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Old 05-28-2015, 10:03 AM   #1
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Why Is Our Gray Water BROWN?!

Our motorhome sat since Thanksgiving with what I thought was a pretty empty gray tank. Now I go to get ready for a 5-month trip and I use my clear Flush King (with a shut off sewer valve so it doesnt run out) to run some water back into the gray tank and flush it out, and all the water that comes out is as brown as the brownest black water I've ever seen and there are even little flakes of debris in the water (I can see it as it goes thru the clear tube).

I've cycled water into the gray tank like that probably 20 times and still brown...what the heck is it, and how do I get it cleared out?!?

thanks!!
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Old 05-28-2015, 10:13 AM   #2
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Sounds like you've unknowingly introduced the black water to your gray by having both valves opened together, and they mixed.

Don't worry, you can flush this mess all out but take a second look at your routine for storage. If you have the outlet capped closed and the valves open, they will mix.

DTW
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Old 05-28-2015, 10:19 AM   #3
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Totally agree that makes sense and I even checked the flow out of the black tank and then closed the valve and it's good. Yes I do cap off the outflow pipe when not in use, but I know for a fact both tank valves were closed, plus I've flushed clear water into the gray tank like 20 times and every time it comes out brown...I have this mental picture of 6" long brown algae on the tank sides...is that possible?
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Old 05-28-2015, 10:33 AM   #4
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Good news I think, and a question. I had poured a cup of bleach (along with a gallon or so of water) in the kitchen sink last night into a pretty empty gray tank, and I just went out and flushed water into the gray tank again for about 60 seconds and the water is finally truly gray like you would expect gray water to be but there is still some debris in the water coming out after I flush water in. I was thinking it would be good to almost fill the gray tank with fresh water, then put another couple cups of of diluted bleach into the sink, thinking the bleach would then be in contact with more of the surfaces of the tank besides just the bottom...problem is my gray water level gauge doesnt work....suggestions?
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Old 05-28-2015, 10:44 AM   #5
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If it were mine, I would try to figure out a way to capture some of the "flakes" and see if you can determine what they are. Maybe something in your tank or plumbing is deteriorating? If the flakes are abrasive they could be damaging the seals in the valve.
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Old 05-28-2015, 10:52 AM   #6
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Possibly decomposing microscopic food particles that have had an extended time to ferment?


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Old 05-28-2015, 10:54 AM   #7
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If it were mine, I would try to figure out a way to capture some of the "flakes" and see if you can determine what they are. Maybe something in your tank or plumbing is deteriorating? If the flakes are abrasive they could be damaging the seals in the valve.
I agree with finding the cause otherwise you are just putting a bandaid on it.
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Old 05-28-2015, 11:27 AM   #8
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So, two things: 1) determine cause, and 2) clean tank

1) determine cause,
OK, took your advice and captured some of the gray water with the flakes and "dots" of debris...they are not abrasive, when I rub my finger on them they dissolve, so (thank goodness) I think I can rest assured it's not plumbing seal debris, but is instead "decomposing microscopic food particles that have had an extended time to ferment"

2) clean tank
So, when I flush the tank the water is still gray, and the "debris count" is going down so that's good. I sure wish I had a removable access port in the gray tank so I could hose it out...I can see one end of the tank from the drivers side..another day for that one. How does this sound? 1) Let the gray tank completely drain out now, 2) just before we leave Monday, pour in the kitchen sink, or the shower, a cup of bleach diluted in a couple gallons of water 3) leave for our trip, first stop is about 300 miles, that should cause some good sloshing of that 2 gallons of bleach water, 4) use the sinks normally that day then 5) drain the bleach water out and see what I have, but it should be OK by then I'm hoping?
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Old 05-28-2015, 11:59 AM   #9
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I read somewhere on this forum that it's recommended to pour a quart of Pine-Sol in your tank with several gallons of water and drive for a while to sanitize and clean your grey and black tanks.
I plan on doing this as I leave out on my next trip.
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Old 05-28-2015, 12:01 PM   #10
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Possibly decomposing microscopic food particles that have had an extended time to ferment?


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Old 05-28-2015, 12:16 PM   #11
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I read somewhere on this forum that it's recommended to pour a quart of Pine-Sol in your tank with several gallons of water and drive for a while to sanitize and clean your grey and black tanks.
I plan on doing this as I leave out on my next trip.
Yes this really works well for us since we use Pine-Sol, or any brand of liquid dish washing soap in our black water tank for every tank full.

I may over do it a bit at every flush, but it's less expensive than the chemicals from CW, holds the smell down, and keeps the tank sides clean. Oh forgot to mention, the soap is a great lubricant for the seals.

DTW
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Old 05-28-2015, 12:17 PM   #12
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Do you think you had perhaps left the grey open at sometime while dumping the black and it backfilled the grey under pressure?

I am just going to take a stab and say that if it was my grey, I would pour a couple gallons of bleach down the drain and some water and drive it around for a bit and then before dumping fill the grey up with water, let it stand for a while and flush.
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Old 05-28-2015, 12:39 PM   #13
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Personally, I wouldn't worry at all about this condition. Normal usage of the tank for several cycles will most likely correct the situation. Not unusual at all for the tank to have dried residue on the tank walls after sitting empty for an extended period. As you've experienced, the residue will flake off the plastic walls during usage. Driving some miles with a half full gray tank should help work the dried scale off the tank walls, but probably isn't necessary.

Like many of the RV systems, sitting dormant often creates more problems than regular usage.

Go forth and enjoy your 5 month trip and no worries about your gray tank water quality

cheers,
Joopy
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Old 05-28-2015, 12:50 PM   #14
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Personally, I wouldn't worry at all about this condition. Normal usage of the tank for several cycles will most likely correct the situation. ....
I Agree!

Just do not let the tank-flush industry know that it's OK not to obsess about holding tank cleanliness. Unmarked black SUVs, helicopters, and camera drones may mysteriously appear into your life.
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