One of the first things we wanted to make sure we did to our trailer was to sanitize the fresh water tanks. We have two 40 gallon tanks, so with a total 80 gallon capacity, our freshwater tanks will come in handy at our local campground that only provides electric hookups. Since this County Park is literally 10 minutes down the road, it will most likely be our most often used campsite during our early years of using the Jayco.
As directed during our PDI (Pre-Delivery Inspection) and after reading through our owners manual, we felt ready for this fairly simple yet daunting task. After a few YouTube videos for last minute moral support, we headed outside with our Clorox Bleach.
Items or Tools Required: Bleach, Old Measuring Cup, One Gallon Pitcher, Fresh Water Drinking Hose(s)
(NOT your green garden hose)
Please Note: If you have an ice maker or built-in cabinet mounted water filter, please turn those off and isolate them from the water system before doing this procedure! Also, disconnect any freshwater hoses if you are connected to the city water at a campground.
And always, check your specific RV's owner's manual before beginning!
Here's a overly simplified step by step instruction for our Jayco JayFlight (and hopefully helpful to you, too!)
Step One: Drain the Fresh Water Tanks to about half full. Our dealer had filled the tanks completely when we picked up the trailer, so this took awhile. Find the low point drain (or drains in our case) and let 'er rip! Notice: My blue rubber gloves. You might want those and even eye protection when working with bleach.
Step Two: Locate the hot water heater bypass (if your RV comes equipped with one) Our bypass valves are located on the backside of the hot water heater (as can be seen protected by the white styrofoam) below the refrigerator. Two simple phillips head screws removed the access panel below the fridge to reveal the plumbing. Close the intake and outlet valves to the heater and open the bypass valve. I've circled in red the 3 valves that require a simple half turn to use as it's a bit hard to see.
Pro-Tip: Always remember that if the valve is in line with the pipe, it is OPEN. Think of it as the direction that the water flows. If the valve is perpendicular (turned across the pipe) think of it as a wall blocking the water because the valve is CLOSED. As you can see in the photo, I closed the top and bottom valve (intake and outlet) and opened the bypass valve.
Step Three: If your RV has a winterizing kit (pictured above attached to the water pump), this will be very helpful in adding the bleach/water mixture to the fresh water system. If not, and as our owners manual suggests, you can pour the bleach mixture into the fresh water tank directly via a funnel and the outside fill valve.
Step Four: A little math is required here. The recommended mixture requires a 1/4 of a cup of bleach per every 10 gallons of fresh water your tanks hold. We have 80 gallons, so 80 divided by 10 equals 8. 8 x 1/4 cup (or 8 x 0.25) equals 2 cups. We didn't have an older measuring cup laying around that we were willing to get all bleached up, so we used a 16 oz plastic disposable drinking cup. Since 8 oz equals 1 cup, 16 oz is a perfect 2 cups!
Take an old pitcher and fill it with a gallon of water. Pour in the bleach! Then use your winterizing kit (and water pump) or a funnel and the external fresh water fill valve and get that bleach mixture into the fresh water system!
Step Five: Add fresh water to the fresh water tanks and bring the tanks to full! You'll know you're full when the overflow valve under the trailer or motorhome begins flowing with water.
Step Six: Head inside and turn on your water pump. Then run water from every faucet using both hot and cold until you can smell bleach odors in the water. Don't expect overpowering bleach smells. It's faint, but it's there. 2 cups of bleach into 80 gallons isn't much, but is enough to kill any bacteria in the tanks and lines.
Once you smell the bleach, turn off the faucets and turn off your water pump.
Step Seven: After letting the water sit in your fresh water tanks for awhile (some manufacturers recommend even driving or towing the rig to mix up the solution) go ahead and drain your fresh water tanks again at the low point drains. The low levels of bleach in the water are safe to drain out on the ground and I'm happy to say that a week or so later there isn't even a hint of dead grass where the water drained out. However, this is my own backyard and if you're at a campground or RV park, they may have their own restrictions on this much water.
Also, please note, that it took about an hour for all 80 gallons to drain from our tanks. Bring a book!
Step Eight: Once the tanks are empty... fill them back up! Again, use a drinking water safe hose and not the green garden hose.
Step Nine: Once the tanks are full, run the water pump again and run water through all of the faucets to get rid of any bleachy smells. Turn off your water pump. You're done!
You will want to do this a few times a season. We plan on doing it at the start of every season once we de-winterize the trailer and again about halfway through the season, especially if we have heavy usage. We plan to do it once more before closing it up for the winter. You'll also want to sanitize your fresh water system if the rig is new. We weren't sure about the quality of the water that our dealer used to fill the tank for our PDI or any bacteria that may have grown on the tanks during storage at the factory before installation, so we went ahead and sanitized our system.
Also, we used a Camco water filter as another safe guard in cleaning our water before adding it back to the fresh tanks. If you have an eagle eye, you might notice that we don't have a water pressure regulator on the line. These are highly recommended, but, since we were only gravity filling our fresh tanks it's not necessary. However, if we were connected to the city water (which eliminates the need for the trailer's own water pump) we'd be using a pressure regulator so that we don't blow out a water line. We'd recommend you do the same!