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Old 12-03-2021, 07:34 AM   #1
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When is Your Black Tank Really Full ?

I have a 2016 4369 DS on a FL Chassis- We will be trying a week of dry camping and wondering if there is a way to tell when your Black and grey tanks are really full for maximum usage ?

I know we have indicators, but, they are not always very accurate and we have an indicator at the toilets that give you a warning on the black tank. Once the warning at the toilet comes on, how much capacity do you have left ?

I also have heard that the toilets will stop flushing if the tank gets to full....is there a work around with that ? Is there any other way to know when the black tank is full before causing a big problem.

Any experience out there on this subject would be greatly appreciated.

Cheers, Curt
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Old 12-03-2021, 07:57 AM   #2
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First thing you notice is a rank smell each time you flush that hovers around the toilet. Later it starts invading the main area of the RV. Then, when it's nearly topped off with effluent, the toilet will spit back at you when you flush. Just tiny droplets but you'll feel them.

So those are the 2-3 indicators. For the grey, I tend to go by the LED indicators for that. They seem to be fairly accurate for the grey tank.

What I do all the time, is go by time between dumps. I keep a post-it note in the hallway that I date whenever I dump. Then at the 10 day mark, I either automatically dump, or closely monitor the situation. I've gone 15 days at a stretch, in fact it's at 15 days right now since I'm working on a project at a friend's place. And I've gone 20 days a couple times. But it's just me so that makes a difference.

I also practice water conservation especially when it comes to dishes and showers. I also use minimal water in the toilet for #2 and flush quickly in all cases.

I've never had the toilet refuse to flush. But, I've never gone past when it starts complaining either.
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Old 12-03-2021, 08:00 AM   #3
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Simple, Look down the toilet hole, if the level is at the bottom of the pipe, you're on borrowed time..
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Old 12-03-2021, 08:07 AM   #4
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I have never owned an RV with accurate tank readings and, my Dutch Star is no exception. I have learned over time as I dry camp frequently how to manage the tanks.
A week is pushing it with two people if your coach has the electric toilets. Even in the low flow mode they use a lot of water. As the saying goes, if itís yellow let it mellow and, if itís brown flush it down. Using this method will cause a urine smell especially, in the half bath. I can get by with this method while hunting with my friend but, the DW absolutely wonít allow it. We are limited to about three days . I really donít like doing that but, itís a must if your going to make it without filling the black tank and, I find that the black tank is the critical tank determining length of dry camping. One part of my tank gauge reading is accurate. The red light and, yes it wonít allow you to flush. I do not recommend trying to bypass that.
Water management and the grey tank is easier. Paper plates and towels. Donít shower. Donít let faucets run continuously. Bring some bottled water.

Thatís just a couple of things I do. I am sure many will chime in on this. There are many ways to extend your dry camping. It all depends on how involved you want to get. I have a 5 gallon bucket with a snap on toilet lid. Line the bucket with one time use bags filled with a dry chemical then, zip it shut and throw in the garbage when you get home. I have a 45 gallon water bladder I can fill up that fits in the bed of my pickup. I have a water pump that I can hook to my battery to add that water to my tank. You can leave the grey tank valve open if itís allowed where you dry camp. I have a 45 gallon tote to empty my black tank if need be. You can go with extensive solar panels to keep batteries charged.

I believe thereís many books written on the subject that can aid you as well. Have fun.
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Old 12-03-2021, 08:12 AM   #5
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Do you have a black tank flush system?

I use it to fill the tank with a known amount (meter available at Home Depot for around $15) and check the read-out with a known amount of water in there.

https://www.amazon.com/Orbit-56854-H...649413728&th=1

For instance..... add 15GA and check readout, add 15 more and check, etc...

I have checked mine and found that the actual capacity was actually 4GA less than the spec...... I filled mine until I could see the water cume up the neck just a bit!

