A frequently forgotten or even abused part of an RV are the waste water holding tanks – Black Water (toilet) and Grey Water (sinks and shower). They do their job very well, and for the most part can be forgotten about but they do indeed require a little TLC between dumps to keep them working reliably. Dwayne Kuemper, Arbutus RV service expert
Let’s start with the often overlooked grey water system. Although the grey water tank itself may look similar or even exactly the same as the black water tank, the inlet and outlet lines are significantly smaller than the black water lines. The grey water system has a smaller drain valve and is designed for liquid waste only. Well, you might be thinking that everyone knows that and wouldn’t put solids down the drain, but what we often don’t consider are the greasy plate scrapings crammed down the sink drain or even hair down the shower. Over time these small amounts of solids can build up in the grey water system and start to cause problems. Nothing should ever be crammed down the drain, but the system can and will handle sink and shower waste just as efficiently as a modern house, provided it gets a little TLC.
TLC tips for a trouble free grey water system are:
- Never force solids or grease down the drain, put them in the garbage.
- When draining, be sure to flush the tank with plenty of clean water, either by running water down a sink/shower or using a tank flush system. To flush properly you should fill the tank at least half-full and drain. Repeat as necessary until clean looking water flows out of the tank. Clear drain fittings are available. (Never leave a tank being filled un-attended as over filling can be messy and costly)
- Always use a grey water odor control; this will help in breaking down grease as well as reducing offensive odors. (Grey water can become just as smelly as black water)
- Use drain valve lubricant to keep drain lines and valves working smoothly. In many cases if you have sticky valves, it is only a matter of time before they break from being pulled on too hard.
The black water system is designed for body waste and RV toilet tissue only. The inlet and outlet lines are much larger than the grey water system and usually designed with fewer fittings to keep things flowing freely. The black water system should provide many years of trouble free service, provided it gets a little TLC.
TLC tips for a trouble free black water system are:
- Starting with a clean, empty holding tank, partially fill the black tank 5 to 10 %, (usually about 2 to 4 gallons or 10-20 litres) this is a very important first step as a dry tank is likely to become plugged.
- Always use a black water tank additive. This helps turn solid waste and toilet tissue into a slushy liquid so it can drain. Drain valve lubricant will help to keep dump valves easy to open.
- Never use household toilet tissue, only use RV toilet tissue. RV toilet tissue is specially made to break down and liquefy fast.
- When flushing the toilet, after a solid job, use extra water to make sure everything gets liquefied in the tank. (RV toilets don’t automatically add extra water like at home)
- If camping while connected to a Sani station, do not leave the black water tank drain valve open. Leaving the valve open will cause the liquids to drain, potentially leaving the solids behind to cause a plug. It is advised that you use the system as normal (valve closed) and drain/flush when full or leaving the campsite.
- When draining the black water tank you should drain until empty, flush with water before closing the valve to ensure no solids or TP get jammed in the valve, and then close the valve.
- To flush properly you should fill the tank at least half-full and drain. Repeat as necessary until clean looking water flows out of the tank. Clear drain fittings are available. (Never leave a tank being filled un-attended as over filling can be messy and costly)
You’re back to a clean tank!
REMEMBER – Tank gauges will start to read incorrectly on both black and grey water tanks if they do not get the proper TLC. Level gauge cleaner can solve many incorrectly reading gauges by cleaning the sensors in the tanks.
We encourage you to call or drop in and discuss your RV Service needs with any of our RV Service Experts. You’ll find us HERE.