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Old 11-11-2015, 10:12 PM   #1
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Water System Cleaning

Hi, all. In going through our new-to-us 17B, it has come to my attention that some preventive maintenance may have been overlooked by the former owners. Of most immediate concern is the fresh water system. Upon receipt of the trailer, the taps discharged suspicious green matter, algae-like in appearance. I sanitized the system with bleach per the ETI instructions - twice; whereupon the suspicious green discharge was replaced by bleached-white algae-like bits. I flushed the system a bunch and think the algae is gone, but there's a second issue: Draining the hot water heater released a surprising quantity of white, solid chunks, ranging in size from sand to a child's finger. I suspect they are calcium deposits? But am still surprised at how much came out. Not sure if they are, in fact, all out, although I filled the water heater and dumped it through the drain hole repeatedly. It's impressive how forcefully it shoots out if you pull the plug on a full tank! Like a mini firehose. The high flow flushed a lot of the ick out.

So questions: How did this happen? What else can I do to clean it? Do I need to worry about permanent damage?

I always try to take good care of my things, and they usually last a long time because of it. It's a bit frustrating to inherit problems that are most likely due to someone else's lack of proper care.

Thanks in advance for any help!

-Scott
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Old 11-11-2015, 10:23 PM   #2
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I'm thinking flushing the tank with this might help.

https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B0...=ATVPDKIKX0DER

More experienced owners will chime in.
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Old 11-11-2015, 10:58 PM   #3
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Can't speak to the green stuff but you have done just what I would have done in sanitizing. The hot water tank emits that white stuff every year during the flush. Not uncommon. Just make sure your anode rod has an adequate amount of sacrificial material left for the coming season of camping. And be sure to use Teflon tape around the threads when reinserting the rod/plug.
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Old 11-11-2015, 11:26 PM   #4
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Did you find an anode rod like this? Or did it fall apart and leave pieces in the tank?
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Old 11-11-2015, 11:38 PM   #5
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If you compare a new anode rod with the one you took out you'll see how much of the anode became those white chunks.
no biggie, we all see the white chunks when we winterize the trailer.
I would and have done the same as you to clean a fresh water tank. And I would just repeat it after a good drive to slosh the bleach around. and then, for awhile just drink and cook with bottled water. Until it really seemed to be clean.
You might want to see if your water pump has a strainer, it has a glass window, to see if it is clean as well.
After that I only put city water into my fresh tank. I think because the city water has already been treated and there is a little something left in the water.
Our community has a well that we test every week and about every month we have to open the valves at the farthest ends of the system to flush stale water out. Or about after two or three months we get bad weekly readings.
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Old 11-11-2015, 11:46 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sclifrickson View Post
Hi, all. In going through our new-to-us 17B, it has come to my attention that some preventive maintenance may have been overlooked by the former owners. Of most immediate concern is the fresh water system. Upon receipt of the trailer, the taps discharged suspicious green matter, algae-like in appearance. I sanitized the system with bleach per the ETI instructions - twice; whereupon the suspicious green discharge was replaced by bleached-white algae-like bits. I flushed the system a bunch and think the algae is gone, but there's a second issue: Draining the hot water heater released a surprising quantity of white, solid chunks, ranging in size from sand to a child's finger. I suspect they are calcium deposits? But am still surprised at how much came out. Not sure if they are, in fact, all out, although I filled the water heater and dumped it through the drain hole repeatedly. It's impressive how forcefully it shoots out if you pull the plug on a full tank! Like a mini firehose. The high flow flushed a lot of the ick out.

So questions: How did this happen? What else can I do to clean it? Do I need to worry about permanent damage?

I always try to take good care of my things, and they usually last a long time because of it. It's a bit frustrating to inherit problems that are most likely due to someone else's lack of proper care.

Thanks in advance for any help!

