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Old 12-07-2021, 01:27 PM   #1
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Black Tanks and Winter Camping

Weather in the northeast is remaining unseasonably warm and I'd like to go camping for a couple of nights. However, I've winterized my 22' TT with antifreeze. Overnight temps will be below freezing so I want to leave it winterized.

This is a rather delicate question - but can I use my black tank? How much antifreeze should be in my black tank? Can I use water to flush? If I use water to flush, how much antifreeze to water ratio is needed in the black tank to prevent freezing? Will Happy Camper work with antifreeze in the tank?

I'm heading down south in a couple of weeks and will empty my tank when I get to warmer temperatures.
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Old 12-07-2021, 02:50 PM   #2
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Originally Posted by Souljourner View Post
Weather in the northeast is remaining unseasonably warm and I'd like to go camping for a couple of nights. However, I've winterized my 22' TT with antifreeze. Overnight temps will be below freezing so I want to leave it winterized.

This is a rather delicate question - but can I use my black tank? How much antifreeze should be in my black tank? Can I use water to flush? If I use water to flush, how much antifreeze to water ratio is needed in the black tank to prevent freezing? Will Happy Camper work with antifreeze in the tank?

I'm heading down south in a couple of weeks and will empty my tank when I get to warmer temperatures.
Just wondering:
Why should it matter if the contents of the black tank freeze. No harm no foul. There’s plenty of room for expansion, if you don’t fill it up. Just don’t open the dump valve until you get to warmer weather. If your fw lines are winterized, and you want to keep them that way until you get south, just use some fresh water stored in the trailer to flush and wash with. A 7gal Reliant jug goes a long way. It stores nicely under the dinette. Also keep a case of bottled water under the dinette.
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Old 12-07-2021, 02:51 PM   #3
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As long as it's not full you'll be fine. Water freeze damage comes form expansion as it freezes so as long as there is room it won't do anything. If the inside in not heated, make sure the potty flush valve has been drained. That seems to get people the most.
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Old 12-07-2021, 03:58 PM   #4
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Trying to write this in as non-graphic a way as possible....... but not sure that's possible!

My concern is not so much having problems of freezing in my black tank. My concern is that I will have a whole lot less liquid in my black tank than usual, and I want to avoid that poop pyramid I've heard so many others warn about.

Normally I start off with several gallons of water and happy camper and then use water generously with each flush. This time all I have in my black tank is a bit of antifreeze, and plans to be more prudent with water after each use.

Perhaps I should keep my black tank habits the same a always - ie more water in the black tank at the start of my trip and using a generous amount of water with each flush and let my frozen "poopsicles" (sorry... couldn't resist! ) defrost as I drive down south?
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Old 12-07-2021, 05:01 PM   #5
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You’ve already nailed the PPP (proper poop protocol), so don’t sweat it. After dumping, 2-3 gal into the tank with some deodorizer, your tank will always smell fresher than your armpits, and poop mountains will never form as long as you remain in the northern hemisphere.
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Old 12-07-2021, 06:04 PM   #6
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Weather in the northeast is remaining unseasonably warm and I'd like to go camping for a couple of nights. However, I've winterized my 22' TT with antifreeze. Overnight temps will be below freezing so I want to leave it winterized.

This is a rather delicate question - but can I use my black tank? How much antifreeze should be in my black tank? Can I use water to flush? If I use water to flush, how much antifreeze to water ratio is needed in the black tank to prevent freezing? Will Happy Camper work with antifreeze in the tank?

I'm heading down south in a couple of weeks and will empty my tank when I get to warmer temperatures.
Flush with Windshield washer fluid. Problem solved...
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Old 12-08-2021, 06:58 AM   #7
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You’ve already nailed the PPP (proper poop protocol), so don’t sweat it. After dumping, 2-3 gal into the tank with some deodorizer, your tank will always smell fresher than your armpits, and poop mountains will never form as long as you remain in the northern hemisphere.
Thank you! My armpits smell pretty good so I guess my black tank will be fine. I’ll follow my usual PPP, keep my lines winterized, bring a supply of water and enjoy camping in New York in December.
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Old 12-08-2021, 09:13 AM   #8
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Black Tanks and Winter Camping

Lots of good advice posted above!

“Weather in the northeast is remaining unseasonably warm and I'd like to go camping for a couple of nights. However, I've winterized my 22' TT with antifreeze. Overnight temps will be below freezing so I want to leave it winterized.

This is a rather delicate question - but can I use my black tank?”


Yes and No. Yes you can make deposits. Yes you can put water in it. No, you cannot use the RPod fresh water system. Leave the fresh water system fully winterized until you are sure temperatures will be above freezing.

The black tank dump valve may freeze. Do not apply excessive force to open or close the valve when it is frozen. Water trapped in the dump pipe may freeze and burst the pipe. Bursting depends on water being trapped when it freezes.

I would use the campground pit toilets rather than risk my black tank plumbing.

“How much antifreeze should be in my black tank? Can I use water to flush? If I use water to flush, how much antifreeze to water ratio is needed in the black tank to prevent freezing? Will Happy Camper work with antifreeze in the tank?”

RV antifreeze stops working if you mix it with water. There is very little room for dilution. Frozen stuff does not need Happy Camper. It may help to soften the ice a little.

“I'm heading down south in a couple of weeks and will empty my tank when I get to warmer temperatures.”


A 10 gallon block if ice will take a while to thaw. You may need some patients when dumping.

“My concern is not so much having problems of freezing in my black tank. My concern is that I will have a whole lot less liquid in my black tank than usual, and I want to avoid that poop pyramid I've heard so many others warn about.”

