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Old 01-18-2009, 08:08 PM   #1
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1986 25' Sovereign
Wichita Falls , Texas
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Strange smell in my fresh water!

I have a smell of something like rotten onions in my drinking water as it comes out of my faucets. I am guessing since this lasted over two parks that it is my lines?? Is there a product to clean the lines and how is the product introduced in the lines?

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Old 01-18-2009, 08:23 PM   #2
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City water systems will remove more organic or sulfur constituents. Building up an odor is more common with well water.

The manuals on my '74 Argosy & '06 Safari had quite similar water tank bleach disinfection methods described. Do you have your manual?


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Old 01-18-2009, 08:24 PM   #3
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1986 31' Sovereign
Miami , Florida
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A couple of possibilities.

One is you have water from a locality where the source/mineralization/aeration is just very different than you are used to. Water could be perfectly safe but why assume that? So, go here:

How to Sanitize Your RV Fresh Water System

Should solve the problem.

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Old 01-18-2009, 08:28 PM   #4
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Originally Posted by frscott View Post
I have a smell of something like rotten onions in my drinking water as it comes out of my faucets. I am guessing since this lasted over two parks that it is my lines?? Is there a product to clean the lines and how is the product introduced in the lines?
Pour some Clorox into the water tank, like a quart or so. Make sure the water tank is just about full.

Tow the trailer a little so that the Clorox mixes with the water.

Then turn on each faucet, both hot and cold, until you smell the Clorox.

Then leave the trailer alone for 2 to 3 days.

After the waiting period, drain all the water, fill the water tank and run water through all the faucets again and again. Refill the water tank, and repeat the process.

CAUTION: Remove the water filter, before you start. When finished, install a new water filter.

Smelly water can happen in more than one way.

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Old 01-18-2009, 09:19 PM   #5
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Make sure you clean all the lines—if you have an exterior shower, flush that too. The hot water heater has a couple of gallons that's hard to get out, but make sure that's flushed. Assume bacteria because you have to protect yourself from the worst things. You could take a water sample (use sterilized bottle) to a lab to find out what is there, but clorox is cheap (and labs are not) and although it's a pain to clean and flush the system, it's more tedious than anything else. I think people who don't have to winterize because of where they live should sanitize the system annually too. Nasty things can grow in those dark tanks and make you sick.

This is a bummer when you are traveling, but that's why campgrounds have showers and bathrooms and supermarkets have distilled water (those store brand gallon bottles are cheap, it's exactly the same as brand names, and there's nothing but water).

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Old 01-18-2009, 10:17 PM   #6
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We do not winterize our trailer, and it may sit a couple of weeks with a partially filled fresh water tank between trips. To avoid water getting a bad taste or "things" growing in it, especially when we are filling up with the water where we are unsure of qualilty, we use an in-line water filter on the city water hose, and we routinely use a fresh water treatment that you can get at a camping supply store,'s a link to Camping World's product, TastePURE: TastePURE Drinking Water Freshener - Item - Camping World ($4.99 for members) use 2 ounces for every 20 gals of fresh water. It's really nothing more than a very diluted bleach solution, so you could probably come up with a home made solution that you add each time you fill up the water tank...what it amounts to is low-level bleach treatment, low enough that you don't taste it and high enough to keep the water clean smelling and tasting. If your water system has already been compromised you'll probably need a full monte santition as didrected above.
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Old 01-19-2009, 07:59 AM   #7
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Thank you everyone, I do not have a manual for my '86 Sovereign (anyone know whee I could find one?) but it appears like Clorox is the winner! It will make me feel better about the system as I just bought the trailer used and I think the seller let it sit for awhile un-attended.
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Old 01-19-2009, 09:53 AM   #8
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Fairburn , Georgia
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The water in my trailer had the same smell, and I tried the process Andy has described to no avail. Upon calling Airstream customer support I learned that the water heater cannot be fully drained by removing the plug because of the tank's shape. I removed the plug and proceeded to suck the water out with a siphon spray gun. That's when I found the white sludge filling the bottom of the water heater. The white sludge is where the smell was originating. I replaced the water heater with a new one and have had no more smell. The sludge is mostly aluminum corrosion from the hot water tank.
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Old 01-19-2009, 10:20 AM   #9
1972 Travelux Princess 25
Cobourg , Ontario
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I like to carry my own 18.9L bottle and buy reverse osmosis water in bulk for drinking, making coffee and tea, and cooking.

My well water can be "iffy" and even "whiffy" in summer, plus it is full of dissolved lime because I live in a limestone region. The water you buy in stores isn't always clean and free of pathogens, plus it often picks up a plastic smell.

Reverse osmosis water is pure and makes better coffee and tea.

Living in the trailer park of sense, looking out the window at a tornado of stupidity.
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