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Cleaning Your RV's Water Lines

When water sits stagnant for a period of time, bad things happen. Sitting water is an incubator for bacteria, parasites, and algae, and this includes inside your RV's fresh water tank and the lines that lead in and out of it. Since you drink and bathe in the water from your fresh water tank, you want to make sure that it's free and clear of anything that can cause harm to your health. For this reason, the fresh water tank requires more maintenance and care than the grey and black tanks. Add this step of flushing your fresh water tank to your spring RV maintenance schedule and you can feel confident that the water you're putting into your body when you're camping is as clean as the water in your home.

Why Clean Your RV’s Water Lines?

As part of your de-winterizing process for your RV, you should clean your fresh water tank. There are a number of reasons why your tank needs cleaning. When you fill your tank at a campground, you never know what last touched that spigot that you're hooked up to. Any contaminants from the last user could travel through your hose and end up in your fresh water tank. You also cannot always be sure that the water that's running through your hose is up to par. Sometimes sediments and other things can collect and get into your system. And if you've ever accidentally hooked up your fresh water hose to rinse your black tank (oops!), the entire fresh water system could be compromised. Cleaning and sanitizing helps to ensure that you will have safe drinking water while you’re out on the road. Because nothing ruins a camping trip faster than a bad case of the stomach flu.

How to Clean Your RV’s Water Lines

First let’s start with an empty system so we’re not just pushing dirty water through all the lines and tanks. Drain the system including the water heater and all the lines. Once the system is empty, close all the valves so you can begin the cleaning process. Create a solution of bleach and water to kill everything that is in your system. The amount will depend on your tank size, but in general you want to keep a ratio of 1 cup of bleach to every 40 gallons of water. Make sure you are using regular chlorine bleach, not scented or gel variations. Dump your bleach mixture into the fresh water tank. Once the tank is full, turn on the faucets (hot and cold) so the bleach mixture starts flowing through all the lines. Include any faucets on the outside of your RV as well, such as a shower or kitchen. Let the water run for a few minutes. You should be able to smell the bleach from the running water. Turn off the faucets and add enough water into the fresh tank to fill it up. Let the water sit in the tank overnight so that the bleach can work its magic of killing any contaminants that might be lingering inside the tank or lines. If you are in a hurry, give it AT LEAST 4 hours to sit (but the longer the better!). The next day (or after 4 hours), drain all the bleach water out of the tank and fill it with clean, fresh water. Flush the lines again with the fresh water and repeat this process several times to ensure you get all the bleach out of the system. If you can still smell the bleach in the system after you have flushed it several times, add a little baking soda to the fresh tank and run it through so it can help eliminate the odors. Then rinse it out again with clean water.

Cleaning your RV’s water lines may not sound like an exciting task, but it can save you a lot of headache (and stomachache) in the long run. There are a lot of waterborne illnesses out there that can wreak havoc on your body and put a damper on your camping trip. Ensure you clean your fresh water system once a year and any time you feel it may have come into contact with contaminants.

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