By Mark Polk, RV Education 101
Do not assume your RV’s fresh water will stay safe and fresh like at home. Contaminated water is extremely dangerous. As RVers, we must not only deal with a water system that hasn’t been used for some time, but we hook up to different sources and eventually contaminated water.
The most important step is to keep the fresh water system sanitized. At a minimum, sanitize it every spring or if you notice stale water or an odor.
Start by draining the water heater. Go to the outside compartment where it’s located. Remove the drain plug in the bottom left hand corner and open the pressure relief valve on top to assist in draining. CAUTION: Never drain the water heater when it’s hot or under pressure. Next, locate the low point water line drains for the hot water and the cold. This is the lowest point in the system. Open and let the water drain out.
Now, find the drain for the fresh water holding tank and empty it. Then turn the water pump on briefly to force out any remaining water. Do not let the pump continue once the water stops draining. Close all the drains. You have now removed most water from the system.
NOW TAKE A QUARTER CUP OF HOUSEHOLD BLEACH for every 15 gallons of water that your fresh water tank holds. Mix the bleach with water in a one-gallon container and pour it into the fresh water holding tank. Fill the fresh water tank almost completely full. Turn on the water pump, open all hot and cold faucets and run the water until you smell the bleach at each one. Close the faucets. If possible, drive the RV or pull the trailer so the water can move around to assist in cleaning the entire tank. Let it sit for at least 12 hours. Drain the entire system again and refill the fresh water tank with potable water.
Open all of the faucets and run the water until you no longer smell any bleach. You may need to repeat this process again to eliminate all signs of bleach from the system. Once that’s done, it is safe to use your water system.