This is also a good exercise to do from time to time to flush out your tank completely


PS...... make sure you use a timer to remind you when to check the level(s) as you could get distracted............ Don't ask me how I know these things
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Old 12-03-2021, 08:18 AM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mickeybitsko View Post
Simple, Look down the toilet hole, if the level is at the bottom of the pipe, you're on borrowed time..
Ez Peezy
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Old 12-03-2021, 09:01 AM   #7
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Not applicable with macerator toilets
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Old 12-03-2021, 09:35 AM   #8
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Put a SeaLevel tank monitoring system on as a primary indicator of tank level. Also keep the original system intact. That way you have two independent systems to monitor same tank level. The odds of both systems not showing reasonable accuracy is small.
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Old 12-03-2021, 09:56 AM   #9
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As others have suggested, a flashlight down the toilet works great.

For grey water, you know it's full when it starts to rise up the shower drain. Naturally, you always figure this out when you're *in* the shower and covered in soap (grin).

I just ordered the flow meter Paul recommended above. I didn't know they existed! I can use it to better understand fresh water and grey water sensing in our rig.
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Old 12-03-2021, 10:00 AM   #10
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Toilet 'burps'...tank is full
Sink and/or shower drains slower...water in shower pan.....tank is full
Water pump goes 'burrrrup'...tank is empty
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Old 12-03-2021, 11:16 AM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by flyingcash View Post
I have a 2016 4369 DS on a FL Chassis- We will be trying a week of dry camping and wondering if there is a way to tell when your Black and grey tanks are really full for maximum usage ?

I know we have indicators, but, they are not always very accurate and we have an indicator at the toilets that give you a warning on the black tank. Once the warning at the toilet comes on, how much capacity do you have left ?

I also have heard that the toilets will stop flushing if the tank gets to full....is there a work around with that ? Is there any other way to know when the black tank is full before causing a big problem.

Any experience out there on this subject would be greatly appreciated.

Cheers, Curt
With Dometic 8700 toilets there is NO looking down the hole, no back up water droplets, etc. Totally different system. On my 2015 DSDP the Orange and Red light never came on one time and the pressure from the 8700's when flushing over filled the black tank to the point of sewage leaking from the pipe entering the black tank. It spilled over onto the fresh water tank below and that's when we noticed a smell, but only outside the coach. My fix was this:

I custom made a tank sensor float like the original but down about another inch and 1/2. (Custom tank sensor not necessary but the following should be I connected the tank float to the Orange Wire which is for 3/4 full tank which would allow you to still flush the toilets, (very handy late in the evening when you cannot flush out the black tank.) I left the yellow wire undone and not connected to anything. If your main tank sensor on the panel shows FULL, your tank is FULL. Use that as your go to for when you must dump the black water. If you do like I did, you will be showing the Orange light on the toilet switches indicating your tank is full as well.
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Old 12-03-2021, 12:02 PM   #12
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On our 2014 DS, we once had black tank water run off the roof of the coach. As stated, the macerator toilets are pretty powerful. In our situation, the float that Dutchstar411 posted, was our issue. It got stuck and didn't shut down the toilets. I went to remove that float and it started working. All of the other suggestions by other posters don't work with macerator toilets.

With that said, I've seen or read very few failures with that float. Mine is/was one of the few I know of it. It never failed again.

So.......if you're trying to stretch out your toilet use, turn your water bowl fill down to the lowest level on both toilets. This is done by holding down the flush button until the light flashes. The toilet will flush, but keep holding the button down until the light starts flashing. I do this before we need to conserve and before we dump. This eliminates the extra water added while changing the flush level.

Second, I would be pretty comfortable with the red light coming on and knowing that I'm full. I once tested my 2014 DS by filling the black tank with fresh water and then draining it in 5 gallon buckets. If I recall, there was theoretically 3-4 gallons of space left.

Lastly, you can cut the wire on the Dometic control box (red light wire) and install a switch. The switch allows you to turn off the red light and get a few more flushes. I've never done it or know the procedure, but I believe there is switch sequence that will shut off the red light in an emergency.
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Old 12-03-2021, 12:19 PM   #13
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My Kentucky windage stinky gauge says we put at most 2.5 gal by volume (including waste, tp, and water) into our black tank every day for two people. So if you remember when you started with an empty tank, just subtract 2.5 from your tank capacity each day. Deduced the 2.5 gal number because we have a 25gal tank and usually can go 10 days before odors.
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Old 12-03-2021, 12:26 PM   #14
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If you have access to the tops of the tanks you will see them develop a bulge upward. Not a good idea to do this over and over because it can work the pipes loose.
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