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Old 06-11-2021, 03:10 PM   #1
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hot water tank and fresh water tank sanitizing

I have been searching through the forum, but haven't found an answer yet...
We haven't used our hot water tank yet, still gearing up for our maiden voyage in our 2005 17b. The person that sold it showed us how to light the pilot light for the hot water on exterior of the camper (we just haven't done it yet). I am wondering two things:
1. if we turn on the hot water faucet and the pilot light for the hot water heater is not on, is that ok for the hot water heater and hot water tank? What happens?

2. If we are sanitizing our fresh water tank, I saw on a video that after filling the tank with water and 1/4 c of bleach per 10 gallons, we turn on the various faucets - cold water, hot water, shower, flush the toilet. Should I turn on the pilot to the hot water tank before doing this or can I still turn on the hot water at the faucet to sanitize those lines?

Thanks!!!
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Old 06-11-2021, 03:29 PM   #2
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We don't put any bleach in our toilet as will kill off the 'good microbes'. https://thecampingadvisor.com/clean-...t-with-bleach/ and this may help https://blog.campingworld.com/rv-bas...-simple-steps/
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Old 06-11-2021, 04:13 PM   #3
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1. There's no risk of damage to anything in using the hot water system without the pilot or main burner lighted, or an electric heating element off if you have one. Obviously, you just won't get hot water

2. Personally I would not run a heated bleach-enriched solution through my system - I'd do it cold if using that solution. I've got no problem 'sanitizing' the fresh-water line to the toilet (IF you have bacteria in that toilet branch line it can spread back to the rest of the fresh water system), but wouldn't do it with waste in the black tank; I'd do it with an empty tank and then flush the tank with regular water (not 'bleach enriched') before placing the toilet in-service.

Just one person's opinions.
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Old 06-11-2021, 05:11 PM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by harvest View Post
I have been searching through the forum, but haven't found an answer yet...
We haven't used our hot water tank yet, still gearing up for our maiden voyage in our 2005 17b. The person that sold it showed us how to light the pilot light for the hot water on exterior of the camper (we just haven't done it yet). I am wondering two things:
1. if we turn on the hot water faucet and the pilot light for the hot water heater is not on, is that ok for the hot water heater and hot water tank? What happens?
The water heater acts like a big section fat section of pipe and the water flows through it. The water heater doesn't need to be on to have water flow through it. It does however need water in it before turning it on.

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2. If we are sanitizing our fresh water tank, I saw on a video that after filling the tank with water and 1/4 c of bleach per 10 gallons, we turn on the various faucets - cold water, hot water, shower, flush the toilet. Should I turn on the pilot to the hot water tank before doing this or can I still turn on the hot water at the faucet to sanitize those lines?
Yes, you can run the sanitizing water through the hot water faucet without it the water heater being on. Just remember, it will take a long time for the sanitizing water to fill the tank and finally run through your lines. More importantly, remember it will take a long time for fresh water to clear the beach water out of the water tank when you are flushing the system after sanitizing it. Some people avoid this by having the water heater bypass on when sanitizing, but, if you do be sure you drain any water our of the water heater, so you don't have funky water flow back into your lines when you turn the water heater bypass off.
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Old 06-11-2021, 05:15 PM   #5
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2. Personally I would not run a heated bleach-enriched solution through my system - I'd do it cold if using that solution. I've got no problem 'sanitizing' the fresh-water line to the toilet (IF you have bacteria in that toilet branch line it can spread back to the rest of the fresh water system),
I agree except remember it is a black water holding tank, it is not a septic tank. Waste water isn't normally held in there long enough for microbes to do much breaking down of the waste. So yes, the line to the toilet should be sanitized, and don't be overly concerned if the black tank is empty or not.
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Old 06-11-2021, 05:29 PM   #6
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The water heater acts like a big section fat section of pipe and the water flows through it. The water heater doesn't need to be on to have water flow through it. It does however need water in it before turning it on.

Yes, you can run the sanitizing water through the hot water faucet without it the water heater being on. Just remember, it will take a long time for the sanitizing water to fill the tank and finally run through your lines. More importantly, remember it will take a long time for fresh water to clear the beach water out of the water tank when you are flushing the system after sanitizing it. Some people avoid this by having the water heater bypass on when sanitizing, but, if you do be sure you drain any water our of the water heater, so you don't have funky water flow back into your lines when you turn the water heater bypass off.
1 - This is so helpful, thank you. This is probably obvious, but is there a specific way to get water in it? Is it just running the hot water from the faucet?

