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Old 07-01-2014, 11:53 AM   #1
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Smell in fresh water system

I flushed my fresh water system in May, per the headmistress' instructions, but I'm getting the smell back again. It helps if I let the water run for 10-20 seconds first, but I'm wondering: do I need to replace the water lines? They are the boat's age, 25 years old. If so, what type of water lines would be recommended? The ones in the boat are clear PVC.
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Old 07-01-2014, 12:21 PM   #2
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You didn't say what kind of smell, antifreeze or mildew, but a cap or two of Clorox in the tank, run up water to faucets and let sit for a day or so, then good flush, smell should be gone.

Also not sure where you are getting your water, if well water that might not be helping, typically city water has some additional additives to keep it from turning.
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Old 07-01-2014, 12:30 PM   #3
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Originally Posted by dach side View Post
I flushed my fresh water system in May, per the headmistress' instructions, but I'm getting the smell back again. It helps if I let the water run for 10-20 seconds first, but I'm wondering: do I need to replace the water lines? They are the boat's age, 25 years old. If so, what type of water lines would be recommended? The ones in the boat are clear PVC.

You may need to flush the system again, but I'd at least guess first that you probably don't need to replace lines.

This odor from shore water? Is shore water from city service, or a well?

Or from water in fresh water tanks? How often do you cycle water through the freshwater tanks?

Or from both shore and tanks?

Hot water only? Or cold? Or both?

Sulfer smell? Or moldy? Or....?

-Chris
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Old 07-01-2014, 12:35 PM   #4
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Flush the entire system again and consider adding a charcoal filter to your system.

What are your water tanks made out of?
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Old 07-01-2014, 12:50 PM   #5
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My Father puts a few teaspoons of bleach into his tanks. He also uses bottled water to drink. The bleach will keep anything from growing in the tank, lines etc.... See this: http://www.boatus.com/magazine/2012/...terSystems.asp

Clear PVC lines? What year is your boat and are you sure they haven't been replaced by a previous owner?
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Old 07-01-2014, 01:31 PM   #6
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...typically city water has some additional additives to keep it from turning.
I'm not sure turning is the right term. If you are getting your water from a city/municipal water source, it is treated with chlorine but only to protect the water from recontamination as it travels throughout the distribution system. The residual chlorine will gas off within 7-10 days in your water tanks.
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Old 07-01-2014, 01:55 PM   #7
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Filling tanks from dock water that has ben sitting for too long helps get the bugs started.

Some bleach in the tank then run all spigots until you smell bleach. let it sit for a few hours then flush everything several times and add a little baking soda to last fill up.
As Bill said a carbon filter on the drinking water spigot is a good idea.
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Old 07-01-2014, 04:59 PM   #8
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Our marina is on a well. We use a serious sediment filter and also a carbon filter every time we fill the tank. And then we cycle through the tank often.

I usually use the sediment filter when we (much less often) hook up to shorewater somewhere, too. The carbon filter -- the .5 micron one we use and the way we use it -- cuts flow too much to use it with dockside water.

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Old 07-01-2014, 06:11 PM   #9
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Take a look at Puriclean made by Clean Tabs in England. They say it not only kills the bacteria in the water like chlorine, but it also removes the dead biofilm stuck to the tank walls and hoses.
http://www.cleantabs.co.uk/puriclean.htm
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Old 07-01-2014, 06:13 PM   #10
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Our marina is on a well. We use a serious sediment filter and also a carbon filter every time we fill the tank. And then we cycle through the tank often.

I usually use the sediment filter when we (much less often) hook up to shorewater somewhere, too. The carbon filter -- the .5 micron one we use and the way we use it -- cuts flow too much to use it with dockside water.

-Chris
.5 a micron is way to fine for anything other than say a filter on the fresh water flush line for a water maker. Try using a 25 micron carbon filter. That way you should be able to use it on you tank fill hose no problem.
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Old 07-01-2014, 09:38 PM   #11
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Ranger 42c: from water tanks only(no shore hookup), hoy or cold. Sort of sulfur smell. Capt.bill11: poly water tanks, 75 gal. Each. Boat is 25 years old, not sure if lines are OEM. By clear PVC, I mean clear with red/blue tracers. I think I'll redo it with the bleach treatment, then add a filter. We get water from a town well, go through a tank in about 10 days.
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Old 07-01-2014, 09:46 PM   #12
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Originally Posted by dach side View Post
Ranger 42c: from water tanks only(no shore hookup), hoy or cold. Sort of sulfur smell. Capt.bill11: poly water tanks, 75 gal. Each. Boat is 25 years old, not sure if lines are OEM. By clear PVC, I mean clear with red/blue tracers. I think I'll redo it with the bleach treatment, then add a filter. We get water from a town well, go through a tank in about 10 days.

