Monday, 28 March 2011

When did you last see your water tank?

We've had Starcross for five years now and the people we bought from had her for at least two so we know for a fact that in all that time no one has ever checked the tank on board that contains the domestic water supply. This started to bother me after I read an article in one of the waterway magazines about water tank hygiene and the need to check and clean them regularly. Hilary's training as a microbiologist confirmed this but we'd never actually got around to doing it. We've generally only used the water for washing anyway and keep a separate supply for drinking and cooking in plastic bottles topped up regularly whenever we pass a water point, but even so it was beginning to bother us.
So, last week with a few days to spare at Norbury Junction I finally had a look. I knew where the tank was: the presence of the filler tube in a bow locker was a bit of a give-away as was a metal plate bolted to the floor of the well deck, which was obviously the means of access. Now this plate had not been disturbed for at least seven years, during which time it had been painted over at least once - it was not going to be easy to move. All thirty-four bolts holding it in place were seized solid and all required a spanner, a mallet and a large helping of brute force and ignorance to remove. The plate still refused to budge. Next step was to scrape the paint from the edges of the plate then insert two screwdrivers, driven home by the mallet, to act as wedges after which it could be lifted clear.
I'm not sure what I expected to find. I had read that the tank could either be steel - in which case I thought I might find a rectangular tank with a lid or separate inspection hatch - or plastic, when I'd see a plastic or polythene bag - possibly collapsible for removal. What I certainly didn't expect was what I saw - water! Directly underneath the plate. It was clear enough, which was a relief - but also clear enough to be able to see the several layers of rust on the bottom! There was nothing for it but to swiftly replace the lid - and all 34 bolts!
So, that's another job that needs doing and a long one it will be with emptying, drying out, scraping, painting and refilling several times -all  assuming  its in a condition to save. We will work on the basis that as we've survived this long we can go on a bit longer - but we certainly won't be drinking the water - and get round to it when it won't actually get in the way of boating.
So, how often does everyone else check theirs?


Naughty-Cal said...

Ours is a stainless tank under our bed. We check it at least once a year and sterilise the water system at the beginning of every season. We have also started to use the sterilising tablets in the water tank.

The Crew: Mike, Mags and Poppy! said...


Our tank cleaning regime.

We do a once a year "Milton" clean out. In the spring we pump the cold water tank dry. Dose the tank with a full bottle of Milton baby steriliser fluid and then refill the tank with fresh water. Run the hot and cold taps plus shower to flush some of the “Milton solution” through the pipework and also flush the toilet several times.

After 24 hours minimum.

We pump dry again. Refill with fresh water, run the hot and cold taps plus shower to flush the pipe work and then fit a new water filter cartridge.

We are working on the understanding that water used is taken from most fresh/town water sources. Therefore the water has already been sterilised. It's a rare occurrence that the supply pipes to your home would need to be flushed or sterilised. It's much the same for a storage tank that is being regularly re-filled.

Our 2p

Mick -n- Mags

Starcross said...

Thanks folks, I forgot to add that we do put water purification tablets in the tank from time to time, but as we've no idea of the tank capacity we don't know how many to use!

Ivor Wickens said...

By the sound of it, I was the last to clean out that tank, back in 1999.It too was as you described, clean water but rust on the bottom.
It took a lot of work then to get it clean.I don't envy you the task.

Best of luck


Starcross said...

Does this mean you are a former owner? If so, please get in touch.
jim "at" nbstarcross "dot" com.

Anonymous said...

I find all this interesting, as our 1980 narrowboat which we've had for 4 years began to produce brown water from the taps. So I emptied the tank and put Milton in as you lot have done. But when I tried to fill it to the top the water level wouldn't actually rise higher than about 7" from the top. Any ideas as to why this might be? Whereever was the water going from the hose? I hope it's not to the very bottom of the boat making trouble! Any comments gratefully received.
Erica Middleton