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jhack82 01-29-2010 02:05 PM

Scaling in the potable water
Hello, I live aboard a 32 foot Endeavour, 1975, and I am having a problem develop in my potable water system. It has been slowly getting worse and I can't seem to figure out a way to fix it. I am hoping someone can give me a hand, I haven't found anything about this online or on the forum.

I am not sure if scaling is the proper word, but i think its some kind of growth on the tubing walls. here are my symptoms;
-odd taste to the water that goes away if boiled
-I can pieces of a brownish film come out of the foot pump faucet
-taste is worst in pressure side right as it comes out, once the tubing has been flushed a little, the taste is noticeably weaker. It also bubbles as it comes out initially and that stops as well after 10 seconds or so.

My water system is a mix of pressure and non-pressure. I have a pressure side which gives flow to a hot water heater and a faucet/shower combo in the head and a galley sink. Both have pressure hot and cold. on the non pressure side i have a foot pump in the head and galley. The pressure side is plumbed with PEX tubing and the non pressure side is that clear vinyl stuff that has the FDA numbers on it. I got it from the local Ace hardware.

I recently (within the last 6 months) re-plumbed the entire boat with new tubing I do have a very fine filter on the output of the water tank before it goes anywhere

any help would be appreicated, thanks again


gulfcoastcruiser 01-29-2010 02:19 PM

Have you tried flushing your system with a diluted bleach solution?

jhack82 01-29-2010 02:28 PM

no, i haven't. The docks water supply is off til febuaury, but it's not like i'm using that water anyways, huh? how much dilution is recommended? i have a 65 gallon tank on board. and thanks for the quick reply


gulfcoastcruiser 01-29-2010 03:33 PM

I used about a cup or two on my 20 gallon tank, but I was still using the water with bleach added for hand washing, dishes etc. You may want to go a little stronger if you just plan to flush it out. Maybe 8 cups or so. You don't want to mix it too strong since you have to stay there I assume.

After you add the bleach run all your faucets so that there is bleach solution in the lines and let it sit overnight, then continue flushing out all the lines. Then refill your tanks with fresh water and see if the problem is gone if not repeat with stronger bleach solution. That should do the trick.

I read somewhere, I believe in this forum about a guy that added half a bottle of white wine to his water tank, but I have never tried that myself.

sailingdog 01-29-2010 07:25 PM


I would highly recommend you follow Peggie Hall's shock treating directions. You can find them HERE.

GaryHLucas 01-29-2010 09:37 PM

Chlorine and caustic (high pH) will remove organics (bacteria). Scaling is caused by salts that crystalize, and are removed by acids (low pH). Weak acids like citric or acetic (vinegar) will remove salts. Take the solids you get and put them in a glass with some vinegar. If they dissolve you have scaling if you don't it is probably biological fouling that chlorine and caustic, sodium hydroxide (lye) would remove.

Hope this helps

sailingdog 01-29-2010 10:18 PM

I'd point out that the brown stuff in water lines is generally biological, not scaling, which is usually calcium based salts and white or greyish in color.

Waltthesalt 01-29-2010 11:10 PM

Agree with all of the above. Also consider a putting in a filter at your sink fixture. It works for me and they don't cost much

tommays 01-30-2010 08:16 AM

At work we would call it BIO-FILM and you got it going on to the point you may need to take some things apart and replace some hose to get it good again

I just happened to take some pictures this week when i changed some filters that are the first line of defense against "clean water" and it should show why you need to filter what goes in.

filters at 6 week change about 150,000 gallons

Now if you look at the water in a glass it looks and tests fine BUT there is always a lot of TDS "total dissolved solids" that bring a lot of stuff along to feed the bacteria :eek:

MoonSailer 01-30-2010 09:56 AM

In theory water that has been ran through a water softener should be better as the WS removes calcium etc. The best type would be the ones that are recharged with acid instead of salt. Bacteria require certain minerals to survive and grow. I would not add vinegar as bacteria can eat the stuff when it is dilute. Reverse osmosis water is very good too.

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