-Scott
Hi:sclifrickson... The algae comes from leaving the water hose laying out in the sun while hooked up. This happens to us in Florida each year. Our well water supply at home contains no bleach so we must rely on park water systems for it.
The hard water minerals in the hot water heater do need flushing out regularly. I pull the anode rod/drain plug out slowly to let the pressure off, and then take my garden hose pistol and shoot water in thru the plug hole... then allow the water to flow out and repeat this till no more white crystals come out. It's still hard to get all the hard water deposits out even with repeated flushing. Then I replace the anode rod with a new one from my RV supply Tech. Alf
escape artist N.S. of Lake Erie
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Old 11-11-2015, 11:58 PM   #7
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Does it really matter that there is some anode material or other minerals in the bottom of the water heater tank?
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Old 11-12-2015, 12:01 AM   #8
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Does it really matter that there is some anode material or other minerals in the bottom of the water heater tank?
Hi: gbaglo... It's simply "Mind over matter". If you don't mind it doesn't matter!!! Alf
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Old 11-12-2015, 12:07 AM   #9
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I figure some stuff comes out when I remove the anode to winterize. The rest freezes its atoms off.
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Old 11-12-2015, 12:21 AM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Klem View Post
Did you find an anode rod like this? Or did it fall apart and leave pieces in the tank?

Yes, the current anode rod is intact, I'd estimate it's about 90% of a new one.

Much appreciation to everyone for educating me. I'm relieved to learn that the white chunks are normal! I will check the pump as well to see if it has a screen to clean or not.

Cheers,
Scott
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Old 11-12-2015, 12:24 AM   #11
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Scott, doubt your sellers were using water with algae or they would have used some bleach. They probably used bleach before and didn't lately knowing they were selling. Trailer might have sat lately, too. No doubt they took deposits out of the hot water tank also. Bleaching the tank is needed periodically so you will have to do it again. At least once a year is probably common.

The anode in the photo above is new. If your anode is pencil thin, good time to replace.

Many of us take gallons of water for drinking so less worry about the water put into the tank or what is in any city water.
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Old 11-12-2015, 12:27 AM   #12
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Here's my anode after 6/7 years. Original to the trailer.
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Old 11-12-2015, 12:43 AM   #13
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Kinda looks about due. That'll probably set you back $10.
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Old 11-12-2015, 12:46 AM   #14
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Took it to the RV shop and they said it's good.
It has a long way to go.
Pic is from Camping World site. New and old.
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Old 11-12-2015, 12:59 AM   #15
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I'm not the kind who would wait that long (and have read "pencil thin".) They're cheap. In fact, we mistakenly bought what we think are two wrong anodes, wrong one sent to us. Just waiting for a swap meet with people with the other water heater.
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Old 11-12-2015, 06:23 AM   #16
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I only put city water into my fresh tank. I think because the city water has already been treated and there is a little something left in the water.
Our community has a well that we test every week and about every month we have to open the valves at the farthest ends of the system to flush stale water out. Or about after two or three months we get bad weekly readings.
It should be noted that public water supply systems (municipalities or privately operated systems) are regulated and typically use chlorine or chloramine in small concentrations to sanitize water. Both dissipate readily when exposed to open air (even faster when boiled), such as open space in the water tank, and even when sitting in low flowing water mains, especially dead-ended mains. Ideally, water mains are looped to prevent "stale water" problems. Even so, most municipalities periodically flush mains to retain chlorine residuals. When you see a utility worker standing beside a fire hydrant which is flowing water, that is what he/she is doing. As such, using "city water" rather than well water is not going to make a huge difference in inhibiting algal growth in the fresh water holding tank.
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Old 11-12-2015, 06:32 AM   #17
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Here's my anode after 6/7 years. Original to the trailer.
You must have good water there. That anode looks to have lots of wear left. Sure it is cheap to replace, but there is really no reason to do so. I like to save where I can, so I can spend on important (to me) things.

I replaced the one in the 19 after 5 years. I think not only does it have to do with the good water, but possibly how much flows through the tank activating it.
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Old 11-12-2015, 07:50 AM   #18
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We replaced our anode a couple years ago. When I removed it last week it looked about like the picture baglo posted. We flush the tank well in the fall and leave the anode out for the winter. In the spring, scale that had been stuck to the tank wall will be loose because it had dried out, and another flushing will get most of it. From a health standpoint it might not be that big a deal however my concern is that it could plug the aerator or pump screen. Haven't had that problem, going to keep doing what I do. Always use new Teflon tape, wrapped in the right direction.
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Old 11-12-2015, 07:56 AM   #19
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. Always use new Teflon tape, wrapped in the right direction.
I wrap in the left direction, opposite to the direction the plug turns in.
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Old 11-12-2015, 08:06 AM   #20
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I didn't know how to say that, I just know that it should " want" to feed in, not get all wadded up and peel back. Not that left, your other left. Went to school with a boy named Roy Wright. For presentations in shop class the teacher always introduced him as. " here's the man who is never wrong, he's always right, Mr. Roy Wright"
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