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Old 04-05-2016, 02:37 AM   #1
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Fresh water tanks.... (was in bubbling toilets)

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Originally Posted by HeadMistress View Post
Dave, you said, " I may have to rethink my system as I move to a freshwater flush system."

Why? As far as the holding tank is concerned, flush water is flush water...whether it's fresh or sea water.
My sailboat has a raw water flush system and I have been using an active holding tank treatment (Raritan KO) in it and just trying to keep enough O2 exchange in the tank to keep it all working well. My fresh water tanks are not large and so I have been using bleach to keep the water fresh. It has all worked out pretty well.

However, going to a fresh water flush system, adding bleach treated fresh water to a holding tank dependent on a healthly bacteria flora doesn't sound like it will work terribly well. So, I either need to change the way I handle my holding tank (which I would rather not do) or I need to change the way I handle my fresh water tanks.

So, any suggestions on how to keep 2 x 175 gal fresh water tanks fresh and clean in the PNW where we use the boat year round without killing off all the good little critters in the boats digestive system?
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Old 04-05-2016, 06:12 AM   #2
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How much bleach do you use in the FW system, how does that work taste-wise?
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Old 04-05-2016, 08:01 AM   #3
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Quote:
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However, going to a fresh water flush system, adding bleach treated fresh water to a holding tank dependent on a healthly bacteria flora doesn't sound like it will work terribly well. So, I either need to change the way I handle my holding tank (which I would rather not do) or I need to change the way I handle my fresh water tanks.

So, any suggestions on how to keep 2 x 175 gal fresh water tanks fresh and clean in the PNW where we use the boat year round without killing off all the good little critters in the boats digestive system?

We have 2x 100 gallon freshwater tanks.

I don't use chlorine often. Once at the beginning of the season, let it sit 24 hours, flush all the lines, empty the tanks, re-fill with fresh water (no chlorine), use.

Maybe once again in August or so...

We don't use dockside very often; almost always use our own freshwater tanks/pump... so water gets cycled frequently.

OTOH, we do filter water as we fill the tanks. Currently using a dual-gradient 25/1 micron sediment filter followed by a .5 micron carbon block fliter... but that second filter is a bit of overkill. I'm intending to install an undersink carbon block filter with it's own drinking water faucet, but just haven't gotten a round tuit yet.

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Old 04-05-2016, 10:29 AM   #4
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My sailboat has a raw water flush system and I have been using an active holding tank treatment (Raritan KO) in it and just trying to keep enough O2 exchange in the tank to keep it all working well. My fresh water tanks are not large and so I have been using bleach to keep the water fresh. It has all worked out pretty well.

However, going to a fresh water flush system, adding bleach treated fresh water to a holding tank dependent on a healthly bacteria flora doesn't sound like it will work terribly well. So, I either need to change the way I handle my holding tank (which I would rather not do) or I need to change the way I handle my fresh water tanks.

So, any suggestions on how to keep 2 x 175 gal fresh water tanks fresh and clean in the PNW where we use the boat year round without killing off all the good little critters in the boats digestive system?
You aren't saying that you connected your raw water flush head to your potable water system are you? That would be a very bad plan.

I have a raw water flush head and a separate potable water system. No connection between them. I don't seem to need to add any more chlorine than what's already in the city water I usually fill my tank with. I do add chlorine if I'm using well water but only an ounce or two for 60 gallons of total capacity.
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Old 04-05-2016, 10:58 AM   #5
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If you recommission your fresh water system annually there'd be no need to add bleach to each fill. However, as long as you aren't adding enough to make your potable water smell and taste like a swimming pool, it's prob'ly not enough to any more harm to your toilet than chlorinated city water is doing anyway, which isn't much. And as long as the toilet is one that's designed to use pressurized fresh water, it's safe to connect it to the potable water supply. It's only a no-no to connect a raw water toilet to it.
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Old 04-05-2016, 11:07 AM   #6
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We been a live a board for 18 years and fill with water ever the domestic water is with no troubles. however we use turn the water every few weeks and run the tanks low before filling. I can tell when to fill be the sound of the pump. I do let the water run for a couple of minutes before filling.

