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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
It is simple enough to keep lines filled with glycol sanitary; used at full strength good products are bacteriostats. However, for those in warm climates, it would be nice if there was some some simple formulation that would prevent spring funk.

I can think of some formulations that would do this and prevent corrosion as well, but they all contain a few chemicals that are either not available to the DIY or could be toxic if not properly rinsed or improperly formulated.

I see this one...
7C's Bulletins, Information, Instruction Sheets
... but I would bet money the primary action is to sterilize the container, and then seal the container, like canning. Obvious and not very useful.

Of course, most cases of fresh water funk are due to a combination of innocent poor practices. Perhaps that is most of the problem.

Any ideas?
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
^^ True, certainly the best solution in theory, and perhaps the best warm climate plan, if they remembered to DO IT. I clean and dry my tank each November, and that has worked very well. But it's not that easy to do in complex piping systems...

... Which could start me into a rant on why builders do not design for winterization. My boat was built in Canada, and there are no drains or appropriate valving. Knuckleheads. I added my own and winterizing is fast now. If they designed for blowing our with air, that would be fine too. But do one or the other. I've built water plants and distillation processes in cold climates with all sorts of exposed piping; early in the design process you decide where the valves and drains need to be, for even though the plan may be to run 24/7, there will be a few sudden shut downs, and they will be in bad weather. With the right planning, it takes only minutes.
 

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I blow out our system in the Fall and go full whack on the Camco TastePur water treatment in the Spring, which smells like chlorine to me. For the first tank or two, there are ZERO conservation rules. Use it up and flush the system. The only trick is getting my wife to alter course back to proper conservation when the time comes. We were out at anchor last weekend and I hear the pump running full and continuous while washing dishes. ARGG.

Anway, blowing out the system does not fully remove every drop of water. Certainly moisture remains, but I'm sure there are small amounts in the dips that actually collect. Not enough to burst a pipe, but certainly enough for nasties to grow in a warm climate. In that event, maybe a very light flush of dillute chlorine before blowing out the lines.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
^^
Yes, it's bleach.

First, a few drops of water can burst a pipe in the right situations. Instant hot water heaters are tough to blow out. Transom showers can be trouble; to many plastic parts. Though it is possible, it requires care and planning. I've had many bad experiences, mostly industrially, but also on a boat, where things weren't quite as dry as they needed to be and something burst. I'm hardly the only one. But a great warm climate solution.

The trouble with bleach is that it will dissipate within a day in a hot climate. It is only effective as a preservative if the system is sanitized and then sealed.

I think what it's going to come down to is that sailors in northern climates understand that winterization is a ritual, whereas in warm climates they simply walk away from the water system. They're focused on hurricanes and mold in the cabin. It's probably hard to change that thinking.

I'm pretty sure that Rich's suggestion to blow it out is all that is needed. Not much use, though, unless the sailor has a portable air compressor. Hmm.... There may yet be a need for another alternative. Perhaps a weak borate solution with a pH around 8 might not be enough. For those without aluminum tanks, a washing soda/baking soda buffer at pH 10 would be cheap and deadly.
 

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Here in Seattle, freezing is not a problem. To sterilize (sort of) I run a couple of gallons of white vinegar through the system each spring. Cheap at Costco. If you have a cheap source, vodka would work and could be a lot of fun.
 

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....unless the sailor has a portable air compressor. ......
I purchased a small PortaCable pancake compressor for under $100 just to keep at the boat. Great for this task, but also for filling fenders and the odd boat project that could use some compressed air. Worth every penny.

As for blowing out the lines, it helps significantly, if one has or installs a city water adapter that accepts a garden hose from the dock. They sell screw in adapters for the female garden hose inlet to the boat to convert it to a standard inner tube stem. With an inflator attachment to the compressor hose that holds itself onto the stem, blowing out the lines is fairly easy.
 

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My boat has been in storage for the past 2 years on the Chesapeake and I did my standard winterizing of the water system that I've been doing when the boat was sailed more actively over the past 2 decades. I try and pump out most of the water of the two 6o gallon tanks and then take a hand pump and force feed that pink non toxic antifreeze thru the lines including the hot water tank. I then add a gallon of the stuff to each of the 60 gallon tanks. It takes about 6 gallons of the stuff to complete the process. I've never had a problem in the past with either freezing or with water contamination over the winter months(Dec-Feb), but this time that solution sat in the lines and tanks for around 2 years enduring the heat of the Chesapeake summers. I splashed the boat 2 weeks ago and was concerned about the state of the water, but after filling the tanks with fresh water, there was no smell other than the normal pink stuff smell that comes until the tanks are flushed completely. I don't drink the water but taking showers and washing dishes in it gave no problem. Not sure if that pink stuff helps inhibit any growth, but I was plesantly surprised. I left the boat a couple days ago with partially full tanks without adding anything else over the summer. The boat will be used again in the fall and maybe there will not be any problems. I did put a cloth in the air vents to keep out any insects that might pay a visit over the summer.
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
^^ Yes, most of the winterizing glycols are bacteriostats (won't necessarily kill bacteria and mold, but they won't multiply either) if installed according to the directions (at least 25% glycol). The glycol itself affects osmotic pressure (similar to alcohols), and most raise the pH to about 9, which is also difficult for most organisms. I tested 8 products over the winter for an article, however, and found that some are not effective at all, generally those based on alcohols and having neutral to slightly low pH. Those got quite nasty after a month of incubation. So it depends on using enough of a quality product.

I don't accept not being unable to drink the water as a normal thing, though I think most sailors do. Should I wash dishes and vegetables with it if I don't trust it? Should I brush my teeth with it? Won't guests expect better? I think it is worth taking simple steps to keep the system potable.
 

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We don't drink our water, but probably could. It's just impossible for me to know the condition of every fresh water hose aboard, or whether the dock system is contaminated, so I play it safe. We buy the cheapest gallon jugs available at the grocery store.

I think there is a big difference between washing vegetables and brushing teeth, which leave residual water at best, and gulping down 10 oz. Your immune system's ability to deal with bacteria is often inversely related to bacterial concentration. You can handle a little, but cross the line and the germs win. There are some bacterias, of course, that the human body has no ability to defend at all.
 
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