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Old 25-02-2012, 13:40   #1
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Water Quality In Tanks and Watermakers

Hey everyone. I'm not sure if this is the right place or not, but I am working on a deal for a 1976 Cal 34. I'll be installing a small watermaker, and am about to get the survey. My concern is, how does one ensure that the water tank will not be the weak link in the chain? Do you ask for a water test from water in the tank? I wouldn't want to replace the tank in that boat as it would probably be VERY expensive to do. I also wouldn't want to put in a watermaker and discover that the water that is stored in the tank is undrinkable.

Any suggestions for this? The new electric toilet is flushed via freshwater (18 gallon holding tank), and I suppose it's possible to use it's freshwater tank (100 gallons) more for showers and dishes, but then I'd have to install a second (very small since I have little storage as it is) water tank or bladder for the drinking water and maybe put a filter on the main tank?? Any advice here? I'm also trying to stick to a budget of about $3500 for the watermaker, which means a fairly small one that can run off solar or something and can run all the time passively if possible rather than a high gph version run intermittently. Is this reasonable?
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Old 25-02-2012, 13:56   #2
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Re: Water Quality In Tanks and Watermakers. Need Advice/Help

I have a Cal28 and i intend on removing the water tanks and running CLR through them, and then flush with fresh and then Bleach and then flush again,,,that's if i don't sell her first. but i think I'll do this no matter what boat i am on.
For washing dishes i would install a high volume foot pump to the galley sink.

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Originally Posted by SS Little-Devil View Post
Hey everyone. I'm not sure if this is the right place or not, but I am working on a deal for a 1976 Cal 34. I'll be installing a small watermaker, and am about to get the survey. My concern is, how does one ensure that the water tank will not be the weak link in the chain? Do you ask for a water test from water in the tank? I wouldn't want to replace the tank in that boat as it would probably be VERY expensive to do. I also wouldn't want to put in a watermaker and discover that the water that is stored in the tank is undrinkable.

Any suggestions for this? The new electric toilet is flushed via freshwater (18 gallon holding tank), and I suppose it's possible to use it's freshwater tank (100 gallons) more for showers and dishes, but then I'd have to install a second (very small since I have little storage as it is) water tank or bladder for the drinking water and maybe put a filter on the main tank?? Any advice here? I'm also trying to stick to a budget of about $3500 for the watermaker, which means a fairly small one that can run off solar or something and can run all the time passively if possible rather than a high gph version run intermittently. Is this reasonable?
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Old 25-02-2012, 14:28   #3
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Re: Water Quality In Tanks and Watermakers. Need Advice/Help

If the tanks are in good shape just clean them thoroughly (not sure about tank access on the Cal). Old tanks are almost certainly rather nasty inside. New tanks are probably not as expensive as you think. I just had a new 75 gallon aluminum tank made for about US$250.

My suggestion is get your main tank in good shape or replace it and use it. Be careful and keep it clean so it stays in good shape.

Go with the largest output water maker possible (once you have one you will use more water).
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Old 25-02-2012, 15:21   #4
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Re: Water Quality In Tanks and Watermakers. Need Advice/Help

I have a 1968 Cal 34 but think the setup is the same for the water tank under the V birth. Unfortunately on the '68, there is no access what so ever to get into the tank so we had to strategically cut access panels in the V so we could pull the tank. Once that was done, we were easily able to pull the tank out for inspection and found the stainless tank to be in excellent shape. I was able to clean it and re-install in about 2 hours. Also replaced the water lines to the head and galley while it was out as well. I don't think it will be nearly as expensive as you think. If your tank is good, you will spend about $25 bucks for new water lines. If you have to replace, figure on about $250 or so.
I did this yesterday, so let me know if you have any questions.
Fair winds...
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Old 25-02-2012, 15:36   #5
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Re: Water Quality In Tanks and Watermakers. Need Advice/Help

Start point is probably asking the current owner does he drink water from the tank. Assuming he says yes you could then taste it which will give a clue if there are problems.

