How To Sanitize RV Water Lines

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Sanitizing Bleach

Before owning my first camper I had never considered that you need to sanitize the water lines. For those of you just starting out, here is the process I use and some tips I have learned.

How Often Should I Sanitize My RV Water Lines and Tank?

If it has been more than a week since my last trip I sanitize the water system before leaving home.
Another time you want to sanitize your RV water lines is after you de-winterize from storage.
Here are the steps I follow.

Remove any Stagnant Water

  • Drain water from your fresh water tank
  • Drain water from your low point drains

Sanitation Process

  • Drain water from your fresh water tank and low point drains
  • Fill the tank ½ way then add ½ cup of bleach per 30 gallons to your tank, you might want to premix the bleach with water in an old milk jug to make it easier to pour in
  • Fill the rest of the tank
  • Then connect your fresh water hose to your RV and pour about 2 capfuls of bleach into the end of the hose
  • Connect the hose to your water supply and turn it on
  • Open one of your fixtures in your RV and let it run for about a minute, this will get some bleach into your city water connection line
  • Disconnect the hose from the city water connection and turn on the water pump
  • Run each fixture in the RV until you smell bleach, make sure to run both the hot and cold water
  • Add water to your fresh water tank again until it come out the overflow line, this will ensure the bleach is in contact with the top of the tank
  • Take a break, the bleach needs some time to do its job so leave it for an hour or two.
  • Drain the water from your fresh water tank and low point drains again
  • Fill your fresh water tank, drain it and fill it again, this should remove most of the bleach smell from you fresh water tank
  • Run water from all hot and cold fixtures until the bleach smell is gone
  • Fill your fresh water tank back up


Some Sanitizing Tips

  • I always store my camper with the lines full of water and try to keep the fresh water tank at least ½ full.  This eliminates air from the system which would allow bacteria to grow more easily.
  • If you do not have low point drains or if they are hard to access they do not have to be drained in the sanitizing process.  Although draining them does help to ensure the whole system gets sanitized.  I installed valves below my RV where the lines exit, this way they are easily accessible.
  • If the bleach smell is not leaving the hot water system when sanitizing you may want to drain your hot water tank.  Do this by cracking open the pressure relief valve then removing the drain plug (make sure to turn your pump off first) refill hot water tank my re-inserting the plug using Teflon tape and then run your pump until water come out the pressure relief valve. Then close the pressure relief valve.
  • I have seen campers using an open water spigot to give their dogs a drink.  Keep a spray bottle with water mixed with a capful of bleach.  This can be used to spray of your water hose connections and the spigot to sanitize them before hooking up.
  • Always have a 2-way water valve and second hose that is not white.  You can connect the 2-way valve to campground water spigot and have one side for your fresh water hose and a second hose for flushing your black water tank or other uses.  Having the second hose in another color makes it easy to avoid connection your black water flush hose to you city water connection.  I use a Pocket Hose because when it’s not in use it stores in ½ the space of a standard hose.  The 2-way valve can also come in handy if you need to share a spigot with the site next to you.

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