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Old 03-15-2016, 01:44 PM   #1
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Avoiding STALE water while traveling...

(This is a followup to a Thread about finding fresh water for a trailer.)

Finding a water supply while traveling is rather simple, once you get the hang of where and how to inquire. Sometimes a campsite has few visitors and the water has been sitting for a long time. It can be... mildew "flavored". This is especially true for HOT climate camping.

My example: Kartchner Caverns State Park, Benson, Arizona.
A wonderful RV campsite. Sometimes there are no open spots for you to park your trailer, so you will pay and park in a parking lot by the main office. There are a number of water pumps in this area. Since those driving vehicles, only, do not need water in most cases, the water is... STALE. Mildew flavored!

So... before you fill your water tank from an area that could have few water users, do as I do. ...have your wife sample a swish. If she is happy with it, then you take a swish, like washing out your palate. You will know immediately if you want to contaminate your fresh water supply. (Just kidding on the wife swish test. I do it myself, every time. I can tell Coca Cola, Pepsi Cola and Royal Crown colas apart by taste alone!)

I also love IPA and Double IPA Beer... a carbonated beer that bites back.

I find many travelers a bit cautious and carry a case of bottled water. Nothing wrong with that, but if you like that water... most well water is champagne for free found in the Rocky Mountain Forest Service camp sites!

*******

Now... how to use those options with some strategy.

Have your OWN WATER HOSE. You can also go to Lowes or Home Depot and get a brass shut off valve to connect to the hose for an on/off convenience. Mine comes with a short flexible hose to attach to your longer hose.

Gas Stations: Before filling your gas tank, inquire if they would let you have 25 gallons of water for your trailer. If so, where do you want me to pull the trailer?

If they say... NO. Pull out and go to another station.

Truck stops along major highways. Many have RV and Trailer pumps with dump and fresh water. Make a note in your gasoline log, if you keep one, of stations and mile marker. You never know when you are coming through again. Often the water pump is in between the fuel pumps... yes, be a momentary pump camper, but fill your tank when you need water.

National Forest and Bureau of Land Management Offices. Go inside and inquire if you could have water for your trailer. I have never been refused. Some have an easy access for Forest Service needs and others are behind a bush.. .so ask where.

Some City Parks have water access. Finding it is another story... the water faucet.

Small western communities have "complementary water pumps" near a park for your use. Gets you to stop and maybe do some business in town.

Keep a five gallon water jug, empty. When you have to haul water to the trailer, find a jug with an easy spout to pour into your water tank. Five gallons of water will give you a good work out... if you need 25 gallons.

For dogs. I use one I can set upon a plastic "milk crate" with an spout that I can add water to the dog's water bowl that I place beneath the spout. Five gallons just for the dogs. The best is square to sit well on a flat surface. The lid has a spout that you can reverse to use, that is always with the container. Mine is... blue. Walmart or Lowes might be where I bought two of them. Cannot recall the brand, but when you find it, you will know.
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Old 03-15-2016, 10:01 PM   #2
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Speaking of stale water, how long do you think it takes for water to go stale in your Airstream water tank? Let's assume you flush out the water tank before you leave home on a trip for a month or six weeks, and have fresh water when you leave. Every time you refill, you add new water on top of whatever remains in the tank, maybe 1/8 - 1/4 tank of old water. Does the old water contaminate the new water, and would it be better to flush the tank from time to time, or is a month to six weeks too little time to worry about?

On a related topic, when I flush out the tank after the AS sits for the winter, I add a half cup of bleach to kill any nastiness inside the tank. Even after two flushes of fresh water after dumping the bleach water, I can still taste the bleach, and I'm sure the dog can taste it long after I can't taste it anymore. Is there a better way to do this?
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Old 03-15-2016, 11:27 PM   #3
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Simplest way is to water dogs and people with bottled water. Both have delicate tummies. Bleach flavor in tank water is no issue for showers and dishwashing. It goes away eventually. I put an in line filer on the city water input and buy a new one every season. Keeps crud and bad taste down.


