Properly cleaning out a dirty water pump

Discussion in 'Plumbing Systems (The Fresh, The Blue, The Grey, &' started by BirdsNest, Jul 17, 2017.

What to do with a water pump that is full of algae?

  1. Shock it with more concentrated bleach water than the normal tank cleaning

    4 vote(s)
  2. Shock it with something else (please give specificts)

    0 vote(s)
  3. Dismantle and clean the pump (is this possible/realistic?)

    3 vote(s)
  4. Get a new pump

    1 vote(s)
  5. Stop drinking water ;)

    0 vote(s)
  1. BirdsNest

    BirdsNest Active Member

    Jun 12, 2017
    Our previous camping trips have been at sites with full hookups so I hadn't bothered with the water holding tank or pump until recently since our latest trip was at a site with no hookups.

    In preparation for this trip I went through the manufacturer recommended process for sanitizing the water tank, water heater, and pump in my StarCraft 13RT and while I'm pretty sure the tank itself is clean, there's still a problem with the pump and I'm not sure how to deal with it.

    For reference, I filled the water tank, added bleach, let it sit for a couple of hours, then drained all of the water out of the tank, and refilled and drained it a couple of times with fresh water to rinse it out. When draining the tank, I opened the drain valve at the bottom of the tank and also ran the water pump and pushed bleach water through the pump and the faucet and out the gray water drain at the same time. I'm not sure exactly how much of the water went through the faucet and how much went out the bottom since I just let the gray water drain through a hose into the gravel where the trailer was sitting instead of into the gray water holding tank. However, it was probably at least half of the 35 gallon capacity of the tank.

    Unfortunately, once we got to the campsite and I started actually using the water tank/pump, I discovered quite a few brown algae (or mold?) "floaters" in the water coming out of the sink faucet. This does not happen when using shore water directly from a tap. I held a pan under the tank drain valve at the bottom of the trailer and didn't get any floaters there so I'm fairly certain that the water pump (or its hoses) is the source. Because of this we ended up not using the water tank for cooking/drinking at all and I made an emergency run to the nearest town to get a bunch of bottled water.

    So, my question is if there is anything I can do to properly clean out the water pump so it can be safely used, or am I looking at replacing the pump?

    I don't really want to go through the bleach process in the holding tank again since the tank itself seems to be fine, so I'm thinking about possibly filling a big container with more concentrated bleach water and using the bypass valve on the pump (used for pumping in antifreeze when winterizing the trailer) and giving the pump itself a heavier bleach treatment, but I'm not sure if that's a good idea or if there is something else I should try. If it is OK to do that, should I just let the bleach sit inside the pump for a while to kill anything left in there before I try to thoroughly rinse it out again? Any other suggestions?

    p.s. The pump is quite loud while it is running, and actually vibrates the whole trailer a bit when it is cycling. I'm wondering if that is normal or if it indicates a more serious problem inside the pump?
  2. bsandey

    bsandey Active Member

    Jun 9, 2005
    Red Wing, MN
    Do your normal sanitizing, but instead of draining the fresh water tank, let it run through the pump to the sink until it can't pump any more. Then drain what ever is left, and flush 2 or 3 times with fresh water. That should clean it out good and disinfect anything that might be in there.

    Also, did you fill up the tank at home before you left or at the campground? If at the campground, I would use the water filter you (probably, I'm guessing) use for city water hook up at sites that have such, when you fill the tank.
  3. BirdsNest

    BirdsNest Active Member

    Jun 12, 2017
    I basically did that but I did let it drain out of the bottom at the same time, so maybe it just needs a full tank or two through the pump?

    Filled up from a fresh water tap at the marina at the lake, and used an in-line water filter as well. Like I said, I'm pretty sure the water itself, and the water holding tank, were fine. I guess I just didn't run enough water through the pump while cleaning it, and didn't think to actually look at the water coming through the tap to see if it was clean. I'll run another cycle of bleach/rinse through the system again and hope it gets everything out.
  4. RetAF

    RetAF Member

    Apr 22, 2010
    In reference to your comment about the noisy pump. Yep, they can be noisy. I installed a pump silencer kit (Google it) and wrapped the pipes with foam insulation where they contacted the body of the PUP. That eliminated almost all of the noise.
  5. sleach

    sleach A short run will get you within walking distance.

    May 17, 2014
    Try sanitizing again, being sure to run the bleach and water solution through both cold and hot water circuits until you smell bleach in the water flowing into the sink. Drive around for a while, on a washboard road if you can easily get to one. The point is to agitate the system. Let sit for 24 hours, drive around again, then run all the solution through the circuits and down the sink. Refill with plain water and flush completely.
  6. SteveP

    SteveP Active Member

    May 21, 2015
    If you remove the aerator from the faucet it will allow the water to flow more freely and may flush that gunk out. Open the faucet slowly because the water will have more tendency to splash. My guess is you've already killed the algae and just need to flush it out.

    My tank is only 15 gallons, I usually do my clean with 5 gallons of water and 1/4 cup of bleach and run it all out through the faucet. Then follow up with a full tank rinse.
  7. BirdsNest

    BirdsNest Active Member

    Jun 12, 2017
    Good idea. I'll include that in the next round of flushing I do (hopefully I have time this weekend).
  8. BirdsNest

    BirdsNest Active Member

    Jun 12, 2017
    So I ended up going over this evening for something else and decided to pop up the roof to take a look at things...and passed up on half of my sleep for the night sanitizing everything again. Once I had started I couldn't just leave it.. ;)

    I pulled the aerator off of the faucet and it was absolutely nasty. There was at least 1/8 inch of algae packed on the back side and most of the inside was full as well. I soaked that directly in some bleach water for a while, then dismantled it and cleaned it out completely. Then I ran all 35 gallons of the fresh water tank (plus bleach) through the water pump and the hot and cold water taps without the aerator attached. After about 5 gallons or so, the pump started getting quieter and more stable. Previously it was cycling on and off quickly, sounding kind of like a dying cooling fan in a PC if you've ever heard that sound.. Now it runs steady, relatively quiet, and pushes a lot more water flow as well.

    After I pushed all of that bleach through the system, I rinsed the tank out and then ran another 10ish gallons of clean water through the pump and faucets as well. I probably should have done a full tank of clean water but it was getting too late so I'll run some more clean water through it the next time I have time to open it up.

    It's definitely better now, no floaters of any kind, and the water actually tastes clean, too. Thanks again!

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