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post #1 of 15 Old 06-13-2010 Thread Starter
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Clean water tanks, well water

Hello,
This may be in the archives, but I haven't been able to find it since you can't search for "well". We've been having trouble keeping our fresh water sweet. I'm familiar with several variations of the shock procedure, and plan to follow Peggie Hall's suggestions on this.

That said, the water supply at our dock (and frankly at many marinas in our area too) is well water. It smells fine and tastes fine when it goes in, but it hasn't been treated in any way.

After we shock the system, we'd like to keep in clean and the water sweet. Any suggestions on how to keep it that way, given that we're using well water? Is there some sort of filtering or that we should use on the way in before it goes into the tanks? Should we add small amounts of Clorox? Some other product?

Peggie's general suggestions seem to be that these are not necessary, but that was given the use of city water that's been treated.

Suggestions?
Thanks!
-J

1984 Sabre 34 Mk I
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post #2 of 15 Old 06-13-2010
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What is actually wrong with the water ? You say it isn't sweet, do you just mean it has a bland dead taste, or do you actually mean it isn't as sweet (alkaline). The acidity of the water shouldn't change, so I would be surprised if it was becoming less sweet, what is more likely happening is that it is just becoming stagnant. The way you "bring it back to life" is by adding oxygen, sink water usually does that at the tap, the tap disperses the water as it comes out of the faucet, you end up with a glass full of water with bubbles in it. If you are used to drinking city water you are probably used to the taste of treatment chemicals in your water and well water just won't taste the same without them. One way you can test to see what is wrong with the water (in your opinion) is to boil some water and then let it cool over night, then try drinking it. If the taste of that water is the same thing you don't like about your tank water, the problem is that your water needs more oxygen to liven it up.

What are you pretending not to know ?

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Last edited by wind_magic; 06-13-2010 at 06:14 PM. Reason: sp
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post #3 of 15 Old 06-13-2010
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Jos

smell? sulfur or rotten eggs...
taste?
color?
solids?

Take a glass, fill it and let it settle for an hour or so...in SW Va (kidney stone capital of the east coast, I am told)...we have a lot of calcium in the water that does what you describe. If after it settles you see some "stuff" in it..likely minerals..we use a chlorine injector, then charcoal filter and then a fine whole house filter at the house to get rid of all that stuff...I am told PUR or Brita filters will do the same on a small scale. I think the cost and the size of the home system would preclude it's use on a boat.

On the boat, we use tank water for everything except drinking/cooking, where we bring gallon jugs from home or the clubhouse at the marina.

Might help, and enjoy the Sabre.
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post #4 of 15 Old 06-13-2010 Thread Starter
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Sweet probably was a poor choice of words on my part. By sweet, I just meant that it doesn't taste or smell like anything other than water. We have well water at home, so we're used to water that doesn't taste like city water.

What happens here, is that the well water goes into the tank and is fine for a couple days, after which it starts coming out of the faucets smelling pretty damn bad. Usually this is just in the lines, and it's fine after running it for a short time (although it still means the lines have an issue). Most recently, it's bad even coming out of the tanks (checked the tanks directly). There are no visible sludge in the tanks or anything like that.

My guess is that the water starts to allow stuff to grow either A) because it has stuff in it from the ground that likes to grow, or B) because it doesn't have anything in it to prevent stuff from growing, or C) a little of both of these.

I can take care of getting the system clean to start, but I'm not sure how to keep it that way since we're using well water and that by nature will be more difficult to keep clean when compared to city water.

We're not looking for perfection here, just not stinking and being safe for washing dishes is a good start.


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Originally Posted by wind_magic View Post
What is actually wrong with the water ? You say it isn't sweet, do you just mean it has a bland dead taste, or do you actually mean it isn't as sweet (alkaline). The acidity of the water shouldn't change, so I would be surprised if it was becoming less sweet, what is more likely happening is that it is just becoming stagnant. The way you "bring it back to life" is by adding oxygen, sink water usually does that at the tap, the tap disperses the water as it comes out of the faucet, you end up with a glass full of water with bubbles in it. If you are used to drinking city water you are probably used to the taste of treatment chemicals in your water and well water just won't taste the same without them. One way you can test to see what is wrong with the water (in your opinion) is to boil some water and then let it cool over night, then try drinking it. If the taste of that water is the same thing you don't like about your tank water, the problem is that your water needs more oxygen to liven it up.

