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Old 05-25-2015, 12:17 PM   #1
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Black tank always looks half full

Back from camping in my 2014.5 interstate this weekend and I'm not sure what's going on with my black tank... even when I empty it and it sounds empty after dumping, the tank light says half full. They grey tank, water and LP lights work fine. Should I take it in for service or is there something I can do first?


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Old 05-25-2015, 12:50 PM   #2
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The tank monitor system that Airstream uses lies.
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Old 05-25-2015, 12:50 PM   #3
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Back from camping in my 2014.5 interstate this weekend and I'm not sure what's going on with my black tank... even when I empty it and it sounds empty after dumping, the tank light says half full. The grey tank, water and LP lights work fine. Should I take it in for service or is there something I can do first?
As long as it's more-or-less level and you pump out until the macerator pump runs dry for a few seconds, the tank is as empty as you can get it, no matter what the indicator lights say.

In addition, the gauges are never absolutely accurate; they're only an indicator. If it shows empty it's actually just somewhere less than 1/3 full. If it shows 1/3 full it's just somewhere less than 2/3 full, and if it shows 2/3 full it's just somewhere less than completely full. The only indicator light that is completely accurate is the "Full" light. When it shows full, the tank is full.

Note that you'll never get a flat-bottomed tank completely empty even when you dump it; the only tank that could be completely emptied through a dump valve and macerator pump would have a bottom shaped like a funnel.
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Old 05-25-2015, 01:09 PM   #4
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I have heard of others dumping a 10# bag of ice cubes into the toilet (with valve open of course so the ice goes into the black water tank) and then driving down the road to break any of the slug that builds up in there. When you arrive at camp you would that empty out the melted water and any of the loose particles.

Does this actually work without damaging any sensors? I have down this only once and everything seemed to work fine afterwards.
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Old 05-25-2015, 01:56 PM   #5
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Old 05-25-2015, 02:53 PM   #6
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I have little use for sensors, mine have never worked reliably, and I doubt it is worth the effort to try to do much with them. Perhaps the ones on new trailers are better, I'm not sure.

For us it is not much of an issue as 95% of the time we have full hookups.

When we do not have full hookups, the black tank is never an issue as we only use it for "peeing" and it would last for weeks. In any event, a look down the slide valve in the bowl would tell you how it's doing!

As for the gray tank - you'll know it is full when the shower starts backing up!

The gray tank fills up quickly when we have no sewer connection - we'd be lucky to get more than three days out of it with normal use - even taking showers. We have a few "tricks" to make it last longer when needed!

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Old 05-25-2015, 02:56 PM   #7
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I rarely have full hookups at dog shows so keeping the black tank in ship shape is a MUST. Glad to know the sensor is just quirky.


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Old 05-25-2015, 03:16 PM   #8
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Not rise if this is the case with the newer sensors but a small piece of toilet paper can hang on a sensor and false indicate. Ours was doing that when we first got it and we filled the tank up and drained a few time and it dislodged. I also like the ice cube trick but have never tried it.
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Old 05-25-2015, 04:18 PM   #9
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I also like the ice cube trick but have never tried it.
So do I. But it's not recommended for an Interstate with macerator pump, unless you know all of the ice will melt before you get to the dump station. The macerator pump isn't an ice crusher.
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Old 05-25-2015, 04:44 PM   #10
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The AI sensors are stuck on the outside of the tank. There's been reports on this forum that one or more have come unstuck. Perhaps your sensor(s) are not positioned correctly.
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Old 05-25-2015, 05:20 PM   #11
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Black tank always looks half full

Most RV tank sensors are terribly unreliable. We use the foolproof flashlight method to determine fill volume.
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Old 05-25-2015, 06:07 PM   #12
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"Black tank always looks half full"

Does that make you an optimist or pessimist? (sorry... couldn't resist)
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Old 05-25-2015, 06:24 PM   #13
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Sneakinup just made my day!
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Old 05-25-2015, 06:41 PM   #14
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And to us engineers it means the "tank" was designed too large.
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