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Old 09-29-2014, 07:05 AM   #1
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Revisiting the black tank

I have seen many, many folks on here who highly recommend the ice method to unclog a black tank that's been mistreated. I have never needed to try that but I came across this video today and found it very interesting. I think you will too!

Will ice cubes in an RV sewer tank dislodge waste buildup? on Vimeo

BTW, I still believe the Happy Camper Extreme treatment is the best out there for restoring a black tank! JMHO
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Old 09-29-2014, 07:24 AM   #2
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The Mythbusters show comes to mind here...

Thanks!
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Old 09-29-2014, 07:54 AM   #3
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Flushing is much more effective. That's why I flush after each dump. Soaking in a full tank of water, then flushing with water. I have also heard that filling the toilet a few times then flushing into tank will dump water at some pressure (height of toilet above bottom of tank) helps to dislodge accumulation directly under the tank input. After all, this is where buildup starts!
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Old 09-29-2014, 08:28 AM   #4
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I guess that filling a tank with a few bags of ice then driving it would be one way to clean it out. That Happy Camper product looks pretty expensive plus after looking at their web site, appears that the bags of ice they suggest as an aid to breaking things up probably does about as much good.

A short (kinda) story -
Way back we purchased a 'pre owned' bumper pull that had been used a couple years as a seasonal. It was in perfect shape being only 2 years old - that is except for the major Egypt size poo pyramid in the black tank. No amount of filling or flushing would begin to break it down. I ended up making a wand (yeah, I know, they can be purchased as well) out of some scrap 1/2 or 3/4 inch PVC, a PVC cap with a half dozen 1/16" holes drilled at various places and a hose fitting. I stuffed that down the toilet hole which luckily was a straight shot to the tank and put literally hundreds of gallons of water through that I carried by 5 gallon buckets to my home's toilet. Many pounds of s... - errr, waste came out. It was so bad that even the plastic Thetford toilet was contaminated and needed replacement. Now, every time I dump the 5er it gets a ten or so minute flush if at all possible. If I can't flush, a few gallons of water will be put in the tank along with some blue stuff and for sure it will be flushed the next time.

Gray tanks - they get lots of water, no food scraps and hope the monitors keep working. Or as I did on the last trailer, install a SeeLevel system(SeeLeveL RV Gauges by Garnet Technologies Inc.) which usually work best
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Old 09-29-2014, 10:52 AM   #5
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While riding in the motorhome recently I watched my bottle of water and the water barely moved as we traveled, including on curves. I, too, question how ice will have enough force to dislodge 'things'. There just isn't enough movement in the tank.

We've solely used plenty of water when flushing and have had no problems in 16 years of full-timing.

Adding additives and then dumping in a few days isn't doing much. Folks say 'it works' but how do they really know what is working in there? Perhaps things would still work if only using water. I believe additives are expensive gimics.

The above video-maker also did one on black tank flush systems. Interesting. He demonstrated how the clear plastic connection with the hose running into it to flush is useless. It basically only cleaned out a very small area inside beyond the connections. So you're seeing clean water come out but it certainly is not from having a clean tank.
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Old 09-29-2014, 11:25 AM   #6
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I do love when an accepted method is challenged with actual testing and demonstration of the challenge. And even he said it helps, but doesn't truly work.

On my old TT I did what I could to keep it cleaned out but one spring I tried something. I dropped the antifreeze and chemical water out, poured in a dose of Rid-X for septic tanks and filled the tank to the top with straight water. Then, I let it sit for a few days.

What came out looked horrid but the floor (My TT was a straight shot also, easy to see to the bottom.) of the tank came out spotless. After that I used a spray wand to rinse things out after every few dumps.

Now I have a flush system and I'm looking into the geo method. I like the thought that the water softener keeps the walls slick so that nothing sticks in the first place.
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Old 09-29-2014, 11:35 AM   #7
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Good luck on the GEO method. I found it expensive an practically useless. Lots of water, enzymes and the wand IMO are the offer the best results. Even then you'll generally have issues. I believe the see level system is the only true solution to correct monitoring.

