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Old 08-14-2012, 04:01 AM   #41
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Is the "scent" coming from the fresh water? What does it smell like? Are you sure it's not coming from the black and/or grey water tanks?
It's definitely from fresh water tank. It only comes out when you turn on fresh water and I have drained both holding tanks.

My wife won't even allow anybody to touch it. She says it's only toilet safe.
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Old 08-14-2012, 05:39 AM   #42
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It's definitely from fresh water tank. It only comes out when you turn on fresh water and I have drained both holding tanks.

My wife won't even allow anybody to touch it. She says it's only toilet safe.
Having dealt with contaminated water wells for work, I've learned more about water treatment than I ever thought I would need. Troubleshooting anything by remote control is difficult, but I'll take a stab at your problem, if you don't mind.

Let's start with a few questions…
Obvious first question, what does the water smell like? A rotten-egg smell is a different contaminant than a soiled-diaper smell, for example.

Does it smell the same no matter where you fill? If so, that tells me that it's something that stays in the tank and not something in the fill water.

If you fill a glass of water and let it sit on the counter for a while, is the water clear or cloudy or murky? Does any sediment settle to the bottom of the glass?

What color is the water if not clear? Sediments coming out the tap would indicate a need to drop the freshwater tank and wash it out to remove sediments in addition to what I'll describe below.

If you let water sit in the sinks, does it leave a stain? What color is the stain, if there is one?

A few possible fixes you might try if you haven't already (and please tell me if you have tried them already). This should work reasonably well regardless of the contaminant that's causing the odor, but tracking down the source from the questions will help prevent a recurrence…

Drain the system, bone-dry (winterize but don't add antifreeze). Leave it that way for a couple of weeks.

After draining the system, shock-treat the system. A several times the recommended amount of chlorine to the whole system. Make sure you get both the hot and cold sides brim-full, and all water lines right up to the faucets and toilet bowl. You should have enough chlorine in the system that when you open a tap, you smell it. Let it sit for at least 24 hours, but 48 hours is better. After the allotted time, drain the system, preferably half into your gray tank and half into your black tank. Might as well disinfect them while we're at it. Flush the fresh system with fresh water from a trusted source, as many times as necessary to get rid of the chlorine smell and taste. Every brand-new water well system, including the holding tanks, is treated this way to remove contaminants added by the process of building the well.

Add a granular activated carbon filter to your inlet line. Add a Brita water filter to your galley sink faucet.
Brita Complete Chrome Faucet Water Filter — Brita Tap Water Filtration System
I use one of these, and if you remove the filter canister while leaving the base on the faucet, you can still fold down the faucet and close the sink lid. The filter canister can be stored in a small Ziploc bag in the sink when the sink is closed up. Granular Activated Carbon (GAC) is the preferred water treatment for most odors (and removes chlorine from the water as well). The filter on the inlet prevents recontamination of the tank, the one on the faucet ensures that any leftover contaminants don't get into your digestive system. The filter also provides some aeration of the water, which also helps with odor and contaminant control.

For future willing of the fresh tank, add chlorine as recommended in your owner's manual. The faucet filter will remove chlorine from the drinking and cooking water, but you can bypass the filter for dishwashing, so you benefit from chlorine sterilization of your dishes.
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Old 08-14-2012, 05:59 AM   #43
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I'd put a couple of cups of bleach in the fresh water tank, fill it up, take a good drive and then let it sit for a bit.

Once this is drained and rinsed, it would surely be safe for dishes, etc.

We don't drink or cook with water from our freshly sanitized tank until the chlorine odor has dissipated---nor do we wash our hair with it, lest we find our tresses oddly dyed.

Maybe it's the plastic from the tank. ???


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Old 08-14-2012, 06:28 AM   #44
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I'd put a couple of cups of bleach in the fresh water tank, fill it up, take a good drive and then let it sit for a bit.

Once this is drained and rinsed, it would surely be safe for dishes, etc.

We don't drink or cook with water from our freshly sanitized tank until the chlorine odor has dissipated---nor do we wash our hair with it, lest we find our tresses oddly dyed.