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Old 03-16-2016, 12:05 AM   #4
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Hi, I sanitize my fresh water tank before every trip; This makes sure that I don't have stinky water for flushing my toilet and/or washing a few dishes or hands when at rest stops. Or at anytime that water is needed and we don't have hook-ups. For drinking, cooking, or my dog we use bottled water only.
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Old 03-16-2016, 10:47 AM   #5
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First of the Season... Purging

Bob, Post #4 is the most popular water use options.

I drain the faucets and fresh water tank on the way back home, from the last camp site.

I remove the plug to the hot water tank. I open the cold and hot water valves and open the fresh water tank valve. I open the faucets and shower head so they are open and no vacuum is within the system, so it can drain on the last day of our trip.

When "rebooting" the water system for the NEXT SEASON:

I take the "city water" connection and FLUSH the water lines. I take a deep pan and run water through each faucet, hot and cold, forcing air and water out of the system.

I will hose water directly into the Hot Water Tank where the plug has been removed to drain it. Some crystallized calcite in most cases will wash out. All "free" water is hard water while traveling and full of calcium. Calcium carbonate is limestone. It can also get caught in your faucets valves to create drips as granules.

Replace the plug to the hot water tank. Under the trailer: Close the hot and cold water lines. Close the drain for the fresh water tank. Turn off water to the interior shower and the external shower heads. Screw the plug back into the "city water" exterior connection.

Let the water pump run, keep on home electricity so not to drain the batteries, but only if water is moving through the lines. Less than half a minute is adequate... but short bursts to test system.

I then will run water into the fresh water tank, and when there are 15 or so gallons, run the water pump. First, to see if it is working. Secondly to purge the water pump and water lines. If you are on a level spot, close all faucets and open one at a time and a an air/water mixture begins to spit out. Repeat to the other sinks and toilet water. If the pump remains running, their is air still in the system... so just sample a taste of the water. Turn the water pump off, as you will eventually have to purge the air out later. The water should be fine and fresh.

I have decided that towing with an empty tank, partially filled tank or a full tank... does not seem to make much difference in gas mileage. I will fill my tank with our well water to begin the season. Fresh from our 484 foot deep well.

Your eyes roll back into your head, thinking this takes a week to perform. Maybe 30 to 45 minutes for ONE YEAR of fresh water use. The idea is to remove all, if any, remaining water from the previous season.

Living in Colorado with cool evenings during the warm months, does provide great ease to purging a water system. We have never had mildew tasting water after the above... process. If you are lazy... then skip all of this and carry a case of bottled water. Better, do both.

When you have a Summer and Winter home... the process is almost exactly the SAME process. Purging the home water system.

Since we Boondock Off the Grid almost 90%+ of the time... our fresh water tank is important. If you use RV Parks... you will eventually purge your system with the city water CHLORINE running through the system. Our water lines are purged very well and never have had to run chlorine or bleach through the system.

Even reusing bottled water bottles or canteens can result in mildew tasting water.

I have not even gone to purging our Five Gallon water containers.

Rinse Out.
Sit in the sun with the lid off to dry it out.
Loosely tighten the lid to ventilate while storing, to keep insects from finding a home.

This is not for everyone which is closer to 90%. But for Base Campers... you had better know this, as it is very important.
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Old 03-16-2016, 12:09 PM   #6
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If you want to really sanitize your water system with chlorine bleach, it's easy to get rid of the taste/smell with a vinegar rinse. That cuts it immediately, first rinse. Then the vinegar taste/smell can be rinsed, immediately, first rinse, with a plain water rinse. Simple high school chemistry.
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Old 03-16-2016, 12:15 PM   #7
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When you get your "own" water hose, be sure it's qualified as a food grade water hose.
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Old 03-16-2016, 01:15 PM   #8
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Quote ( McDave) "Every time you refill, you add new water on top of whatever remains in the tank, maybe 1/8 - 1/4 tank of old water. Does the old water contaminate the new water, and would it be better to flush the tank from time to time, or is a month to six weeks too little time to worry about?"

