Today, we are going to talk about RV storage tanks. To begin, I wanted to mention something about recreational vehicle tanks that I do not think many RVs know about. Many of the emptying stations available for motorhomes are closed due to harmful chemicals for septic tanks and because campers abuse these dump stations. If we want to have access to these emptying stations, it is absolutely essential that we use safe chemicals for septic tanks (without formaldehyde), and that we clean ourselves and not abuse the drain stations. .
Your RV has what is called a gray water tank and a black water tank. The gray water tank holds dirty water from the kitchen sink, bathroom sink and shower. The black water holding tank is for the toilets. These tanks end in a main outlet used to empty the holding tanks. It is here that we connect our sewer pipe.
Make sure you have the required fittings and connectors. It may be necessary to attach two hoses together to reach the sewer connection. I recommend that you only use heavy sewer pipes. Their not so expensive and they hold much better. Keep a 10-foot hose and a 20-foot hose available. Do not pull or slide the sewer pipe over the ground. This will cause it to tear or make pinholes.
To connect the sewer pipe, make sure both faucets are closed and remove the sewer plug. Make the connection by placing the hose adapter on the outlet and turn it clockwise until it snaps into place properly. Take the other end of the hose to the sewer connection of the campground. Use the adapters needed to make the connection and get a good seal. It's a good idea to put some weight on the hose so that it does not come out when you empty the tanks. It may be necessary to use some type of sewer pipe bracket to get a good angle between the RV and the sewer connection of the campground so that the tanks will empty properly when you empty them. The small valve is for the gray water tank and the big valve is for the black water tank.
A rule of thumb for RV storage tanks is to never empty the black water tank until it is at least two-thirds full. You want the tank to be almost full, so the weight and gravity will force the contents of the tank to empty properly. Another rule of thumb is to never leave the black tank valve open on the campsite and wait for the toilets to empty or drain like the toilets in your house. It will not work.
When the tanks are full or nearly full, always discard the black tank first, followed by the gray tank. The gray water tank should also be filled to at least two-thirds. Emptying the gray water tank last will help rinse the sewer pipe.
When you are camping for an extended period, you can leave the gray valve of the tank partially open for it to empty while you use it, but do not forget to NEVER do it with the black tank. If it is time to leave the campground and your tanks are not full, you can finish filling them with water and then throwing them away. Never use your drinking water hose for maintenance or tank cleaning. VR drinking hoses are normally white. Take a different colored hose for other uses so that you can distinguish the difference.
After emptying the tanks, you must rinse the tanks thoroughly. Some RVs have an integrated system for rinsing tanks. If not, there are other ways to do it. You can use a tank lance designed to clean and rinse the black tank. The only problem is that you do not know when or if the black tank is really clean and you can not rinse or clean the gray tank with a stick. I'm using a product called the Flush King. This is an inverted flush valve that connects directly to your sewer outlet and flushes and cleans both storage tanks in one simple operation. It is easy to use and has a barrel to see through so you know when the tanks are really clean.
Whenever you empty the black tank, you must treat it with storage tank chemicals to help control odors and break down solids. You should always use chemicals that are safe for the environment. Enzyme-based chemicals use good bacteria to digest waste and control odors. Formaldehyde chemicals destroy the bacteria needed to break down waste and can be dangerous for humans and pets.
The first step is to add enough water to completely cover the bottom of the tank. Four or five full toilet bowls should be sufficient depending on the size of your black tank. The water will help a lot to control the odors of the holding tank. You still want the contents of the tank to be covered with water. Then fill the toilet bowl and add the proper amount of chemicals to the holding tank, usually four ounces for every forty gallons in the tank. Empty the toilet. Repeat this procedure each time you empty the black water tank. Some retention tank chemicals, such as RV Trine, also contain valve lubricants to keep the valves in good working order and extend their service life.
Always use toilet paper designed for recreational vehicles. This toilet paper breaks down and dissolves in the chemicals in the holding tank, thus avoiding potential problems with the holding tank, the RV sewer system and the septic system of the drain station.
The false readings of the retention tank on the monitor panel are caused by the fact that the retention tank probes are covered with toilet paper or other debris. If flushing the tank does not solve the problem, add water and a few bags of ice cubes to the empty tank. Drive or pull the trailer so the ice cubes can rub the sides of the tank. The appropriate chemicals in the holding tank will also keep the retention tank probes clean.
Over time, grease and residue accumulate in the gray tank and this causes a foul odor, not to mention the way it affects the tank and the valve assembly. Periodically treat the gray tank with environmentally friendly storage tank chemicals to avoid tank odors. When the tank is empty, you can also add a little dishwashing liquid to the drains to help break down the grease and buildup of residue.
Following these simple storage tank tips can prevent problems and provide you with long-lasting trouble-free tanks. This is a problem that we can all do without! All of our RV touring videos cover information on recreational vehicle storage tanks, the water system, the liquefied petroleum gas system, the electrical system and more. Take a look at our new RV Essential Items DVD to show you the items you want for your RV to make all your VR experiences more enjoyable.
Mark J. Polk
Copyright 2006 by Mark J. Polk Owner of VR Education 101