Now that we are land cruising the water been been different, so we drink bottled, and I fill the tank quarter to half. Again to turn the water. Both the boat and motor home sit for 3 to 6 months, so I drain the tanks and added fresh.just like fuel if you turn use the fuel you will have few problems. I have not used bleach, but water sweatener a few times.
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Old 04-05-2016, 11:16 AM   #7
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A friend of mine has been the supervisor for many city water systems.


His cut on his boat fresh water tanks is to add just enough clorine that it barely shows up on pool test strips for clorine. Simple cheap.


Let's see if Ulysses joins in.
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Old 04-05-2016, 11:16 AM   #8
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Quote:
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I have not used bleach, but water sweatener a few times.

I did the same thing, then I read the ingredients on the "Sweetener" label and found it to be the very same active ingredient as bleach, sigh.

Now I just use a bit of bleach to get a very slight smell of chlorine in the water (about 8 ounces per 100 gal), let it sit overnight and then empty and refill all tanks once a year. Good, tasty water (filtered) and no stinking bottled water to deal with.
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Old 04-05-2016, 11:20 AM   #9
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How much bleach do you use in the FW system, how does that work taste-wise?
I use about 1 tsp bleach for every 12 gallons of fresh water. I came up with this amount because the muni water is very slightly chlorinated. If it wasn't, I would use probably 1 tsp to 8-10 gallons.

Keep in mind this shouldn't be taken as any kind of a recommendation!

I also came up with that number because it is just below the taste threshold for us. We tend to have bottled water on the boat as well, but I don't mind drinking our boat water from the tap. There are also times when the boat will sit for longer periods and since we don't necessarily shower every day and don't have fresh water flushing, the water can last a while. The bleach simply makes it so I don't have to worry so much about it.

Anyway, I am not recommending this to anyone, nor do I claim that it is good practice. Is that enough caveats?
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Old 04-05-2016, 11:28 AM   #10
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If you recommission your fresh water system annually there'd be no need to add bleach to each fill. However, as long as you aren't adding enough to make your potable water smell and taste like a swimming pool, it's prob'ly not enough to any more harm to your toilet than chlorinated city water is doing anyway, which isn't much. And as long as the toilet is one that's designed to use pressurized fresh water, it's safe to connect it to the potable water supply. It's only a no-no to connect a raw water toilet to it.
Thanks Peggy. Where we are, the boat is always in the water and gets used lightly year round (ie a lot of weekends and the occasional week). So there isn't much recommissioning done. However, that isn't to say that draining and treating the system annually isn't a good thing to do, and likely that is what we will try. There is a little chlorine in the muni water, so I hate to add even more and then send it into the holding tank.

That is why I was thinking I would need to change how I do things. In the last two boats I have owned (both Catalinas) the holding tank venting has been terrible, so it is always a challenge keep the biology healthy in the holding tank. Not sure yet what things will be like on the new boat but at least it doesn't have the covered vents that Catalina uses.

So I may start doing an annual or bi-annual treatment and flush of the water tanks. If I was to do that, how much bleach should be added per 100 gal and then how long to let it sit before rinsing?
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Old 04-05-2016, 12:15 PM   #11
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Quote:
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I did the same thing, then I read the ingredients on the "Sweetener" label and found it to be the very same active ingredient as bleach, sigh.

Now I just use a bit of bleach to get a very slight smell of chlorine in the water (about 8 ounces per 100 gal), let it sit overnight and then empty and refill all tanks once a year. Good, tasty water (filtered) and no stinking bottled water to deal with.
Well at least the sweetener smell and tastes better.

Its my wife that is picky, I usually drink the tank water. Don't tell her but I fill her bottle with tank water.
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Old 04-05-2016, 08:35 PM   #12
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This is actually part of my job.

For Disinfection of water system use the following amounts and contact times per 100 gallons of water mixed with 5.25% liquid bleach

Strength Amount of bleach Time
100ppm 1/4 gal 10hr
250ppm 1/2 gal 4hr
500ppm 1 gal 2hr
1000ppm 2 gal 1hr

After adding bleach (unscented) run farthest cold water tap from tank until you can smell bleach. Turn off and work your way toward the tank.

