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Old 21-08-2005, 01:55   #1
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Water tank smell and taste...No good

Posted this question on that other board.

Any ideas or comments:

--------------------------------------------------------

The water tank on my 1979 CSY 33 is made of fiberglass and built into the hull below the cabin sole.
I had the boat for almost 7 years and have not had any propblems with the quality of the drinking water until last year or so.

After about a day, the water takes on a chemical kind of taste and smell...Not really strong, just a bit un-pleasant.

We have always filtered the drinking water and have tried different filters, up to the 377 series carbon impregnated high-end filter that is rated at 0.5 micron.

And it makes no difference.

Have tried the clorox and shock treatment, but that is mostly for bacterias, not for chemical problems.

Today I opened up a couple of inspection ports in the tank and found it squeaky clean inside, no black stuff or mold, just a little bit of white debris floating in the bottom.

(The tank is empty, but it has several compartments with a 1/4" lip in each, so one can never completely empty the tank without getting in there.)

I have a hunch that some old caulk/sealants is breaking down and that is the white particles donw there.

Not sure if it is 5200 or silicon, or 101 or whatever.
The caulk is there, I think, to support a longitudinal bulkead in a groove in the bottom of the tank, not to seal, but to keep it snug.

It MAY be possible to peel out most of it with a dentist's tool, then squeeze something else in there, or just leave it alone.

There is no signs of blisters or any other problems like cracks in the gelcoat or some such thing.

The only other thing I can think of was that I installed a float for an electric tank gauge a few years ago.
(WEMA) Wonder if that thing would have some kind of chemical reaction with lightly chlorinated water..?

The tank is 157 gallons with several baffles and it is almost impossible to get to all of it on the inside.

I may also need to re-seal the oulet on the bottom, what kind of sealant is safe for water tanks?

Silicon...?

Any suggestions....?

(No, ain't selling the boat.. )
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Old 21-08-2005, 06:28   #2
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So with your head down in the tank, you couldn't detect any odor similar to what you are tasting???
What about the bits of white stuff, did they have any odor??? Can you tast some of that water down there and see if it has a similar tast?
Just seems a little perplexing, as I imagine it is to you, that this has started after so long. You sure you haven't replaced a part in anything related to the water system, more recently. Even just a part in the pressure pump or piece of hose or....????
And what about that filter? is it possible that the filter is at fault. I would have thought something that fine and carbon would have removed all tast.
But anyways, it can't be good if a sealant is breaking down like you have described. So I would get that sorted pronto, before the water gets in where it shouldn't. Hmmm, in saying that, could it be possible that something that shouldn't is getting back into the tank through that failing sealant?
As for what new sealant, well I am not a fan of Silicons. All though having said that, I know of a few Goldfish that seem quite happy that their home seems to be leak proof.
I suggest you get some advice from Sikaflex on a product that would suit. You will need a primer to suit the material and the adhesive sealant.
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Old 21-08-2005, 12:41   #3
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Quote:
So with your head down in the tank, you couldn't detect any odor similar to what you are tasting???
Yes, there is a strong smell in the tank, similar to what the water taste and smell like.

The filters have been replaced way too often to try to cure the problem...The problem is not in the lines or the filter housing, cause the taste / smell is the same if I drain water from the bottom of the tank, run it throught the filter, or use the un-filtered plumbing..(Got 2 pumps and 2 accumulators, 1 system is strictly for drinking water, hence the filter.)

The white caulking dose not seem to smell, and it does not seem, to seal anything as the tank has no seams. The caulking seems to be there to hold a buk head snuggly in place in a groove, perhahps to keep it from rattling or moving.
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Old 21-08-2005, 13:36   #4
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Have you queried Peggy Hall (‘The Head Mistress’, and author of “Get Rid of Boat Odors”)?
http://www.sailboatowners.com/forums/menunew.tpl?fno=31

There are “food-grade” silicone products.
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Old 21-08-2005, 14:22   #5
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Thanks for the link Mr. Gord.

