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Old 11-24-2018, 11:05 PM   #1
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Potty Talk

Potty Talk

Not the most fun thread, but as someone who is an RV wannabee until we find our first RV, I am doing much research in different areas of RVing.

I would like to know any wisdom any of you dare expose as to the pitfalls and just the simple workings of RV toilets and black tanks.

My husband just heard a nightmare story of a friend or the friend of a friend who was in his RV shower, and all of the sudden their sewage started creeping in the shower. I have never heard of this before, so I found it shocking. I know you have to keep an eye on your tank levels, and I know you gotta clean up your tanks well too so that you get a good reading with your sensors. Not to mention just for good hygiene. That one takes the cake, but I bet they aren't the only one that's happened to. It is sort of scary to someone who has no experience with RVs like my husband and me.

The next nightmare story I heard of, and maybe my husband got it wrong. But they were all sitting by the campfire tonight with the guys, and the next story they came up with is where something wasn't right with the dump station, and when they were dumping, it ended up backing up into the RV. Is that even possible? I wondered if my husband heard that wrong, because he may have, since he is still clueless to the RV dumping world presently. But I wondered if that is possible, how often does that happen? Anyone heard tell of something like that at a campground? Gives me the shivers!

Also, any tips and tricks on keeping the RV stink free, and for having clean tanks, and trouble free toilet trips, I am all ears! I am going into this with my eyes opened, and I want to make sure we avoid stuff happening at all costs and if it's possible.

Thanks again!
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Old 11-24-2018, 11:29 PM   #2
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RV waste tanks (black/grey) are 'holding tanks'....ie: collect the stuff until you can hookup sewer hose and dump contents

Waiting until waste tanks are FULL before dumping allows for the weight/volume of liquids to carry the solids down and out.
Yes if one does not pay attention to levels they can back-up....showers, sinks, toilet (if bowl seal leaks)

IF you are at a full hookup sites with your sewer hose connected and you leave a dump valve open the CG sewer system COULD backup into your RV....possible

More likely if you leave dump valve open sewer flies can invade your waste tanks, solids (poop/TP) could build up, dry out and really cause issues (poop pyramid----ever look down into a pit toilet/vault toilet/outhouse)
NOT want you want in your waste tanks (grey can collect food debris, grease/oil. sloughed skin etc)


To dump...open grey for just a few seconds then close....check if you have any leaks on sewer hose/fittings
Then dump the black tank...rinse it and close dump valve
Then dump grey ----soapy water helps clean 'stuff' from black tank out of dump line and sewer hose.
After dumping add a couple gallons back into waste tanks so bottom stays wet, anything left behind stays wet/doesn't stick to tank bottom and tanks is ready to use again


Some folks use chemicals in black tank.....????
I do NOT because chemicals just make poop smell like chemical and there should NOT be any smell inside the RV from grey or black tanks.
*'P' Traps---water barrier
(Air Admittance Valves on sink/shower drain lines after 'P' trap to prevent 'P' traps from having the water sucked out when draining waste tank
*Toilet has a foam floor flange seal ---mechanical barrier
*Toilet bowl has a seal that hold water...water barrier
*Vent lines on waste tanks


Waste plumbing system is set up just like your house......
And just like your house IF you smell odors from sewer you find/fix what is allowing the smells inside.


Water is your best friend ....high liquid to solid ratio is GOOD


Don't be afraid of the waste system
Don't OCD over it either


Have fun....go camping
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Old 11-24-2018, 11:53 PM   #3
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Hi,
Here is a search result for "black tank" and "dumping" for IRV2.


https://www.google.com/search?q=%22b...=10&gws_rd=ssl


It has a wealth of information and a much larger cross section of answers than a single thread will yield.


As far as the shower, most are drained into the gray water tank and it may become full during a shower and fail to drain the shower and mine will do the same with the kitchen sink, but if it becomes full when using the kitchen sink, mine does not back up into the shower.
Then the story about the septic backing up into the coach...... Pretty much either has to be that, just a story or a cascade of simultaneous failures. In order for this to happen, the first thing has to be that the sludge backwashing into the coach either has to be under pressure or a larger load that is being gravity fed from a tank that is higher than the coach or maybe ( in the perfect storm ) a class A with a big tank dumping next door at the exact same time AND the septic lines totally obstructed on both sides of the two coaches, AND both slinkies have perfect seals to begin with AND can stand the pressurization of this operation. What can happen is if you have a bathroom sink going to the black tank or you are adding water to the black tank and get a little too full that the drop from the toilet to the tank will hold air and then when the foot valve is depressed it will "burp" and have somewhat of a geyser effect that can surprise somebody.
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Old 11-25-2018, 12:29 AM   #4
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Originally Posted by SeektheSon1 View Post
My husband just heard a nightmare story of a friend or the friend of a friend who was in his RV shower, and all of the sudden their sewage started creeping in the shower.
No, that wasn't sewage. The only thing even connected to the black tank is the toilet.

