potentially even serious diseases. So sanitize those tanks!
Conflicting advice about the best way to sanitize the RV fresh water tank
You will get all sorts of advice about this if you start searching around.
For example, the manufacturer of one of the RVs weve own, advised its customers when winterizing the RV to put antifreeze in the fresh water tanks.
That is not good advice.
I admit, we have done so, as suggested by the manufacturer of one of our previous RVs. But think about it. That advice is not really necessary. There's no need to do so since there is no water in it after you winterized it. There is no water in there to freeze.
And if you have ever tried to get the antifreeze taste out of your fresh water tanks at the beginning of the camping season, you'll understand why we cursed the manufacturer who recommended such a thing.
Step-by-step instruction on how I sanitize the RV fresh water tank
The steps are pretty simple. In all fairness, I am the first to admit that I am a bit of a fresh water snob so, personally, I fill and drain my fresh water tanks more than most people do.
All of these 11 steps are part of the de-winterizing process.
- Fill and empty the fresh water tank. This just rinses out any residues that could affect the taste of the water. So fill it and then empty it.
- After that fill and drain, refill up the fresh water tank with clean water.
- Go inside, run the galley and bathroom faucets until the “pink stuff” (antifreeze) was out of the pipes and then let it run clear for a couple of minutes. You will also want to also do this with the inside and outside (if you have one) shower.
- Outside again, once again drain and then refill the fresh water tank, this time adding about three ounces of bleach for every 25 gallons of capacity n your fresh water tank. Let it sit like that overnight.
- The next morning, go back inside the coach and again run the faucets and flush the toilet and shower with lots of water, getting some of that sanitized water into all the pipes.
- Drain that fresh water tank one more time
- After doing all of that, drive the RV to a location where you can dump the black and grey water tanks so you could start out with clean, empty storage tanks.
- Back in the driveway, fill the fresh water tanks one last time, but about half way so you have enough on hand for your traveling needs, but not so much as to add unnecessary weight while on the road.
9) Something else I do: I change the online filter that I put on the hose. I use the Clear 2O Inline Water Filter between the hose and the water intake. I change this once or twice a year, depending on use. It does a great job removing or reducing bad taste, odors, chlorine and sediment in drinking water. I also replaced the filter on the instant-on clean water tap by the sink.
10) Before heading out, I run a glass of water through the galley faucet and take a sample drink, making sure there is no bleach or antifreeze taste. If there is, I just drain and refill once more.
Admittedly, I drain and empty a lot. If you are thinking that's a bit much, you can skip one or two fill and drain cycles
11) Besides the water filter, at the start of every season as part to the sanitization process, I also replace the fresh water hose I use to fill my fresh water tank or hook up to the city water faucet at a campground. Never use a garden hose to put water in your RV. The hose needs to be marked “water safe.” A garden hose is filled with sediment and microorganisms. This is the one we get every spring.
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