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Old 12-04-2006, 04:26 PM   #1
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Question Holding Tank Procedures

I'm new to owning a trailer with holding tanks, so I'm trolling for advice, tips, and instructions as to how to manage them.
  1. When do you add chemicals? Obviously you need to add chemicals before use, but what if you're at a site with full hook-up?
  2. Do you need to add chemicals to the gray water tank?
  3. Before putting the trailer in storage, should you dump the tanks and add fresh chemicals, or just flush them out?
  4. With a full hook-up do you keep the drain valves open, or just open them daily and do one big flush?
  5. The chemicals come in 8 oz. bottles for a 40 gal tank, but my new 23' only has an 18 gal black water tank. I assume adding a half a bottle is the right answer here?
  6. Any tips on what to do at the dump station after a day or two of boondocking, or stops without a sewer hook-up?
Just trying to avoid looking like the self-contained beginner that I am
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Old 12-04-2006, 04:45 PM   #2
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1. After we dump and clean the black tank, we add a new chemical packet and a couple of gallons of fresh water to disolve the pacet. The moving trailer will mix it nicely. When we are hooked to sewer, we leave the black tank closed and the gray open. The day before a black tank flush, we close the gray to let it build up enough water to flush the hose.

2. We add a cup of bleach to the gray tank every once in a while to help keep it fresh.

3. When we store the trailer, it goes in with a clean black tank with the couple of gallons of water and the chemical packet disolved. We also leave a little water in the gray tank.

4. When a t a full hook-up canpground, we leave the black tank closed. This is usually good for at least 3 or 4 days (2 people; 39 gallon tank). We leave the gray open and close it the day before we are pulling out.

5. We use the packets which are for upto 40 gallon tanks. Our tanks are right at that. So, to answer your question, I don't know.

6. We always try to do a flush at the dump station. Sometimes it is difficult, but we try.
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Old 12-04-2006, 04:56 PM   #3
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Thanks moosetags (where does that name come from?), that is helpful. I'm going to enjoy meeting you at the FL rally next month. Try not to chuckle if I make a mistake.
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Old 12-04-2006, 06:14 PM   #4
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You want to start out before using it with at least 2 gallons of water in the black tank. If you don't, stool can build up in the tank below the toilet and form "the dreaded black mountain." Then you'd add the chemical. Please don't use those with formaldehyde, which kills the good bacteria in campground sewer systems. We use the dry OdorLos packets.

You want to get the black tank as full as you can before dumping it (even with full hook-ups). If you don't, you may wind up with solids left in the tank. On the other hand, you want to stop using it a couple gallons short of full to keep the sewage away from the toilet valve. After dumping, if you have a black tank flush, hook a non-potable water hose to it, close the black tank valve, flush the tank filling it maybe 1/3 the way, and then drain it again while the flush is running. Close the black tank valve, and let the flush add the couple of gallons you want to start out with. While it's doing that, you can dump the grey water which rinses your sewer hose out with somewhat soapy water.

That's one reason I don't camp with the grey water valve open with full hookups, I want as much as possible for a good hose rinse. The other is that I might forget and pull the black water valve open and cross-contaminate the grey water tank. Eight ounces of bleach is what I use to sanitize the filled 54 gallon fresh water tank (and flush it 3 times afterwards). I wouldn't put that much in the grey water tank unless it was near full and I was going to be dumping it in a few hours.

The first thing you want to observe when pulling up to the dump station is that it's fairly level. If it leans too much to the curb side, you might not get some of the contents out. If it leans too much to the street side, the liquid can run out too fast and not take all the solids (plus it puts extra stress on that thin sewer hose). Use leveling blocks if it's badly canted. If you have a black tank flush, get your non-potable hose out and hooked up if there's a spigot. I've run across some with no threads, so I carry a "water thief" to clamp on and hook the hose up (we carry two, one for non-potable water, and one for potable water sealed in a ziplock bag).

