Question: I’m getting ready to winterize my boat and I’m looking for some advice on how to sweeten up the water that comes out of my boat’s fresh water tank. It really doesn’t taste very good and is beginning to have a rather unpleasant odor. Can you help?
Answer: This is a really common problem with most of the potable water systems on boats and RVs. I stopped using potable anti-freeze many years ago because I simply can’t stand the taste of the stuff. Even after rinsing the tanks thoroughly, the taste will permeate into the plastic that most fresh water tanks are made of today.
The good news is that you can fix the problem using readily available household products. Begin by adding one tablespoon of Clorox Bleach for each gallon of tank capacity. Fill the tank with clean water. It’s a good idea to let this bleached water sit in the tank overnight.
Next, drain the tank and get yourself a one pound box of baking soda. Pour the whole box into your tank and then fill the tank again. Run this baking soda and water mix through all the plumbing on your boat by opening all faucets and pumping the solution through the system.
Depending upon how bad things are (and in your case it sounds bad if you can actually smell the water coming from your tap), you may need to go through this procedure several times before the foul tastes get eliminated.
If you follow this procedure several times each year, your water system will taste and smell fresh all the time!
As for winterizing and keeping the potable water system from freezing: I use cheap vodka and make sure I run it through all the valves in the heads and galley. Tastes much better than the potable anti-freeze.