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Go Back   SailNet Community > On Board > Gear & Maintenance > Milky white hot water
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Topic Review (Newest First)
07-15-2012 05:55 PM
travlineasy
Re: Milky white hot water

If your water smells and looks like curdled milk, there's really something nasty going on inside the system.

Lets get back to the hot water stuff. Most hot-water heaters on boats utilize the engine's cooling system to heat the water in the tank. This translates to water temperatures well below boiling, mostly in the 130 to 145-degree range. At those temperatures you cannot and will not kill any form of bacteria. In order to kill bacteria you need to reach 220 degrees and maintain that temperature for at least 20 minutes, and that's not gonna happen in a hot water heater - marine or domestic.

Bacteria will grow on just about any surface of any water system. The main reason being that water is not sterile and the surfaces it passes through are not sterile as well. The only way to effectively sterilize the system is to flush it regularly with chlorine bleach - it's that simple. Chlorine bleach will effectively kill all living cells, and that's when the bleach is just above 35-percent concentration. A much lower concentration will cleanse your system, but as stated earlier, the system must be thoroughly flushed after cleansing, and when the tank is refilled, a maintenance volume of chlorine bleach should be added to help prevent new, bacterial growth.

The recommended amount of chlorine bleach to add to the water supply is 8 to 16 drops per gallon. Even at that concentration I would not drink the water, especially if there's light beer available. And, at that concentration you should be able to smell the bleach when it's coming out of the faucet, just the same as you can smell the chlorine when you turn on tap water in any major city. I have been living on well water for the past 40 years, so the chlorine odor, at least to me, seems very pungent in most municipal water supplies.

Now, just because you used a municipal water source to fill your boat's tank, don't assume that it has sufficient chlorine content to cleanse your tanks - it doesn't! Municipal water supplies usually only contain enough chlorine to prevent bacterial growth in the system for approximately 48 to 72 hours. There is not sufficient choline to cleanse a heavily contaminated marine water system.

Essentially, you will have to use a process that most swimming pool technicians use every spring. Some refer to it as "shocking the pool," which is nothing more than dumping a large volume of chlorine in the pool to kill everything that lives. The water can be pea-green prior to shocking, but the following day it will be crystal clear. The system must usually be run through the pool filter for about three days before the water is safe enough for swimming. Keep in mind, though, that the chlorine must evaporate, which is easy with a swimming pool, but nearly impossible with a closed system, such as a marine water system.

Consequently, if your system has been shocked, the next step is to flush the entire system thoroughly until all traces of the bad stuff are gone and the water runs perfectly clean and clear. Then the maintenance dose of chlorine can be added to the system. When additional water is added, keep track of the gallons, then add an appropriate volume of chlorine to maintain the correct level.

Hope this helps,

Gary
07-15-2012 09:44 AM
Minnewaska
Re: Milky white hot water

The curdled milk smell suggests you have something growing in there. Yuk.

You could try to bleach it. A quarter cup of household bleach per gallon of water, run the faucets until you smell it, let sit for several hours then rinse it all out with several full tanks of fresh water. Don't let it sit more than a half day or so, as it will eventually corrode everything.

If feasible, I would want to replace water lines and get at the tank for a good cleaning.

In the future, I would never put antifreeze in the freshwater system either. Drain it, or blow it out with compressed air. I wouldn't describe antifreeze smell as curdled milk, but if that's what you have, you may never get it out.
07-15-2012 09:29 AM
jfdubu
Re: Milky white hot water

Brad, As mentioned in many places, start with a thorough flush of your system. Fill and drain two or three times. If the problem doesn't go away, start looking for air intrusion on the suction side of the pump. Also does your pressure pump stop when the accumulator is up to pressure, It should. It should also not start unless you open a faucet. If it doesn't stop, you're sucking air, or have an opening on the pressure side. Sucking air is a bad thing.

For the record, I never put anything in my fresh water system I wouldn't put in my mouth. No bleach, no anti freeze. In the winter I fill and drain the water system completely and leave all the valves open, 8 years owning this boat and not one problem with the water system. I don't normally drink out of the faucet but I would and I do make coffee, tea and brush my teeth with it.
07-15-2012 09:08 AM
SaltyDog109
Re: Milky white hot water

Hi Folks,
My pressurized water is foamy and smells bad, like curdled milk....after de-winterizing. The water from the pump faucet in the kitchen is clear. Any ideas on what is happening and how to fix? Would bleach in the water tank do the job? Thanks a lot,
Brad
07-10-2012 10:10 PM
GaryHLucas
Re: Milky white hot water

I don't know if boat water heaters are built like RV water heaters. I used to make quite a bit of spending money welding up aluminum RV water heater tanks that hadn't been properly winterized. Every spring the local RV shop would give 10 or 20 to weld! So I think some antifreeze in the heater is real cheap insurance.

