Bleached water tank, still stinks! - SailNet Community
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post #1 of 22 Old 09-15-2012 Thread Starter
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Bleached water tank, still stinks!

Hi all. When I purchased my boat it had slime growing inside the water tank as the PO didn't use the boat for a couple of years and left water in there. Gross! The smell was unbelievable. After draining the tank and mopping up all the gunk I could I removed the tank from the boat entirely. I rinsed it out and scrubbed it out best I could with fresh water at the club then I took it home. I filled it to the very top with water and a whole whack of bleach and let sit overnight. I did this two times. Now the tank is dry and it still reeks! I even had my girlfriend reach in there with her skinny girl arms so she could scrub in the corners and everywhere. We were very thorough, every surface inside the tank was scrubbed and we did the bleach thing two times. Again, the tank is now dry, has been for a week or so and it still stinks!

edit: it's a poly tank, the boat is 32 years old. Buying a new tank isn't an option at this point as I need to replace the waste holding tank and that'll set me back $700! I'm not planning on drinking the water just using it for cooking and cleaning.
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Last edited by smp; 09-15-2012 at 09:37 AM.
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post #2 of 22 Old 09-15-2012
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Re: Bleached water tank, still stinks!

use vinegar. it works kills algae dead, and it doesnt come back in over a year--am still timing this..has been since before i left sd, april 2011, and still awesome good.
works for both steel and plastic tanks.


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post #3 of 22 Old 09-15-2012 Thread Starter
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Re: Bleached water tank, still stinks!

Thanks for the reply. My problem is not with algae, the tank is clean but the smell has permeated the poly, if that's possible.
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post #4 of 22 Old 09-15-2012
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Re: Bleached water tank, still stinks!

VINEGAR WILL HELP THAT. i know this. btdt. good luck. unless you wish to replace a tank just for stinky.


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post #5 of 22 Old 09-15-2012
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Re: Bleached water tank, still stinks!

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Originally Posted by smp View Post
Thanks for the reply. My problem is not with algae, the tank is clean but the smell has permeated the poly, if that's possible.
You may have cleaned the tank, but, you probably don't want to even think about what is in the lines Also, the stink has probably permeated the poly and the lines. However, I can understand if you don't want to take on the expense of changing the tank and the lines.

If it was me, I would keep adding plenty of bleach to the water and running it as much as possible. As long as you are not drinking it or using it to cook with. Don't be afraid to fill the tanks with the bleach/water solution and let it sit between uses.

I'm on my boat 2-3 days per week in season. I keep my boat on a mooring and even though I have access to water if I need it, I have noticed that I used to tend to ration water like I'm crossing the pacific. I've had better luck with water quality now just using it liberally so that it gets rotated out. And no, I still don't drink the water.
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post #6 of 22 Old 09-15-2012
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Re: Bleached water tank, still stinks!

I would do two things. First as recommended above, let it soak in vinegar in the sun for2-3 days, rinse and repeat. Then let it soak in baking soda water. If you can't get the smell out that way, then convert the water tank to a holding tank and put in a new water tank and replumb as needed.
Also as noted above, replace the water lines.
Also, take apart your pump, clean and soak in chlorine water and put back together with new rubber parts.
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post #7 of 22 Old 09-15-2012
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Re: Bleached water tank, still stinks!

Apparently you've disinfected your tank, so that part is probably safe to use--albeit smelly-- but don't forget your hoses. You might find it cost effective to replace them. BTW, you didn't mention any soap/detergent. Some of the aggressive cleaners (like Spray Nine) are not suitable for potable water systems or food prep surfaces, so you may need to read the cautions as you try to work this out. In any case, it appears the smell is embedded in your poly, so you may need to live with it if the vinegar trick doesn't help, or bite the bullet and replace the tank.

You may be aware that plastics do absorb stuff. Even the premium, "odorsafe" head hoses (PVC) will only last so long before odor permeates them. So, maybe replacement is the long term solution for your tank, if the suggestions from others don't provide satisfaction.

Meanwhile, you might consider carrying gallon jugs of fresh water for cooking. You can probably get away with the tank water for cleaning, unless the odor is transferred to the stored water and is just obnoxious. Our tank water doesn't have any detectable odor, but the boat is 22 yrs. old, so we only use it for washing dishes and personal hygiene. We plan on 1 gal of jug water/day for the 2 of us when cruising.
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Re: Bleached water tank, still stinks!

I had a simular problem once. I scrubbed with dishwashing detergent before the bleach flush. Filling drom municiple, (chlorinated), supplies helps. I still avoid drinking the water, but it is now palatable.

You can buy stronger stuff from a pool supply store, but be sure ALL residue is flushed before drinking the water, (and rinse, and flush thoroughly between chemicals). PLastic is permiable as noted above, it may take time and repeated treatments to lower oder to below objectionable limits.

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post #9 of 22 Old 09-15-2012
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Re: Bleached water tank, still stinks!

The suggestions above are all valid. Once it's clean the baking soda rinse should take care of the smell, but understand that it won't be like new as plastics do pick up smells. Replacing the lines or cleaning them, and the pimp is also required. Long term r replace everything. You could even get a vetus bladder to put in the old tank. we don't use our tank for drinking.

On a side note replumming the tank for waste is not really viable. Your C&C configures like ours and running sanitation hose to it would be a nightmare. However we replaced our head, all sanitation hoses mascerator and 26 gallon holding tank ourselves for much less than $700. Feel free to PM me. Make sure you use top of line hose like Trident Green Stripe.


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Re: Bleached water tank, still stinks!

Thanks for the replies everyone!

I am planning on replacing all plumbing and either rebuilding the foot pumps (galley and head) or replacing. I'll be using PEX plumbing and fittings based on a number of threads I've read here and elsewhere. I don't mind replacing the plumbing at all and was planning on it. We bring water for drinking in jugs as others have mentioned and we plan to do this in the future as well regardless. I think the only time I would consider using the fresh water holding tank for drinking water is if I was on a long passage and I don't think I'll be doing that anytime soon or in this boat so not planning for that at all.

Question about the vinegar flush, it's a 30 gallon tank, how much vinegar to water should I be using?

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