You're using well water..... that's your problem. You wouldn't be having this issue with treated city water. Try using bleach and stick to drinking bottled water, which I am sure you're already doing. Well water is horrible tasting.
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Old 07-02-2014, 12:16 AM   #13
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We were consistently getting smells from our water, especially the hot water. I then started running all the fill water through a household charcoal filter, and that completely resolved the problem. The filter is now permanently installed in the Laz and plumbed to the tank. To fill up, I first let the water run through the hose and overboard for a while to flush out the dock lines and the hose. Then I connect the hose to the filter inlet and fill the tanks. So far it has worked great. Just remember that charcoal filters are only good for about 6 months after their first use, so replace them regularly.
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Old 07-02-2014, 04:46 AM   #14
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Don't assume that your "town well" water is not "treated" If there are over 15 service connections on the town well it falls under the same guidelines as any other permitted water system. Both surface water and well water is subject to "taste and odor" problems often as a result of iron and /or manganese (soluble) naturally occurring. Typically you would find very small red or black particles in locations where the water is oxidized, such as the back tank of a toilet, the washing machine, etc.. Those type of fixtures are not always found on boats. If you can look into the bottom of your tank you may find some of these particles or shake a glass full of water and see if the particles appear. As noted they are "water soluble" but fall out of the water when oxidize (exposed to air) or if you have an ice maker you should find them in the ice. They cannot be filtered out of the water until oxidized. Like sugar in water, you can filter it all day long but the water will still be sweet. A charcoal filter will help with the smell. Chlorine is an oxidizer and will eliminate the problem for a short period of time by allowing the iron and/or manganese to be released.
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Old 07-02-2014, 07:29 AM   #15
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Back East here along the coast most towns are on well water and as Larry M pointed out it's treated to government standards that should be similar to many locations.

Our well water tastes as good as any water I've ever drank out of the tap as it's all about the aquifer it comes from.

For a boats tank and plumbing system...it may take a shock treatment or two with chlorine...then a couple tankfulls to get rid of the chlorine...but after that if you still have a problem, it's tank scrubbing and line replacement time.

If you don't turn your tank water over quickly...a permanent filtering and charcoal (plus if necessary) pretreatment may be in order. If all that is necessary...your city water is pretty bad or at least the point you receive it from.

If going to be there a long time, either a fancy under sink reverse osmosis sytem might be in order (no personal experience just what I have heard) or a complete water making system....but wow...you would be one of the few that ever needed to go that far in my recollection.
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Old 07-02-2014, 08:33 AM   #16
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.5 a micron is way to fine for anything other than say a filter on the fresh water flush line for a water maker. Try using a 25 micron carbon filter. That way you should be able to use it on you tank fill hose no problem.

Nah, it's not really a problem for tank filling. Takes longer, no big deal. We use a dual-gradient 25 micron/1 micron sediment pre-filter ahead of the .5 micron carbon block.

When we hook up to shore water, we still use the 25/1 filter, but that's where the .5 micron charcoal block hampers flow too much.

I could install the charcoal filter inline at the galley sink, but that'd be more work. And then we might want one at the sink in the head. Even more work. Easier just using it at the tank fill.

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Old 07-02-2014, 08:36 AM   #17
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If you filter your water coming into your boat, watch the flow rate. For carbon filtration to be effective, the water has to have adequate contact time with the carbon. Most carbon filters of the 2.5" x 10" size, are rated for 1-2 gpm. The water coming out of your hose, full on, is usually around 6-10 gallons per minute.
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Old 07-02-2014, 08:37 AM   #18
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Ranger 42c: from water tanks only(no shore hookup), hoy or cold. Sort of sulfur smell. Capt.bill11: poly water tanks, 75 gal. Each. Boat is 25 years old, not sure if lines are OEM. By clear PVC, I mean clear with red/blue tracers. I think I'll redo it with the bleach treatment, then add a filter. We get water from a town well, go through a tank in about 10 days.

Your thought about re-flushing (and all the other posts on that) are likely on the mark. Won't hurt, in any case, and if it makes a change you'll at least know what's what.

Well water can often taste great... so I wouldn't assume odor in this case is an insurmountable issue.

FWIW, I've read some water heaters have a zinc anode and/or can contribute to sulfur smell. Our WH manual says what to do about that, although we've not had a problem with it. You might check yours, in any case... although if you have odor with both hot and cold water, it's maybe a non-player.

-Chris
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Old 07-02-2014, 08:40 AM   #19
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You're using well water..... that's your problem. You wouldn't be having this issue with treated city water. Try using bleach and stick to drinking bottled water, which I am sure you're already doing. Well water is horrible tasting.


Throughout my life, we've been on well water much more often than on city water. In many cases, the well water tasted better. I don't think there's anything magic about treated city water.

In boats -- in reasonably civilized locations -- seems to be a body of anecdotal info that suggests the condition of the system -- tanks, lines, fill hoses, etc. and also the fill process/technique -- has much more to do with drinkable water quality than does the source.

-Chris
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Old 07-02-2014, 09:35 AM   #20
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Suggest you run the dock water for several minutes before filling tanks. We are at the end of a long dock water line and water is often very warm and rusty unless run for while. Also before you do anything more on the boat, you might try tasting the dock line water direct from the dock faucet, and also keeping a sample in a clean gallon jug for tasting a few days later. Clear PVC lines do have the disadvantage of allowing mold growth where the tubing is exposed to light. PEX avoids this problem.
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