By Jim Twamley
I’d like to address an important issue – tank management. Most RV’s have several tanks: fresh water, gray water, black water, hot water, propane and (for motorhomes) fuel tanks. Let’s deal with each one separately:
Fresh water tank
Several times I’ve been at RV parks when the main water supply was temporarily shut down. After the second time of being caught with little or no water in my fresh water tank, I began making sure my fresh water was topped-off once I was at my destination park. It’s always a good idea to keep it full, especially if you are staying a few days. When traveling I usually have it about half-full unless I know I am going to be staying overnight in Walmart or another dry-camp situation.
We are close to our weight limit, so I empty all the waste tanks (except for a few gallons in the black tank) prior to our hitting the road.
This is the human waste tank. I don’t use chemicals in my system because the natural enzymes sufficiently break down the waste. I frequently clean out the tank with fresh water. Never had a problem, no odors, no funny chemical smell. I keep a few gallons of fresh water in the black tank after I wash it out to cover the waste. If it’s able to be covered by water, the enzymes do their job and odor is kept to a minimum.
If your gauges aren’t working properly it’s often because toilet paper is hung up on the sensors. To remedy this put about 10 pounds of ice and 5 to 10 gallons of water in the tank and drive. The sloshing motion of the floating ice should help clean the sensor. We do not put tissues into the black tank nor do we put in toilet paper that was used for other things other than its primary purpose. This reduces the prospects of clogging.
Our rig is equipped with an external hose connector that flushes the tank. I use a clear elbow fitting that attaches to the sewer hose so I can see when the tank is clean and running clear water. With the clean water still running into the tank flush out, I close the main valve and allow about 10 gallons of water to accumulate in the tank, then open it up again. This flushes out any excess toilet paper and waste. I then fill it with another 5 gallons of water and close the valve. Following these procedures will give you trouble free service of your black tank.
When camping for extended periods where access to a sewer is not available (like at a relative’s house) you can purchase a macerator which attaches to the sewer hose fitting and grinds the waste and sends it through a regular garden hose to a dump site like a cleanout, toilet, washer/dryer drain or outhouse. These run off of 12 volts and have a manual switch. Here’s one at amazon.com for less than $100. You’ll need to put together the fittings to adapt it to your RV water outlet.
We’ll have the rest of Jim’s suggestions on RV tank management next week.