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Discussion Starter #1
As springtime seems to be amongs us, looking over the to do list and
cleaning/sanitizing fresh water holding tanks is something that gets
negleted almost every year except this year.

Any suggestion as to best practice to use
 

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Over Hill Sailing Club
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I put an additional access plate in my water tank so I can get right in there and scrub it out 100% with bleach before refilling. It also probably wouldn't hurt to get a pressure washer in there. In any case, my first fill of water gets a large dose of chlorine to make sure any microorganisms are eliminated.
 

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I'm working on something for Practical Sailor right now. How is it, do you suppose, that the glycol-side of office building AC systems are kept sterile? Hint: no toxic chemicals or biocides are required.

Put another way, it is simple to avoid the whole problem, you just need to think like a bug. What does a bug need? How do you preserve food?
 

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bell ringer
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I'm working on something for Practical Sailor right now. How is it, do you suppose, that the glycol-side of office building AC systems are kept sterile? Hint: no toxic chemicals or biocides are required.
By maintaining a high glycol level
 

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Hmm. Never gave much thought to it. Raised on well water. Drank out of half the Lakes in Canada. Just fill my water tanks from the marina and drink it and cook with it. I have to admit I have looked down into the tanks just to see if there's anything growing or crawling around in there but so far after four years I haven' t seen anything and haven't incurred any uh, er, shall we say; "intestinal disorders".:D
 

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bell ringer
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Or dry.

Yup, just about that simple.
The problem with "dry" if you used glycol to layup the lines is that there will be a trace level left behind. As a water treater I will tell you nothing causes me more problems in water loops that low level trace glycol!
 

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The problem with "dry" if you used glycol to layup the lines is that there will be a trace level left behind. As a water treater I will tell you nothing causes me more problems in water loops that low level trace glycol!
Exactly.
 

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From Peggie Hall, who does know what she is talking about:

"Although most people think only in terms of the tank, the plumbing is actually the source of most foul water, because the molds, mildew, fungi and bacteria which cause it thrive in damp dark places, not under water. Many people—and even some boat manufacturers—believe that keeping the tanks empty reduce the problem, but an empty water tank only provides another damp dark home for those “critters.”

There are all kinds of products sold that claim to keep onboard water fresh, but all that’s really necessary is an annual or in especially warm climates, semi-annual recommissioning of the entire system—tank and plumbing. The following recommendations conform to section 10.8 in the A-1 192 code covering electrical, plumbing, and heating of recreational vehicles (which includes boats). The solution is approved and recommended by competent health officials. It may be used in a new system a used one that has not been used for a period of time, or one that may have been contaminated.

Before beginning, turn off hot water heater at the breaker; do not turn it on again until the entire recommissioning is complete.

Icemakers should be left running to allow cleaning out of the water feed line; however the first two buckets of ice—the bucket generated during recommissioning and the first bucketful afterward--should be discarded.

1. Prepare a chlorine solution using one gallon of water and 1/4 cup (2 oz) Clorox or Purex household bleach (5% sodium Hypochlorite solution ). With tank empty, pour chlorine solution into tank. Use one gallon of solution for each 5 gallons of tank capacity. (Simpler way to calculate: 1 quart bleach/50 gal water tank capacity)

2. Complete filling of tank with fresh water. Open each faucet and drain **** until air has been released and the entire system is filled. Do not turn off the pump; it must remain on to keep the system pressurized and the solution in the lines

3. Allow to stand for at least three hours, but no longer than 24 hours.

4 Drain through every faucet on the boat (and if you haven't done this in a while, it's a good idea to remove any diffusion screens from the faucets, because what's likely to come out will clog them). Fill the tank again with fresh water only, drain again through every faucet on the boat.

5. To remove excess chlorine taste or odor which might remain, prepare a solution of one quart white vinegar to five gallons water and allow this solution to agitate in tank for several days by vehicle motion.

6. Drain tank again through every faucet, and flush the lines again by fill the tank 1/4-1/2 full and again flushing with potable water.