Every time you add fresh water, you get another small hit of Chlorine so the tank will stay fresh. Of course if the water supply is well water, then no chlorine. But as long as your tank was clean to start I wouldn't be worrying about stale water. I don't drink the on board water regardless, nor do I top up if the local supply doesn't taste good or has an iron or sulfur content.

Lots of people live off a cistern and need to have water delivered about once a month. They obviously don't worry about stale water. Some, but not all do have filtration and UV sterilizing systems. I think as long as you keep adding fresh water you don't need to worry about the tank going stale

As for the lingering bleach taste, you are probably adding way too much bleach. You only need a couple of ounces to sanitize a full tank... I've done the math several times.. you get at least 5 ppm which is plenty to sanitize a reasonably clean tank. Still it does require a couple of flushes if you are sensitive to the Chlorine taste

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Old 03-16-2016, 02:23 PM   #9
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Keep the ideas coming! There is no 100% right or wrong in preventing stale, algal or mildew contamination. Not that any will make you ill, but what else is going on in the fresh water tank?

Eventually we each develop a system that works where we live. My travels are unique to those living in Florida... or someone using water in the Mohave Desert.

When I read a post, the location of the Forum Member is the first important part of a post.

This is very important to some who are not always connected to a water tap at a RV Park. But, even then the water could be stale or worse, contaminated with bacteria.

At Fort Robinson, Nebraska some years ago there was a notice posted on the restroom doors that the water supply test contained ONE bacteria found in a water test sample. It was considered... safe, but to make notice that the last water sample showed contamination. The majority of locations probably would never consider testing their water. We do not test our well water for contamination.

We can debate the issue and you decide which works best for your needs.

When your water tastes mildewy... you are already in trouble. It may not affect your health, but that might be something that one of us has already researched.

Thalweg in Wyoming might take a moment to educate the masses with his experience. Water may taste foul... but be perfectly fine if you are dying of thirst.
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Old 03-16-2016, 03:29 PM   #10
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Originally Posted by Ray Eklund View Post
Thalweg in Wyoming might take a moment to educate the masses with his experience. Water may taste foul... but be perfectly fine if you are dying of thirst.
Ray mentions me because I'm a hydrologist and work with water quality issues every day. I tend to stay out of these discussions until I see something blatantly wrong or potentially dangerous. I rarely see that here. What I do see is an overabundance of caution, and there is nothing wrong with that.

One thing I see in this thread that is technically incorrect is that water doesn't really go stale. It will absorb whatever soluble thing it is in contact with (including air) , and organisms in the water will grow if the conditions are right. So killing organisms with chlorine is not a bad idea. Since algae and mildew are organisms, that should control those problems. Most other things merely effect taste, not safety... usually.

Remember, any water from a public supply is regulated to a greater standard than bottled water. Every public water supply is federally and state mandated to be tested periodically. The testing interval depends on the number of people it serves. We have a BLM picnic ground with an old hand pump on a well. Very few people use it, but we test it annually. That is why Ray's reference to Ft. Robinson showed an impairment. My well, and Ray's well are not public supplies, therefore no testing is required. So complaints regarding public supplies are usually tied to taste, and I've observed that that is closely tied to what you're used to. I've heard some people in different parts of the country claim they have the best water there is, but it often tastes terrible to me.

The only issue that I really am cautious about are water supplies near a dump station. I know we've all seen people at dump stations use techniques that are less than sanitary. It causes me concern.
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Old 03-16-2016, 06:26 PM   #11
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Speaking of stale water, how long do you think it takes for water to go stale in your Airstream water tank? Let's assume you flush out the water tank before you leave home on a trip for a month or six weeks, and have fresh water when you leave. Every time you refill, you add new water on top of whatever remains in the tank, maybe 1/8 - 1/4 tank of old water. Does the old water contaminate the new water, and would it be better to flush the tank from time to time, or is a month to six weeks too little time to worry about?

