Saturday, October 29, 2016

Cleaning Holding Tanks

Probably one of the least pleasurable aspects of RVing is cleaning out holding tanks. Most RVs are equipped with 3 holding tanks: black water, grey water, and fresh water. The black water is waste from the toilet, grey water is waste from sinks and shower, and fresh water is your fresh water supply for those times when you may not have access to water. Of these 3 tanks, the least pleasant to deal with is, of course, the black water. Of the 3, it is also the one you need to deal with in order to prevent odors.

On our previous trailer, the Rockwood 2604, we had a built-in black water flush, so cleaning the black water tank was pretty painless. Our current trailer has no such luxury, and I really miss that feature. For the past year or so, I've been using a wand to clean the tank, but I recently learned of a new product that really does a pretty effective job. So, on our last outing, we stopped at Camping World in Denton and I picked up a Flush King Reverse RV Flush by Valterra. Click here to watch a promo video of this device.

Now, if this is a topic that interests you -- and if you are an RVer it SHOULD interest you -- there is a wonderful YouTube video of a man performing a series of tank rinsing solutions using various products. One of the products he tests is the Flush King. The video simulates quite well just what happens in a holding tank.

So far, I've only used my Flush King twice, but I've been impressed. When we are preparing to leave a site, I'll empty my black water tank. Now, I don't mean to be graphic here, but one of the features of the Flush King is the clear valve that allows you to watch your waste travel out of the tank. When I first emptied our tank, the waste was, of course, very dirty. Then I closed the valve between the Flush King and the sewer hose, and turned on the water, allowing it to run for several minutes in order to refill the tank. I then turned off the water, opened the valve, and watched the waste pass through the clear valve. This time, the waste was obviously cleaner, but still dirty. So, I repeated this process until the water ran clear. I also used this same process for my grey water tank.

On the last day of our trip, I followed the same procedure above but finished by closing the Flush King valve and then using my tank wand through the toilet. I gave the tank a good rinsing this way, then turned off the water and went back outside. I opened the valve and once again saw a good bit of dirty waste through the clear valve, waste that had obviously been washed down from the upper walls. Yep, I miss that black water flush I had on my previous trailer.

Notice clear section of valve. This allows you to watch the waste as it empties. Also notice that the cut off is below the water inlet. This allows you to add water to the tank and hold it, and this is important.

Still, without going through the expense of installing such a black water flush, the process I'm currently using is probably about as effective as I can be.

There are a number of good YouTube videos on this topic. One of the better ones I've found is "How To Dump and Clean an RV Black Tank." This particular video deals with an RV that has a built-in black water flush.

On a related note, one problem I've encountered numerous times is that my tank sensors begin to give false readings, obviously because of debris that blocks them in some way. The process described above helps to eliminate that problem. When we were at Copper Breaks on our recent trip, I noticed that our sensors were not reading accurately. So, after we emptied our tanks, I then refilled the black water tank about two-thirds full with fresh water. We then drove to our next destination almost 200 miles away. During the trip, the water sloshed around in the tank. When we arrived at Winstar, I emptied the tank, and the sensors were working properly.

RVing is not always about fun, and keeping your tanks clean and working efficiently is one of those things you just have to knuckle down and do.


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