Gary Bunzer, the RV Doctor
Greetings to all fans of RVing in the Great Northwest! Ah, you can feel it can’t you? The attitudinal shift as winter’s wrath begins a slow passage to the back of our memories and is immediately replaced by spring’s welcoming blossom! The birds are chirping, the sun is shining, the air is a bit drier and we’ve been feeling the itch to get that RV up and running, just pining for that first trip of the new RVing season!
Seasoned RVers know the importance of properly preparing the RV for use; I’ve even presented a seminar at the Seattle RV Show entitled, “The Spring Shakedown - De-winterizing the RV” in the past. One of the major steps during that detailed exercise is prepping the fresh water system, including the process of chlorinating the entire system; all the piping, fittings and components.
You’ll find much info on chlorinating, (also called “sanitizing”), the RV fresh water system on the Internet. Unfortunately, as much as you might discover some helpful advice, you’ll more than likely find a plethora of misinformation as well. Some of it can be downright scary and some suggestions, even dangerous! You’ll find a lot of “home brews” as I call them. Whether they might work or not, I’ll never know. RVIA, the association responsible for developing safety codes and standards for all things RV has adopted an official method of chlorinating the fresh water system in totality. These are the exact procedures we teach professional RV service technicians. Here then, are the official steps as recommended by RVIA, and just as easily performed by any RV handyperson:
1. Drain and flush the fresh water tank; leave empty.
2. Mix 1/4-cup of liquid household bleach (sodium hypochlorite) solution with one gallon of fresh water.
3. Pour directly into the fresh water tank.
4. Pour in one gallon of the chlorine/water solution for every 15 gallons of fresh water tank capacity.
Note: If the RV is not equipped with a gravity fill for the fresh water tank, using a funnel, pour each gallon of the mixture directly into the fresh water hose prior to connecting it to the city water source.
5. Top off the tank with fresh water.
6. Remove or bypass water purification equipment and/or filtering cartridges.
7. Turn on the water pump and open every faucet in the RV, including exterior faucets and showerheads.
8. Allow the solution to pump through the system to the toilet, through the water heater and to every hot and cold faucet at each sink until the distinct odor of the chlorine is present at every fixture.
9. At the city water inlet, using the eraser end of a pencil, gently push in on the check valve spring allowing the solution to pump out through the city water inlet until the chlorine odor is detected in the discharge.
10. Close all the faucets and turn off the water pump.
11. Allow the system to stand dormant for four hours. This will chlorinate and disinfect the system, including the fresh water tank, the water heater, the faucets, the complete piping system and all fittings to a residual level of 50 ppm (parts per million).
Note: Do not allow the chlorinated solution to sit longer than four hours in the fresh water system to avoid damage to delicate plumbing components found in some water pumps.
12. At four hours, drain and flush the system once again and top off the water tank with fresh water.
If 100 ppm residual concentration is required or desired, use 1/2-cup of bleach instead of 1/4-cup with each gallon of the solution and let it stand for at least one to two hours. If the odor of the chlorine is still too strong for your tastes, drain, flush and refill the tank until you are satisfied. This process should be performed after any period of nonuse, such as during the spring shakedown after storage, or whenever stale or distasteful water has been experienced.
So, there you have it Northwesterners! If you have any questions about this prescription, be sure to look me up at the Puyallup or Seattle RV Show, or visit www.rvdoctor.com, but do remember, RVing is more than a hobby, it’s a lifestyle!
Gary Bunzer is a nationally recognized expert, experienced in educating and enlightening both the RV owner and the professional RV service technician. He speaks across the country and is a favorite seminar speaker at both the Seattle and Puyallup RV Shows.