'Round The Campfire

How to keep your RV fresh water tank clean


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More from Outdoor Living Newsletter November Outdoor Living Newsletter
 
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Is the water in your RV safe to use?

Is the water in your RV fresh water tank really safe to use?

Just think about it. We are so accustomed to having clean water flowing from the tap at home that access to clean and safe water is something that we tend to take for granted. So, when we go on road trips wenaturally assume that the water stored in our RV fresh water tank is just as safe and clean as the water we use at home.

However, one of the cardinal rules that frequent travelers and veteran RVers often live by is that you can't always trust the water you use or consume away from home. You can never be sure where that water came from. And if you're not that careful, you can end up getting sick with some form of stomach or skin ailment from using contaminated water.

Thankfully, even if you're not sure whether the water in the last campground or RV park you stayed at is clean or not, you can at least keep yourself and the people you are traveling with in your RV from getting sick as a result of using contaminated water. You can do that by sanitizing your RV fresh water tank regularly and by observing a few measures that will eliminate the presence of harmful bacteria in the water you use in your RV.

How to sanitize your RV fresh water tank

Sanitizing your RV fresh water tank is much easier to do than it sounds. It can take around half a day to get the chore done, but the actual work will only take less than an hour to accomplish.

To get started with sanitizing your RV fresh water tank, you'll need to get your RV plugged into an electric hookup or have its batteries fully charged. That's because you'll have to use the pump as you're doing this chore. You should also turn off your water heater and get rid of the anti-freeze in your pipes, as you're going to use cold water for this task. Lastly, you'll have to open the drain valve of your gray water tank and pay attention to your levels in case of overflow.

So, here's a step-by-step guide to sanitizing your RV fresh water tank.

  1. Turn off your water pump and open the valve of your fresh water tank. Drain your tank completely of all its stored water.
  2. Mix one cup of bleach or tank cleaner with one gallon (4 1/2 liters) of water. Pour the solution in your now-empty fresh water tank using a funnel.
  3. Replace the valve of your fresh water tank and turn on your water pump. Fill your fresh water tank with water.
  4. Once the tank is full, turn on all the faucets and water outlets in your RV, including the shower and just let the water flow. Pay attention to your water levels and make sure that the drain valve of your gray water tank is open.
  5. Turn these water outlets off once the smell of the bleach becomes really strong.
  6. Fill your fresh water tank again with cold water and let the water sit in the tank for about 8 to 12 hours.
  7. After the allotted time, turn on all the faucets and water outlets in your RV again and let the water run until the smell of the bleach goes away. Refill the fresh water tank and just keep flushing the water out until you're sure that the bleach is completely gone.
  8. Refill your fresh water tank with clean water if you're still using your RV. Empty your tank if you're going to put your RV in storage.

You should sanitize your RV fresh water tank at least once every six months. However, it is ideal that you do this chore once a month if you're frequently on the road in your RV.

How to prevent your RV fresh water tank from getting contaminated

As the old adage goes, an ounce of prevention is better than a pound of cure. Aside from sanitizing your RV fresh water tank regularly, you should also observe a few measures that will prevent harmful bacteria from colonizing your water tank and contaminating the water you use in your RV. Here are a few tips that will help you out:

  1. Ask your campground hosts where the water in the campground comes from, whether it's well water or water coming from the city or municipal system. If it's well water, ask if the water is tested for safety.
  2. Wash your hands thoroughly before handling your white water hose. Keep the ends of your white water hose from touching the ground when you hook up your RV. If you're not using the hose, keep it coiled and store it in a sealable plastic or cloth bag.
  3. Wash your hands thoroughly after using the dump station in the campground you're staying at. Never fill your fresh water tank with water from the dump station unless the water is guaranteed clean and safe for consumption.
  4. Install water filters in your RV.
  5. If you're not sure about the safety of the water in the campground you're staying at, boil the water before drinking it. Better yet, keep a supply of bottled water in your RV.
  6. Sanitize your fresh water tank before putting your RV in storage.

It doesn't take much to keep your RV fresh water tank clean and sanitized. Keeping the tank clean and sanitized, though, will do a lot in making sure you won't get sick from drinking or using contaminated water.

Copyright ©2011 Camping Road Trip, LLC

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1 comment(s) so far...

The other thing to do is use the water in your tank all the time. Here's my routine:

First I always travel with my fresh water tank full. Some people say they don't like pulling the extra weight, but that weight is directly over the axles (of our trailer), lowers the center of gravity of the trailer, and adds to it's on-road stability. My routine goes something like this for overnight stops: get parked and level, connect electricity, make a martini :-). Switch on the pump and use the water in your tank for the overnight stop. In the morning, refill the fresh water tank and dump the gray water tank. Drive to next location. If we are staying for more than a night, we will still use the water in the tank and when it's empty, refill and connec

By RandyG on 11/6/2011 4:41:30 PM
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