Fresh / grey water tank descaling

Submitted: Friday, Sep 18, 2015 at 17:25
ThreadID: 130324 Views:1896 Replies:6 FollowUps:5
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Hi Everyone, We have just returned from a 19,000 km circuit of WA where we had occasion to use a lot of bore water that contained a high mineral content. I am sure there are products on the market that can remove the surface mineral build up inside the tanks and is there a different treatment necessary for the grey water tank.
Your help and advise on the treatment process and which product would be the best to do it will be a great help.
Thanks Bob.
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Reply By: Hoyks - Friday, Sep 18, 2015 at 19:21

Friday, Sep 18, 2015 at 19:21
I would have though that you would have only got a scale if the tanks were allowed to run dry? If there is water slopping around in there then there would be negligible building up on the tanks walls.

Rinse it out with fresh water and it should be good to go.
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Reply By: Motherhen - Friday, Sep 18, 2015 at 23:53

Friday, Sep 18, 2015 at 23:53
CLR should remove calcium scale if it is a problem.

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Reply By: Member - Peter H1 (NSW) - Saturday, Sep 19, 2015 at 09:35

Saturday, Sep 19, 2015 at 09:35
You could also use Cleaning Vinegar [supermarkets]. This is used to descale coffee machines.

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Follow Up By: Member - Warren H - Saturday, Sep 19, 2015 at 15:40

Saturday, Sep 19, 2015 at 15:40
A bit depends on whether you want to remove calcium deposits or iron stains. Calcium is usually there as calcium carbonate and iron as a form of hydrated iron oxide (similar to ochre). You need something to dissolve them, usually an acid, then have something to prevent them reprecipitating or forming a coating that prevents the cleaner from acting on the remaining scale. A strong acid like hydrochloric would work but would not be compatible with metal fittings and perhaps seals and also needs careful handling using personal protective equipment. Acetic acid (vinegar) is a weak acid and will work for calcium carbonate but not so well for iron. I had a look at the msds for CLR and it uses a mixture of weak organic acids and complexing agents, presumably the formulation works as the name stands for calcium/lime/rust. Once you add in soap scum it gets a bit more complicated. Perhaps if you sequentially tried CLR->water->vinegar->water->bicarb soda in water (to neutralise residual acid), then 3x rinse with water. This should rinse out the residue of the cleaners no problem, the issue is while none of these will affect plastic, especially in short term exposure, metal bits could quite easily be adversely affected so if you have pumps, hand pumps etc with metal then they would need to be disconnected prior to cleaning to be safe. Another question is if it iron staining you are worried about, do you really need to get rid of it, as long as there isn't so much that it's clogged things up, it's not going anywhere? The solubility of these iron oxides is very small that's why it coats things in the first place. Good luck
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Reply By: The Bantam - Saturday, Sep 19, 2015 at 22:24

Saturday, Sep 19, 2015 at 22:24
there are commercial tank sanitising and cleaning products available ........ but I recon Citric Acid would be the product of choice maybe with a little detergent.

Citric acid is used for all sorts of things from cleaning medical equipment & dishwashers to roofs of houses.

Its agressive enough to shift scale and sludge, it surpresses mould and bacteria, but rinses out clean.

The problem with cleaning vinegar is that it simply is not convieninet to use enough of it to do the job in a large volume tank.

cheers
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Reply By: hooks - Sunday, Sep 20, 2015 at 11:36

Sunday, Sep 20, 2015 at 11:36
Thanks for all your replies, I will try some citric acid as this seems the most straight forward treatment and its a natural product. Do most of you worry about the mineral build up anyway, perhaps I am being a bit over the top about it ?
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Follow Up By: The Bantam - Sunday, Sep 20, 2015 at 12:24

Sunday, Sep 20, 2015 at 12:24
you'll never have looked in ya jug at home then.
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Follow Up By: hooks - Sunday, Sep 20, 2015 at 13:17

Sunday, Sep 20, 2015 at 13:17
Yes we had some slight residue in our vans jug and kettle and citric acid removed it. However after seeing the huge mineral build up on the fresh water tap in a NT caravan park, I was alarmed. Needless to say we did not connect water from this tap into the van. I found all water though, especially from the various bores has mineral content to some degree.
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Follow Up By: The Bantam - Sunday, Sep 20, 2015 at 14:48

Sunday, Sep 20, 2015 at 14:48
The mineral content will be mostly iron so little to be concerned with as far as health ..... flavour will be more of a problem than anything.

cheers
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Follow Up By: Bob Y. - Qld - Sunday, Sep 20, 2015 at 15:17

Sunday, Sep 20, 2015 at 15:17
Don't think you've got too much to worry about, Hooks. As Hoyks said, it would only be a problem if the tanks were allowed to dry out repeatedly. Engine cooling systems are one example where there is constant heating and cooling, and build-up of scale from heat.

Have spent a lot of time around bores, and it's only the really salty, or highly mineralised ones that have rapid scale or residue build-up. Have seen a 40mm pipe choked up with scale, with only a 12mm hole through the centre allowing water flow. This was on a single cylinder stationary engine, that used a 44 gal drum as a cooling reservoir.

That tap you mentioned was probably weeping slightly, and the water was constantly evaporating, causing the scale you noticed. Any bore is worth a "taste test"....if it's not tasty immediately, then maybe give it a miss. Probably the worst it can do is flush the system out! :-)

Bob



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Reply By: Sawtybt - Thursday, Sep 24, 2015 at 16:34

Thursday, Sep 24, 2015 at 16:34
Hooks,

We use De-Scale-It from Biomagic. We use it to clean our toilet cassette after we have been away. We think its a great product and you can order it online.

Biomagic
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