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Old 05-12-2015, 02:14 PM   #1
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Draining Tanks Necessary for monthly use?

Hi All -

I've read some of the threads and it seems that draining may not be necessary, but I wanted to double-check.

I'm in Southern California (freezing not an issue) and typically will use the Airstream at least once a month.

Is there any need to drain the water heater or fresh water tank in between trips?

There's so much to learn!
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Old 05-12-2015, 02:48 PM   #2
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White water may get nasty tasting unless you treat it with a small amount of bleach, and with the water heater turned off, the water in the heater can too.

The black tank will smell like rotted celery if you don't drain it and use the tank sprayer - and the gray tank has a funk all it's own, depending on what goes down the sinks and shower drains. Hair, coffee grounds cooking oils and grease, plus detergents - snergh!

You probably don't have to go all antiseptic about it, but at least drain them all. If I were to go on a 2 week vacation (say on a cruise) I'd drain the black and gray and put some clorox into the white tank and water heater. Then I'd put 10 gallons of clean water in the gray and black tanks and tow the trailer for 40 miles in stop and go conditions. Then I'd drain the tanks immediately and close them off until I returned.

I'd rather smell a whiff of Clorox than fermented feces. Dumping water into the gray & black tanks is easy - just use a 5 gallon drywall bucket.

Paula
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Old 05-12-2015, 03:15 PM   #3
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I always drain my black and gray tanks at the end of each trip. I drive home with these tanks empty except for the following...After draining, I pour some Thetford Valve Lubricant and about a gallon of fresh water into the gray tank, and I pour some Thetford AquaKem Liquid Tank Deodorant and about a gallon of fresh water into the black tank. This helps the sensors and the valve in the gray tank work better, and it eliminates odors in the black tank (also helps break down debris).

If I know I'm going out again in a month, I don't drain my fresh water tank. I top it off with additional fresh water before leaving on my next trip. I use a filter on my fresh water filler hose and it helps to keep the water that's going into my fresh tank clean and pure. With our current drought here in CA, it seems such a waste to drain perfectly good water from my fresh tank especially when I know I'm going on another trip so soon.

My owner's manual cautions against using bleach to sanitize the holding tanks. Bleach is a pretty corrosive liquid. I've owned my AS for 14 years. I've never sanitized the fresh tank with bleach and I've never had any problems with contaminated fresh water. But, I know there are many here on the Forums who recommend occasional sanitation of the fresh tank with a diluted solution of bleach. Once a year is probably ok, but once a month may be more than needed.
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Old 05-12-2015, 03:45 PM   #4
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Thanks all for the replies.

The grey/black tanks are dumped/rinsed at the end of each trip.

However, there's a bit of fresh water in the heater and the fresh water tank. I also feel enormously guilty just simply draining it at the end of a trip if i'm going out again in a couple of weeks.

At least I'd like to drain it into landscaping or something.
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Old 05-12-2015, 03:58 PM   #5
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If you fill your fresh tank at home there probably is chlorine in the water. We just top up before each trip and drain and sanitize once a year. When you get to the campground just run some hot water, heated or not, to flush the water heater. Jim
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Old 05-12-2015, 04:02 PM   #6
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I fill my fresh water tank at the beginning of the season, and add to it as needed, never draining until the end of the season. I use my trailer once to twice a month. Never had any problems at all doing that.

I always dump both black and gray water after any trip. The black water tank will get very rancid and smell, and even the gray water tank will take on a life of it's own after a few days. So, drain them both between trips.
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Old 05-12-2015, 10:52 PM   #7
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Drain and service the black/gray tanks. Retreat Black water and chem.

Fresh water, drain and clean twice a year, fill with good city water, add an ounce or two of Clorox. Run thru the hot and cold lines and leave in contact about 15 minutes. I then connect city water to the city water supply and flush the lines.

I then drain the drain the fresh tank then refil with fresh city water.

Probably "overkill", but no love lost when it comes to bad bugs.

Now, I leave the drained Clorox water in the Gray tank... Keeps the bug smell down,,, no need to put special water, just use the rinse water. The Clorox is not concentrated enough to do harm in the tank.

If you have a "sewer tote", you could run your pump to push the water to the gray tank, drain, then move to your garden. .. At least the gray shouldn't have any TP in the water.
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Old 05-13-2015, 11:59 AM   #8
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We never drink water from the FW tank. Use it for cooking etc, but we carry a jug of clean 'city' water for drinking and coffee. Trouble with FW tank is the water on the road isn't always tasty, and you do need to refill from time to time.

