Keeping Undercamper water tanks sterile.

Submitted: Tuesday, May 03, 2016 at 15:19
ThreadID: 132302 Views:3042 Replies:8 FollowUps:8
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Hi All
I have a Jayco Swan with 2 water tanks and I'm wondering how to keep them clean when the camper is stored in the shed between trips.I was underneath it the other day and noticed mould inside the clear plastic overflow pipes which exit above the filler tubes in the side hatch.Do I store them empty or leave warter in and add a sterilizer solution?Hoping someone can set me straight.

Regards ANDO
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Reply By: Frank P (NSW) - Tuesday, May 03, 2016 at 15:38

Tuesday, May 03, 2016 at 15:38
Opinions vary. I prefer to store mine full on the basis there is less air to help the nasties breathe and grow.

Every trip I drain and re-fill with fresh water.

Every 6 months I sanitise the system with 1:1000 chlorine bleach. eg 50ml laundry bleach in 50 litres water. Run it through the taps and pumps until you can smell the chlorine, leave for 12 hours, then drain, flush tanks and pipes/pumps and re-fill.

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Reply By: Member - Rod N (QLD) - Tuesday, May 03, 2016 at 15:47

Tuesday, May 03, 2016 at 15:47
The clear plastic overflow pipes are a problem. Mould needs light to grow. Exclude the light by using black tubing and that will fix that problem.
In the 8 years I have had my van I have never treated the tanks. Most times I just park up with whatever is in the tanks and fill them when heading off next time. I must say I have never had the water tested or suffered ill effects.
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Follow Up By: Notso - Tuesday, May 03, 2016 at 16:08

Tuesday, May 03, 2016 at 16:08
I can't figure out why so many vans are made with the clear plastic pipes. A friend had one with clear plastic from and to the tanks. They all had a green coating of algae on them within 12 months.
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Follow Up By: Kazza055 - Tuesday, May 03, 2016 at 18:41

Tuesday, May 03, 2016 at 18:41
Like Rod N, we have had 3 vans over the past 15 years and never worried about emptying or flushing the water tanks. Just top them up before taking of on the next trip.

As mentioned, keep the light out and the algae can't grow.
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Follow Up By: Member - Ups and Downs - Wednesday, May 04, 2016 at 07:30

Wednesday, May 04, 2016 at 07:30
Same as Rod and Kazza, except I top up when we get home rather than leave half full of air.

Paul
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Reply By: Member - Chooky and Wobble - Tuesday, May 03, 2016 at 16:58

Tuesday, May 03, 2016 at 16:58
I do a similar thing to frank except I use a comercial drinking water chlorine treatment and leave it in the full tank. My van has black tubing so no trouble with mould.

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Reply By: ccrander - Tuesday, May 03, 2016 at 19:32

Tuesday, May 03, 2016 at 19:32
Hi All
Thanks your thoughts on my issue.I think I'll use Frank's chlorine dose to hopefully kill the mold and store the tanks full.I wonder if spraying all the visable clear tubing with black paint would help?I'm thinking it can't hurt to give it a try.Thanks again.
Regards Ando
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Follow Up By: Notso - Wednesday, May 04, 2016 at 08:42

Wednesday, May 04, 2016 at 08:42
What my mate did was to cover the pipes with split ribbed tubing. The stuff they use for protecting wiring.
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Follow Up By: Motherhen - Wednesday, May 04, 2016 at 12:22

Wednesday, May 04, 2016 at 12:22
Great idea Notso :)
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Reply By: Hoyks - Tuesday, May 03, 2016 at 20:24

Tuesday, May 03, 2016 at 20:24
Mold can grow happily in the dark. It is algae that needs light. Algae can grow in damp areas or under water, mold just likes it warm and damp. Black tubing just means you can't see the mold.

If you can't pump it completely dry, then probably best to leave it full and dosed with something to inhibit the growth of gunk. I used to use a home brewers bottle sterilizing solution which was basically sodium percarbonate (nappysan is around 20% sodium percarbonate). The water always tasted as fresh as the stuff straight out of the tanks at home.
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Follow Up By: Shaker - Tuesday, May 03, 2016 at 22:31

Tuesday, May 03, 2016 at 22:31
Do you use sodium percarbonate in your tanks at home?

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Follow Up By: Hoyks - Wednesday, May 04, 2016 at 05:32

Wednesday, May 04, 2016 at 05:32
Um, no. 50000L would take a lot. I do try and keep the tanks full though, when the weather cooperates.

I do use pool chlorine if I get a dead animal in there.
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Reply By: Motherhen - Tuesday, May 03, 2016 at 23:06

Tuesday, May 03, 2016 at 23:06
Hi ANDO

Although storing with them full would be better, we leave them as they are when we get home, and top them up before going away, even with years between trips. After all the water is more sealed from the light than in the household rainwater tank which also gets topped up, each winter and we have to manage so it never gets empty.

We only fill with town scheme water or clean water. Anything with obvious sediment gets used direct from a bucket rather than through the tanks.

Yes, clear hoses are not a good idea. We use black irrigation trickle pipe for the breathers. If you have clear hoses for delivery and they collects algae, it is cheap enough to change periodically rather than try and clean them all. These drinking water quality hoses are available from Bunnings. Otherwise replace with with the more expensive lined food grade hoses.


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Reply By: Malcom M - Wednesday, May 04, 2016 at 07:36

Wednesday, May 04, 2016 at 07:36
Couple of points to consider.

Remote area houses have used tank water for years and don't drain them except for maintenance. Same idea as your camper.

I never emptied mine either until one day whilst swapping out a toilet cistern (town chlorinated water) I noticed a film of slime around the inside of the cistern. Not the green type of thing, in fact not visible but you can certainly feel it with your hand.
That water is turned over several times a day and is stored without sunlight yet something grows.

Started draining my tanks for long periods of disuse after that. Also makes the trailer lighter to tow on the home leg.
If I do any sterialising of anything, I use Milton baby bottle cleaner. Tastes better than chlorine or bleach.
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Follow Up By: sweetwill - Wednesday, May 04, 2016 at 08:30

Wednesday, May 04, 2016 at 08:30
Milton, if it's good enough for baby's its good enough for me,empty water when you get home then one ltr of Milton then fill the tank,and leave till just before your next trip empty and refill with fresh water.
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Reply By: Member - Warren H - Wednesday, May 04, 2016 at 16:04

Wednesday, May 04, 2016 at 16:04
This paper compares sodium hypochlorite (liquid chlorine bleach, Milton liquid) with sodium dichloroisocyanuric acid (slow release pool chlorine, Milton tablets, various trade names) for household water treatment.
http://www.unicef.org/cholera/Annexes/Supporting_Resources/Annex_9/Clasen-NaDCC2.pdf
If you skim over the chemistry and tech bits you'll be able to get the gist of it. Advantages of milton tablets is that it's slow release and the tablets have a shelf life of several years whereas the liquid sterilising solutions gradually loose chlorine and efficacy.
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