RV Doctor – Musty Water Taste/Smell

author image

January 15, 2009

Dear RV Doc,

Our day/night blinds have broken threads. Is there a way to fix or re-thread them or should we purchase new ones? Both living area blinds broke only days apart. We also have a musty smell and taste in our water. What could we do to correct this problem? Should we drain our fresh water? My husband has purchased a new filter. I just want to make sure there isn’t something we can do to sanitize the tank.

–Pat Johnson, (Shingle Springs, CA)


You know Pat, I tried, once, to repair a broken string on those blinds; I simply did not have enough fingers or patience to finish the task. Perhaps one of the many RV outfitter companies can help you with those shades. They regularly handle such soft goods. I have to admit that if it does not have LP, water or current flowing through it, I’m out of my environment. But I did locate an online data sheet that may be helpful if you wish to attempt this yourself.

As for the water system, you’ll indeed need to drain and flush that fresh water tank. You’ll also need to drain and flush the water heater. It’s not uncommon for odors to develop in the water heater when the anode rod deteriorates beyond 75% or so. Suburban and older American appliance water heaters are equipped with an anode rod to combat electrolysis. Atwood uses a different type of inner tank material and therefore, does not require an anode. You can sanitize the fresh water tank and fresh water system by adding regular household bleach to the contents of a full water tank. Simply add 1/4-cup of household bleach, (sodium hypochlorite solution), for every 15 gallons of capacity in the tank. The resultant chlorine concentration will be 50 parts per million (ppm). Pump this through the entire fresh water system; all hot and cold lines. Let the solution stand for a minimum of four hours. Then simply drain and refill the tank with fresh water.

(Please feel free to comment, however, please also note that due to the volume of communications I receive from multiple channels I cannot guarantee a personal response in every instance. However, questions of an overall general interest may be considered and published in an upcoming RV Doctor column.)

Leave a Reply


  1. Pingback: bsw solar

  2. Debbie

    we have a 3 yr old Sunset trail by crossroads…we keep getting this strong “musty” smell. you can smell it on clothes and even paper products when they are removed from the trailer. the dealer said that a common problem that can occur in these is some sort of valve ?? gets stuck open?? this valve is underneath the sinks. anyways he fxied it once and I did notice a difference but it is back again…if anyone can suggest any help at all with these Valves or vents ? or even the smell i twould begreatly appreciated. frustrating to always be dealing with this type of thing in a new RV.

  3. rose ross

    I used the bleach method to sanitize my water tank, more bleach than suggested here. Now my water smells and tastes like bleach. i have overflowed the tank continuously for 24hrs and still no change any suggestions

  4. Ham

    I have a 1997 chev.pu.I had it in the in the fix it shop for repair,but they don’t know whats wrong.I cannot get it into 4 wheel drive. any suggestions what to do?

  5. Barry Zander

    Last year I watched my neighbor restring his shades. He told me the secret is buying the cord in the fabric section of Wal-Mart. It took him at least an hour to repair it, but he did it himself in the campground.

  6. firebugs

    ha on your water prob once week put 1 cup to40 gal water tank of colorx bleach fill tank run water to all outlets let stand for 1 hour drain all water then go to wal mart they have a in line carbon water filter you put on end of in comming water to your tank or you can put it on in line water hookup there good for three months then throw it away

  7. Gord Huizen

    I have fixed shades several times. I found the shade mfg and called them. They sent the string and instructions for repair. After the first repair it was a piece of cake.

  8. Boyd Gehue

    I have repaired my shades using the poly string lines that I used in construction.They are available at any lumber or hardware store.

  9. Bill Andersen

    We usually only travel with 1/3 tank of water. That’s enough for rest stops and lunch during the day, and will last us two days.
    I always hook up to city water: if it tastes OK, I add up to 1/3 again before we leave. If it doesn’t taste good, I know I have enough for one more day of travel.
    I’ve only had water we didn’t like the taste of twice, so we don’t worry about it.
    We usually have 1 gallon of bottled water with us, just in case.
    I drain whatever’s left before each trip, so we have fresh water when we start.

  10. Gary

    Hey gang….just a quick update and addendum regarding those broken day/night shades. Check out The Dirty Blind Man, http://www.dirtyblindman.com. I’ve had the opportunity to review one of the repair kits and it’s comes complete with everything you need, including an instructional DVD.

    Even the RV Doc can learn new tricks! Cheers!


  11. Jim Duffy

    Sanitizing the tank is a necessary step in eliminating the odor and taste problems. In my experience draining the hot water tank after every trip keeps the problem from coming back. Unless I am going out again within a couple of weeks I drain the hot water heater after each trip. So far so good.

  12. Colin

    One easy way to add the bleach into you fresh water tank is get a Miracle grow sprayer and adapt it to you garden home and it will mix you solution for you.

  13. Casey Donovan

    The sulfur smell in RV water can come from the water supply. In that case you’d also smell it at the tap supplying the RV. Also, it can occur as Gary notes from the reaction that occurs when an anode rod has deteriorated. Sanitizing won’t correct a smell from either of these sources. However, the more usual source is bacterial growth in the RV tank and/or water heater. Sanitizing as Gary describes will take care of that problem.

  14. kEN wHITE

    If yo would go to the Winnebago site you will be able to find a fairly easy way to repair these broken blinds.

  15. B.J. Meyer

    Click here: Pleated Shade Repair Parts and String Also for your info

  16. B.J. Meyer

    I repaired 2 of mineusing this link. You just need a table big enough to lay it out on. I hope it Helps. Click here: Repairing RV day/night shades I also ordered the new string on the internet.

  17. Ellen F

    Will this also take care of a sulfur smell in the water?