There isn't enough chlorine in city water to sanitize the FW tank and while it only takes an ounce or two to keep it clean, you can never get rid of the chlorine taste without a full rinse and refill. BTW I add bleach using a small "coke" bottle....a bit of bleach topped up with water. Easier than a funnel.

We routinely leave a day or two worth of waste in the tanks if we are going back out in 3 or 4 weeks, but I always boost the treatment just before leaving the last campsite. Hot weather can really do a thing on the black water smell!

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Old 05-13-2015, 12:29 PM   #9
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Water Filters

Check what your water filter does. Many remove all of the city's chlorine. I am pretty confident that most campgrounds have good water (though often it has a high iron content and does not taste good), but IF you get any kind of crud in your tank, filtering all of the water that goes in may remove the chlorine that CAN kill the crud. If you think bleach is harsh - even diluted - take a careful look at the ingredients in your commercial tank treatment label. Many aren't all that benign.

I swear I must live at the camp where Robin Williams spirit resides - it's often funnier than the movie "RV". Many of the members store their RV's on site and use them two or three times a year - having the campground pull them out of storage and set them up on site. (There are more 20 year old Marathon tires here than you could even imagine.) One nice widow who is totally helpless with anything mechanical complained to me about having no water pressure. She had no idea she ever needed to change a filter - or a hose or sanitize her tank. There was algae growing in her hose and it was almost clogged shut! I should have called a plumber with a camera to find out what her white tank looked like, Instead I crawled under her RV and opened the low point drain.... attack of the green slime creature... went on for 20 minutes and six buckets of slime. We pre-mixed 2 cups of bleach with 2 gallons of water and poured it into the tank, then filled the tank and let it sit an hour. Drained the tank again, repeated 4 times. Then decided to cycle that same strong solution through the pipes and the water pump. Ended up having to clean the filter several times.

Now with a new hose and filter and that thorough shock treatment - water pressure is normal. And the water is clear!
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Old 05-13-2015, 02:12 PM   #10
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I have been airstreaming for 5 years. I drain my Black and Gray water tanks at the last campground before ending a trip, but there is still a little in there. I have a heated shed for my airstream so I only drain my fresh water tank before each trip, I do not drain my water heater. Also I am on well water with nothing in it. This has worked fine for me.
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Old 05-13-2015, 02:12 PM   #11
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I would periodically (2-3 x yr) put an ounce of 4-5% bleach per 50 gallons of tank capacity. This will put the free available chlorine at around 100 parts per million, which if left in the tank will sanitize it and keep the bacteria in check. I would hook up to the TV and jostle it to make sure everything gets dosed. If you have a pool chlorine test kit, check the chlorine level initially and after 30 minutes.
If the chlorine level decreases significantly, that would indicate there are bacteria being consumed by the bleach. That would call for another round, until the reading is stable at 30 minutes contact time. Make sure to run the water through the system to get all the bugs out too. If you tank up at home with a clean hose, the chances of waterborne illness goes way down.
I have seen water points that I wouldn't wash my truck with. Uggggh.
BTW the threshold for smelling chlorine is 65ppm.
If you are filling from a known good source, and keep the system closed, with a very small amount of chlorine (capful per tank) added. Water caused illness just wont happen. Have fun!!!!!
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Old 05-13-2015, 07:30 PM   #12
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[QUOTE=LBOskiBear;1620502]Hi All -

I've read some of the threads and it seems that draining may not be necessary, but I wanted to double-check.

I'm in Southern California (freezing not an issue) and typically will use the Airstream at least once a month.

Is there any need to drain the water heater or fresh water tank in between trips?

There's so much to learn![/QUOTE


I never hook up to city water, I use my tank every month. I keep it full and use it up every month when I take it out. So far no bad smells, I don't drink it but fine for bathing and other uses.
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Old 05-13-2015, 07:44 PM   #13
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Personally, I dump everything if I'm sitting for a month. Why not start out with fresh water & clean smelling gray & black tanks.
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Old 05-13-2015, 08:03 PM   #14
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We dump our grey and black tanks at the last campground before we go home....add a little water to the black tank and add chemicals to take care of anything that may be remaining.

We keep the fresh water tank full (using an in-line filter) and use water from the fresh tank with the water pump even when we have water hookups available, so it's always relatively fresh. We add a little bleach to the fresh water periodically just to keep things sanitized, especially if we are using a non-familiar source of fresh water. We drink and cook with it, too. Never a problem.

We go out about once a month or better, so we do not drain the fresh water between trips.
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