If the GREY tank fills up, it can come into the shower. But that's not sewage, just water from the sinks (basically dishwater).
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Old 11-25-2018, 10:53 AM   #5
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No, that wasn't sewage. The only thing even connected to the black tank is the toilet.

If the GREY tank fills up, it can come into the shower. But that's not sewage, just water from the sinks (basically dishwater).

SOME RV MFG HAVE plumbed bathroom sinks to black tanks....increased water for black tank, easiest plumbing route etc
Showers COULD also be plumbed that way .......


So black tanks CAN backup and NOT just to toilet/vent line.
Never assume grey waste only goes to grey tank anymore.
Nothing to prohibit RV Mfgs from doing it......heck RVs used to only come with just ONE waste tank
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Old 11-25-2018, 10:56 AM   #6
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SOME RV MFG HAVE plumbed bathroom sinks to black tanks....increased water for black tank, easiest plumbing route etc
Showers COULD also be plumbed that way .......


So black tanks CAN backup and NOT just to toilet/vent line.
Never assume grey waste only goes to grey tank anymore.
Nothing to prohibit RV Mfgs from doing it......heck RVs used to only come with just ONE waste tank
Wow. Have never seen that in all my years, but I suppose anything's possible in the RV industry...
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Old 11-25-2018, 11:14 AM   #7
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First thing. Tanks sensors and tank level gauges never work. That means they never work. Don't count on them to give you factual information regarding tank fill levels. They never work. Got it? No amount of cleaning will change that. They just never work.

I have seen several RVs with the shower or a sink plumbed to go into the black tank. It's not common but does exist. In any case, overfilling a tank that is attached to the shower will result in a backup into the shower floor. It's because the shower drain is usually the lowest point in the drain system.

I can't imagine a campground sewage system or dump station backing up into an RV. For that to happen the sewer hose connection would have to be leak free, air tight and capable of handling several PSI of internal pressure. None of those are likely and all 3 at the same time is darn near impossible.

I suspect the story involving back up at the dump station was caused by someone using their blank tank rinse system with the black tank valve closed. Thus filling the black tank and causing it to back up thru either the ceiling vent, an air admittance valve, shower drain or thru the toilet itself. That's why black tank rinse systems always warn about using the system with the black tank valve closed. Folks do it anyway, get distracted and the next warning sign is sewage in places it should not be.

Whenever I use the black tank rinse with the black tank valve closed I make sure to keep my hand on the valve handle to prevent me getting distracted and forgetting.
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Old 11-25-2018, 11:32 AM   #8
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First thing. Tanks sensors and tank level gauges never work. That means they never work. Don't count on them to give you factual information regarding tank fill levels. They never work. Got it? No amount of cleaning will change that. They just never work.

I have seen several RVs with the shower or a sink plumbed to go into the black tank. It's not common but does exist. In any case, overfilling a tank that is attached to the shower will result in a backup into the shower floor. It's because the shower drain is usually the lowest point in the drain system.

I can't imagine a campground sewage system or dump station backing up into an RV. For that to happen the sewer hose connection would have to be leak free, air tight and capable of handling several PSI of internal pressure. None of those are likely and all 3 at the same time is darn near impossible.

I suspect the story involving back up at the dump station was caused by someone using their blank tank rinse system with the black tank valve closed. Thus filling the black tank and causing it to back up thru either the ceiling vent, an air admittance valve, shower drain or thru the toilet itself. That's why black tank rinse systems always warn about using the system with the black tank valve closed. Folks do it anyway, get distracted and the next warning sign is sewage in places it should not be.

Whenever I use the black tank rinse with the black tank valve closed I make sure to keep my hand on the valve handle to prevent me getting distracted and forgetting.

Saw the end results of a CG sewer system backing up into an RV.
CG was slightly sloped with a septic tank system at bottom end.
Guy couple sights down from us like to leave his grey dump valve open.


The CG sewer line plugged up couple sites down from him......sewer hookups all had screw caps and they were in place so as folks upstream dumped their waste tanks it just kept backing up ---not only in the main line BUT up the guys sewer hose thru the open grey dump valve and YES into shower pan then bathroom floor.


It was quite the mess...brownish water coming out under the MH.
Seems grey tank 'overflowed' thru drain lines grommets on top of tank and into the wet bay


One of those 'perfect storms'

1) CG sewer system Main Line clogged
2) RV Grey dump valve left open
3) Sunday afternoon....lots of folks dumping tanks/breaking camp/packing up to leave so 100's of gallons of waste not going into septic tank


Only other time was self inflicted
Guy hooked up to black tank flush.
Closed the black dump valve and then got distracted/walked away
BUT his was refocused when Brown Shower sprayed down the side of his MH from black tank vent and his WIFE screaming about the toilet overflowing


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Old 11-25-2018, 12:04 PM   #9
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SOME RV MFG HAVE plumbed bathroom sinks to black tanks....increased water for black tank, easiest plumbing route etc
Showers COULD also be plumbed that way .......


