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Old 07-16-2014, 11:59 AM   #1
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2012 25' Flying Cloud
1977 31' Sovereign
Johnston , Iowa
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Smelly Fresh Water

I am a new owner of a 2012 FC. We just picked it up about 2 months ago. We are preparing for our first long trip and I noticed a sulfury smell whenever I ran either of the faucets or the shower. I originally thought the smell was coming from the gray water tank, but I have confirmed that it is the fresh water. Last night, I added chlorine bleach to a full tank (39 ga) of water and let it sit for a few hours. I ran the faucets until I filled the gray water tank then emptied what was left in the fresh water tank via the valve under the tank. I then refilled the fresh water tank with fresh water. When I ran the faucets, for a while no smell. Then the smell reappeared when I tried running the "hot" water (I put this in quotations because the hot water heater is off, so the water was actually cold ).

Any advice or insight would be appreciated. I would love to resolve this before we head out on Friday!

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Old 07-16-2014, 12:05 PM   #2
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This smell occurs when RV anti freeze is in the hot water heater tank.
I don't know if it is a reaction with the aluminum tank or the fact that the anti freeze was heated up.
A complete flushing of the system is in order.

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Old 07-16-2014, 12:27 PM   #3
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Your trailer should have a winter bypass system on the hot water tank. Put that in the bypass position and then drain the hot water tank. It helps if you have a small piece of tubing. 1/4 in., and put it in the tank drain as the tank is draining. This will siphon the last gallon or so off the bottom of the hot water heater after the normal draining has stopped.

While the hot water heater is still in the winter setting put some water, a couple of gallons, and bleach in the fresh water tank again and flush the piping. Drain the fresh water tank while adding some water to it . This will get rid of the last of the bleach. Once the tank has drained close the drain valve and add water to the fresh water tank. While adding water and the hot water heater drain is still open set the bypass to summer and turn on the pump. This will push clean water into the heater and let it drain. After a few gallons close the heater drain, choke the bypass valve so water flows slowly into the heater and let the heater fill.

After the heater is full open different faucets. You may find some of the faucets flowing slowly. I so remove the screens form the faucet and clean any dirt that was kicked up while filling the heater.

When winterizing don't let anyone put antifreeze into the heater. Use the winter bypass to isolate the heater and drain it.
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Old 07-16-2014, 12:28 PM   #4
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Agree! Fill the fresh tank with bleach solution and cycle water completely thru all lines and sinks to include the water heater. Don't light the heater! After bleach in fully into system agitate the water by driving the trailer around for a few miles then flush the entire system with fresh water. Be sure to run fresh water thru all lines, faucets and heater. Then that smell should be gone. Ed
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Old 07-16-2014, 12:47 PM   #5
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1977 31' Sovereign
Johnston , Iowa
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All - thank you for your very quick responses!

HowiE: What do you recommend for a bleach solution? I have read that 0.13 oz per gallon if you let it sit for four hours or .26 oz/gallon for a quicker turnaround (like 1 hour). Any thoughts?
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Old 07-16-2014, 12:56 PM   #6
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Heating RV antifreeze doesn't lead to a sulfur odor, even if you heat it to a boil. The problem is unlikely to have been caused by RV antifreeze in the water heater.

However, stagnant water DOES sometimes lead to a sulfur odor; hydrogen sulfide is a waste product of some bacteria that can grow in stagnant water. It's possible that the water heater was bypassed for winterizing, then NOT drained, allowing water to stagnate in the heater. When the tank was un-bypassed and stagnant (but unheated) water flowed out, the smell came with it.

