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Why are we told to bypass the hot water heater when sanitizing the fresh water system?


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I just sanitized our system (overnight), including the hot water tank, and then discovered  advise to bypass the water heater; have I done damage?  is there something I need to do now?

Thanks for your help.

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Assuming that you used a mild bleach solution when you sanitized your system and only left it in the hot water tank overnight - it is highly likely that you have no permanent damage to your system (and tank).  

If I were in your shoes, I'd only make sure that the tank is thoroughly flushed.  Actually - to over do it a bit - I'd probably pull the anode rod and flush the tank with one of THESE.

Bill

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The chlorine bleach could be highly corrosive to your aluminum water tank when heated. To be extra careful, I would thoroughly flush the tank as Bill suggests but with a 10:1 solution of water and 3% Hydrogen peroxide. Peroxide will neutralize any residual chlorine.

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I suspect you'll  be okay if you thoroughly rinse that tank.. and drain and fill it a few times, before you turn on the heater..

I  suspect a lot of people use more chlorine bleach than necessary. More is NOT better. It leaves a chlorine residue, and is more corrosive, with no added advantage . 

When I had my restaurant,  I  had one delightful health inspector who loved to teach. If he found an over-chlorinated sanitizer bucket, he'd ask everyone around to show how to achieve a proper level,  and then stick his finger in the bucket and lick it, to prove proper levels were human safe, but effective, testing with ph strips. Great guy.

We use purogene instead of chlorine bleach, in our trailer. I  don't love the smell of bleach, and it doesn't agree with me.

How much bleach did you use for sanitizing?

 

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I agree with the advice given here.  If you’ve never pulled the anode from your hot water tank and cleaned out the deposits now is a great time to do it.  Inspect your anode to see how much life is left.  Get one of those Camco hose attachments that you can stick in the anode hole and flush out the deposits.  I don’t sanitize the hot water tank.  I generally pour  a half cup or so of bleach into my fill hose and then hook up to the water source and fill the fresh tank.  I run the cold water until I can smell the bleach.  Then let it sit a while before emptying and filling a couple of times.  Mike

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If your anode looks like half used at the end of the year, replace it, imo. One more year, and it's past done. 

They're not that expensive, and extend the life of your system.  

 

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Thank you everyone for taking time to discuss this!  I used 1/2 cup of bleach, and let it sit for a total of 18 hours.  The anode was replaced at the end of last season, so it was new when I did this.  We have one of the tools for flushing the anode, so that is available to use.  I’ve been reading about Purogene and that sounds like a better way to go for the future; am just deciding how big a bottle to get.  Question about the advice to use hydrogen peroxide:  is the intent to only use that on the hot water heater? 

Thank you so much!

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So I pulled the anode, and flushed the hot water tank with water, then put  about 750 ml of hydrogen peroxide + water into the anode opening.  Think I really only got this solution in the bottom of the hot water tank. I am now emptying the fresh water tank. Not sure how to flush the hot water tank out more thoroughly?

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2 hours ago, MAG said:

Question about the advice to use hydrogen peroxide:  is the intent to only use that on the hot water heater? 

The aluminum water heater tank and anode are the only components that can be adversely affected by a chlorine solution. Unless you can remove the safety relief valve, the only practical way to induce a solution into the water heater is to pump it in using the winterizing valve settings. I would premix the solution in a large enough container and draw it into the water heater this way.

Beginning with an unpressurized water system:

1. Start with all water faucets closed, the rear inlet capped, and the water heater bypass valve normalized. (Not bypassed)

2. Remove w/h anode for draining.

3. Lift to open the safety relief valve lever on the water heater to vent the tank and allow all water to drain. Note that this value must remain open until the very end .

4. After water tank has completely drained, reinstall anode.

5. Connect a drawtube from solution container to rear inlet and use water pump to draw solution in until it starts coming out the w/h safety relief valve.  Note that the solution should only enter the water heater if all other water outlets are closed.

At this point, how long you leave the solution sit in the tank isn't that important. Go ahead with draining and refilling the tank with freshwater finalizing by closing the relief valve lever.

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Any wet tank will corrode.  Just a matter of time and the rate.  My industrial water treatment background taught me that the best way to prevent corrosion in a tank that was not is use is to drain and air dry it. 

Hence, at the end of the season, with a cold hot water tank, I close off the bypass valve, relieve the pressure at the Temperature/Pressure Relief Valve, remove the anode to drain the tank, and flush the tank with my home made flushing wand.  I do not re-install the anode to let the tank air dry.  No water, no corrosion, no anode oxidizing away for no purpose.  Next season I briefly flush the hot water tank, reinstall the anode, open the bypass valve to fill the tank (With the Pressure/Temperature Relief valve open, and flush out all air.  Then reset the valves and move on to having fun.

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4 hours ago, Geronimo John said:

Hence, at the end of the season, …

Having an off-season can have advantages.  Draining and storing with dry tanks appears to extend the life of tanks and components.  We camp any time of the year so there is no off season.  I do drain the fresh tank if it’s going to sit for more than 4 weeks and clean out the hot water tank annually, otherwise everything is full and ready to go.  Mike

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21 hours ago, bhncb said:

5. Connect a drawtube from solution container to rear inlet and use water pump to draw solution in until it starts coming out the w/h safety relief valve.  Note that the solution should only enter the water heater if all other water outlets are closed.

Another question for you:  Should the  pump valves be set for Boondocking (drawing the solution into the fresh water tank) or for Winterizing (pushing the fluid directly to plumbing fixtures)?  I have a total of 22 cups of fluid, and wonder if the fluid goes into the fresh water tank if it will be meaningful in the water heater; I guess I could go buy more hydrogen peroxide, but am hoping to be able to work with what I have.  

Thanks again for your help.

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1 hour ago, MAG said:

Another question for you:  Should the  pump valves be set for Boondocking (drawing the solution into the fresh water tank) or for Winterizing (pushing the fluid directly to plumbing fixtures)?  I have a total of 22 cups of fluid, and wonder if the fluid goes into the fresh water tank if it will be meaningful in the water heater; I guess I could go buy more hydrogen peroxide, but am hoping to be able to work with what I have.  

Thanks again for your help.

Winterizing. You only want the solution to go into the water heater. The only procedural difference in valve settings would be for the water heater bypass. FYI I usually buy 3% peroxide at Sam's Club where they sell it in a two-pack of quart bottles or 1/2 gallon for less that 2 bucks. Walmarts also typically have individual quart bottles.

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1 hour ago, bhncb said:

Winterizing. You only want the solution to go into the water heater. The only procedural difference in valve settings would be for the water heater bypass. FYI I usually buy 3% peroxide at Sam's Club where they sell it in a two-pack of quart bottles or 1/2 gallon for less that 2 bucks. Walmarts also typically have individual quart bottles.

Thank you.  I'm off to buy more hydrogen peroxide, and finish this task off.  I guess this is a way to get more familiar with our Ollie!

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OK, The flushing of the hot water tank with hydrogen peroxide is complete, and one last rinse with plain water is done..  Thank you everyone, and especially bhncb, for all you shared about how to do this.  

With gratitude,  Mary

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