Legionnaires Disease from RV Hot Water System? - Escape Trailer Owners Community

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Old 12-17-2013, 02:41 PM   #1
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Legionnaires Disease from RV Hot Water System?

Read an interesting article on risks of becoming infected with Legionnaires Disease bacteria from the hot water system in your travel trailer. Here is an abstract of the article:

Quote:
We investigated recreational vehicle (RV) water reservoirs in response to a case of pneumonia in which Legionella pneumophila was cultured both from the patient and a RV reservoir in which he travelled. Water samples processed and cultured at the CDC according to standard protocol were positive for Legionella spp. in 4/17 (24%) faucets, 1/11 (9%) water tanks from 4/20 (20%) RVs from three different campsites. Legionella spp. that were isolated included L. pneumophila (serogroups 1 and 6), L. anisa, L. feeleii, and L. quateriensis. Environmental controls from the potable water of the three campsites were culture-negative. A survey of maintenance practices by the RV users at the campsites revealed that chlorine disinfection of the water tanks was rarely performed. To prevent the possibility of Legionella infections, RV owners should implement regular chlorine disinfection of their water tanks and follow the recommended maintenance guidelines according to their owner's manuals.
The main article is located at: Recreational Vehicle Water Tanks as a Possible Source for Legionella Infections

Not sure what to make of this. Any of you aware of this or have opinions on it? Seems to me it would be a good practice to start flushing the system regularly with chlorine bleach..
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Old 12-17-2013, 03:47 PM   #2
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Bleach rots rubber so be sure to dilute!
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Old 12-17-2013, 03:54 PM   #3
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Here is a table from Government of British Columbia site:
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Old 12-17-2013, 04:10 PM   #4
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I take it the table is to purify water as opposed to sanitize a water tank. I use more on the order of a 1/2 cup for my 20 US Gal tank.
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Old 12-17-2013, 04:30 PM   #5
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You are correct.
I follow the table for my emergency water supply ( five 5 gal. containers. ).
Using a half cup, you want to flush thoroughly. Doesn't take long for the chlorine smell to dissipate.
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Old 12-17-2013, 04:35 PM   #6
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Question here though. How does one get the concentrated bleach solution into the hot water tank? Do you fill the fresh water ( with bleach added ) and then run the pump with a hot water tap open?
I guess I would just use the siphon I have for pumping anti-freeze through the city water inlet.
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Old 12-17-2013, 05:05 PM   #7
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The hot water tank should be of sufficient temperature to kill the bacteria, I would imagine. Probably worth checking on that, however.
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Old 12-17-2013, 05:31 PM   #8
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Originally Posted by santacruzer View Post
The hot water tank should be of sufficient temperature to kill the bacteria, I would imagine. Probably worth checking on that, however.
It seems that the issue is more related to potential for growth of bacteria over the time periods when your hot water tank is not operating. I know that I have been guilty of coming back from a trip and leaving water in the hot water tank rather than draining it, because I know I am going to be going out again soon. I don't know if there is a lesser risk if the tank is drained between trips or not. Possibly you may want to do a quick flush with diluted bleach if your trailer has been sitting unused for periods greater than a couple of weeks?
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Old 12-17-2013, 05:56 PM   #9
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In reading the article in it entirety, it just mentions RV water storage tanks, which I presume is inclusive of both the main tank, and the hot water tank. It didn't mention whether the polluted samples came from the cold side or the hot side.

We drain our main tank after each trip, and sanitize the tank before refilling. If I fill from anywhere other than home I always disinfect the new water. Who knows who's been handling that campground faucet? I've never thought to drain the hot water tank, however, on the premise I noted above, that the heat is killing anything I might have missed.
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Old 12-17-2013, 05:59 PM   #10
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And then, of course, the water out of my tap at home is chlorinated, and that's mostly what's in my tanks at any given time.
And, I'm not a member of the Legion in any case.

baglo
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Old 12-17-2013, 06:29 PM   #11
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And then, of course, the water out of my tap at home is chlorinated, and that's mostly what's in my tanks at any given time.
And, I'm not a member of the Legion in any case.

baglo
I am not a member of the Legion either, although I did feel poorly one morning after drinking at the Legion the previous evening.

