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How NOT to Sanatize Your Water System – More of Bob’s Bad Luck

April 14, 2011 by · 5 Comments 


You met Bob last September when he and Marge encountered a band of Raccoons on a recent camping trip.  Bob has a heart of gold and will do anything in the world for you – but he is what some might call “Disaster Prone”.

Things like his recent attempt to change the engine oil in Marge’s car serve as a typical example.  He successfully drained five quarts of dirty oil into a catch pan without spilling a drop on the driveway.  He even managed to replace the oil pan drain plug and screw it in tightly.  But, he somehow picked the wrong fill tube and poured five fresh quarts of motor oil into the automatic transmission.  Fortunately, the transmission would not shift gears and Marge’s engine was saved from destruction.  The bill for a wrecker and the auto shop to drain and flush the transmission plus add new oil to the engine was enough to pay for 15 oil changes at the local Jiffy Lube.

But, I regress.  Let’s get to the latest story about Bob and his attempts to do-it-himself so he can save money.

Bob called me Thursday night just to go over instructions for sanitizing the water system on their recently acquired fifth wheel camper.  I explained in detail the process of adding bleach, flushing out the pink antifreeze and finally taste tempering the system with a baking soda solution to remove any bleach after taste.  I even offered to come over and help him with the job.  He refused help telling me that it was going to be easy.  I should have known better!

Typical Basting Syringe used for injecting bleach into a hose or water tank.

Friday morning Bob started by getting out his white drinking water hoses and connecting them to the camper’s city water inlet.  Following my directions, he began to pour 8 ounces of bleach into the end of the water hose so that it too would be sanitized in the flushing process.  I had told Bob to inject the bleach with either a basting bulb or meat-tenderizing syringe.  Not finding one in the kitchen drawer, he elected to pour the bleach directly from the gallon bottle directly into the end of the hose.  Bob is one of those guys that believes if a little is good, more must be better.  Therefore, he intended to add significantly more than the amount of bleach I instructed him to use.

The bleach adding started out OK.  But then the hose “burped” and bleach came bubbling back out of the hose.  This surprised Bob and he “accidentally” spilled most of the bleach remaining in the gallon jug all over his shirt, blue jeans and shoes.

Bob went inside, took off his bleach soaked clothes, and changed into a dry shirt and pair of jeans.  He tossed his bleach soaked attire into the family dirty laundry hamper and went back to his job on the camper.

With the water hose connected, all of the inside faucets open and the water heater by-pass closed, Bob turned on the water supply to the camper.  He then went inside the camper to watch for clear water to come out the faucets.

Several minutes had passed and there was no water from the faucets inside the camper.  Bob could hear water running and assumed it must be the water heater tank filling.  Surely, just as soon as the tank filled, water would come out of the faucets.  Bob sat down and began reading a Popular Mechanics magazine left by the previous owner.

Several pages later Bob became concerned that he was not seeing any water come out of the faucets and went outside to investigate.  There he was greeted with a waterfall running out of the compartment door to the basement in the fiver.

Water filter cartridge that Bob forgot to reattach.

The entire basement compartment floor was filled with at least 2” of water.  All of the equipment in the compartment was also saturated with water.  That is when Bob noticed that he had never replaced the water filter cartridge housing.  This mistake resulted in all of the water from his hose running directly into the inside of the camper.

Bob thought a minute and decided to get his Shop Vac wet-dry vacuum to clean up the mess.  After a few moments of doing a great job of sucking up water, the Shop Vac suddenly lost suction.  Bob turned the Vac off and snapped off the top to discover he had forgotten to remove the paper filter and empty the tank contents before using it to pick up water.  Inside the tank was a mucky, muddy gooey mixture of dirt, sawdust, and charcoal grill ashes.

Bob's Shop Vac

He started to pour the mess out onto the ground but then thought better.  Marge would pitch a fit if he did that near her flowerbeds.  So, he took the tank of muck into the basement bathroom and poured it down the toilet.

When he flushed the toilet, the water in the bowl began to rise rather than go down.  Thinking another flush would provide enough pressure to clear the clog Bob once again pushed down on the flush handle.  The water began to rise again, but this time it completely filled the bowl and ran over onto the bathroom floor.

