RV waste tanks survival

Ready to pack up the RV and go camping with the family. Taking that long needed week off to get out of town, enjoy some peace and quiet, and smell that clean fresh air. But wait. What is that foul awful smell? Everyone has had that moment when you think “I used chemicals. Why does it still smell?” If you understand your plumbing system and are using the correct waste tank products, you may not have to wonder any longer. Yes, cleaning and draining the tanks will still be a “dirty job” but it will be a little easier thanks to routine maintenance.

Understanding your Fresh Water and Black/Grey Tanks
In an RV or trailer there are three different tanks: fresh water; grey water; and black water. These tanks are exactly as they sound: fresh water is for potable water either from the campground, or your home system that you fill into your holding tank. Grey water is from water you use doing dishes, showering and using the bathroom sinks. Black water is from your toilet waste. Your grey tank water will typically drain from a 1-1/2” draining system that goes from your grey tank to a 1-1/2” drain valve. The black tank drains from a 3” draining system that will lead to a 3” draining valve. However, every RV is manufactured differently when it comes to placing water lines and plumbing. So it’s important to know how your system is constructed and all it takes to clean it.

Keep It Clean
Before you begin cleaning or even using your water tanks, there are some easy ways to keep that smell from getting out of hand. Fresh water tanks will need to be sanitized every so often especially if they sit for a long period of time without being used. There are different products that can be used on these tanks. I recommend using the Thetford Fresh Water Tank Sanitizer.

With the black and grey tanks it is important to keep them clean using several different types of cleaner. First, you will want to use a deodorizer for the tanks and also use a level gauge cleaner to keep you monitor readings correct. Then you will want to use a tissue digester to assist in breaking up the waste. Thetford also has great deodorizers for the grey and black tank as well as tissue digesters. Whichever brand you decide on be sure to follow directions on the packaging and use as directed.

You will also want to use a rapid dissolve toilet paper. This quickly digests and dissolves the paper so that a free flow of water drains from tank to outlet without clumps or backups.

So, now that you have deodorized and cleaned your tanks it is time to discuss the dreaded dumping. Once you are set up at your full hook up site or at a dump station location, be sure that you have a durable sewer hose and an extension if needed. It’s important to us an RV sewer hose support made of durable lightweight plastic that won’t creep closed during dumping.

There is nothing worse than splitting a hose in the middle of dumping. Once you have hooked up, be sure to dump the black tank before you dump the grey tank. Dumping the grey water after the black water will help to flush out the sewer drain and hose. Many newer rigs are equipped with a blank tank flush located in your wet bay. Easily connect a separate water hose to the flush connection to aid in the dumping process.

It is always best to dump your tanks when they are at least 2/3 of the way full. If you are planning on storing your coach it would be best to dump all of your tanks before dropping it off for an extended period of time.

There are so many new gadgets on the market to clean your tanks and keep your coach smelling fresh. However, I do understand that it is a dirty job but…as the saying goes, “someone has to do it” and unfortunately that someone is me.