Let set in system according to table above.

Empty tanks and fill with fresh water.

Flush cold water lines until smell of bleach is gone.

Reminders:
Use Unscented Bleach.
Buy Cheap Stuff (make sure there is no detergents added). $ store.
Buy where they sell a lot (liquid bleach has a shelf life) $ store.
Sodium Hypochlorite (bleach) is very corrosive, be careful what it gets on.
Pool Bleach is 2x as strong.
Do not put in hot water system.
Check with local water dept. for testing for coliform bacteria.
Personally I like less bleach longer time.

Hope this helps.

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Old 04-05-2016, 09:00 PM   #13
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Everyone's taste and smell threshold is most likely on the high side of where the water is effectively disinfected and any additional chlorine is needed. As shown in Vonovik's post a 100 parts per million @ 10 hours is plenty to completely disinfect a tank. That should be a once a year of so event.

As an everyday measure 2 parts per million residual chlorine will assure no bacteria is in the water. That is still just a little low for the pool chlorination test. If you are getting water from a municipal and/or permitted water system that 2ppm is probably already there. If filling in a questionable country or facility I would try to keep it on the low side of what I can smell/taste.

It is true that Chlorine should not be directly added to the holding tank and/or toilet. For the toilet to be safe for pressure/fresh water flushing there will be devices employed to prevent cross connection with the holding tank. As fresh chlorinated water enters the toilet some of the chlorine will quickly dissipate as it is mixed and exposed to 02. Here is one you probably do not know is that if you add vitamin C (citric acid) to the toilet or vitamin C is in your urine the chlorine will completely change chemically and not pose a threat to your bacteria in your holding tank.
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Old 04-05-2016, 10:01 PM   #14
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For more than 3 decades, the RV and marine industry has recommended recommissioning fresh water systems according to these directions, which involve more than just purifying the water supply:

Fresh water system problems--foul odor or taste--are typically caused by allowing water to stagnate in the system. Although most people think only in terms of the tank, the plumbing is actually the source of most foul water, because the molds, mildew, fungi and bacteria which cause it thrive in damp dark places, not under water. Many people—and even some boat manufacturers—believe that keeping the tanks empty reduce the problem, but an empty water tank only provides another damp dark home for those “critters—which, by the way, do not include algae; algae need light.

There are all kinds of products sold that claim to keep onboard water fresh, but unless your water does not come from a municipal treated water supply, all that’s really necessary is an annual--or in especially warm climates, semi-annual--recommissioning of the entire system--tank and plumbing. The following recommendations conform to section 10.8 in the A-1 192 code covering electrical, plumbing, and heating of recreational vehicles. The solution is approved and recommended by competent health officials. It may be used in a new system a used one that has not been used for a period of time, or one that may have been contaminated.

Before beginning, turn off hot water heater at the breaker; do not turn it on again until the entire recommissioning is complete.

Icemakers should be left running to allow cleaning out of the water feed line; however the first two buckets of ice—the bucket generated during recommissioning and the first bucketful afterward--should be discarded.

1. Prepare a chlorine solution using one gallon of water and 1/4 cup/25 ml Clorox or Purex household bleach (5-7% sodium hypochlorite solution ). . With tank empty, pour chlorine solution into tank. Use one gallon of solution for each 5 gallons of tank capacity . (Or do it a much easier way: Use 1 quart/liter of bleach/50 gal water tank capacity. Put few gallons of water in the tank, then add the bleach).

2. Complete filling of tank with fresh water. Open each faucet and drain cock until air has been released and the entire system is filled. Do not turn off the pump; it must remain on to keep the system pressurized and the solution in the lines

3. Allow to stand for at least three hours, but no longer than 24 hours.

4 Drain through every faucet on the boat. If you haven't done this in a while, it's a good idea to remove any diffusion screens from the faucets, because what's likely to come out will clog them). Fill the tank again with fresh water only, drain again through every faucet on the boat. And yes, it IS necessary to drain through the faucets to flush all the molds etc. out of the plumbing.