1984 Sabre 34 Mk I
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post #5 of 15 Old 06-13-2010
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I see what you mean Jos, it does sound like a funky tank. I don't have that problem because I use portable containers, so someone else will have to answer the question. When portable containers get a little off I just wash them out with some chlorine water mixture and rinse them and use them, not the same thing you would do with tanks I'm sure.

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post #6 of 15 Old 06-13-2010
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I had a Hunter 27 years ago and the water tank would grow cysts, white floaters in the tank, and this stuff isn't good for you. We started adding bleach to the tank, which took care of stuff growing, then added an activated charcoal cartidge filter to remove the chlorine. The water then tasted just fine, and we used the water the same we would at home. In fact I always ran a little water even if I didn't need to, to flush the piping.

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post #7 of 15 Old 06-13-2010
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You say there is no visible sludge in the tanks. How about the lines? They can get pretty messed up over time. If they are older replacement can be a good idea.

Brian
Living aboard in Victoria Harbour
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post #8 of 15 Old 06-13-2010
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My water is fine and I have a 60 Gallon tank. Sounds like you need to clean the tank out. If you don't have inspection ports installed think about it. My tank is alluminum and has ports on top to check it and clean it if need be. I tend to use alot when at port so it cleans it and all my lines are clean so I don't have a problem. You might have to start at the source, the tank, clean it, clean or replace the lines, pumps, fittings and use it. I am a liveaboard so it's the water I drink and cook with. Lot's of info on how to do what I suggested. You might try adding rum to your drinking water, in the glass, and that might work for you Oh, don't forget the ice, I prefer soda or even ginger ale, or coke, or pepsi or whatever you have. This is ofcourse when I am tyed to a slip, when I am out no drinking what so ever.
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post #9 of 15 Old 06-13-2010
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there is a water treatment i have seen at walmart, and west marine that adds clorine. i have used it when i had a camper and it works well, with no bleach taste.

similar to this, and i would bet the same thing just different bottle
CAMCO PRODUCTSFreshener at WestMarineNew
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post #10 of 15 Old 06-13-2010
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Standard municipal chlorine dosage for 'clean' water is 1 part per million (1ppm) .... that translates to 5oz. of Grocery store Clorox (5%) per 100 gallons. All systems absorb, etc. such chlorine and 1ppm 'may' be too noticeable AND a 'cookbook' dosage may be too strong or too weak. Best way is to slowly put clorox into the water in small 'additive dosages' over some time ..... and stop adding more when you WIFE'S nose can 'just barely' detect the odor of the chlorine ( about .25- .5 ppm).

The problem with boat water tanks is that they are 'stagnant' with the water not flowing inside them AND they are open to the atmosphere through the vent. The 'non-turnover' promotes bacteria growth, the vent can draw in spores when you draw down the tank.

Suggest you start out with a thoroughly CLEAN system to remove all the old dead biological 'detritus' thats stuck on the tanks walls, lines, etc. - if possible actually get inside and scrub it. Once clean you need to shock sanitize AT 10 ppm for 1-2 hours (50 oz. clorox per 100 gallons). Shock sanitization only work for CLEAN or NEW tankage, etc. If you cant open and clean then 'multiple' shock sanitizations will be needed. If you have an aluminum tank ... sorry, you cant use chlorine/clorox as it will attack the aluminum and form aluminum chloride.

During your cleaning, be sure to clean out the vent line.
Standard 'industry' protocols are to put a bio-blocking filter on any atmospheric vent as most probably this is one of the main sources for the tank to gain mold/mildews, etc. ... every time you draw down the water you aspirate 'spores', etc. There are commercial pharmaceutical grade 0,2ÁM hydrophobic filters available but you can make your own 'filter' ..... just take a fist size wad of bandage cotton, cover with bandage gauze and tape it over the end of the vent. Keep DRY and replace yearly. The vent filter will prevent a LOT of contamination entering inside the tank/system.

Just because you have well water doesnt mean the water is biologically free, add at least a 1ÁM filter on the end of the hose that you use to charge the tanks.
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