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Old 03-10-2016, 09:46 PM   #1
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Keeping The Black Tank Clean From The Start

Hey Everyone,
Since I am new to all of this and starting with a new RV, what do you experienced RV'ers out there advise to initially put in the black tank to keep it free of gunk and stuff.

I was thinking of adding a gallon or two of water and some 'He' laundry detergent in there at start and at every clean out stage.

Would you advise against this and if so what would be your recommendations.

I value your input and thank you in advance.

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Old 03-10-2016, 09:59 PM   #2
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Starting out with a couple of gallons of water in the tank is a good start. Adding the detergent will also keep things 'wetter.' Another strategy would be to get some Calgon Water Softener. It really helps 'slick' the water and keeps things from building on the sensors. Calgon powdered water softener used to be carried by Walmart, but I've not found it there for quite a while. Instead you can get it from Amazon.

In addition to the above, I also fill the tank with my built in sprayers before pulling the dump valve. It makes things rush out faster than dumping just small amounts of liquid. Letting the tank empty slowly is a big No No, it allows solids to settle.


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Old 03-10-2016, 10:05 PM   #3
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I always put three or four gallons of water in along with our chemicals of choice. When dumping I wait till at least half full or fill it to that level. Over the 55+ years I've been RV'ing I've never had a black tank problem till we got the present rig. Seems the previous owner let the tank dry out between uses so I'm still trying to get it clean.
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Old 03-10-2016, 10:28 PM   #4
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I use the bags of chemicals you can buy at Camping World/Walmart, just throw one pod in the toilet, and a few gallons of water at the start of your trip and it will keep it clean and fresh. Like said before let the tank get nice and full or use your sprinkler flush attachment to get a really good flush, especially if it is your last flush before going home.
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Old 03-10-2016, 11:09 PM   #5
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So would you advise against Laundry detergent? Can't think where I saw that. Trying to use things that we already have instead of buying chemicals etc. Sometimes home remedies are the best!
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Old 03-11-2016, 01:05 AM   #6
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Originally Posted by TheMatrix View Post
So would you advise against Laundry detergent? Can't think where I saw that. Trying to use things that we already have instead of buying chemicals etc. Sometimes home remedies are the best!
The chemicals are formulated to break down the solids in the tank while deodorizing, a must, most are formaldehyde free, read the labels. Detergent is used to make things more slippery, not to break down the solids. I have never used detergent in the black water tank. As said before fill up the black water tank before dumping, you want the big "whoosh" to push out the contents.
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Old 03-11-2016, 03:19 AM   #7
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Thanks 1010. That really made sense.
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Old 03-11-2016, 03:46 AM   #8
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I use the Geo-Method and have for many years. Never have a problem with "stuck" sensors and the tank always checks out clean with my bore scope.

My MO is to dump about 3 gallons of hot water with the appropriate stuff mixed in just before leaving on a trip, that way it gets a chance to agitate and coat the tank. We only dump when the sensor shows 2/3 full or if we have to dump prior to that we fill the tank up. I typically dump at home so I have the luxury of being able to rinse well.

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Old 03-11-2016, 03:56 AM   #9
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I use to but/spend money on additives years ago, now I have learned over time that a lot of water is the key to no problems and clean tanks. Water will keep things from building up and a "Mound" starting. I have no way of measuring it, but if I had to guess, after I dump, I would guess I put 5-8 gallons of fresh water back in, maybe a bit more. Other than maybe 3-4 days max while traveling, we are for the most part on full hookups, and my black tanks is 60 gallons. A lot of water is the key! Even when flushing!
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Old 03-11-2016, 05:33 AM   #10
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The things I do to keep the blackwater tank and sensors in good shape:

1) Add a couple gallons of water and a chemical pod to the tank before we leave.

2) Never dump without the tank being 2/3 full. On short trips we will do dishes in a pan and dump the dirty water in the toilet to help add to the volume in the black tank.

3) There is a dump station where the trailer gets stored so I drive home before I dump the tank. This allows things in the tank to slosh around and break down better.

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Old 03-11-2016, 06:10 AM   #11
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Only chemical one really needs is H2O

They are waste 'holding' tanks.........not a septic system

Think of it as moving water.
A slow moving creek can barely disturb a pebble BUT
A raging fast moving river can carry boulders for miles

That is what you want your waste tanks to be like....raging fast moving rivers
Dump them when FULL so the weight/volume of liquids carry the solids down and out
Then add couple full toilet bowls back into empty black tank so that bottom of tank doesn't dry out and next poop doesn't stick/pile up (dreaded poop pyramid---yikes!)
A little water via faucet back into grey helps also.

