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Old 27-05-2020, 12:40   #1
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Fresh water turns brown after rough sail

Over the past weekend, we took our cat out for a sail down the Texas Gulf Coast. The conditions got a little rough after the sun went down, 4 to 6 feet on the beam and waves stacked one on top of the other. When I went down to use the head, I turned on the fresh water to wash my hands and the water was brown, but only for a few seconds. It quickly cleared up.. Now curious, I went and ran the other faucets and the same, brown water for a few seconds then cleared right up.

The boat is only a year old and since we live aboard, the water in the tank is cycled constantly. We use on average, one complete tank per week (170 gallons) when in the marina, and all water goes through the fresh water pump / accumulator as we have no dock water inlet on the boat.

It would appear at first glance, that the rough condition stirred up some accumulated sediment in the fresh water tank, but would that not have resulted in the water being brown for quite some time, and not just a few seconds?

My intention is to do a system cleaning with bleach... but just curious if I am missing something here.
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Old 27-05-2020, 14:04   #2
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Re: Fresh water turns brown after rough sail

Likely something close to the sink to happen immediately. Depending on the quality of the faucet and how acidic the water is, it could be a rusting washer if they didn’t use brass.
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Old 27-05-2020, 14:12   #3
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Re: Fresh water turns brown after rough sail

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Originally Posted by HighTemp View Post
Over the past weekend, we took our cat out for a sail down the Texas Gulf Coast. The conditions got a little rough after the sun went down, 4 to 6 feet on the beam and waves stacked one on top of the other. When I went down to use the head, I turned on the fresh water to wash my hands and the water was brown, but only for a few seconds. It quickly cleared up.. Now curious, I went and ran the other faucets and the same, brown water for a few seconds then cleared right up.

The boat is only a year old and since we live aboard, the water in the tank is cycled constantly. We use on average, one complete tank per week (170 gallons) when in the marina, and all water goes through the fresh water pump / accumulator as we have no dock water inlet on the boat.

It would appear at first glance, that the rough condition stirred up some accumulated sediment in the fresh water tank, but would that not have resulted in the water being brown for quite some time, and not just a few seconds?

My intention is to do a system cleaning with bleach... but just curious if I am missing something here.

Your hot water tank and your fresh water pressure system expansion tank are full of sediment
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Old 27-05-2020, 14:14   #4
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Re: Fresh water turns brown after rough sail

Your boat is much newer, but when i opened the covers on my water tanks, it looked like wierd science projects happening. A good tank cleaning with full line flush sounds in order.
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Old 27-05-2020, 14:57   #5
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Re: Fresh water turns brown after rough sail

A lot of the time brown is indicative of rust. But I can't for the life of me figure why you would have ferrous material in the water system, or why rough seas would cause it to make an appearance.
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Old 28-05-2020, 09:39   #6
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Re: Fresh water turns brown after rough sail

Given the information you provided and the age of the boat, I expect the marina's water supply may be the source. Install a good filter on the house you are using to fill your tank. If your tank/tanks have inspection ports, open them up and look. Go through at least two complete tankfulls of filtered water and then see if the issue resurfaces. You may find that you will need to replace the filter more frequently than indicated on the instructions.

Many marinas have old and/or poorly designed and maintained water distribution systems and their providers are antiquated municipal water distribution systems. Want a real eye opener? Call your local fire department and ask to view a street hydrant flushing. The amount of sand and pebbles coming out of the hydrant in the initial flush of the hydrant is amazing. Frequently homeowners will see brown water coming out of their faucets for short periods immediately after hydrants are flushed in their neighborhoods, especially if the cul-de-sac is the end of a leg.
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Old 28-05-2020, 11:59   #7
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Re: Fresh water turns brown after rough sail

I suggest that you use a filter when filling your tanks. I use a typical "whole house" 10" element filter housing, with a carbon filter, and fill at a relatively slow rate. But even just using the cheaper wound sediment element would be an improvement.
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Old 28-05-2020, 12:25   #8
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Re: Fresh water turns brown after rough sail

I use a 1 micron filter (among others) for water going into the tanks. I still get some sediment that gets stirred up in rough water. Best to drain and flush your tanks and water heater occasionally.
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