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Old 12-17-2012, 08:03 AM   #1
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Newbie mistake.

Hi everyone. My wife and I recently downsized from our house to a 35ft 5th wheel in the Seattle area, and although I thought that I was on top of the grey / black water way of life with all of my years of camping experience, I recently found out that the valve on my black water plumbing was not properly closed due to a bad pull cable an the valve assebly. I can fully close the black water valve by holding the cable when I operate the pull lever, but as you can guess, I now have a dilema on my hands as to preperly drain the tank with the current build up. It's currently half full so I'm not at a pnic yet, but I'd like to get this under control as soon as possible. Has anyone had this issue in the past that can advise me on the best way to approach this problem? Thanks in advance,

-Delema in Seattle-

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Old 12-17-2012, 08:17 AM   #2
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Been there.
I replaced the cable and the valve after dumping.
The cables get stretched and dont have enough leverage.

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Old 12-17-2012, 08:17 AM   #3
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If you can make it operate properly by holding the cable housing with one hand while operating the pull/push handle with the other, it sounds like the cable housing has come loose from it's secure point(s). The housing should be secured with a bracket or clamp, normally one toward each end. Loosening one clamp a bit and slipping the cable housing one way or the other is how it is adjusted to fully open/close. Many car heater cables, particularly older cars, work the same way.
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Old 12-17-2012, 08:32 AM   #4
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Thanks for responding. I looked at the cable yesterday and it did pull loose from the clamp on the handle side of the system. I'll try to loosten the clamp and re-secure the cable, but I'm pretty sure that it's stretched, and I'll need to replace it. As for the waste in the tank, since the valve was in an open position, there was no water build up in the system. other than closing the valve and hoping that the remaining room in the tank will give sufficient water to drain the tank, is there some beyond the standard holding tank chemical that I can add to ensure the back up properly desolves and drains? I really appreciate your feed back.
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Old 12-17-2012, 09:02 AM   #5
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Sorry, but I don't understand what is the problem. You can open and close the black-water valve? You have build up in the black-water line you need to flush out?

If the problem is the valve, you can replace the valve with a new one. Most RV supply stores carry the parts.

If the problem is the build up, then it's not that hard to flush the tank and/or the drain line. Step one is to get a tank flusher gizmo. It's a sprayer that you stick down the commode into the black water tank and then spray the sides and bottom of the tank while you leave the drain open. Most RV stores have them for sale. Here's one:
Valterra RV Flexible Holding Tank Wand

You probably also need the chock that holds the toilet flusher valve open while you flush the tank:
Johnny Chock - product summary - Bing Shopping

If the build up is in the drain line, then it's a mess to flush it if it won't clean out with just the normal flushing action of flushing the tank. In that case, stick the flusher wand or hose wand up the drain valve into the line. Have a tub or something suitable to drain the dirty water while flushing the line.

Or if the build up is in the line, the line is probably made of PVC or ABS or similar plastic drain line, so you can do some plumbing. You can cut the line off near the bottom of the tank (using a hack saw?), leaving at least an inch sticking out of the tank as the place you will glue the new collor on when you put it back together. Then unscrew, unbolt, and otherwise remove the entire line and valve from the trailer. Then scrape and flush it good, using whatever it takes to get the build-up out of there. Then reinstall the drain line using a PVC collar and PVC glue to mend the place where you cut it off. If the drain line is ABS instead of PVC, then use the collor and glue for ABS instead of for PVC.
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Old 12-17-2012, 09:09 AM   #6
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Old 12-17-2012, 09:12 AM   #7
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I understand the "delema in Seattle."

Have you considered having DW take the cap off?

Seriously, you will have a mess. There is no getting around it. The waste in the tube from cap to the closeout valve is only a few, if that much, gallons. You definately need some rubber gloves and a bucket. (Maybe a clothes pin for the nostrils.) like I said, see if you can talk DW into it, but I'll wager there is no way she'll do it.

Place the bucket under the drain. If there is not enough space to put the lip of the bucket under where th cap is, then you will have to improvise, like some type of funnel system into the bucket. Hold the cap securely and crack it open. You will be able to control the pressure of the flow by holding the cap tightly against the opening. Let it go into the bucket until you can get a sewer line on it. Yep! It's going to be a little messy.

Good luck.

p.s., others have indicated how to replace the cable, or the information can be found with a search.
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Old 12-17-2012, 09:20 AM   #8
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I recommend getting the drain hose elbow with the water hose connection for flushing. Repeated flushings with the garden hose will, in all probability, loosen the fecal matter in the tank and line. The clear plastic these connectors are made of facilitate observing your progress without having the same "shower" occurrance as Robin Williams in RV.
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Old 12-17-2012, 09:46 AM   #9
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To get the tank cleaned out:
- Back-flushing with lots of water;
- and/or filling the tank with water and driving it around with plenty of cornering to get the water working on the build-up

The best "chemical" likely is water, and plenty of it.
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Old 12-17-2012, 12:43 PM   #10
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Excellent ideas! Thank you very much to all. it sounds like I'll be making a mess, regardless of the method. I've always been one to learn by my mistakes, and I guess this will be one great big learning lesson that I'll never forget! Thanks again everyone, I intend to use these suggestions. On a side note, what a great web site! I look forward to our future conversation. :-)

-Take care from Seattle-
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Old 12-17-2012, 01:21 PM   #11
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Also for the future, you can buy a cap with a smaller hose bib attachment and cap on it. Nice for draining grey water where permissible. And extra nice when you make these kinds of mistakes.
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Old 12-18-2012, 07:27 AM   #12
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Couple quick comments. Never camp hooked up with the black tank open. Always leave it closed, then a day or so before dumping it, close the grey water also. Drain the black and, with the valve open, go inside and dump a few 5 gallon buckets of water down the open potty. This will dislodge any brown mountains loose and get them flowing. Then, when done with the tank, flush the hose and line by emptying the grey tank. Another idea I have not tried but some swear by it, is dump the black, put five gallons of water in the tank and a big bag of ice cubes down the potty. Immediately take off and drive around corners, stop and start making that combo to work itself around in the tank. Then go dump it and flush it. I use RID-X when the rig goes into storage with about 5 gallons of fresh water. This is an enzyme that will hasten the natural dissolving of solids into a liquid. Keeps my tanks swimming pool fresh - - well, maybe not that good.... ..... Good luck and happy trails.
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Old 12-29-2012, 01:15 PM   #13
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Once the cable sheath comes loose on either end, it's junk. Sometimes you can hold it together enough to get the valve closed, but eventually you'll get an ugly surprise when you pull the cap at the dump station after the black tank has been leaking past the valve, it needs replaced. I have the same problem right now, and I've been getting by fine with a twist-on gate valve, but it's on my list of winter projects...
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Old 12-29-2012, 03:54 PM   #14
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I'd suggest you watch the movie "RV" with Robin Williams. He has a lot of good pointers in there....


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