Sanitizing your water system Part 2

January 28, 2008 by William Gotthelf · 8 Comments  
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In my last Blog I talked about sanitizing the city water side of the RV water system. That leaves the fresh water tank side to sanitize.

Again we will use the section of hose you use to connect to city water. Mix bleach with water in a gallon jug adding about 12 ounces ( this is for a typical RV fresh water tank of about 50 gallon capacity so scale accordingly) to the gallon jug and filling it about 3/4’s full.

Using a funnel (and making sure the hose is empty of water) add mixture to one end of the hose until mixture is all in the hose. Connect one end to camper (to the fresh water fill connection) and other to city water source. Run water into the tank for approximately 5 minutes.

Remember if you have an in-line filter remember to remove and discard filter and after flushing system install a new one. Now is a good time to see if your fresh water pump (make sure pump is turned off) has an in-line mesh filter, if so disconnect and clean the screen and replace.

Now turn pump on and run water in every sink, shower (inside and out if so equipped) and toilet until you can smell the bleach. Now you have 2 choices. If your tank is not full you can drive around for 10 minutes sloshing the bleach and water around in the tank or you can just add water till the tank is full. The correct “contact time” to disinfect and sanitize is an hour. After the hour is up drain the tank, adding water as it drains to help remove the bleach solution. Turn on each faucet, shower and toilet and let run till you do not smell bleach anymore.

If you do this once a year you should not have any problems with your fresh water system in your camper. A small side note some Motor Homes and Fifth Wheels come with an under the sink water filter ( not reverse osmosis ). Since there is no way to run water thru these lines without a filter being attached make sure it is an old filter and replace the filter element after you flush system (both city water and water tank side).

Next week maintaining your grey water tank……

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8 Responses to “Sanitizing your water system Part 2”

  1. Fred Golden on January 29th, 2008 1:57 am

    Lets see,

    A 50 gallon water tank is about 6,600 ounces of water.

    If you add a unsented bleach with a 5% clorine mixture, it will have 50,000 PPM (parts per million) clorine in the pure bleach.

    So 12 onces in a 6,600 ounce tank = 550:1 water to bleach mixture. This will put the bleach level up to 90 PPM.

    In my opinion, that is WAY to much bleach. I used to take care of a Olympic pool, and they always kept the free clorine level at only 1 PPM clorine.

    To elevate the clorine level to 8 – 10 PPM will only take 1 ounce of 5% clorine solution. Now if the clorine solution is stronger, you will need to cut down the bleach content even more. There is 3 table spoons in a ounce of liquid, so I would estimate that between 1 tablespoon and 3 tablespoons will be fine to santitize the 50 gallon fresh water tank.

    Yes it is easy to add the bleach to the empty water hose, and I add a causion that you have the hose disconnected from the water fauscet! This way if someone turns on the water while you are pouring in the bleach solution, you will not get the bleach into your face!

    With the weaker clorine solution, it might be better to let it sit overnight. By the next morning, most of the clorine will have been neturalized while killing bacteria. Yes running the pump untill all of the bleach solution comes out of all the fauscets will santitize the tubing within the RV and the fauscets too.

    I would suggest draining the hot water heater (should be done once or twice a year anyway) before starting, so when you start to send water to the hot water lines, it is not diluted by the clorine free 6 – 10 gallons of water in the tank. Also you can remove much of the sediment in the tank. You might find you need a new anode rod at the same time – with certain brands of heaters.


  2. grady deberry on February 6th, 2008 6:29 am


  3. William Gotthelf on February 7th, 2008 8:00 pm

    Grady they sell an insulating pipe cover that works well on hose at Home Depot/Lowes. It is used to insulate copper A/C lines. Another is a electric tape wrap that heats the hose and uses an electric connection to power the heating tape. Fred when new water lines are perged and tested chlorine levels in the pipes are elvated to 4 times the standard and are flushe for 48 hrs before they are tested. Bleach has a much lower level of chlorine. I have tried lower levels of bleach and checked the inside of water lines inside the campers. With lower levels the slime is not cleaned off. Anyone with a water utilities license will tell you that the contact time required to sanitize pvc or polybutylene piping is reduced as the chlorine levels go up. You could use lower levels of bleach but you would have to keep it in the system and in contact with all the piping longer. Oh and the higher levels of bleach insure that areas such as the hot water heater, expansion tanks and expansion valves are not diluted enough for the solution to be ineffective.

  4. Big-Al on February 10th, 2008 9:33 am

    As far as the under sink filter is concerned, remove the filter and replace with a short length of water hose. Proceed with sanitizing. When complete, remove hose and install filter.

  5. ctcrob on February 11th, 2008 1:35 am

    Undersink water filters should have a bypass switch, at least EverPure does, so that water in the pipes is not sent through the filter, but straight to the tap–thereby avoiding the “waste a filter” theory. Most of these filters are to remove Chlorine and Cysts anyway. Which reminds me, I’m due to replace mine sometime soon…

  6. eli on February 16th, 2008 1:07 am

    Wow. The things you learn by reading. Thanks

  7. Leonora on February 16th, 2008 8:00 pm

    Thank you everyone for the great information. Like Eli said, I also learned a lot by reading. Keep up the good work and keep the info coming

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