Draining your entire freshwater system, flushing with chlorineó without bypassing the water heateró and flushing out the chlorine with clean water should solve the problem. If it doesn't, then the next step is to add a Granular Activated Carbon filter to your faucet; GAC removes most odors, not just sulfur odors.
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Old 07-16-2014, 01:43 PM   #7
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I agree with Protagonist. Its the stagnant water in the hot water heater or fresh water tank.
I let that happen when I was learning the ways of travel trailers. I didn't know what happened as it was back in dinosaur days before internet and couldn't ask anyone. Camco makes some nice water sanitizer to eliminate smell, and bleach works well to.
rinse well and drain.
Interesting thing, this new Airstream doesn't have drain plugs for the water lines.
Add a bleach solution and rinse, drain, you will be good to go.
Have a good one !
Ra, Chelle & Natasha
For my next trick, I will use my new Airstream & Dodge Ram 2500 CTD to make this pile of money disappear.
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Old 07-16-2014, 04:40 PM   #8
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1977 31' Sovereign
Johnston , Iowa
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Well, regardless of the cause, a complete system sanitizing and flushing is in order! I really appreciate the very helpful feedback from everyone. Someone at work also said that a bad anode in the water heater could also cause this smell. However, I certainly hope this isn't the case with an AS thatis less than 3 years old!

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Old 07-17-2014, 06:51 AM   #9
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There are some areas of the country that have sulfur in the water. Florida is one that comes to mind. There are places in FL where the tap water has a strong sulfur smell. Stagnat water can smell as well. My fresh water tank has a musty smell when it has sat a while.

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Old 07-17-2014, 07:49 AM   #10
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Peculiar , Missouri
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I too have had some sulpher odors in my fresh water. I agree with the above comments wrt stagnent water. I have found that mine is from the water heater. I believe it is caused in part by the heated water cooling, in a dark vessel, and being stagnent. Don't forget that chlorine will naturally breakdown and/or disipate. I'm sorry if I veered too far off subject

As a result, if the trailer sits for more than 2 weeks (my opinion) I drain both the fresh tank and the water heater. I leave the drains open for a day or so to ensure the tanks dry and air out. I also wrap some screen mesh around the open drains to prevent anything from entering.

I do flush a few gallons of water through the system before filling up prior to leaving on a trip. I have not found it necessay to sanitize the entire system prior to every trip as my house water is chlorinated and trusted.

Usually in the middle of our camping season, if I know we are going to be at a 'full utilities' CG, I will half fill the fresh tank and add some bleach (enough to super/hyper chlorinate) to the water and let it slosh around for a few hours. I then dump it while setting up and before the wife needs to get some water. I'll flush and rinse before refilling.

The sulpher odor can also be caused by bad elements or anodes, but I would think you would also notice the heater not working properly.

When winterizing, I do a low pressure blow out, then put the heater in bypass before adding the pink stuff.
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Old 07-17-2014, 09:08 AM   #11
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Your water heater needs to be flushed out with a mixture of vinegar and water.

See the manual for the correct proportions.

My guess is that, if you do this, the odor will be eliminated.

Good luck!
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Old 07-17-2014, 09:47 PM   #12
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1977 31' Sovereign
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Update: I sanitized the fresh water tank and water heater with bleach water (I used a mixture of about .25 oz/gallon and let it sit for one hour). I ran the hot water a while to fill the water heater tank with this mixture. I then drained the system, then refilled with a water and vinegar mixture, then flushed that out (again running hot water to fill hot water tank). Note that the hot water heater was off. I then refilled with fresh water, ran faucets a while and - viola! - no more sulfur smell! My lesson: don't let water sit in the fresh water tank for more than a couple of weeks. Just in time, too - we leave tomorrow on our maiden voyage through South Dakota and to Wyoming. Wish me luck!

Thanks for the help, everyone!

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Old 07-19-2014, 09:35 AM   #13
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For me, this is always from the hot water tank. Purging/ flushing has always worked.

Somebody, please, point me to the road.

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Old 07-19-2014, 04:15 PM   #14
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2014 30' FB FC Bunk
Pennington , New Jersey
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Smelly Fresh Water

We just had this problem - never turned on the hot water heater - was using city water - there must have been some bad water in our pipe where the bacteria grew. My wife turned green and up came dinner....

Emptied tanks and pipes. Filled fresh water tank with camco fresh water drinking water freshener and used an inline carbon water filter from the city water capable of filtering out bacteria. Smell gone. Fingers crossed what it will be like when we go back out in two weeks. We never had this problem in out 2010 FC.

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