Maybe it's the plastic from the tank. ???


Maggie
Freshwater tank is food-grade polyethylene, and meets "NSF/ANSI Standard 51: Food Equipment Materials" for materials coming in contact with edible/potable susbstances. Ditto with the water lines and fittings, they all meet NSF/ANSI requirements.

It's not plastic from the tanks. It could be something absorbed into the plastic from bad water in the past, or something growing on the plastic from bad water in the past, but not the plastic itself.
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Old 08-14-2012, 11:21 AM   #45
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First of all, chlorine will deteriorate plastic and leaving it in for a day or two will eventually result in a brittle tank. Shock treating a well is different—no plastic parts except perhaps the supply pipe.

Secondly, few people will get sick from bad water somewhere or in the tank, but if you do, you will regret it. Small (and big, though small ones have fewer resources) water companies can have broken lines which suck in dirt, cross connections which contaminate water, poor water treatment by poorly trained operators, or no treatment of wells or very small systems. States may not check on water systems regularly or at all. In Colorado, water suppliers with less than 15 customers are unregulated and may supply a CG. Wells can be contaminated. We were in Nova Scotia and the well water at a cabin tasted salty—the harbor was 100' away and the well was getting seawater (and gasoline or other chemicals) in it. Water may come from a stream or pond that has giardia in it.

I've worked with the local water company for years and learned more than I ever wanted to know. Good water treatment is expensive and operators need to keep up on things. Finding a well trained and competent operator can be a challenge and lots of small companies do not have a licensed person on site, but have someone with a license overseeing the operation. That means most of the time an unqualified individual is running the system. Our company is lucky to have a licensed operator who lives near the filter plant, but this stuff only gets more complicated.

People react differently to water borne diseases—one may get giardia and another may drink the same water and not get it. Different immune systems and vulnerabilities. Years ago people got water out of irrigation ditches and only some of them got sick and fewer died. The odds were probably pretty good since people continued to live here. The US and Canada have good water treatment compared to a lot of the world, but we've been in places where the water was silty, salty or suspicious.

The same can be true at hotels, motels, cabins and seems to be more possible in remote places. But even larger systems can have problems—Alamosa, Colo., pop. 8,780, has a problem several years ago and it took weeks to fix it.

When we used to go backpacking, I never filtered the water. I'd look for springs or seeps and collect water there (streams and creeks can be contaminated by cattle or wildlife). If a small pond in the desert had live bugs in it, that usually mean the water was ok. I never got sick, but I was pushing my luck.

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Old 08-14-2012, 03:36 PM   #46
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First of all, chlorine will deteriorate plastic and leaving it in for a day or two will eventually result in a brittle tank. Shock treating a well is different—no plastic parts except perhaps the supply pipe.
Wish I had known you when I was dealing with those danged wells.

What concentration of chlorine is safe for plastic if you were to try what I suggested to get rid of whatever might be growing in the tank? I know what concentration of chlorine is safe for people to drink, based on the EPA Primary Drinking Water Standards, but for treat-and-flush, a higher concentration than you can drink might be useful to quickly get rid of tiny beasties that would truoble people with less robust digestive tracts than yours.

I'll admit, I hadn't considered embrittlement, because I didn't consider that even a relatively large concentration of chlorine for just a day or two would do any harm to the plastic. After all, chlorine bleach is sold and stored in plastic jugs, and those jugs find use as field-expedient funnels and similar uses long after the bleach is used up. Of course, that might be a different grade of plastic, too.
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Old 08-14-2012, 04:47 PM   #47
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Pro', there are too many different types of plastic for me to understand. What glue works with what? What is safe for chlorine? Etc., etc.

The Owner's Manual has two different ways—one takes one hour, the other is something like 4 hours. The concentration for a 39 gal. fresh water tank is 10.49 oz. Clorox for one hour. You can adjust for your tank. You can use less Clorox for a longer time, but I don't want to wait. Clorox has a pretty small concentration of chlorine and pure chlorine would have to be stored in glass.

