Journey with Confidence RV GPS App RV Trip Planner RV LIFE Campground Reviews RV Maintenance Take a Speed Test Free 7 Day Trial ×
RV Trip Planning Discussions

Go Back   iRV2 Forums > TRAVEL TRAILER, 5th WHEEL & TRUCK CAMPER FORUMS > Travel Trailer Discussion
Click Here to Login
Join iRV2 Today

Mission Statement: Supporting thoughtful exchange of knowledge, values and experience among RV enthusiasts.
  This discussion is proudly sponsored by:
Please support our sponsors and let them know you heard about their products on iRV2
Thread Tools Search this Thread Display Modes
Old 11-23-2009, 11:56 AM   #1
Join Date: Apr 2009
Posts: 62
Question BLACK TANK: "can we" or "can we not" leave the black tank open in an RV park??

I'm confused. We are parked permanently for awhile in an RV park in Utah. EVERYONE in this park has their black tank open.

Yet I read on forums that we shouldn't; that it causes a build up of waste in the tank, etc etc.

So where's the truth?? Because we closed it again, and it's partly frozen now from sitting there, because the light we had plugged in under there blew a circuit a week ago. UGH.
doodlebug52 is offline   Reply With Quote
Join the #1 RV Forum Today - It's Totally Free! RV Community - Are you about to start a new improvement on your RV or need some help with some maintenance? Do you need advice on what products to buy? Or maybe you can give others some advice? No matter where you fit in you'll find that iRV2 is a great community to join. Best of all it's totally FREE!

You are currently viewing our boards as a guest so you have limited access to our community. Please take the time to register and you will gain a lot of great new features including; the ability to participate in discussions, network with other RV owners, see fewer ads, upload photographs, create an RV blog, send private messages and so much, much more!

Old 11-23-2009, 12:05 PM   #2
Administrator in Memoriam
Route 66's Avatar

Newmar Owners Club
Retired Fire Service RVer's
Spartan Chassis
Join Date: May 2000
Location: Newark, DE
Posts: 25,898
I left the black tank valve open when I a TT and had no problems, but do not with my current MH.

The mess of dealing with a black tank clog more than offsets the periodic dumping of the black tank, but if freezing is an issue, then leaving it open may work best.

Dumping some hot water down the toilet and some heat should free it up.
Adios, Dirk - '84 Real Lite Truck Camper, '86 Wilderness Cimarron TT, previously 4 years as a fulltimer in a '07 DSDP

Route 66 is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 11-23-2009, 12:20 PM   #3
Senior Member
GaryKD's Avatar
Newmar Owners Club
Join Date: Jul 2006
Location: Wellington, Florida
Posts: 13,599
Hi doodlebug52.
With the weather you are camping in, there will be additional work no matter that you do.

Leaving the valve open will surely allow for a build up of solids in the tank. The solids will need to be thoroughly cleaned out on a regular basis.

If closing the valve allows the contents to freeze, there is a danger of cracking the tank. In addition you'll need to clean out the frozen contents to continue to use the toilet.

If it was me, I'd leave the valve closed. I'd minimize the threat of the tank contents freezing by any means locally available to you. The light you mentioned is a good start. Bales of hay (if allowed) protecting the underside of the RV is something else you could try. There are other methods and after market devices you can try.

Cold weather camping does bring additional challenges. Good luck.
2005 Newmar KSDP 3910 + GMC ENVOY XUV 37K lbs Moving Down The Road
The Avatar Is Many Times Around The USA
Nobody Knows Your Coach Like Somebody Who Owns One Just Like Yours
GaryKD is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 11-23-2009, 12:32 PM   #4
Senior Member
Jim Stewart's Avatar
Monaco Owners Club
Join Date: Nov 2008
Location: Melbourne & Marathon, Florida
Posts: 1,537
If you remember the old "Get Smart" TV series, they always used the "Cone of Silence". If you leave a black tank valve open you form a cone of waste in the tank just below the toilet.

Imagine a cross section of your toilet drain and the tank below. As the solid from the toilet falls with the liquid, the solids just sits below the toilet (paper and poop) and the liquid (flush water and pee) run off and down the waste drain (if it's left open). Now, before the next use, that solid waste that stuck, starts to harden. After several of these cycles, you start to form a cone or reverse volcano if you will. Eventually that cone reaches the top of that tank and the bottom of the toilet drain, when that happens, the liquids nor solids have anywhere to go but up.