Yeah, I have read her book and now I posted the above question on the web-site.

Where would one find "food grade" silicone? Not at West?
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Old 21-08-2005, 15:53   #6
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Fiberglass tanks are notorious for continuous styrene emission/leachate problems; and of course, styrene is NOT something one wants in drinking water due to its carcinogenic nature.

The problem with boat water systems and tankage is that they are 'stagnant' systems ... the VERY WORST for bacterial growth, chemical extraction of the base polymer, etc. etc. etc. Fiberglass is 'an anomoly' in that it never fully cures and continues to leach out styrene monomer during its service life; plus, as it degrades when in contact with water the 'hydrolysis' continues and accelerates the 'effect'.

The following is a suggestion to check the root cause of the fouling: REMOVE the charcoal filter and replace it into its very own independent 'recirculation' circuit - inlet to the independent recirculation circuit from the END of your water system (ie. 'just before' the galley spiggot), reintroduce the discharge of the filter to near the fill port of your system. Apply a SMALL pump that constantly runs whenever on board so that the water movement is SLOW through any carbon filter you choose (be sure that the filter is FDA rated 'food grade' or is listed as containing materials approved by a 'drug master file', etc.). Carbon filtration ONLY works by flow rate, but it takes TIME (by slow flow) to adsorb the contaminate. You need LARGE sized carbon filters and SMALL/LOW flow to make them work. When choosing a carbon filter check the manufactures FLOW RATE data, then 'throttle' the flow by HALF to ONE QUARTER of that recommended flow (witha small valve at the discharge end of the filter). Recirculate the water on a constant basis for a loooooooooong time, then check to see if the 'perceived smell, etc.' has been reduced to 'imperceptible'. If so you have somewhat 'validated' that carbon filtration is a remdial possibility - if not, then either rebuild the tank with a polyethylene liner (fiberglass sheets with bonded polyethylene surfaces) or replace the tank in its entirety with either all Polyethyene or stainless steel. BTW - carbon filters in a stagnant system become 'nutrient sources' for waterborn bacteria - any 'slime' you feel on the surface of a carbon filter is a bacterial scum/slime indicating that the system is overwhelmed with bacteria .... can also cause 'taste' problems. Normally one 'best' uses a carbon filter at the end of a filling hose to remove 'problems' .... removing/stripping the 'problem' BEFORE it gets into the tank. The BAD thing with carbon filters is that by chemical equilibrium most of the chlorine or other disinfectants will migrate from the water to and onto the filter, thus ultimately leaving the water "unprotected".
If you send me your email address (send to rhmpl33ATattDOTnet, I will reply with CORRECT sanitization and cleaning procedures to be sure that the bioburden is 'really' removed ..... not the BS that you get from 'in-vogue' (and wrong) booklets/pamphlets.

Mold and Mildew growth is probably the principal causes of tankage infection. Check your tank VENT line and if its discolored or has actual growth ... REPLACE it in it entirety .... then either buy a
bacterial blocking hydrophobic VENT filter or make your own by taking a 'fist sized wad' of bandage cotton covered with a protective covering of bandage gauze and tape/seal it over the END of the vent line .... keep it dry and change every 6 months or when it becomes visibly 'fouled' .... will prevent aspiration of toxic molds mildews INTO the tank. Many of these molds/mildews produce VERY strange 'tastes'.

Lemme know; but, I suspect from your description that you have a 'resin rich' tank of non-food grade polymers that is leaching styrene monomer, etc. .... dont drink it until you either 'strip' the fouling with a recirc. carbon filter, or simply bite the bullet and apply a new (suitable) tank. Styrene is NOT a 'food grade' compatible compound. If the boat is relatively new, you probably have a valid legal claim against the manufacturer on an "FDA" basis.

Food grade components can usually be obtained from 'dairy', drug, beverage or food processing supply sources.

Hope this helps.
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Old 21-08-2005, 16:28   #7
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Wow, that was a long and detailed reply.

