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Leaving fresh water tanks full or empty

  • Peter Milne
  • Quo Vadis
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26 Jul 2023 15:54 #11 by Peter Milne
Replied by Peter Milne on topic Leaving fresh water tanks full or empty
I agree with Balliol about the house tanks!  And replaced mine with mains supply.   I don't advocate doing nothing, unless you test the tank water from time to time and (mostly) only use it boiled.  For best practice, I agree with Colin.

When we had winters, I would empty the tank and flush the pipes and taps with Starbrite like Colin.  Not for 10 years though.
 
As to rusting steel, I'll forget about the effort of tank replacement until I really have to do it!  A tank emptying into the bilges just tests the bilge pump - unlike my (land) neighbour whose flat was recently flooded by a defective 22mm mains pipe!    

Pete Milne, Quo Vadis & De Zwaan , Gent.

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  • Peter Cawson
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26 Jul 2023 12:56 #12 by Peter Cawson
Replied by Peter Cawson on topic Leaving fresh water tanks full or empty
With short summer absences from the boat (3-5 weeks), I'm with Balliol, Pete and others.  Leave the tank levels as they are, or fill up for one less job to do on your return.
 
For winter absences, I left the winterisation to someone else (boatyard or locally recommended engineer), but water was drained as fully as possible with antifreeze added where required.  On my return, I added a handful of crushed water purification tablets to the tank and filled up.  If using my own hose, this was thoroughly flushed first, again with crushed tablets added.
 
Never had a hint of smell or other water problem in 12 years.  Tank water used for everything apart perhaps for cold drinking water - this was taken from refilled plastic bottles filled where possible from a hose-less shore supply tap.
 
Peter



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  • Tam Murrell
  • www.foodieafloat.com
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26 Jul 2023 12:04 #13 by Tam Murrell
Replied by Tam Murrell on topic Leaving fresh water tanks full or empty
You do occasionally see boats with those flat hoses - they do take up less space, but again there are hygene issues.

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  • Chris Green
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26 Jul 2023 11:13 #14 by Chris Green
Replied by Chris Green on topic Leaving fresh water tanks full or empty
> The other tip might be to keep water hoses out of the sun. I often see
> hose reels on deck, which can't be good for the residual contents and
> algal growth in the usually translucent hoses.

For this reason we always run water through the hose for several
seconds before starting to fill the tanks.

--
Chris Green

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  • Balliol Fowden
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26 Jul 2023 10:54 #15 by Balliol Fowden
Replied by Balliol Fowden on topic Leaving fresh water tanks full or empty
In the last two houses we have bought (and rebuilt) one of the first things we did was get rid of the loft tanks and go onto mains pressure. Horrible nasty dirty tanks! Having said that we got a shock when we changed the water main into our Rugby place. You could hardly poke a welding rod through the old 3/4" steel pipe for corrosion and crud!

Boat tanks do usually have the merit of being sealed, apart from the vents, but I put gauzes in those to keep out the creepy crawlies. You can't control what comes out of the bank side tap but can only hope and be reasonably prudent. I remember shying away from the public tap by the lockside in Charleroi despite being short of water since the post was clearly well used by others (canine and otherwise) for unauthorised purposes. 

The other tip might be to keep water hoses out of the sun. I often see hose reels on deck, which can't be good for the residual contents and algal growth in the usually translucent hoses.

Balliol.
The following user(s) said Thank You: Peter Milne

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  • Peter Milne
  • Quo Vadis
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26 Jul 2023 10:09 #16 by Peter Milne
Replied by Peter Milne on topic Leaving fresh water tanks full or empty

We treat the water in the tanks on the boat in much the same way as we  treat water at home from the cold water tank in the loft.  We don't
drink it but we do clean our teeth with it.

Same here.  My galvanised steel (ex-milk) tank was probably installed in the 70s and never been treated, just like a house tank (but without the bat droppings.  I keep a 5ltr container of fresh tapwater for drinking without boiling.  My partner, with very sensitive taste, happily made her tea with tankwater.  That was always my test for purity! 

Pete Milne, Quo Vadis & De Zwaan , Gent.

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  • Chris Green
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26 Jul 2023 09:54 #17 by Chris Green
Replied by Chris Green on topic Leaving fresh water tanks full or empty
Yes, we treat (or forget about) our water in much the same way as
Balliol.  I do try and fill up when I leave the boat because it's
annoying to come back and have to fill up straight away.  Our tanks
are one metal and one plastic, down in the bilge so, like others,
unlikely to freeze,  All pipework is plastic and I've never worried
about freezing and have had no issues to date (in 15 years or so).

We treat the water in the tanks on the boat in much the same way as we
treat water at home from the cold water tank in the loft.  We don't
drink it but we do clean our teeth with it.

--
Chris Green

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  • Balliol Fowden
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26 Jul 2023 08:27 #18 by Balliol Fowden
Replied by Balliol Fowden on topic Leaving fresh water tanks full or empty
I don’t think you will find a consensus here! On most topics!

We are rather the opposite to Colin. I always try and leave the tanks full (ready for next time, especially in winter when the tap outside might freeze), never drain the tanks and have never felt the need to treat them.

The tanks are nearly 40 years old and galvanised. We have never had a frost issue with the tanks since as Colin says they are warmed by the water below. The plumbing is all designed to drain down fully to the bilge aft at the turn of two valves. We only ever had one small piece of frost damage after we had to leave the boat unexpectedly and in a rush once to return to England for a few days, not expecting a cold snap.

We never notice any taint in the water. Our guests have never mentioned anything. We do not filter the water. When we drink cold water it tends to be bottled, but not always and usually only because we like it petillante. The kettle is always filled from the normal tap.

But perhaps we have been lucky. A problem with tanks might very easily be a problem with the original water supply, possibly at some time past, and especially in some marinas where the poly pipes and connectors are often run underwater or dangling in the waterway under the pontoons. We don’t use marinas! 

We have had more problems over the years with the water supplies to our houses.

Balliol.

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  • Colin Stone
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26 Jul 2023 07:50 #19 by Colin Stone
Replied by Colin Stone on topic Leaving fresh water tanks full or empty
Water and tanks have been covered fairly regularly on the forum. I leave my tanks, upto 6k litres, at whatever level they are at.  They are effectively on the hull bottom below the floor and "heated" by warmth from the water below.  I add 125ml/ton, small teaspooon in 500ml, Calcium Hypochlorite when filling. For winter I just drain the fresh pipes and put a slosh of Starbrite non toxic antfreeze thro7gh each tap/valve fitting to stop the internals freezing and fracturing.
Drinking water tap supply comes through a Jabsco filter. I never noticed any smell from the shower. 

Colin Stone
It's not the destination, it's the glory of the ride.
Barge Register KEI

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  • Peter Fall
  • Topic Author
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25 Jul 2023 21:12 #20 by Peter Fall
Leaving fresh water tanks full or empty was created by Peter Fall
Not sure if this has been a topic before but what is the consensus of opinion on how to leave a boat's fresh water tank in the summer, when you go away for a few weeks. Here in France I've left mine both empty (ish) and full to avoid a nasty smell from the water when we return. This time we left it empty and then flushed through with Milton when we returned. I'm sure the pipes and the base of the tank were clean but the refilled water tasted chemical. In the UK I always left the tanks full but here in France with warmer temperatures the water seems to go off. 
Any thoughts?

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