This is bad in both winter and summer, in the winter the cone tends to freeze and in the summer the cone hardens faster. If you ever form the "Cone of Silence", it's kind of like a silent passing of gas; silent but deadly. Leave the black tank valve closed at all times until full and ready to dump, then let her rip!

A solution in the winter; after dumping of the black tank and closing the drain valve, add some RV storage antifreeze down the toilet. This will keep the contents from freezing until dumped again.

Be sure to close the gray valve before dumping the black, if you get the waste from the black flowing into the gray at the same time it's going down the sewer hose, the gray will start to smell as well and the oder can come back through the traps in the sink and shower.
2005 Safari Cheetah 38PDQ - 2009 Ford Flex
Me (Gatogonow), The Boss (DW), Honey Bunny, Maggie May and Mollie Kay (The Gatos)!
Jim Stewart is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 11-23-2009, 12:40 PM   #5
Moderator Emeritus
Country Coach Owners Club
Freightliner Owners Club
Join Date: Sep 2004
Location: Glen Allen, VA
Posts: 7,902
Blog Entries: 1
When we had a TT permanently parked in a CG years ago for weekend and vacation use, we left our black tank valve open. However, we (as did all the regulars) had plumbed the valve outlet to the sewer drain with 3" rigid PVC pipe. Also, I installed an internal tank flushing nozzle and did a thorough tank flush every Sunday before we left for home (or after any 3 or 4 day stay).

While that worked for us for 5 years, I am not sure I would try that again. I believe the best solution is to leave the valve closed until the tank is at least 3/4 full, then empty and flush thoroughly.
2007 Country Coach Allure Siskiyou Summit, sold/traded Nov. 2018.
2019 Grand Designs 384GK-R 5th wheel. Glen Allen, VA
smlranger is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 11-23-2009, 01:20 PM   #6
namwob's Avatar
Monaco Owners Club
Solo Rvers Club
Join Date: Aug 2009
Posts: 83
This is the advice given to me when I bought my MH:

The black water drain valve should be left colsed until the tank is two thirds or more full. This helps avoid the solids building up right under the toilet and assists flushing everything out. If the tank is not 2/3rds full when it is time to break camp, add water through the toilet. After the black water tank is drained and flushed close the valve and add enough water to cover the bottom of the tank and then add the tank chemical.
Attitude is EVERYTHING!
namwob is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 11-28-2009, 06:00 PM   #7
Junior Member
Fleetwood Owners Club
Join Date: Nov 2009
Posts: 7
Very helpful advice! I'm retiring to a TT in January up here on Vancouver Island in BC where freezing doesn't happen often or at least for very long. Any other advice is most welcome in living year round in my TT
rsy is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 11-28-2009, 07:50 PM   #8
RV Mutant #14
Wayne M's Avatar

Winnebago Owners Club
Texas Boomers Club
Freightliner Owners Club
iRV2 No Limits Club
Join Date: Aug 2008
Location: Texas
Posts: 17,086
As Jim stated.

Also, most new rigs have a back flush connection that may or may not do a complete job of "cleaning." After I have back flushed thoroughly I'll ask DW to fill the bowl twice and flush after each filling. Watching the clear elbow I have just before the "slinky" I will notice more "brown liquid" being forced out. Nothing is perfect.