Well, first about the filter:
It is not rally a carbon filter, but a carbon impregnated filter.
I guess it is paper.

Yes, it is for drinking water, standard SEARS "under zink" type.
At the first sign of bad taste I change the filter.

Lately that has been as often as every time I go sailing.
They probably get 50 gallons on them, but the are rated for 3000 gallons or so.

In the past, before this problem started I could use a filter for a whole year with no problems.

The boat (and the tank) is 26 years old and the manufactor is long out of business.
The materials and construction of the CSY vessels were of high quality and I have found no sign of blisters, or indications of leaking styrene monomer.
The tank is coated with gelcoat on the inside and hopefully that "seals" the fiberglass and provides for safe water...?

Roger on the setting up a system of constantly polsishing the water, I will look into that and see what I can do.

(The plumbing and hook-ups should be fairly straight forward)

Not sure I am ready to rebuild the tank, or replace it with a SS tank.

With the existing tank being part of the boat and the structure, it would be quite a project, if indeed possible without destroying the boat.....

Since I started this thread I have kept on working with the tank problem, taking of another inspection plate and been crawling around on my belly smelling and tasting.

Among other things I have found that the sealant I used on one of the inspection plates 4 years ago has about the same smell as I am getting from the water.....Hmm..Coindidence?

Also foud that the single outlet in the bottom of tank has the same kind of sealant, that I also used 4 years ago when I was in a hurry to stop a leak from the oulet pipe the night before we started a long Bahamas cruise.

The black stuff that I smeared in there and that has been in constant contact with the water is probably "LifeSeal", a blend of marine silicone and polyurethane.

The repair was meant to be temporary, but since it stopped leaking, it became permanent and I forgot all about it.

The next step now is to remove all the black stuff and unscrew the outlet nylon pipe. Then refit it with black rubber "O" rings and check for leaks...Then after the tank is cleaned and rinsed, and with a new filter, fill it up and let sit for a few days, then hopefully, the smell and taste will be gone......

(If that works out, I am a lucky guy, no major re-builds.)

If it does not work, well, then I just may consider carrying drinking water in jugs and bottles and just use the tank water for showers and washing etc.

Should know more this PM, stay tuned and thanks again for all the comments and advice.

CSY Man.

S/V "Rhapsody" 1979 CSY 33 cutter, hull # 19
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Old 21-08-2005, 17:00   #8
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Gelcoat is still a styrene base coating. No matter if bare fiberglass or gelcoated fiberglass ... its a stryne based chemistry and not compatible with 'health and wellness' - strongly suggest that you apply the recirculation/stripper arrangement. Carrying jugs of drinking water is 'perfect' but not always convenient. If youre not ON the boat for long periods, simply dont fill until full; but, just put onboard what you need plus some reserve .... less water in the tanks = less extraction of chemicals. Once you are satisfied with the 'reduction' of the fouling, you may want to consider to coat the inside of the tank with a food grade epoxy.

For the filter ... Yup, simply resisnated paper and 'filled' with typically a food grade granulated carbon (Darco G60 . made from burnt coconut shells). Extruded carbon filters are available but not common to 'boaters or consumers'.
That your filter is 'breaking-through'/bypassing after only ~50 gallons only means that the available carbon adsorbtion is being overwhelmed by whatever is contaminating it.
Yup, I agree go back and remove all the 'caulks' that you applied and reapply with 'food grade' products .... although food grade polymer gaskets / O-rings are probably the 'best' choice.
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Old 21-08-2005, 17:25   #9
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yeah I just looked through the filter catalogs, and indeed they talk about cocnut filters.

Now I remved the white nylon mushroom fitting in the bottom of the tank and it had plenty of clear silicon on and around it.

Would that stuff give a chemical taste after 4 years...?

Going to the marine store to find a new fitting and some O rings.
Wonder if I should go to brass instead of palstic?
Mainly so I can torq it down harder and make the O rings seal.