Chemicals just cause poop to smell like chemicals.
Besides you should not smell any odors anyway....there are vapor barriers just like your home (do you smell odors there???)
Water in toilet bowl....vapor barrier
Toilet floor flange gasket....vapor barrier
Sink/shower 'P' Traps........vapor barrier
Waste tank gaskets/grommets used where vent line and drain lines into tank...vapor barriers
Roof vents.........allow odors to escape up high away from your nose

If you smell it.......then something is broken (or you have exhaust fan on when flushing toilet)

H2O is your friend.....period
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Old 03-11-2016, 06:59 AM   #12
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I follow the GEO method (link in post #8), and use a Valterra Flush-King to backflush the tanks, regularly. You'd be surprised how much can come out during a backflush!

In between trips I drain my tanks and put a vent cap over the valve outlets.

The GEO method guy and "Old-Biscuit" are right on- they are holding tanks. A smell is a symptom that something is broken.
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Old 03-11-2016, 08:50 AM   #13
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You don't need anything except water. The main thing is to put enough water in the tank before you use it. If you don't put enough water in or flush with enough water you develop a poop pyramid. Which when dry causes the stink.
I'm a firm believer in using the black tank flush. I use it almost every time I dump.
This is my procedure for dumping;

Drain the black tank 1st
While it's draining hook up your black tank rinse hose.
After the black tank is empty start the grey tank draining.
At the same time turn the water on for the black tank rinse.
After a few mins and while the grey is still dumping shut the tank rinse off.
Now wait for the grey to get completely empty or just a slow trickle.
Turn the tank rinse back on and see what color water is coming out.
If it's pretty clean looking then shut the tank rinse off.
Now make sure the grey is done.
Once in awhile when draining the grey I'll close the black tank valve leaving the tank rinse water running and just when the grey starts to trickle open the black valve again. That lets the rinse water pool up a bit in the black tank and help loosen the stubborn stuff.
Pack up the sewer hose and tank rinse hose and leave.

I've got the procedure down so that I can run the tank rinse and be done when the grey is about done. I'm not holding anyone up behind me if at a dump station. When in a full hookup site I let the tank rinse run more. I don't use the tank rinse every time but probably 8-10 times.
My blank tank never smells and I 've never dumped chems in it.

The main thing to do is make sure you have a few inches of water and making sure you flush it good puts even more water in the tank.

If you're at a full hookup site then keep the black tank closed till it's full then dump. You don't want to open the black tank valve prior to your stay. Only the grey needs to be open.

On another topic but related to the toilet. If the plumbing vent for the toilet is near the roof vent for the bathroom then don't run the bathroom fan when you dump the toilet. On occasion the fan will suck the black tank odor in that exits the plumbing vent.
Doesn't happen all the time but when it does it's nasty.
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Old 03-11-2016, 09:05 AM   #14
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This is my opinion on the matter.

Home remedies that actually work well become successful products. Otherwise, home remedies are usually worth less than you paid for them.

The black tank will work just fine without a bunch of different fancy chemicals, careful measuring, or expensive "RV/Marine" toilet paper. Use enough water when flushing solids. Don't do like some RVrs I've seen where they dump pee outside in order to save time between sewage dumps, and I'm not talking about composting toilets that have a separate pee bottle. Pee is a liquid, and helps the solids flush out of the tank.

Just use your toilet as a toilet. Simple.

I use Thetford CampaKem now. I use it according to the label instructions within sane limits. IOW, I don't bother measuring it out precisely, I just keep a bunch of 4 ounce bottles with the product in them, and dump one in if I decide it might be useful or I just want to. This product has formaldehyde and methanol and other nasty chemicals that freak some people out. What I want it to do is break up solids like TP (I use Angel Soft) and "other things" so that it dumps well. Not much more is needed for me, but there are other benefits I've found to using it, like zero sewage odor.

The gauge systems that are installed in the RV will sooner or later fail to give accurate readings of how full the tank is. I turn off the water pump or the "city water" service, step on the pedal, and look down into the abyss with a flashlight. It's the most accurate gauge I have, looking at the level in the tank itself. I have no hope of the black tank gauge I have now ever working correctly again. It's a design flaw of the cheap systems, period.

I gave up obsessing over blank tank cleanliness months ago. I simply thought about what I put in there, and almost immediately gave up. Behind before I even got started, so why try so hard to have a pristine black sewage tank?

If you must have an accurate gauge system for the black tank, there are differently designed systems that you can buy and use. They have a purpose and a market space they fill nicely and many happy customers. I just decided I don't need them if I can look right down into the tank.

And my tank does not have any sewage odor. That isn't important to me, but it's a nice side effect of the product I have started using.

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