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How Do I Clean a Water Storage Tank?

Cleaning a water storage tank is a bit like cleaning a giant bath tub, only with more care towards disinfecting the interior. Here’s a brief rundown of the steps involved: Thanks to for the guide.

  1. Drain the water tank – If you have a large water tank, make sure to flush the water to a location where it will not inundate the surroundings. The dryer the tank the more effective the end result will be, so make sure to use a pump or wet vac to remove any water left behind from the draining process. Alternatively, use a towel to wipe away any leftover moisture.

  2. Scrub the interior – This is probably the most important part of the cleaning process. You want to remove any dirt, silt, or slime that has accumulated on the walls of the tank. Power washers are a great tool for the job, as some tanks don’t allow enough room for your to easily reach in and scrub the interior yourself. If you don’t have a power washer, use hard-bristled brushes, a mop with an adjustable handle, or any cleaning tool that can be applied at an angle. The idea is to be able to reach every corner of the tank, and to deliver enough force to remove all the scum and silt that has formed since the last cleaning. When you’re finished, the tank should look more or less like it did the day it arrived: pristine.

  3. Rinse out the tank – Use cold water to rinse out the dirty water that has accumulated throughout the scrubbing process. You don’t have to be as thorough this time around, as you’ll be another round of rinsing later on in the cleaning process.

  4. Bleach the interior – Use your bleach solution (1 tablespoon of bleach for every gallon of water) to scrub the interior of the tank. You should be wearing disposable gloves and eye protection during this phase. Again, you can just use your hands for this process, but you need to make sure you can reach every surface of the tank. A pressure washer is the ideal tool for the job, but you can also use a floor mop with an adjustable handle—whatever works for you.

  5. Let the solution sit – To sufficiently disinfect the tank you’ll want to let the bleach solution sit for at least two hours. This will kill off any stubborn bacteria or microbial contaminants.

  6. Optional: Clean the water supply lines – Your home’s water pipes may also be dirty. By running your taps with the bleach solution, you’ll be able to sanitize more than just your water storage tank. You can use a pump to run the solution from the tank to the water inlet and the rest of the lines in your home.

  7. Rinse out the tank – After the bleach has done its job, it’s time to rinse it out. You want to be as thorough as possible because bleach is toxic and a big no-no when it comes to drinking water. So be certain no bleach is left behind. If you ran some of the solution through your water pipes, make sure to run your taps with hot water. You want to continue rinsing or running the taps until all the soap or bleach bubbles are gone.

  8. Optional: Partially refill the tank – Now that the tank is clean, sanitized, and rinsed of the bleach solution, fill it par-way with potable drinking water.

  9. Optional: Measure chlorine levels – To be absolutely sure that there’s no more bleach in the system, use chlorine test strips to test the water supply lines. If the levels are nominal you can proceed to the final step. If the chlorine levels are too high you must return to step No. 7 and rinse the interior until the levels decrease.

  10. Refill the tank – Now that the tank is clean, sanitized, and rinsed clean of the bleach solution, you can fill it all the way to the top with potable drinking water.

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