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Old 02-15-2014, 02:14 PM   #1
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Sanitize solution - long term

My Airstream Interstate has a 26 gal. fresh water tank. I added 1/4 cup of bleach which is less than half the concentration I've seen suggested for sanitizing.

Is there any reason I shouldn't leave this in the tank long term? Like for maybe 6 months.

Thanks
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Old 02-15-2014, 02:39 PM   #2
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My first thought....why would you want to do that?

Second thought....don't do it.

Even at a low level, do you want chlorine bleach just sitting in your fresh water tank? Possibly eroding your plastic?


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Old 02-15-2014, 02:39 PM   #3
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That is a pretty small amount. I suspect it will just kind of vaporize away over the next six months. Personally what I do is leave my tank empty then fill it, sanitize and dump that water. Then I fill it again with freshwater but everybody's got their own way to do it.

At that small a concentration I don't believe that the chlorine is any threat to the seals or any of that.

Enjoy the journey,

Mike
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Old 02-15-2014, 02:56 PM   #4
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Thanks. Maggie, I want to do it because the Interstate is going back into hibernation again, after a 4K mile wander area undo the western states! We were reminded again what a beautiful country we live in!
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Old 02-15-2014, 03:05 PM   #5
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I believe that it is very likely the chlorine taste will permeate the plastic tank and you will live with it for a long time. Personally I would not do it in that high a concentration if the water is going to be there any length of time.
But then I have been known to fill my tank from puddles before the dog could drink from them
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Old 02-15-2014, 04:39 PM   #6
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The chlorine will dissipate in not too long a time, but it is a bit hard on some plastics. I personally would not leave it in for more than a day or so for that reason.

Chlorine was finally identified as the element which caused the gray polly pipe and fittings used in RV's and homes in the 80's to fail over time. It does not affect PEX though, from what I understand. Still, to be safe......
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Old 02-15-2014, 04:41 PM   #7
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Thanks. Maggie, I want to do it because the Interstate is going back into hibernation again, after a 4K mile wander area undo the western states! We were reminded again what a beautiful country we live in!
Well, ours sits several months each late Oct-early Jan, with the fresh water tank empty but for winterization fluids.

We flush that out, fill with fresh/sanitize, flush that and eventually use it for drinking water. Always takes a few fills before the bleach smell is gone.

Unless you are putting contaminated water into your fresh tank, , why fill it with water and bleach to sit for months? Why take the chance of any problems or issues?

Leave it empty and sanitize when you are ready to hit the road again.

There, our opinion after nearly 7 years of ownership.


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Old 02-15-2014, 05:53 PM   #8
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I've gone to plan B. Drained the tank and refilled with fresh water. I will drain it again to flush then fill again when I'm prepping for the next adventure; around June I think.

Thanks for all the advice!

Wayne
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Old 02-15-2014, 08:00 PM   #9
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I believe that it is very likely the chlorine taste will permeate the plastic tank and you will live with it for a long time. Personally I would not do it in that high a concentration if the water is going to be there any length of time.
Probably late since the OP has already drained the tank, but some words about sanitizing, courtesy of information provided by the University of Oregon…

The common terms for the sanitizing technique described in your Airstream owner's manual is "shock treatment," which is typically done when a dry system is first filled with water, to kill anything clinging to the plastic or metal surfaces. You should perform a sanitizing shock treatment any time you refill a tank that has been left dry for any length of time, and time you perform plumbing repairs, or any time you've had bad water in your tank.

However, sanitizing your tank is one case where more is NOT better. If you use too much Clorox, you're not disinfecting as well as if you use just the right amount, same as if you use too little. Here's why…

The chlorine in Clorox is in the form of sodium hypochlorite, which is an unstable compound. If the hypochlorite breaks down into pure chlorine, it will evaporate out of the water, giving your water that distinctive swimming pool odor, but as the chlorine evaporates out, it's no longer disinfecting your tank.

If you want to ensure that your bleach is doing a proper job of disinfecting, test the pH of the water. Pure water has a pH of 7.0; it defines the exact center of the pH scale. If your water tests at pH 7.0 or higher, there is no disinfection happening at all.

If your water tests at pH 4.0 or less, sodium hypochlorite is converting to pure chlorine and evaporating away.

So you want your water, during the shock treatment, to have a pH somewhere between 4.1 and 6.9, with a pH of 5.0 being considered ideal. The maximum beneficial effect is seen at a pH of 5.0 with regard to killing microorganisms in the water or on surfaces.

Amazon has pH meters available if you want to use this method of testing the effectiveness of your disinfection. When you treat with chlorine, draw off a bit of water at any of your faucets, and use the tester. If the pH is above 6 add more bleach to your tank; if it's below 4, drain off some chlorinated water and dilute with more fresh water.

After you flush the tank with fresh water to rinse out the bleach, test the water again. If the tester shows pH of 6.9 or higher, you should be good to go and don't need another flush.

Side note, EPA only recognizes Clorox brand for use as a disinfectant, and your Airstream manual's recommended amount therefore should assume that you're using Clorox brand. If you use a different brand, the concentration of sodium hypochlorite in the bleach may be lower, and it becomes even more important that you test the pH of the water to ensure that disinfection is actually taking place as it should.
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Old 02-15-2014, 09:14 PM   #10
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Wayneskid, I see you r from Alaska, do you keep your unit inside a temp controlled garage? I wish I could to avoid winterization! Especially this year.
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Old 02-15-2014, 11:19 PM   #11
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Sbb, I live in Anchorage but my Interstate "lives" in Oregon. Luckily, I have a friend with extra space in a heated shop so the rig is kept there when I'm not wandering the lower 48.
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Old 02-15-2014, 11:23 PM   #12
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Protag, thanks for the detailed response!
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Old 02-15-2014, 11:38 PM   #13
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Protag, thanks for the detailed response!
Don't get used to it. I'm retiring at the end of the year, and one of my goals, post-retirement, is to never go into pedantic engineer mode ever again! Like New Year's resolutions, it may not last, but I'll sure try!
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Old 02-15-2014, 11:56 PM   #14
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Hate to tell a stupid story on myself but....

I noticed my fresh water tank was a bit on the funky side so I did the bleach thing, ran it through the plumbing, including turning on the pump and then everything was fine for a couple of days - then my water started to smell like a dirty fish tank again. What? I'd disinfected everything.

Then I realized - the HOSE!

Took a look down the inside of the hose and I had algae growing in there. Don't know where it came from, but a new hose and sanitizing all over again fixed it.

UCK!

Normally I replace my hose once or twice a year - usually when they start to leak at the faucet or inlet... this one lasted a bit TOO long I guess.

Paula
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