2 - I am not sure how to drain the water out of the water heater, I don't know if there is any water in there! But I will figure out how to do that. Aside from it taking a long time, it seems like it would be good to sanitize the whole fresh water system, especially since it is used and I don't know if/when it has been done. So, it might be worth the time. I am guessing that I get water into the water heater tank by just turning on the hot water faucet.

I know how to fill and empty the fresh water tank, and I know where to hook up to water at a camp, I just bought a water safe hose and a regulator attachment and a filter attachment for the hose. My plan is to not drink or cook with the water, but to use it for flushing/quick washing of some minor dishes, showers, washing hands. I don't know where any other tanks are though. This is helpful, thank you!
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Old 06-11-2021, 05:31 PM   #7
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I agree except remember it is a black water holding tank, it is not a septic tank. Waste water isn't normally held in there long enough for microbes to do much breaking down of the waste. So yes, the line to the toilet should be sanitized, and don't be overly concerned if the black tank is empty or not.
Thanks. So when I flush the toilet when I have the bleach/water solution, there will be some bleach that goes into the black tank. Do you know if then I should wait to use the enzyme cleaner I bought then, until the bleach water is clear? The black tank is currently empty. Or maybe I shouldn't deal with the toilet when sanitizing the fresh water tank and lines? Would it be better to sanitize just the hot/cold water lines in the shower and sink? Not flushing the toilet?
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Old 06-11-2021, 05:36 PM   #8
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Originally Posted by Centex View Post
1. There's no risk of damage to anything in using the hot water system without the pilot or main burner lighted, or an electric heating element off if you have one. Obviously, you just won't get hot water

2. Personally I would not run a heated bleach-enriched solution through my system - I'd do it cold if using that solution. I've got no problem 'sanitizing' the fresh-water line to the toilet (IF you have bacteria in that toilet branch line it can spread back to the rest of the fresh water system), but wouldn't do it with waste in the black tank; I'd do it with an empty tank and then flush the tank with regular water (not 'bleach enriched') before placing the toilet in-service.

Just one person's opinions.
1 - thank you, this is really great to know.
2 - yes, then I will leave the hot water pilot off when doing this. I just need to check out that system and make sure there's no bypass on, from what I understand now.
I don't know if there are any bacteria. So, if I flush the toilet when I have the bleach water solution in the fresh water tank, it brings that solution through the line to the toilet, and then into the black water tank. After that one flush, and it sits, then I empty the fresh tank and fill with clean water, then I flush again, and some more water, but less chlorinated goes in the black tank. Is it ok for this to be in the black tank until the next time we empty the black tank? I am also guessing I should wait until we empty the tank before using an enzyme? I bought ODORLOS, but haven't used it yet, just got it.

Thank you!
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Old 06-11-2021, 05:46 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by harvest View Post
Thanks. So when I flush the toilet when I have the bleach/water solution, there will be some bleach that goes into the black tank. Do you know if then I should wait to use the enzyme cleaner I bought then, until the bleach water is clear? The black tank is currently empty. Or maybe I shouldn't deal with the toilet when sanitizing the fresh water tank and lines? Would it be better to sanitize just the hot/cold water lines in the shower and sink? Not flushing the toilet?
As Centex said you need to run bleach through the water line to the toilet, otherwise, the bacteria in the toilet water line will just recontaminate the system.

You should sanitize all the water line even the toilet line.

Since your black tank is currently empty wait until you actually use the tank to add your enzyme cleaner. The bleach water in the black water tank will start to dissipate over time.
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Old 06-11-2021, 07:03 PM   #10
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Originally Posted by harvest View Post
1 - This is so helpful, thank you. This is probably obvious, but is there a specific way to get water in it? Is it just running the hot water from the faucet?

2 - I am not sure how to drain the water out of the water heater, I don't know if there is any water in there! But I will figure out how to do that. Aside from it taking a long time, it seems like it would be good to sanitize the whole fresh water system, especially since it is used and I don't know if/when it has been done. So, it might be worth the time. I am guessing that I get water into the water heater tank by just turning on the hot water faucet.
To fill your hot water tank you simply make sure it is not bypassed and then if you have water in the fresh tank you simply turn on the pump. This will take at least 6 gallons. Alternatively you can hook up to city water and leave the pump off. Open a hot water faucet to displace all the air. Then go outside and lift the tab on the pressure relief valve momentarily to ensure the tank is full.