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Old 25-02-2012, 17:16   #6
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Re: Water Quality In Tanks and Watermakers. Need Advice/Help

I have recently bought my yacht, and the tanks are in good condition, but some are a little nasty inside....there is a light slime build up inside them due to the vessel not being used for some time. What would the best way be to clean them out? I have thought maybe getting a small steam-cleaner to try and get most of it out...any suggestions?
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Old 25-02-2012, 17:25   #7
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Re: Water Quality In Tanks and Watermakers. Need Advice/Help

I can't say I have used CLR, but I do use bleach water solution and stir the tank and then flush. It keeps it clean and fresh, if the water sits for a week or so, it does loose taste so I re fill and that takes care of it.
I got one of those water testers from home depot and did the test on board and it came up great, so no issues that way either.
Wash them first and see where you stand from there.
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Old 25-02-2012, 17:27   #8
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Re: Water Quality In Tanks and Watermakers. Need Advice/Help

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I have recently bought my yacht, and the tanks are in good condition, but some are a little nasty inside....there is a light slime build up inside them due to the vessel not being used for some time. What would the best way be to clean them out? I have thought maybe getting a small steam-cleaner to try and get most of it out...any suggestions?
Absolutely, clean and santize them. My vote is that it is much more convenient to use the water from the tanks for all purposes rather than toting around separate water for drinking.

Physically clean them as well as possible and then sanitize with a very dilute bleach solution -- you only need about 1 oz per 5 gallons to make an effective sanitizing solution. Let this soak for a few hours then Rinse, wash, repeat and refill with clean water. I usually drop about 1oz of bleach in mine when I refill just to kill any critters.
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Old 25-02-2012, 17:36   #9
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Re: Water Quality In Tanks and Watermakers. Need Advice/Help

You are more likely to have a concern with a leaking tank than with using the water on an old boat. (unless it's a fiberglass tank... yuck!) As noted above, there are various ways to "sterilize" the tank. Any tank on an older boat is suspect, is the fuel tank replaceable?
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Old 25-02-2012, 17:44   #10
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Re: Water Quality In Tanks and Watermakers. Need Advice/Help

This obviously shows ignorance, but the problem with fibreglass tanks being...?
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Old 25-02-2012, 17:47   #11
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Re: Water Quality In Tanks and Watermakers. Need Advice/Help

Thanks guys.
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Old 25-02-2012, 18:39   #12
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As a kid we were not on city water and only had big collection tanks out back - pretty common in Australia at the time.

I remember late summer when the tanks got low getting in the tanks and collecting frogs.

Not dead yet...

In regards to a boat I think clean as best possible. I would consider a Y valve on the watermaker output so I could fill Jerry cans directly for drinking. Maybe something 10 liters or so mounted in the galley like a diesel day tank.

The rest for showering and washing up.
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Old 25-02-2012, 19:50   #13
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Re: Water Quality In Tanks and Watermakers. Need Advice/Help

Treat them like a hot tub !! Hyper-Bleach them agitate with compressed air for an hour or so, let sit for a couple of hours and drain and flush a couple of times and your good to go !! Put a Pure water filter at the sink for drinking and Coffee, the water will be fine ! remember as others have said keep water treated with clorine as needed. No problem!! Bob and Connie
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Old 26-02-2012, 08:26   #14
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Re: Water Quality In Tanks and Watermakers. Need Advice/Help

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This obviously shows ignorance, but the problem with fibreglass tanks being...?
Don't think anyone answered you: you can get some off flavors from some glass tanks...although it does not appear to be the case all the time...probably depends upon the type of epoxy used. I've been aboard some boats with glass tanks that were just fine and some that were not. Same true for certain types of plastic tanks.

For example, I have a glass tank at my guest house and it is just fine, but it is coated with sealant inside the tank. However, have been aboard a few boats where you can really taste the epoxy -- probably not real healthy for you either.
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Old 26-02-2012, 09:16   #15
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Re: Water Quality In Tanks and Watermakers. Need Advice/Help

Pretty much all water tanks on all boats have some issues. The level and degree depend on a lot of factors. I use a bore scope with video to convince customers who swear their tanks are pristine that all kinds of stuff gets in fresh water tanks. As long as the tanks themselves are in good condition, a good cleaning and flush will usually take care of most problems. But it doesn't take long for all kinds of things to grow inside the best of tanks again. The proper solution other than keeping on top of your tanks is a good water purifier under your galley sink like a SeaGull. Your new watermaker (and belizesailor is absolutly correct, "Go with the largest output water maker possible (once you have one you will use more water)" will make great water But once you dump that great water into your tanks it is only as good as what's already in there. Occasionally filling up with good dock water is recommended when possible to help add some residual clorine to help keep growth down. Adding Clorox to your tanks when you have a watermaker on board is asking for trouble. Two more things about watermakers, first is you should install a 3/way valve in the product line of your watermaker so you can select to divert the water to your tanks or direct the flow to your galley sink. Second, and this is from experiance, if you are looking at a new watermaker in the price range you are qouting it's going to be a bit anemic. Figure you will double your current use. Again as belizesailor said, you will use more water once you have one on board.
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