Cool Trick! Sanitize Your RV’s Fresh Water System Without a Winterizing Kit.

TheRVgeeks Annual Maintenance, Quick Tips, Water & Sewer 25 Comments

We have a confession to make. We’ve been drinking heavily for over a decade. There. We finally said it out loud. It feels good to come clean about our habit of drinking from our RV’s fresh water tank. Please don’t judge.

Bottled water is expensive, tough on the environment (plastic bad), uses up valuable storage space and weight carrying capacity and is a general pain in the butt to lug around and keep on board. We just can’t be bothered with it, so we keep our water in potable (safe to drink) condition at all times by sanitizing the fresh water system about twice a year. And we have never once had any issue drinking from the tank. Part-timers who store their rigs for the winter should be fine sanitizing once a year, in the spring.

Sanitizing is a breeze when you know how to do it. But both of our previous videos about the process — 1) cold side only and 2) entire system — show us using our RV’s winterizing kit to draw bleach into the fresh water tank.

But what if your rig doesn’t have a winterizing kit? This short video will show you an easy way to get bleach into any RV’s fresh water tank. After watching it, you’ll also need to watch one of the original videos to see how to complete the process.

Since we don’t drink from the hot water side, we usually sanitize just the cold side of the system. But it’s easy to do the whole system if you want to. Just pick the corresponding video and follow along. Of course when you get to the part about adding bleach using a winterizing kit, you’ll now know how to get around that completely if you don’t have one. Or even if you do. wink


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Comments 25

  1. I have an Allegro bus 2011. Living in south Texas I have not had the need to winterize but want to sanitize the fresh water tank and pipes. The video pouring bleach in the primary filter housing looked like a great idea. After watching this several times I gave it a go. after filling my tank 35%, I stopped the water to check if the filter housing had been filled and the bleach sucked out. No just as I left it with 3/4 of a cup of bleach in it. Although I have never sanitized the fresh water tank it is now an obsession. I purchased a winterizing kit and have yet to find the right set up to get the bleach in the fresh water tank. Puzzling to say the least. Any experience with a 2011 Allegro Bus?

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      Author

      Hi Ken,

      Sorry to hear that using the whole house filter housing didn’t work for you… one of the problems of there being no (significant) standardization to the way RV manufacturers engineer their systems. Sounds like Tiffin plumbs things differently than Newmar does!

      We don’t have any experience with ANY Tiffin… let alone a 2011 Allegro Bus. But… Google is a wonderful thing! We found the owner’s manual for the 2011 Allegro Bus on Tiffin’s website here: http://tiffinmotorhomes.com/sites/default/files/pdfs/2011_AllegroBus_Owners_Manual.pdf

      Page 11-4 is where they list their Sanitizing procedure. They reference a “hose attachment” for the pump that you use to suck the chlorine solution into the tank. Not sure if you have that… but we would guess that a call to Tiffin would identify it and possibly get you a replacement.

      Hope this helps you get this figured out!

  2. I noticed you have 2 parts to your ladder on the back of your RV. I have the same set up with my ladder. It looks like you attached one half to the other half to store. My question is how is that set up. Thank you!

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      Author

      Hi Mike! We bought some hardware/fittings to allow us hang the loose ladder section from the attached section. It’s kind of unorthodox… and getting pretty rusty after all these years, so we should probably replace it. LOL If you give me a day or two, I’ll e-mail you a photo or two privately (I can see your Comcast e-mail address, which isn’t public, but is visible on our WordPress control panel).

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      Author

      Hi Mike. I sent more details and a series of photos to your e-mail address. Since it had attachments, and was from an email address you likely didn’t have in your address book, it may have gotten caught in spam. Please let me know if it came through okay. Hope it helps.

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  3. I tried this on my 2015 Tiffin gas model and it didn’t pump the Clorox out of the filter housing. After fiddling with it it appears water goes straight from the tank fill to the fresh water tank and does not pass through the whole house filter until coming out of it using the water pump. Have you heard of this before?

    Thanks

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      Author

      Hi Randy. We’ve now heard from a couple of other Tiffin owners who have said the same thing. Can’t imagine why Tiffin wouldn’t want to filter all the water coming in, but that seems to be the way they’ve designed it. It seems a shame to have to use an external filter when you already have one built in, but without a winterizing kit, that might still be a good choice for adding bleach.

  4. I called my manufacture because I don’t have a bypass for the drinking water filter or ice maker. They said to sanitize it all and I don’t need to replace the filter afterwards.

    I do have a valve to shut the ice maker line off, but part of me says to just sanitize it all like they said – the manual also says nothing about diverting them or the water heater.

    Seems like if the drinking water filter is working, the line to the drinking faucet and ice maker should be clean anyway.

    What do you think of this?

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      Author

      Typically, the carbon water filters for the drinking water dispenser and ice maker are specifically designed (among other things) to remove chlorine. That will likely prevent the bleached water from reaching all the way to the dispenser, but we agree that this isn’t really an issue. The only ramification you’ll experience from not bypassing the water heater when bleaching is that it will take quite a bit of flushing to get it all out of the heater, leaving you with bleachy hot water for a few days. One way to minimize that is to remove the anode (on a Suburban brand heater) or the drain plug (an an Atwood heater) and drain the water heater directly. But we agree with the manufacturer that you should have no problem doing it the way you’re describing.

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  5. You know with all these great ideas you have, you ought think about putting them ” on the line” . People would love them and you guys would become FAMOUS!! LOL

  6. WOW!!! I have been wanting a whole house water filter. Hubby says OK, but it never gets done. We have been adding the bleach to our water hose before hooking it up to the RV. We use a funnel and measuring cup, but it’s a 2 person job!!! Hubby will love this tip and I will finally get the whole house filter!!! YAY!!!

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  7. If you don’t sanitize the hose then when you fill the tank after you sanitize it aren’t you reintroducing bacteria from the hose into the tank/ RV water system?

    Also, won’t pouring the strait bleach into the water filter housing destroy the O-ring that stops the water filter housing from leaking?

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      Author

      Great questions, Ralph! Whenever we’re at a full hook-up park with treated city water, the hose gets the same chlorinated water that the entire park system gets. It’s the stuff that sits in our RV’s system (especially the tank) for periods of time that requires the extra care of sanitizing. We do replace our water hose from time to time as an added precaution. The alternative would be to try to bleach the water hose, which can easily lead to spilled bleach, which we try to avoid. Also, putting bleach into the hose and then flushing it directly into the system does not keep it in contact with the hose long enough to sanitize it anyway.

      Regarding the o-ring… because there’s not enough bleach to reach anywhere near the top of the filter housing, it doesn’t come into contact the o-ring. Then, when we turn on the water, it is diluted and flushed into the tank so quickly that it doesn’t make contact with the o-ring long enough, and concentrated enough, to harm it.

  8. Great Video, I have a whole house water filter, gave it a try today on the cold water, removed any bacteria from the system and placed a new filter, water tastes great, Thanks

  9. What a great idea, thanks! I’ve been pouring the bleach into my water hose before hooking it up to the spigot, for years. I always spill a lot of the bleach in the process. No more!

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      We’ve heard about the “pour the bleach into the hose” method too, but always figured that it would result in spilled bleach. Thanks for confirming our suspicions! lol

  10. Great video. We always enjoy watching your topics that make our lives easier. I have purchased many products from the links or via your website. Thanks.

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