How to Sanitize Water in an RV

How to Sanitize Water in an RV
Bacteria can grow inside an RV's fresh-water tank and plumbing system when the water sits too long. Sanitize the fresh-water system in your RV at the beginning and end of each camping season, whenever the RV has sat unused for a long time or whenever the RV water looks or smells bad.

Instructions

Difficulty: Challenging

Things You’ll Need:
  • Drinking-water-safe RV hose Water spigot Chlorine bleach One or more one-gallon containers Funnel RV sewer hose
  • Drinking-water-safe RV hose
  • Water spigot
  • Chlorine bleach
  • One or more one-gallon containers
  • Funnel
  • RV sewer hose
Step 1
Turn off the water heater from the user control panel inside the RV. Let the water heater cool for two hours before continuing with the next step.
Step 2
Turn off all the faucets inside the RV.
Step 3
Remove the drinking-water filters from inside the RV.
Step 4
Attach one end of a drinking-water-safe RV hose to the fresh-water tank inlet and the other end to a water spigot. Turn on the spigot and fill the fresh-water tank half full with water. Turn off the spigot and detach the hose.
Step 5
Figure out the holding capacity of your fresh-water tank. Refer to the RV owner's manual if you are unsure.
Step 6
Pour 1/4 cup of chlorine bleach into a one-gallon container. Fill the rest of the container with clean water. One gallon of this bleach-and-water mixture is sufficient to sanitize a 15-gallon fresh-water tank. Mix enough one-gallon containers to sanitize the size tank that you have. For example, a 30-gallon tank would need two one-gallon bleach mixtures.
Step 7
Place a funnel in the fresh-water tank inlet. Pour the entire amount of the bleach mixtures through the funnel into the tank.
Step 8
Disconnect your RV from an outside water source hookup and turn on the water pumps inside your RV.
Step 9
Starting with one faucet inside your RV, turn the water on and let it run until you smell bleach. Once you smell the bleach, turn the faucet off. Repeat with each faucet inside the RV, including the shower faucet. This ensures that the bleach mixture is inside all the pipes.
Step 10
Turn on one of the hot water faucets, leave it on until you smell bleach, then turn it off. This ensures that the bleach mixture is inside the water heater.
Step 11
Turn off the water pumps.
Step 12
Reattach the drinking-water-safe RV hose to the fresh-water tank inlet. Turn on the water spigot and fill the tank until it is full.
Step 13
Leave all the water faucets closed for 12 to 24 hours to allow the bleach mixture to sanitize the plumbing system.
Step 14
Fit one side of an RV sewer hose to the RV sewer connection and the other side to a dump station sewer connection.
Step 15
Turn on all the water pumps inside the RV.
Step 16
Turn on all the faucets (cold and hot), including the shower, inside the RV to drain the bleach mixture from the system. Close the water faucets once the fresh-water tank has drained.
Step 17
Attach the drinking-water-safe RV hose to the fresh-water tank inlet and turn on the water spigot. Fill the tank, and turn off the water spigot.
Step 18
Open all the faucets in the RV (hot and cold) once again to flush the bleach from the water pipes.
Step 19
Refill the fresh-water tank and drain the water through the faucets as many times as needed to remove the bleach from the plumbing. It is gone from the system when you can no longer detect a chlorine odor from the faucets.
Step 20
Turn off the water pumps and faucets.
Step 21
Reattach the inside drinking-water filters.

Tips & Warnings

 
Drive the RV while the chlorine bleach is in the plumbing system to help mix the bleach and water.
 
Sanitize your RV fresh-water system regularly, even if the water looks and smells clean. Bacteria-ridden water does not necessarily look or smell bad.

Article Written By Rose Kivi

Rose Kivi has been a writer for more than 10 years. She has a background in the nursing field, wildlife rehabilitation and habitat conservation. Kivi has authored educational textbooks, patient health care pamphlets, animal husbandry guides, outdoor survival manuals and was a contributing writer for two books in the Uncle John’s Bathroom Reader Series.

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