Well, this event meant Bob would have to reassemble the Shop Vac and suck up the water on the bathroom floor.  Bob was able to accomplish this without any more problems.  But, the toilet remained clogged with the muck he had deposited to start with.

Hook on end of electrical wire fish tape

That was when Bob decided to take his electrical wire-fishing tool and poke the metal tape into the toilet to dislodge the clog.  This seemed to be working well as the remaining water drained out of the bowl.  But, when Bob attempted to pull the steel tape back out of the bowl it wouldn’t come out.  Unknown to Bob at the time the hook on the end of the tape had impaled itself into the lower part of the toilet’s water trap.

After several light tugs to remove the steel tape, Bob became frustrated, put his right foot on the rim of the toilet bowl, and then pulled with all the strength his 260-pound body could muster.

The tape did not come loose, but the toilet did.  Bob had broken the bowl off of the front of the toilet dumping even more water at his feet as the china toilet bowl broke into  pieces.

Bob closed the door to the bathroom hoping Marge would not see the mess when she got home and decided that he had best call a plumber.

Once more, he changed out of wet clothes and tossed the soggy ones into the family laundry hamper.

Back outside at the camper he found that all of the water that had been standing on the floor of the basement had disappeared.  The only thing he had to do now was take the gear out and dry the floor with a towel.

Bob then happened to look under the camper and noticed the black underbelly fabric was sagging downward, almost reaching the ground.  He crawled under the camper and pushed up on the fabric.  It was heavy and squishy.  Bob figured it must be full of water so he reached down and retrieved his trusty knife from his jeans pocket.  Opening the knife, Bob thrust it into the fabric hoping to create a small drain hole.  But, the small hole quickly enlarged to an opening about the size of Bob’s head as gallons and gallons of water came gushing out completely soaking Bob from head to toe.

Once more, Bob went up to the house to change into dry clothes.  But, this time he decided to take what was in the hamper and toss it into the washing machine.  The load included not only Bob’s soiled clothes but also several days’ worth of dirty clothes he and Marge has tossed into the hamper.  He punched a few buttons, added some detergent, and let the washer run.

wet underbelly insulation

All of the fiberglass insulation in the underbelly of the camper was soaked.  Bob had to cut the black fabric open and pull it out so that everything could dry out.

About that time, Marge arrived home from the grocery store.  She heard the washer running and decided to check to see what was going on.  Bob never washed clothes and this was surely an oddity.  Inside the washer, she discovered Bob’s bleach discolored jeans and shirt – along with all of his other shirts and her favorite blouse and skirt covered with white bleach splotches.

She tore down the basement steps to find out why Bob would do such a thing.  That was when she stepped onto the waterlogged carpet in the basement hallway and saw the remains of the bathroom toilet scattered across the floor.

She charged outside only to be confronted with a knee high pile of pink, water soaked fiberglass insulation from under the camper.

She looked at Bob with fire in her eyes when he said, “Guess what, honey.  I sanitized the water system in the camper all by myself – I didn’t have to pay the RV shop a penny to do the job for me.”


Do you camp with a pet?  Please visit my No Pet Add-On Fees website at or by clicking on the blue highlighted and underlined text above for information regarding camping with pets in Virginia State Parks.

Private e-mails can be sent to:  RandynNancyageeatgmaildotcom (substitute a @ symbol for the bold at and a period . for the bold dot when entering the address into your e-mail program).


5 Responses to “How NOT to Sanatize Your Water System – More of Bob’s Bad Luck”
  1. eric says:

    I suddenly have the courage to try sanitizing the camper myself this year! I mean, I’ve always said if I do it myself it’ll be the biggest disaster to ever occur… but somehow, I think that title has already been taken by Bob!

  2. Larissa says:

    OMG! Did this really happen? Bob should quit before he does permanent damage next time! LOL

  3. eric says:

    Oh, I should have added one thing… Professor, I don’t suppose you live anywhere near Council Bluffs, Iowa, do you??????

  4. Corey says:

    Hahaha…Poor Bob! I was laughing through the entire story. It made me feel better as well, as I have had plumbing “issues” but nothing compared to Bob’s issues!

  5. steve hutch says:

    i haven’t laughed that much since i last heard “handy fred” on the local radio morning show 20 yrs ago.him and bob must’ ve been twins!

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