There are plenty of things to remember to do when you leave home: lock the doors, adjust the thermostat, leave a light on, etc. Living in an RV is no different. At least, that’s what we thought. Sarah and I let the Raptor sit for about seven weeks without living in it. We came home to stinky water.

The smell really was something special.

Most of us have come across stagnant water.  Nearly all of us would agree it didn’t have a welcoming aroma. Sewage water can have a more gentle scent. I wish we would have thought to turn the water off to the house before we left town.

Rotten eggs and burnt hair are a couple odoriferous examples that sting the nostrils like our water did when we returned. I wasn’t surprised when I got to thinking about it. Water shouldn’t sit for so long. We never let our grey and black water holding tank sit for seven weeks (and yes, I made sure to at least drain those before we left). When I thought about it, the chemicals in the water aren’t meant to sit in the lines for weeks. These chemicals–calcium and sulfur, for example–settle, solidify, and stink.

Plenty of chemical build-up happens on a heating element.

I replaced the heating element in the hot water heater early in 2017. The old element had plenty of build-up on it. I don’t know if it was one-year-old or five, but once I got it out, I knew it was a smart move to replace it. A pasty white substance about the consistency of whipped cream covered the entire surface.

But how do you combat stinky water once you’ve let your lines sit too long?

Well, the easiest thing to do, and the option that will often fix the problem, is to let the water run. A lot. From everywhere you can in the house you want to let both the hot and cold water run. And not just a few minutes, but upwards of an hour. Multiple times if needed. If that doesn’t do the trick, there are a couple water purifying systems you can buy that will filter some of the harder chemical out of your water. An Anode rod will also help fight the battle against the chemicals. Remember to change these and the purifying filters as often as needed. These are also better for a proactive solution than a reactive solution.

Ultimately, if you’re going to be gone for an extended period of time, turn off your water heater and drain your lines. No one likes stagnant water. Stinky water is no “welcome home” present. Especially when you find it naked in the shower.

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