Joe I have a bottle of Happy Camper extreme in storage after our move. Have you used it and what were your procedures and did it work. Right now were FT and don't want to tie up the toilets unless there are great results.
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Old 09-29-2014, 11:48 AM   #8
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Joe I saw that video too and was amazed how little effect it had on the tank. Like you I have been using Happy Camper and I've been very satisfied with it's effectiveness. I haven't tried the Happy Camper Extreme yet, but would like to hear from some folks that have used it.
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Old 09-29-2014, 01:33 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by TonyDi View Post
Joe I saw that video too and was amazed how little effect it had on the tank. Like you I have been using Happy Camper and I've been very satisfied with it's effectiveness. I haven't tried the Happy Camper Extreme yet, but would like to hear from some folks that have used it.

Tony, it is my understanding that the Happy Camper Extreme is only needed for doing an initial cleanup on a tank that has been severely neglected. After it's clean then you switch back to the regular treatment.

Joe
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Old 09-29-2014, 03:06 PM   #10
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Tony, it is my understanding that the Happy Camper Extreme is only needed for doing an initial cleanup on a tank that has been severely neglected. After it's clean then you switch back to the regular treatment.

Joe
I looked them up, it's $19 for the regular and $23 for the extreme, 18 treatments each as I read it. I might get both, one for regular use and the extreme for a initial yearly springtime cleanup.

At $1 and change per tank dump, especially compared to the rest of the actual cost of camping, it's actually pretty cheap to me.
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Old 09-29-2014, 03:44 PM   #11
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Originally Posted by sknight View Post
I looked them up, it's $19 for the regular and $23 for the extreme, 18 treatments each as I read it. I might get both, one for regular use and the extreme for a initial yearly springtime cleanup.

At $1 and change per tank dump, especially compared to the rest of the actual cost of camping, it's actually pretty cheap to me.

I would suggest you get the larger size (130 oz., 130 treatments) which cost you about 50 cents per tank full!
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Old 09-30-2014, 11:00 AM   #12
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Have never used the ice method but got to admit I was a little surprised that it did not work as well. Was planning on using it on the first dump of the season. Guess I'll stick with the Oxy-Kem enzyme and lots of water. I still used the rock and roll slosh method while on the road insuring that I've got approximately five gallons of water in all three tanks and a cup of laundry soap when I break camp and dump them as soon as I get to the next park. The first time adding the HE laundry soap to the tanks last trip did prove to improve the cleaning.
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Old 10-07-2014, 05:43 PM   #13
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Originally Posted by twogypsies View Post
While riding in the motorhome recently I watched my bottle of water and the water barely moved as we traveled, including on curves. I, too, question how ice will have enough force to dislodge 'things'. There just isn't enough movement in the tank.

We've solely used plenty of water when flushing and have had no problems in 16 years of full-timing.

Adding additives and then dumping in a few days isn't doing much. Folks say 'it works' but how do they really know what is working in there? Perhaps things would still work if only using water. I believe additives are expensive gimics.

The above video-maker also did one on black tank flush systems. Interesting. He demonstrated how the clear plastic connection with the hose running into it to flush is useless. It basically only cleaned out a very small area inside beyond the connections. So you're seeing clean water come out but it certainly is not from having a clean tank.
The water bottle experience is not very closely related to the waste tanks on our RV's. The next time you go for a drive put a 13 X 9 pan on the passenger floor boards with 1" of water in it. Now go around a corner and then through the pot holes and see how much water is still in the pan. Inside the bottle the width of the bottle and the round sides restrict the movement. An extreme example would be water in a straw. I would imagine you could do 360's all day and not lose a drop. It's all physics.
Any travel with a full or partially filled tank will agitate the water and enable you to better flush your tank.
The question is, does it work better with water only or is the addition of chemicals to break up and suspend the particles more effective. I vote for the addition of chemicals or ice.
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Old 10-09-2014, 12:05 PM   #14
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I am amazed that there are folks who would consider using ice to clean the sensors. To get the ice up to sensor level you need to carry a fair bit of water. Where I do most of my camping, the ambient temperature is quite high(75 plus) Now that means that the gallons of liquid in the tank are also at a fairly high temp. If I was to several bags of ice in the toilet, it would all be melted by the time I got back to the drivers seat. My black tank ingredients would be a few degrees cooler but no worse for the experience. I prefer to use the ice in my gin and tonic and use enzymes in the tank.
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