Clean Water Storage and Bad Tasting Water

The water storage tank fitted to your camper, caravan or camper trailer can be the source of bad tasting water or even contaminated water. Here are a few tips make your drinking water safer and taste nice too!

Often with new caravans or campers the water tank can have residues from the manufacturing process or simply give off a plastic taste from the water stored in it. There are several things you can do if your drinking water from the on-board storage tastes nasty. Consider these tips:

  1. Garden hoses are not the best to use to fill your caravan’s water tank, especially if its been laying in the sun as the chemicals in the nylon or plastic will leach into the water. Its unlikely to cause any harm, but it can make your drinking water taste like…well….drinking from a garden hose!
  2. Use a coloured hose specially for drinking water – they can be found at Bunnings and are usually light blue.
  3. After each trip empty the tank and leave the bung screw off along with the filler cap open so that the air is allowed to flow into the tank and dry it out between trips. If you park your caravan outside or it doesn’t get used often, place some insect mesh over the holes to prevent spiders or cockroaches making a home out of your water tank.
  4. After the tank has dried out (allowing about a week or so, depending on air temps) replace the filler cap and tank bung.

To clean a contaminated water tank try these ideas:

  1. Fill the tank with water and leave it for a week before draining it completely. Let the tank air out, then fill it again repeating the process once more and flush it thoroughly;
  2. Buy a product called “Tank Clean” from your nearest caravan shop and follow the instructions (Fill & add cleaner, let sit for 12 hours then flush with clean water);
  3. Leave the caps off the tank and let it dry out.

The thing that works well is to always make sure you put clean water into the tank in the first place. It also helps to install a water filter in the inlet line if you are drinking water from suspect locations or areas where there might be contamination in the water. You can also use a portable filter like a Britta filter jug to pre treat drinking water.

I recently replaced a short manual water pump in the Jayco since the seal split in the existing one.  The water tasted like rubber and straight away I realised the new rubber diaphram in the pump was the problem. Pumping warm water through the unit will speed the cleaning process up, but to clear the taste it was just a matter of time.  Until the water was OK to taste, I’d use the bad water for washing up. After a couple of days it came good.

Just a quick note on this topic: Never use chemicals or treatments that are unsafe for drinking water, always read the instructions, if in doubt…flush it out, every couple of years give your tank a complete flush clean.