An annual or semi-annual recommissioning according to the above directions is all that should be necessary to keep your water tasting and smelling as good as anything that comes out of any faucet on land. If you need to improve on that, install a water filter. Just remember that a filter is not a substitute for cleaning out the system, and that filters require regular inspection and cleaning or replacement.
To keep the water system cleaner longer, use your fresh water...keep water flowing through system. The molds, fungi, and bacteria only start to grow in hoses that aren't being used. Before filling the tank each time, always let the dock water run for at least 15 minutes first...the same critters that like the lines on your boat LOVE the dock supply line and your hose that sit in the warm sun, and you certainly don't want to transfer water that's been sitting in the dock supply line to your boat's system. So let the water run long enough to flush out all the water that's been standing in them so that what goes into your boat is coming straight from the water main.

Finally, while the molds, fungi and bacteria in onboard water systems here in the US may not be pleasant, we're dealing only with aesthetics...water purity isn't an issue here--or in most developed nations...the water supply has already been purified (unless you're using well-water). However, when cruising out of the country, it's a good idea to know what you're putting in your tanks...and if you're in any doubt, boil all water that's to be drunk or used to wash dishes, and/or treat each tankful to purify. It's even more important in these areas to let the water run before putting it in the tank, because any harmful bacteria will REALLY proliferate in water hoses left sitting on the dock.
__________________
Peggie Hall--Specializing in marine sanitation since '87
Author "Get Rid of Boat Odors-- A Guide to Marine Sanitation Systems & Other Sources of Aggravation"
 

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We follow Peggys method twice a year and never have had a problem.. Is not recommended I think with metal water tanks though.
 

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Corsair 24
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good ole bleach

plus a cap full every full tank
 
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Old enough to know better
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I don't think it matters whether it's metal or plastic. Mine are steel and bleach has been ok. Acid, not so much. Don't ask how I know
Yea steel should be ok, but Aluminum does not like bleach. I think for a problem system I might be wiling to use it, but not necessarily annually. Most hot water tanks are aluminum as well. (Rariton/Kuuma/Torrid/Seaward/West Marine)
 

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Broad Reachin'
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Our dock neighbor pours in a gallon of cheap vodka at the start of the season. Not sure it sanitizes/sterilizes anything, but he sure has a good time drinking from the galley sink for a few days.
 

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Our dock neighbor pours in a gallon of cheap vodka at the start of the season. Not sure it sanitizes/sterilizes anything, but he sure has a good time drinking from the galley sink for a few days.
That is provably a COMPLETE waste of money and a COMPLETE FALLACY. Ethanol is only a sterilizing agent above ~ 20% (look it up, and doesn't wine go funky?). What he is doing will only aggravate the problem, since fungus and bacteria consider weak alcohol good food, like sugar. See also post #7.

Basic observation, folks. Let's not start an urban legend.
 

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bell ringer
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Our dock neighbor pours in a gallon of cheap vodka at the start of the season. Not sure it sanitizes/sterilizes anything, but he sure has a good time drinking from the galley sink for a few days.

must be about a 2 gallon water tank ;)
 

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I'm not sure I'm buying that the relatively low concentrations of bleach that Ms Hall suggests, especially for the short period suggested, would hurt aluminium tanks either. Sure, high concentrations for extended periods wouldn't be good, as bleach is fairly corrosive.

Keep in mind that chlorine is in most all municipal systems in the States, so if you fill from city water, you're probably getting a dose.
 

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Kynntana (Freedom 38)
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snip...

Before filling the tank each time, always let the dock water run for at least 15 minutes first...
I've used the Peggy Hall method to get rid of the "old" taste in the tanks, but since I use the tank water often, it's no longer a problem. Generally water straight out of the tap is good. Or you could switch to a clean water hose that doesn't sit on the dock every day. I think us civilized people tend to get a little squeamish about sanitation when our guts can handle most things we throw its way. I do take exception about letting dock water run for at least 15 minutes (which seems WAY too long). Most of the world is literally dying for the amount of clean water that we waste without a thought. Please wash your boat or do something useful and don't let it drain into the harbor. It drives me crazy to watch a free flowing faucet, especially with increasing droughts around the world.

OK, I'm off my soapbox now :eek:
 

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There's no reason why when you're letting the water run for the 15 mins that you can't wash your boat down in some way... I'm sorry, I thought that went without saying. Thanks, gamayun
 

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Off topic warning.

IMHO, unless you are planning to ship water overseas, "droughts around the world" are an irrelevant rhetorical reference. It is a local condition, like cold. In many areas, we have more water than we want or need (flood warnings today), and all wasted water eventually runs down river.

California is different, with lots of development in an arid local.

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That said, simple sanitation practices reduce waste. I flush very little due to avoiding infection.
 
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