Gary H. Lucas
07-10-2012 08:51 PM
Tempest
Re: Milky white hot water

Lead in solder joints I believe was the concern. Most building codes require the use of lead free solder for potable water, but it's still available....

If you ever cut the tops off of most hot water holding tanks and looked inside, you'd probably not want to drink anything that came out of it.

For chefs it's probably a combination of things, including flavor. Any scale/ mineral buildup in a Hot water tank will impart some level of flavor to a product, especially things that absorb water like rice and dry pasta etc.

Chemical treatment of commercial Hot water boilers/ heat exchangers to prevent scale is not uncommon in many physical plants. There was always a fear of chemical leaching into the potable water supply via holes in tube bundles etc. In the " old days" we used live steam in pressure steamers and it had to be " Live, clean, steam"
There's probably not many of them around any more.
07-10-2012 07:21 PM
miatapaul
Re: Milky white hot water

Quote:
Originally Posted by drgamble View Post
I don't buy the whole bacteria thing. Most of the time you would be using hot water would be because you are boiling and that in and of itself would kill the bacteria.

What I've always been told is that hot water can affect taste due to the potential of higher mineral build up from the tank heating process. It's my understanding that same logic is applied to coffee - afficionados insist on cool filtered water (helps keep scale build up within the machines down also).

There's an even older train of thought that hot water could cause lead leaching from old pipes - one of the government agencies put out a notice at one point not to cook with hot water for that reason. Unless you're in a much older house (or your hot water heater was made in China) this probably isn't as much a concern these days.

As far as coffee goes it is more the oxygen content in the water, the coffee tastes "flat" if made with hot water. I have a Bun coffee maker that keeps the water hot, but it is in a tank an supposedly keeps the oxygen content in the water because it is a closed container, but it does taste flat if I don't make a pot one day, but that almost never happens. I will be ditching that coffee maker when I move aboard, as I don't want an always one coffee maker, plus it is too big. I also think it does not make the best coffee, though it is really fast! So I think as long as your hot water tank is hot, and not cooler like many people make there's to save fuel you should be OK with hot water for cooking as long as you are not drinking the water (so OK for steaming veggies, and pasta and what not) I think it is less than ideal, but it does save time, especially if you have an alcohol stove.
05-23-2012 06:51 PM
Cruisingdad
Re: Milky white hot water

Quote:
Originally Posted by drgamble View Post
I don't buy the whole bacteria thing. Most of the time you would be using hot water would be because you are boiling and that in and of itself would kill the bacteria.

What I've always been told is that hot water can affect taste due to the potential of higher mineral build up from the tank heating process. It's my understanding that same logic is applied to coffee - afficionados insist on cool filtered water (helps keep scale build up within the machines down also).
I hear ya! I use hot water too for cooking. But hey, I am no chef either (bu the best darned griller on this site!!).

Brian
05-23-2012 06:48 PM
drgamble
Re: Milky white hot water

Quote:
Originally Posted by Cruisingdad View Post
THe explanation to me was bacteria growth I think. Honestly, I always use hot water for the same reason unless we will not be running the engine for many days (I prefer a hot shower to reducing my cooking time!!!). We have not realized any problems from it but there are some chefs on here whose opinions I respect.

Just wanted you to know you are not the only one!!

Brian
I don't buy the whole bacteria thing. Most of the time you would be using hot water would be because you are boiling and that in and of itself would kill the bacteria.

What I've always been told is that hot water can affect taste due to the potential of higher mineral build up from the tank heating process. It's my understanding that same logic is applied to coffee - afficionados insist on cool filtered water (helps keep scale build up within the machines down also).

There's an even older train of thought that hot water could cause lead leaching from old pipes - one of the government agencies put out a notice at one point not to cook with hot water for that reason. Unless you're in a much older house (or your hot water heater was made in China) this probably isn't as much a concern these days.
05-21-2012 04:27 PM
Cruisingdad
Re: Milky white hot water

Quote:
Originally Posted by trantor12020 View Post
Why use cold water for cooking? I thought using already hot water saves on energy. Please advice. I often prepare food onboard.
THe explanation to me was bacteria growth I think. Honestly, I always use hot water for the same reason unless we will not be running the engine for many days (I prefer a hot shower to reducing my cooking time!!!). We have not realized any problems from it but there are some chefs on here whose opinions I respect.

Just wanted you to know you are not the only one!!

Brian
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