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Old 06-05-2009, 13:51   #1
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Yellow Water ?

Hey folks,

Ok, I'm a n00b, for sure. I'm on week two of my liveaboard adventure, on a 25-year-old Searunner trimaran.

Two days ago I was working in the bilge, near the second water tank, cleaning up a spill in the bilge. In the process I kneeled on the water tank, flexing it a bit, and I definitely moved the water hoses around a little bit in the cleanup, though I definitely did *not* breach the tank or the hoses at any point.

Pretty much immediately after, my water supply has a distinct yellowish tint. This makes me a little hesitant to drink it!

Any ideas what this is? Is it bacterial or just some kind of tankside gunk shaken loose? Both?

More importantly, what do I do about it? I was thinking of filling the tanks up, then adding a half-cup of bleach, letting it sit for an hour or so, then emptying and refilling twice more. Is there a better way?

Thanks for any responses; as I said, I'm new to this, so any wisdom helps!
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Old 06-05-2009, 15:09   #2
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Take it apart, and see what the problem is before you make yourself sick.......i2f
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Old 06-05-2009, 15:22   #3
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The bleach treatment is a good way to sanitize it as far as bacteria, algae and mold is concerned. Run the bleach-containing water through all your faucets until you can smell the chlorine, and then let it sit for four hours or more before thoroughly flushing with fresh water. If the yellow stuff is from deterioration in your tank, that's another story. You'll need a new tank. Bio-contamination is usually not yellow, so i2f's suggestion to inspect it is a good idea.
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Old 06-05-2009, 17:04   #4
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Agree with i2f and Hud. Two questions, though.

1/ What was the spill in the bilge?

2/ Have you checked all of the hose clamps for tightness?
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Old 06-05-2009, 17:43   #5
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Well I have heard don't eat yellow snow before so I would be leary of yellow water. lol
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Old 06-05-2009, 18:34   #6
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Quote:
Pretty much immediately after, my water supply has a distinct yellowish tint.
Yellow could be either sulfur or iron. If it was algae it would be green and would wash out or at least dilute. Algae needs sunlight to grow. Mold does not. Bacteria would not really always exhibit a color and could be bad.

With an old boat I'm sure you have sediments of various salts and minerals. They are not actually dangerous but you could have other things in there too. Chlorine treatment can let loose a lot of stuff and algae would be number one. The rest may not be that cleaned out. High concentrations of Chlorine will attack the plumbing but not yield much better results than the normal shock loads of Chlorine.

In short, there really isn't anything non toxic that could clean out everything and not trash the system. Physically cleaning the inside of the tanks and replacing hoses would carry more effort than dumping in tons of who knows what in an attempt to kill something you don't under stand. Color alone does not indicate much other than you have a lot of it.
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Old 06-05-2009, 18:49   #7
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Yellow could be either sulfur or iron.
Iron would be red (cut yourself and tell me I'm wrong). That being the case, Paul's right. The smart move might be to just replace all hoses (not a huge problem) prior to replacing tanks. However, as I'm a firm believer in non-coincidence, I'd have a good, hard look at fittings and joints at/around where you knelt. Ah! new idea. ABS pipe sealeant flaking off a loose joint. Possible, but would show up as flakes. Hmmm...
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Old 06-05-2009, 19:22   #8
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hmm - I'm not sure I *can* take the system apart - the tanks aren't ancient, they're opaque white plastic tanks very similar to what I see on the shelf at WestMarine, with a main connection for tank-to-tank filling (filling goes into the first tank and drains down to the second) and a small connection out the bottom to the pump.

the spill was from a leaky old paint can - still, it was at least a foot away from any of the fittings the tank itself, and as the leak was dark green I don't think it's the contaminant.
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Old 06-05-2009, 19:24   #9
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I'm just hoping your not plumbed to the holding tank. You did say yellow ehh.
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Old 06-05-2009, 19:32   #10
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Flakes passing through the pump would be pulverized. They'd then turn the water yellow. I'd shake the S#$t out of the offending joints, flush the system x 2 and reseal all ABS type joints. Flush again. Cheap troubleshooting.

Good luck!
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Old 06-05-2009, 19:37   #11
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there's always the answer that the shaking of the tank had nothing to do with the color change, and the water from the last place I filled the tanks (Fisherman's Wharf, Vancouver) was just yellowish to begin with... but I'd rather err on the side of caution.

I'm pretty sure I can take out and replace the tanks myself, and I'll pick up some drinking-water-grade hosing this week, maybe do the switchover this weekend.
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Old 06-05-2009, 19:46   #12
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Ah. The source! The simplest of all solutions and we all missed it. I hope you're right.

Good luck, again.
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Old 22-05-2009, 04:20   #13
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Despite that though, a good flush of the tank still shouldn't hurt though.
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Old 23-05-2009, 15:36   #14
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All else fails, go to Home depot or Lowes and they usually have a water test kit. Just put water sample in container and mail it off. Thw last one I did cost about $7 US..
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Old 24-05-2009, 05:47   #15
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Yellow could be either sulfur or iron. If it was algae it would be green and would wash out or at least dilute. Algae needs sunlight to grow. Mold does not. Bacteria would not really always exhibit a color and could be bad...

...Physically cleaning the inside of the tanks and replacing hoses would carry more effort than dumping in tons of who knows what in an attempt to kill something you don't under stand. Color alone does not indicate much other than you have a lot of it.
Yellow tinted water (true colour) usually indicates suspended organic particles, and generally poses no adverse health risks, unless chlorinated*.

* When chlorinated, any organic material that is present in the water can combine with the chlorine to form dangerous compounds called trihalomethanes (THMs).

When water has a visible tint to it, it is usually due to the presence of decaying organic material, or inorganic contaminants such as iron, copper, or manganese.

Limits for colour in drinking water are usually set based on aesthetic considerations. The Canadian guidelines are set at 15 TCU* (True Colour Units), as most people can easily detect colour exceeding this level.

*15 mg/L Platinum. In general, waters with true colour less than or equal to 15 mg/L Pt are in the blue to green colour range.

Generally, colour is classified into two types: true and apparent colour.

The most common cause of true colour, from which turbidity has been removed, is decaying organic material such as dead leaves and grass, usually found in surface water.
Apparent colour is caused by inorganic materials, usually iron, copper or manganese.
The true colour of water can be distinguished from the apparent colour by filtering the sample to remove the larger organic particles.

Colour in water can easily be removed using activated carbon filters (charcoal). Alum and other chemicals can also be used to remove the materials that cause colouration of drinking water.
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