To drain the hot water tank you have to remove the anode with a 1-1/16” (or 27mm) socket. Good time to check the anode which protects the tank. If it is badly eaten away you should replace it.
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Old 06-11-2021, 07:14 PM   #11
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Example of good and bad anode. Its job is to sacrifice itself to protect the tank.
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Good anode bad anode.png  
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Old 06-11-2021, 07:21 PM   #12
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Anode

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Originally Posted by rubicon327 View Post
To fill your hot water tank you simply make sure it is not bypassed and then if you have water in the fresh tank you simply turn on the pump. This will take at least 6 gallons. Alternatively you can hook up to city water and leave the pump off. Open a hot water faucet to displace all the air. Then go outside and lift the tab on the pressure relief valve momentarily to ensure the tank is full.

To drain the hot water tank you have to remove the anode with a 1-1/16” (or 27mm) socket. Good time to check the anode which protects the tank. If it is badly eaten away you should replace it.
Before you pull the anode out. Make sure there’s no pressure in the tank by turning the pump off, opening a hot water tap untill the water quits running. Then slowly back the anode out with your socket and extension. Go slow. When it’s about out and just starts to leak by the threads, take the socket off, stand to one side and back it out the rest of the way with your fingers. As it comes out, six gallons of water will come along behind it. Then rinse the Reston of the scale out of the tank with a garden hose aimed at the anode threaded hole. Buy or reuse the rod. If you need to buy a rod, get one made of magnesium. Wrap then threads with three to four wraps of Teflon tape when reinserting so it comes out easy next time. Check for leaks once refilled and pressurized.
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Old 06-12-2021, 07:19 AM   #13
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Before you pull the anode out. Make sure there’s no pressure in the tank by turning the pump off, opening a hot water tap untill the water quits running. Then slowly back the anode out with your socket and extension. Go slow. When it’s about out and just starts to leak by the threads, take the socket off, stand to one side and back it out the rest of the way with your fingers. As it comes out, six gallons of water will come along behind it. Then rinse the Reston of the scale out of the tank with a garden hose aimed at the anode threaded hole. Buy or reuse the rod. If you need to buy a rod, get one made of magnesium. Wrap then threads with three to four wraps of Teflon tape when reinserting so it comes out easy next time. Check for leaks once refilled and pressurized.
Iowa Dave
Great advice. Never remove the anode on a pressurized hot water tank especially if the water is hot!
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Old 06-12-2021, 05:31 PM   #14
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Yes, you can run the sanitizing water through the hot water faucet without it the water heater being on. Just remember, it will take a long time for the sanitizing water to fill the tank and finally run through your lines. More importantly, remember it will take a long time for fresh water to clear the beach water out of the water tank when you are flushing the system after sanitizing it. Some people avoid this by having the water heater bypass on when sanitizing, but, if you do be sure you drain any water our of the water heater, so you don't have funky water flow back into your lines when you turn the water heater bypass off.
Do you know - if I am going to sanitize the water heater tank (with cold water, no water heater on) do I have to drain the water heater? My plan is not to bypass the water heater system. I know I have to drain the fresh water tank before sanitizing it - just did that. But, I don't have the tools right now to take out the anode and I would like to sanitize the system. So, do I need to drain the water heater by taking out the anode before sanitizing the system or can I just leave the anode in and then pump the bleach solution with a full fresh tank through the system?
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Old 06-12-2021, 05:33 PM   #15
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Before you pull the anode out. Make sure there’s no pressure in the tank by turning the pump off, opening a hot water tap untill the water quits running. Then slowly back the anode out with your socket and extension. Go slow. When it’s about out and just starts to leak by the threads, take the socket off, stand to one side and back it out the rest of the way with your fingers. As it comes out, six gallons of water will come along behind it. Then rinse the Reston of the scale out of the tank with a garden hose aimed at the anode threaded hole. Buy or reuse the rod. If you need to buy a rod, get one made of magnesium. Wrap then threads with three to four wraps of Teflon tape when reinserting so it comes out easy next time. Check for leaks once refilled and pressurized.
Iowa Dave
Thank you. I will take the anode out at some point, trying to figure out if that has to be now, if I am not going to bypass the tank when sanitizing. I figure if I am going through the trouble of sanitizing, then I will sanitize the hot water tank. I am wondering what the anode looks like on our camper! I will need to get a socket wrench kit, any recommendations?