There may be an ice pyramid. It will melt after a while. 10 gallons of ice may take a while to melt. Multiple flushing may be required.

"Normally I start off with several gallons of water and happy camper and then use water generously with each flush. This time all I have in my black tank is a bit of antifreeze, and plans to be more prudent with water after each use."

I empty and flush my black tank when winterizing. I also dump the remains of the antifreeze jug into the tank. The idea is to reduce freezing at the dump valve. On the other hand, the tank always has some water in it. Adding water to the antifreeze causes it to stop working. So, I expect adding a quart of antifreeze does nothing.

“Perhaps I should keep my black tank habits the same a always - ie more water in the black tank at the start of my trip and using a generous amount of water with each flush and let my frozen "poopsicles" (sorry... couldn't resist! ) defrost as I drive down south?”

I don’t have any data or experience with this procedure. More water means more ice to melt later, but flushing the solids out is still an issue. I use “flush”, “refill”, “flush” several times to dump. I have a transparent 45 degree elbow that attaches to the 3 inch dump pipe to watch for solids passing through. I flush and refill until no solids are visible.

The ice in the black tank is going to melt slowly. Dump flushing may only remove a portion of the deposits at a time.
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Old 12-13-2021, 11:44 PM   #9
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I'm thinking if you use a reasonable amount of water and some probiotics type treatment, the poop will generate enough heat on its own.

I know sometimes in areas where the septic tanks are shallow you can see the tank after a snowfall because the ground is so warm over it that the snow don't stick.

Charles
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Old 12-14-2021, 07:50 PM   #10
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I'm thinking if you use a reasonable amount of water and some probiotics type treatment, the poop will generate enough heat on its own.

I know sometimes in areas where the septic tanks are shallow you can see the tank after a snowfall because the ground is so warm over it that the snow don't stick.

Charles
Right! I hadn’t thought of that!

I’m boondocking right now in freezing temps with a fully winterized camper. Not using any running water but I am engaged in my usual black tank protocols, the only difference is I’m using a pitcher of water to flush rather than the system’s water.

Leaving in 10 days for warmer parts and intentionally reserved three nights with FHU’s to allow me time to empty my black tanks leisurely without feeling rushed. Frozen/Not Frozen remains to be seen.

I discovered that spritzing the bowl with Dawn spray dish soap has made for a clean flush - in all the different meanings of that description!

Ah! The joys of camping!
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Old 12-15-2021, 09:37 AM   #11
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RV tank is not a septic tank

Quote:
Originally Posted by CharlesinGA View Post
I'm thinking if you use a reasonable amount of water and some probiotics type treatment, the poop will generate enough heat on its own.

I know sometimes in areas where the septic tanks are shallow you can see the tank after a snowfall because the ground is so warm over it that the snow don't stick.

Charles
Your septic tank has 3 to 6 inch thick cement walls. How thick are the walls of your black tank. Thick walls insulate. Some RV's have a layer of insulation around the black tank. How thick is the insulation around an RPod black tank?

Your septic tank has 600 to 1200 gallons of water in it at all times. All of that sludge is growing micro organisms. That amount of water can take weeks to freeze. How much sludge is in your black tank and how long has it been growing stuff?

Your septic tank is buried. In Wisconsin, they are buried 4 feet. Four feet of earth is an excellent insulator. Between the heat of the water flowing in and growing stuff, the liquid stays unfrozen.

There is a man hole that reaches the surface that can be used to pump out accumulated sludge. It may be warm enough to melt snow under the right conditions.

An RV black tank in Wisconsin weather requires protection from the wind, a layer of insulation, and a source of heat greater than the limited amount of water flowing in. Next, the dump pipe and valve need protection and a heat source to be able to dump and to keep it from bursting.

Finally, an RV in Wisconsin need a dump site that is still open. I know of four sites in all of Southern Wisconsin that are open. None of them have flush water. I must bring my own flush water.

My black tank is covered by a plastic barrier. The barrier is sealed around the edges. It has a 2 inch layer of insulation. It has an electric heating pad and a 4 inch duct from the propane furnace.

I have a 40 gallon fresh tank that is protected in the same way. I use 20 gallons for camping. The remainder is available for flushing.

The dump valve and pipe are short and heavily insulated. Heat from the tank liquid keeps the pipe unfroze. A longer pipe would require additional heat.

I wish you good luck and happy trails ahead!
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Old 12-16-2021, 07:14 AM   #12
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First rule everyone needs to learn about TT's and rv's....Don't overthink it.


If someone is going out in cold weather and may use their potty a time or too, and what gets used may freeze, it won't do anything but sit there till it thaws. If there is fresh water being supplied, that needs to be protected from freezing or removed. A jug of water inside with you over night is all you need to operate the potty. Once thawed, add enough water to dump it. Anything more than that is several overthinking things.
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Old 12-16-2021, 07:39 AM   #13
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While it is true you tank probably won't rupture if it freezes there is a fair chance you drain pipe will. Your black tank is not plumbed in such a way that the valve is at the edge of the tank. There are several inches to several feet of very brittle PVC before the valve. I wouldn't risk it if you are subject to a hard freeze, ie: sustained temps below 20 for a full day. If you insist on using the black tank, I'd empty it completely and add a full gallon of antifreeze. Use it minimally until you hit warm weather. Continue with you normal PPP after that and you should have no mounding problem.
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Old 12-16-2021, 08:52 AM   #14
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There can be some merit to that. I want to take a trip in really cold weather with a campfire going with a pot of chili hanging over it
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