Is brass "food grade"....or is it copper they use in household plumbing?
(Copper has some poison in it too right?)

Now I have to searh for a caulk for the inspection plates that will not affect the taste or quaity of the water...Hmm, Home Depot?

Going to try this here easy fix before I even consider re-coating the tank..That would be almost impossible.

We have other guys on this board with CSY boats.
Wonder if they have had similar problems...? Harry and Paul..Ya guys out there? Any water tank problems..?
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Old 21-08-2005, 18:59   #10
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....forgot to mention. If you have a self contained hot water heater in your system, also check - pull out and inspect - the large magnesium anode inside the water heater tank. If the anode is 'gone' in the tank, the electrochemistry will 'find' another source for its 'anode' and that may be the cause of the 'taste problem'. Most 'quality' water heaters have them.
Hope this helps.
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Old 21-08-2005, 20:31   #11
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Negative on that: No water heater onboard.

Could the silicone be responsible for the smell and taste.?

Now removed the last inspection plate and indeed, I had bedded it down with lots of silicone.

Guess it worked as I had no leaks when the tank was full and the boat heeling over.

Plenty of the silicone goop have been in contact with the water over the years.
Especially the silicone sealant on the bottom where the thru hole exits the tank.

Got all that stuff out and cleaning the area now.

Will probably cut some rubber gaskets instead of trying to find food grade sealants for the inspection plates.

Got some O-rings for the thru hole.

Not killing myself over this projectL: About 3 hours per day is plenty, otherwise it cuts into my beer time....
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Old 21-08-2005, 20:54   #12
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OK, here is the best method of fix.
1: dry out tank
2:fix that sealant thing at the bottom.
3: Coat the entire tank in a coat on sealant made for drinkable fresh water tanks. There are many products available and look for ones that tend to be flexable. Most are. Just follow the intructions and put on several coats. That should seal off the tank and all your issues should be gone.
I coated my tank in a product called Gripset made for fresh water tanks and it worked great. But I don't know if it is available in your country.
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Old 21-08-2005, 21:33   #13
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Roger that Mr. Alan, I wll look into it, although it is nearly impossible to get in there and touch all the surfaces.

I assume ya have to sand first to get a good grip, then what?
Spray the stuff on, or brush it..?

The stuff in the bottom, the caulk that is somewhat coming apart, I thoght of just let it dry good, then cover with epoxy resin.
Wonder if that stuff is good for water tanks? (Food grade)

I don't have a sailing trip planned for the next several weeks so there is plenty of time to tinker with the problem.

Now that all 4 inspection holes are open I might as well go to town and try to get it right, but again, access is limited unless one applies a chain saw and a sledge hammer...
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Old 21-08-2005, 22:07   #14
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Also posted the same question on the board Mr. Gord linked me up with, here is some of the responses:

http://www.sailboatowners.com/forums...05233062329.56
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Old 21-08-2005, 22:52   #15
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Even a 'partial' coating will reduce the potential of styrene leachate. However most of such 'coatings' usually need to be 'end sealed' so that water doesnt migrate through between the new coating and the original. Once you locate a suitable 'coating' do consider to call and discuss with the manufacturer the full potential of not being able to fully coat ALL surfaces ... one from an adhesion standpoint and the second from accelerating the leaching/extraction.
If worse comes to worse with a fiberglass tank, simply cut the top off, coat the insides as best you can then epoxy-in new flanges and epoxy the whole thing back together .... better than totally ripping out.

BTW.... for your present situation you might want to discuss this problem with your local health department - not a 'tech' but a department head or 'functionary'. They may (if a large municipal entity) have the proper labs (at low cost to you) to analyse the problem and give you a report of what assay 'spikes' should be addressed. They can usually also offer recommendations on commercial labs and 'may' include your sample within many of their routine samples to this lab... at a reduced cost to you ... but you usually have to 'ask politely'. Better to know what your looking for than a wholsale / 'global whack' at everything in sight.
:-)
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