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Old 06-12-2021, 09:02 PM   #16
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I did all the steps, I think! But now I am thinking about if I should fill up the fresh water tank with a little more solution and water because I used a lot of the water to go through the faucets and water system. I actually filled up our grey tank I think. Should I do this to make sure the entire tank is getting the water/bleach solution? Also, is it ok to let the grey water tank out in the grass around our house, it is just water and then the bleach water, no dished or showers were had.
Thanks
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Old 06-12-2021, 09:19 PM   #17
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You I always drain my bleach water into the turf grass with no effects on the grass whatsoever. Usually when my tank is pretty much full of the water and bleach solution I gently rock the camper on one side and know the fresh water tank is splashing around and getting the bleachy water on all the interior surfaces. Then I drain the fresh water, the grey “blackwater” and the real greywater tank down into the lower part of the yard . Have die it this way for the past 8 years. Don’t over think this. Once I opened the hot water tank and put Bleach water in there by mistake. Just took about 4 fill and drains to clear it of any bleach smell. All that was lost was a little time. No Bad effects later. ( my hair had already left the building). If you have a harbor freight store nearby, you can buy the 1/2 inch size breaker bar, 1 1/16 inch socket and a five or six inch extension pretty reasonably. It’s handy to have. And you should have some Teflon tape with you all the time too. It’s only about a dollar for a roll that will last you at least a couple years. In the interest of weight, you do not have to carry a great big 1/2 inch socket set, there’s only about 5 sockets needed for all the big nuts on the Escapes.
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Old 06-13-2021, 12:08 AM   #18
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You I always drain my bleach water into the turf grass with no effects on the grass whatsoever. Usually when my tank is pretty much full of the water and bleach solution I gently rock the camper on one side and know the fresh water tank is splashing around and getting the bleachy water on all the interior surfaces. Then I drain the fresh water, the grey “blackwater” and the real greywater tank down into the lower part of the yard . Have die it this way for the past 8 years. Don’t over think this. Once I opened the hot water tank and put Bleach water in there by mistake. Just took about 4 fill and drains to clear it of any bleach smell. All that was lost was a little time. No Bad effects later. ( my hair had already left the building). If you have a harbor freight store nearby, you can buy the 1/2 inch size breaker bar, 1 1/16 inch socket and a five or six inch extension pretty reasonably. It’s handy to have. And you should have some Teflon tape with you all the time too. It’s only about a dollar for a roll that will last you at least a couple years. In the interest of weight, you do not have to carry a great big 1/2 inch socket set, there’s only about 5 sockets needed for all the big nuts on the Escapes.
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Thank you! This is all great advice! I didn't rock it, so I am guessing the fresh water tank isn't really getting the bleach on all sides for the 12 hours. Maybe in the morning I will check how full the tank is, and rock it a little or top it off with a little extra water with a tsp of bleach or something. I do think I am overthinking, but once I do the steps, it is pretty straightforward. I am so new to all of this. Haven't even owned a house before, so I am learning a lot. I checked out the hot water heater for the first time today! I will buy those things you suggested to have on hand. Your words and experience really help - thanks again!
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Old 06-13-2021, 09:23 AM   #19
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Do you know - if I am going to sanitize the water heater tank (with cold water, no water heater on) do I have to drain the water heater? My plan is not to bypass the water heater system. I know I have to drain the fresh water tank before sanitizing it - just did that. But, I don't have the tools right now to take out the anode and I would like to sanitize the system. So, do I need to drain the water heater by taking out the anode before sanitizing the system or can I just leave the anode in and then pump the bleach solution with a full fresh tank through the system?
Since the water heater holds 6 gallons, you will need to run at least that much out the hot water faucet to fill it with the bleach solution. The same for clearing the solution out of the water heater after you refill the fresh water tank.

You are going to need to check the anode anyway, so get a 1 1/16" socket, an extension & handle and save the time & energy necessary to run 12 gallons plus of water through the system. It will also let you remove the accumulated "white junk" that ends up in the bottom of the tank.

Do remember the previous warning to let the water cool & depressurize the system before removing the anode!
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