I usually sanitize a few days before we leave for a trip. Check air pressure on all tires, put TPMS sensors on trailer wheels, put away wheel covers, pack truck, hitch up truck, drain tank and pipes, add water and Clorox, eat lunch, come back, flush 3 times, fill water tank, take a nap. The last step is essential.

Since the tank is plastic and the pipes are another kind of plastic (PEX) and the fixtures probably have plastic in them, all probably different plastics, who knows what is more or less resistant to chlorine? Of course, the Airstream recommendation may be wrong, but it's all I have to go on.

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Old 08-14-2012, 06:31 PM   #48
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Let's start with a few questions…
Obvious first question, what does the water smell like? A rotten-egg smell is a different contaminant than a soiled-diaper smell, for example.
.

.
Rotten egg is it exactly! I am going to try some of the methods. If tried a small amount of bleach. But I've never tried draining completely or filling a glass and checking for sediment.

Thank you for the help. I got my water project cut out for me.

I'll be back with an update soon
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Old 08-14-2012, 06:32 PM   #49
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Or can I say that you got it

EGG actly!!!!
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Old 08-14-2012, 06:48 PM   #50
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Tea, the odorant in propane, mercaptin, is said to smell something like rotten eggs (depends on your nose I suppose). Could you have a propane leak?

I know it comes out when you turn on water, but maybe….

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Old 08-14-2012, 07:42 PM   #51
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You can get rid of the chlorine taste to your water by using baking soda or white vinegar in your system and leave it in for several days after you sanitize with bleach. We use 1/2 cup baking soda per 10 gal. or a quart of vinegar per 10 gal. We drink our water from our tank, drain our system after every trip, and only sanitize once a year in the spring when we start camping. Never been sick. I also taste the water when we're traveling before it goes in the tank. We never want to get a bad load of water - it can taint your tank for years.

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Old 08-15-2012, 05:14 AM   #52
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The Owner's Manual has two different ways—one takes one hour, the other is something like 4 hours. The concentration for a 39 gal. fresh water tank is 10.49 oz. Clorox for one hour. You can adjust for your tank. You can use less Clorox for a longer time, but I don't want to wait. Clorox has a pretty small concentration of chlorine and pure chlorine would have to be stored in glass.
You have reminded me of the cardinal rule of RV maintenance: First, check the manual! Thank you for that reminder.

The Interstate manual says 0.13 ounces of Clorox per gallon of water, or 1 milliliter per liter, which works out to 1000 parts per million of Clorox, if you're doing the four-hour thing, or double that for one hour. Clorox Germicidal Bleach has 58420 parts per million of "available" chlorine, so diluting it as per the Airstream Owner's Manual, that yields a final concentration of ~58 parts per million of active chlorine for four hours. That's about 14½ times the EPA-recommended maximum residual chlorine and will kill any microbial critters in the water, so you MUST rinse thoroughly after you drain off the chlorine-containing water. EPA Primary Drinking Water Standards call for less than 4 parts per million of chlorine in drinking water.

It's still good to start with a bone-dry tank, because any microbes that need water to survive can be killed just by not having the water available. The chlorine will do the rest.
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Old 08-15-2012, 09:08 AM   #53
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Okaayyyyy, color me wrong on this one.

We never let the bleach-in-water sit too long in our fresh tank, but it should get rid of odor and germs.



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Old 08-15-2012, 09:09 AM   #54
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You have reminded me of the cardinal rule of RV maintenance: First, check the manual!

It's still good to start with a bone-dry tank, because any microbes that need water to survive can be killed just by not having the water available. The chlorine will do the rest.
My manual is 150' from my computer (farther than I wanted to walk), so I asked Barb what she mixed up to sanitize. That's why I didn't have the exact numbers per gallon.

I don't think any tank can be dry enough. There will always be enough moisture for some bacteria to thrive. Barb and I have discussed this—full, half full, or empty (which is not truly empty) and have come to no conclusion which is best to inhibit (note, not eliminate, impossible without toxic substances, constant sanitizing, or a new tank each trip) bacterial growth. Flushing before a trip is always better than not.

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