I suspect that the chlorinated water from our home water supplies does not have a high enough chlorine concentration to disinfect the tanks and water lines and would need to be supplemented with additional chlorine bleach.
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Old 12-17-2013, 06:54 PM   #12
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Even chlorinated water will, over time, lose its efficacy and harbor growth...usually algae, which while not pretty will not usually kill you. My lady friend would not take kindly to having something like algae pumped into the sink while brushing her teeth, hence my strict attention to frequent draining and sanitizing! Legionnaires Disease isn't even on the radar screen.
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Old 12-17-2013, 07:56 PM   #13
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I am not a member of the Legion either, although I did feel poorly one morning after drinking at the Legion the previous evening.
So then, it is not just me. I knew that place, with their cheap drinks, was no good.
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Old 12-17-2013, 07:58 PM   #14
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Question here though. How does one get the concentrated bleach solution into the hot water tank? Do you fill the fresh water ( with bleach added ) and then run the pump with a hot water tap open?
Yes. Although right or wrong I've always filled the HW tank using the pressure relief valve, once full I run all the faucets.
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Old 12-18-2013, 09:19 AM   #15
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I did sanitize the tank in our Casita wne we first bought it because the water in it smelled bad and we didn't know the origin. We have not done so with the Escape.

We don't typically drink from the tanks in the trailer. We carry separate drinking water. Though I have been known to brush my teeth with it, Chris does not.

I will sometimes drink from the faucets when hooked up to external water supply on a public water system.
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Old 12-18-2013, 09:58 AM   #16
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Given all the time we spend in our beloved Escapes, to me, sanitizing the system is cheap easy insurance. Most of the process is just letting the bleach do its work: fill the water tank, put the required amount of bleach in, run some into the pipes, let in sit for a few hours and then drain and flush it a couple of times. It is easy to do while loading and getting the rest of the stuff done to the trailer and tow getting ready to head out in the spring.

During our travel months, I use my homebrew sanitizer (One Step) that is a no rinse peroxide based sanitizer at the end of each trip. After draining the system (except hot water tank) I put a little of the sanitizer in the tank and lines to help prevent the baddies from growing too much while Blue awaits the next trip. Being peroxide based it doesn't need to be rinsed out when we fill up and head out again.

To me, the freshwater tank and system is relatively easy to keep clean and with minimal effort the water can taste fine. We use a hose end carbon RV filter on all water that goes into the fresh tank and a PUR water filter pitcher to further make the water taste good for all our drinking water.
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Old 12-18-2013, 11:44 AM   #17
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This article makes you rethink your home water as well: Legionella and Scalding Facts | Cash Acme. When we're out at the lake, and after washing/rinsing our dishes, we sanitize with a bar sanitizer such as Steramine Quatemary Sanitizing Tablets. Maybe I should be using them at home too ...
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Old 12-18-2013, 11:50 AM   #18
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I think science is coming to the conclusion that we'd all be better off if we ate dirt. All the anti-bacterial soaps etc. are keeping our immune systems from building up, so when something does come along, we are in bigger trouble.
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Old 12-18-2013, 12:07 PM   #19
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I think science is coming to the conclusion that we'd all be better off if we ate dirt. All the anti-bacterial soaps etc. are keeping our immune systems from building up, so when something does come along, we are in bigger trouble.
That is so true , but we should start eating dirt as kids - so our immune systems build up naturally . Don't think it's a good idea to start as old croaks ….. well that's us anyway -the old croaks I mean .
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Old 12-18-2013, 01:31 PM   #20
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George Carlin used to say that as kids, they swam in the Hudson River as training for their immune systems. Humorous, but there is some truth to that.

I avoid anti-bacterial soaps, margarine, fake sweeteners, and the like. But I still don't think I am getting out of this alive.
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