5. To remove excess chlorine taste or odor, which might remain, prepare a solution of one quart white vinegar to five gallons water and allow this solution to agitate in tank for several days

6. Drain tank again through every faucet, and flush the lines again by fill the tank 1/4-1/2 full and again flushing with potable water.

People have expressed concern about using this method to recommission aluminum tanks. While bleach (chlorine) IS corrosive, its effects are are cumulative. So the effect of an annual or semi-annual "shock treatment" is negligible compared to the cumulative effect of holding chlorinated city water in the tank for years. Nevertheless, it's a good idea to mix the total amount of bleach in a few gallons of water before putting it into either a stainless or aluminum tank.

People have also expressed concern about the potential damage to rubber and neoprene water pump parts. Again—the cumulative effect of carrying chlorinated water is far more damaging over time than the occasional “shock treatment.” And it’s that cumulative effect that makes it a VERY bad idea to add a little bleach to each fill. Not only does it damage the system, but unless you add enough to make your water taste and smell like a laundry, it’s not enough to do any good. Even if it were, any “purifying” properties in chlorine evaporate within 24 hours, leaving behind only the corrosive properties.

An annual or semi-annual recommissioning according to the above directions is all that should be necessary to keep water from a municipal water supply tasting and smelling as good as anything that comes out of any faucet on land. If you need to improve on that, install a water filter. Just remember that a filter is not a substitute for cleaning out the system, and that filters require regular inspection and cleaning or replacement.

To keep the water system cleaner longer, use your fresh water...keep water flowing through system. The molds, fungi, and bacteria only start to grow in hoses that aren't being used. Before filling the tank each time, always let the dock water run long enough to flush out all the water that's been standing in them so that what goes into your boat is coming straight from the water main. You’ll know when it is because the water will be much cooler than the water that’s been sitting in dock supply lines.

Finally, while the molds, fungi and bacteria in onboard water systems here in the US may not be pleasant, we're dealing only with aesthetics...water purity isn't an issue here--or in most developed nations...the water supply has already been purified (unless you're using well-water). However, when cruising out of the country, it's a good idea to know what you're putting in your tanks...and if you're in any doubt, boil all water that's to be drunk or used to wash dishes, and/or treat each tankful to purify. It's even more important in these areas to let the water run before putting it in the tank, because any harmful bacteria will REALLY proliferate in water hoses left sitting on the dock.
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Old 04-05-2016, 11:28 PM   #15
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PSNEELD: True on the pool test strips or get some water quality control test kits for about $30.00 from Hach Labs. (I am not affiliated other than using their stuff in the water industry) that will test free chlorine down to 1 part per million. You can use the test at your house too. If you receive water from a municipal system and your house does not test with 2 ppm. I am sure your supplier would want to know. I say that in all seriousness. It gives them some input to help run their system. I would love it if my customers would call when my chlorine drops. It indicates that something is going on that should not be going on. Break in line, backflow problem, etc... and helps identify the area of the problem. The tests are cheap and you only have to do every now and then.
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Old 04-05-2016, 11:58 PM   #16
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Thank you Ulysses and Peggy. I will use that method to treat the tanks on the new boat since I don't know where they have been. From then on, I will just try and do it yearly. Sounds like the 1/2 gal per 100 is a good way to go on a day when I am spending it all on the boat doing work anyway.
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Old 04-07-2016, 07:22 AM   #17
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So, any suggestions on how to keep 2 x 175 gal fresh water tanks fresh and clean in the PNW where we use the boat year round without killing off all the good little critters in the boats digestive system?''

Most "city" water will last if being used,and will not kill the black tank.

One caution ,

TASTE the water before putting a drop in the tanks.

City water in different locations can vary from mountain fresh to used swimming pool in taste.
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Old 04-09-2016, 01:33 AM   #18
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One caution ,

TASTE the water before putting a drop in the tanks.

City water in different locations can vary from mountain fresh to used swimming pool in taste.
Good point. Fortunately, in my home port the water is very good. It would only be an issue for those rare times when I go out for longer periods.
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