On a related topic, when I flush out the tank after the AS sits for the winter, I add a half cup of bleach to kill any nastiness inside the tank. Even after two flushes of fresh water after dumping the bleach water, I can still taste the bleach, and I'm sure the dog can taste it long after I can't taste it anymore. Is there a better way to do this?
I/2 cup of Clorox would be more than enough......
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Old 03-16-2016, 06:40 PM   #12
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The only issue that I really am cautious about are water supplies near a dump station. I know we've all seen people at dump stations use techniques that are less than sanitary. It causes me concern.
Agree. Never ever put water from a hose at a dump station into the water tank. Thats poison water.
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Old 03-16-2016, 07:21 PM   #13
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Another way to get rid of chlorine taste after sanitizing is to use baking soda - about a half cup per 10 gal of water. Dissolve in water, fill tank and let it sit 2 or 3 days. Rinse system. I've tried the vinegar and like baking soda better. We do drink our water and have never gotten sick from it.
Of course, we also fill our tanks at the dump station - never got sick from that either. It IS potable water!

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Old 03-16-2016, 08:35 PM   #14
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Water Testing Strips... for about anything

For those of you who are analytical... here is what you can purchase directly to test your or any water.

Water Testing Strips

When you are buying a soft water system, the salesman carries his "magic kit". He takes your well water or city water and shows you what you need to make your water... softer, better, cleaner and anything else that can be sold to you. I was thinking of putting a "magic kit" together myself, read up on the procedures and become proficient in testing... and while on my boondocking trips... test water on Ranches and who ever may want to know.

You can purchase Water Testing Strips on the internet, Walmart, Home Depot, Amazon, Lowe's and on and on.

We use a water hardness strip to test our soft water system when first installed. Also a pH for Acid/Base water. Just a search on Google comes with 410,000 references.

Our well water is slightly acidic. A pH of 6.5. It was also Hard Water, but I do not recall the number. Rainwater is slightly acidic.... rainwater to groundwater... pH less than 7. Hmmm.

If we prefer Hard Water, we have a system to Neutralize the acid pH that uses granulated Calcium Carbonate (limestone). Your faucets will have calcium carbonate (the white hard crusty material) deposited Inside the (copper/iron) water lines and on your hardware. Like Carlsbad Caverns... stalactites and stalagmites growing at home.

We have a water softener where we can adjust the softness from ZERO to 100% by moving a valve lever. Since I am now use to the soft water... which those who know the difference between hard and soft water removing soap from your hands. Soft water feels slippery.

The plumbing within my 2014 Airstream is "pex" tubing. I call it plastic tubing, but a plumber might be able to explain it better. There are 499,000 Google search referrals on a Pex Tubing search. Good luck.

To test for acidity. Add just a bit of baking soda into the water to be tested. If it fizzes, you have acidic water. Acid water and copper tubing are not friendly... you will see green toilet water mark on your toilet porcelain, already. You need to get the pH at 7, neutral, or a bit higher. Too high it is like lye. SEVEN is good enough for me.

Want to clean your corroded battery terminal in your vehicle? Mix some baking soda in warm water and pour onto the corroded terminal. You will also need to flush it off, but it will fizz and neutralize the sulfuric acid. Try not getting it IN your battery cells. Before you try this... go to Google and get the details.

Want to test something at home as being an acid... add some baking soda. It will fizz. If it does not fizz, it is not acidic. Too far away from acidic you will have... "baking soda". Mined in Wyoming, called Trona.

This can be used in a simple way to test the local water source. You can usually taste and see iron staining and tasting the water. But the basic tests... you insert the strip for a short time period and compare the color to a color chart. At least you have an idea.

I even see strips for testing for Bacteria in the water... but see a caveat as you must be a "qualified buyer". Means... you need to know what you are doing and no doubt licensed.

Again, someone who is in the Soft Water system or Well Water completion systems, do not be bashful... They can do much better than I ever could to explain all of this, but it is easy to find on the internet. Some tests are so basic you cannot hurt yourself. Others, like bacteria tests... are outside all of our capabilities.
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