So black tanks CAN backup and NOT just to toilet/vent line.
Never assume grey waste only goes to grey tank anymore.
Nothing to prohibit RV Mfgs from doing it......heck RVs used to only come with just ONE waste tank
Yes....the bathroom sink in our Winnebago Spirit empties into the black tank.
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Old 11-25-2018, 02:07 PM   #10
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......sewer hookups all had screw caps and they were in place so as folks upstream dumped their waste tanks it just kept backing up ---
Guess he must have been down a pretty good hill. This is a one of the reasons I never use a screw on fitting to connect to the the CG sewer system. I just stick the fitting on the CG pipe and have a weight on top. Any amount of pressure at all and my fitting will just pop out of the CG sewer pipe. When I dump the black tank I just put my foot on the fitting. We all live and learn.
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Old 11-25-2018, 02:50 PM   #11
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IMHO, the chances of either scenarios happening is highly unlikely. If you're concerned about the black tank backing up into the shower, check to see what tank the shower empties into on your particular camper. My guess would be grey only, but there is a very small chance it could be otherwise. If it is otherwise, just watch the monitors and dump accordingly. I'm not saying these can't fail, but ours have always worked. Of course there is always Murphys' Law.

The scenarios described by the OP would be the least of my worries. They will probably never happen.

I did one time get sprayed by an older fellow who was cleaning up the mess he made at a large dump station when his black tank dumping went awry. I managed to escape most of it, but those clothes went in a plastic bag that was stored outside and a shower was in order. That was probably the worst in over 40 years, and happened many years ago.

Things will happen, but they are worth putting up with for all the really wonderful experiences you can look forward to.

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Old 11-25-2018, 04:00 PM   #12
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Guess he must have been down a pretty good hill. This is a one of the reasons I never use a screw on fitting to connect to the the CG sewer system. I just stick the fitting on the CG pipe and have a weight on top. Any amount of pressure at all and my fitting will just pop out of the CG sewer pipe. When I dump the black tank I just put my foot on the fitting. We all live and learn.



Many CGs require sealed fittings so spills are minimized



You must have really long legs where you can reach sewer, put your foot on hose AND open dump valve




I prefer the screw/tight fitting connections cause I don't have to do acrobatics to dump and it helps with odor control.
Besides I don't leave dump valves open so not concerned with backups happening
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Old 11-25-2018, 07:03 PM   #13
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Thanks everyone for chiming in and giving me sage advice from your experiences or the experiences of others. I would like to hear about anything else having to do with routine maintenance too. Do you have to be more careful with TP (RV safe TP) than you would at home? When you go to a CG, do you turn on your water pump and just leave it on? When you boondock, do you only turn the water pump on as you are using sinks and toilet? We got one vote for no chemicals. I have seen others say that they put some kind of potty pods in the toilet after number two. Sorry to be so explicit. Is that necessary though, and does that help? I hate toilets to smell bad, but the smell of a chemical potty is pretty bad too. I am not one to use air fresheners. I don't like that kind of chemical floating around my house and I am hoping I won't feel the need to use them in an RV either. Thoughts, procedures, etc.? Thanks again y'all!
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Old 11-25-2018, 07:54 PM   #14
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Thanks everyone for chiming in and giving me sage advice from your experiences or the experiences of others. I would like to hear about anything else having to do with routine maintenance too. Do you have to be more careful with TP (RV safe TP) than you would at home? When you go to a CG, do you turn on your water pump and just leave it on? When you boondock, do you only turn the water pump on as you are using sinks and toilet? We got one vote for no chemicals. I have seen others say that they put some kind of potty pods in the toilet after number two. Sorry to be so explicit. Is that necessary though, and does that help? I hate toilets to smell bad, but the smell of a chemical potty is pretty bad too. I am not one to use air fresheners. I don't like that kind of chemical floating around my house and I am hoping I won't feel the need to use them in an RV either. Thoughts, procedures, etc.? Thanks again y'all!
No special TP needed. It should be labeled "septic safe", but most of them are these days. All it means is that the TP will dissolve readily. The key is to use plenty of water when flushing.

If you're in a campground with water hookups, the water pump is not needed. That's only to pump water from your tank when not hooked up. I would recommend getting a good quality water pressure regulator. Some campgrounds have water pressure that's high enough to blow your plumbing out. For boondocking, whether you leave the pump on or turn on only when needed is more of a personal choice. It only runs when it senses a drop in pressure (opening a faucet or flushing). Sometimes, if a faucet is a bit leaky it can cause the water pump to cycle on and off.

As for chemicals, I never use anything but plenty of water. Always have some water in the black and grey tanks, as well as the toilet bowl. I do clean my tanks about once a year with blue Dawn dish detergent. It cuts the grease that might be holding stuff stuck to the sides of the tank. Dump in the Dawn, fill tanks about 3/4 full with water, drive around a bit to agitate, let sit for a day, then dump. Once a year is probably overkill.
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