Gee! This is a "crappy" subject.
Wayne MSGT USMC (Ret) & Earlene (CinCHouse) RVM14 (ARS: KE5QG)
Lexi - Goldendoodle
2015 Winnebago Tour 42QD - 2020 Lincoln Nautilus Reserve
It is what it is, and then it is what you make of it.
Wayne M is online now   Reply With Quote
Old 11-28-2009, 11:32 PM   #9
Join Date: Apr 2009
Posts: 62
rsy, we are living full time in ours right now, and I've learned this: keep everything in good repair, because you can use a lot of everything in such a small space.
doodlebug52 is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 11-29-2009, 12:15 AM   #10
Senior Member
Ray,IN's Avatar
Join Date: Aug 2001
Location: North America somewhere
Posts: 29,908
I agree with everyone, leave the black valve closed until the tank is nearly full, then empty it and flush to be safe. If you are the gambling type and feel lucky, leaving it open is the other option.
2000 Winnebago Ultimate Freedom USQ40JD, ISC 8.3 Cummins 350, Spartan MM Chassis. USA IN 1SG 11B5MX,Infantry retired;Good Sam Life member,FMCA." My fellow Americans, ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country. John F. Kennedy
Ray,IN is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 11-29-2009, 08:36 AM   #11
Senior Member
Wizard's Avatar
Winnebago Owners Club
Freightliner Owners Club
Join Date: Mar 2007
Location: Home on the hill in Georgia
Posts: 2,742
Also keep in mind that any odors in the CG pipe system will enter your holding tank and when the toilet is flushedm this odor can enter the camper.
Jerry Potter, Taz
1999 Coachman Catalina Sport
Wizard is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 12-01-2009, 04:26 PM   #12
WindRVer's Avatar
Join Date: Apr 2009
Posts: 91
Having camped in up to -8 with an open bottom camper, and -15 with an enclosed "polar package" camper, I can say that the potential risk of building the dreaded cone really outweighs the frozen valve issue. For one, if you are in freezing temps, every time you dump, put in two gallons of RV antifreeze into your empty tank.
My usual trick was to then wait until the warmest day of the month (I live by myself, so I really only dump once a month) and then open my valve. Sometimes, just a little bit would come out, meaning I had a nice big pile of brown ice in my tank (this only happened when it was -15 out). I solved this issue with my tank backflush sprayers. It took a while, but it broke down the frozen stuff and moved it out.
As for the valve, they make many RV specific gagdets for 'cold weather' but I find that heat tape for residential pipes has worked best for me. I wrap my hose it in and anything else I'm worried about freezing. It's not powerful, but that little heater plus a little insulation go a long way.

Well, best of luck, let me know if you have any other questions, because I've probably been there and done that as far as winter camping goes!
2008 Dodge 2500 Diesel | 2010 Montana Mountaineer 36 DBQ
Two adults, two kids, two dogs, a cat, and four slides - full-timing in style!
WindRVer is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 12-01-2009, 11:30 PM   #13
Join Date: Apr 2009
Posts: 62
Thanks everyone for the great replies. Our valve has been closed since the first reply. lol.

A totally different question: why do BOTH of our sky lights/ceiling vents--one above our bed and other in bathroom--drip everyone morning?? The seals look tight and we had redone the seal on the bedroom vent. Yet...both drip once the sun is up every morning for, let's say, an hour. There's no snow up there, even though it's cold outside.
doodlebug52 is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 12-01-2009, 11:37 PM   #14
Senior Member
Jim Stewart's Avatar
Monaco Owners Club
Join Date: Nov 2008
Location: Melbourne & Marathon, Florida
Posts: 1,537
Condensation, difference between outside and inside temperatures, just like your house in the winter without insulated glass. The heat in the trailer rises even more and faster.

You also probably take a shower in the morning and the moist warm air rises and when it hits the cold plastic on the vent it condenses again drips until the suns heat equalizes the temperature.

You can put something in the hole to insulated them, they actually sell little pillows that fit the holes at camping stores or look at a Camping World (online if not close).
2005 Safari Cheetah 38PDQ - 2009 Ford Flex
Me (Gatogonow), The Boss (DW), Honey Bunny, Maggie May and Mollie Kay (The Gatos)!
Jim Stewart is offline   Reply With Quote

Currently Active Users Viewing This Thread: 3 (0 members and 3 guests)
Thread Tools Search this Thread
Search this Thread:

Advanced Search
Display Modes

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off
Trackbacks are Off
Pingbacks are Off
Refbacks are Off

Similar Threads
Thread Thread Starter Forum Replies Last Post
Black Tank Gusher!!! RickO RV'ing Humor & Crazy but True Stories 16 09-21-2009 05:52 AM
Cautionary Black Water Tank Tale roy616 Winnebago Industries Owner's Forum 5 08-10-2009 08:37 AM
Toilet connection to Black water tank leak Slapshottr Winnebago Industries Owner's Forum 7 09-28-2007 05:22 PM
Black Tank odor Ed-Deb MH-General Discussions & Problems 25 08-27-2006 05:29 PM
Black Tank Problems P&GK 5th Wheel Discussion 12 05-08-2006 11:12 AM

» Featured Campgrounds

Reviews provided by

All times are GMT -6. The time now is 12:00 PM.

Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.8.8 Beta 1
Copyright ©2000 - 2023, vBulletin Solutions, Inc.