Then put on a pair of disposable gloves and unpack your sewer hose, checking it carefully for splits. Hook it up, do the deed, pack the sewer hose, dispose of the gloves and pack your non-potable water hose.
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Old 12-04-2006, 06:33 PM   #5
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Sewer blues

rgodfrey, you're definitely not alone out there! Thanks for asking those questions. Very timely for us too And isn't it great how generous these forum vets are with their experience? Love the detailed and very clear steps.
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Old 12-04-2006, 06:35 PM   #6
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Flushing the balck tank

We are new also. I'm not sure how to flush the black tank. We have an 87 34'.
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Old 12-04-2006, 06:48 PM   #7
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Boondocking:

Place packet or liquid into your black tank before use. Don't worry that it treats 40 gallons if you only have an 18 gallon tank. Dump it in and forgettaboutit.

Grey tank. Place no chemicals in it. Let er fill up and if there is a dump station on your way out, dump the black tank first, then the grey. Cleans the dump hose.

Non boondocking with full hookups.

No chemical really needed unless you smell something.

No chemicals in the grey tank.

Before you go, let the black tank fill with fresh water. Please don't hook your black tank flush to the potable water supply at the campsite!

Pull the black tank and let it fush out any remaining debris.

Do the same for the grey. Let the water run for a few minutes after you initially dump the black tank and let the grey fill up some, then open the grey valve dumping any residual stuff left in the grey tank....and you should be good to go.

Moe is right about the black mountain buildup, but so far, it hasn't been too much of an issue. With only an 18 gallon black tank, shaving off 2 gallons to start with can be a double edged sword IMHO. To date, normal use fills the tank with enough liquid to move the mountain flat...but, depending on use, maybe it won't happen soon enough. In our cases, you gotta go with your best judgement. If we had bigger black tanks, I'd say sure, make sure you put a few gallons in...but with the 18 gal tank.....
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Old 12-04-2006, 06:54 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by rgodfrey
Thanks moosetags (where does that name come from?), that is helpful. I'm going to enjoy meeting you at the FL rally next month. Try not to chuckle if I make a mistake.
Moose Tags is SuEllyn's patented invention. Moose tags are plastic write-on tags for various wires and cables that we all have today. Take a look at Suellyn's website at www.moosetags.com.

We don't chuckle at anyone's mistakes. The RV experience is wrought with errors that we all try not to make again. Even if you know what you're doing, it is very easy to forget something. RV travel is like space travel; there's a lot of stuff to keep track of. Don't get discouraged, and enjoy the ride.
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Old 12-04-2006, 07:14 PM   #9
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Great tips everyone!!! I was in your shoes back in the spring. The one thing I would say to do is a pre-dump try-out at home so you know what your doing when your actually at a dump station... also to make sure there are no leaks and that all your valves are working properly. Sometimes you can have people lined up behind you and it can be a little intimidating at the dump station. Another thing to do is watch the movie RV and you will learn what NOT to do at a dump station ...

Oh...one more thing....watch yourself going over lower grounds and pulling into rest stops, our units plumbing hangs rather low and we have bottomed out causing a mishap which was luckily an easy fix. Good luck!
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Old 12-04-2006, 07:33 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by tslanier
We are new also. I'm not sure how to flush the black tank. We have an 87 34'.
Flushing the black tank is easy, but you need one tool, the "Flush King". The Flush King is a device that hooks to the sewer outlet on your Airstream. It has a clear elbow. a water gate, and a graden hose attaching point. We always hook-up our Flush King directly to the sewer outlet on the Airstream. We then connect our sewer hose to the Flush King, and the sewer hose to the campground hook-up.

With the Flush King water gate open, dump your black tank. You will be able to see what's going on through the clear section of the Flush King. After the black tank drains, close the Flush King water gate and leave you black tank valve open. Connect a water hose to the Flush King and refill your black tank with clean water almost to capacity. Cut off the inbound water and open the gate. This will give the black tank a pretty good flushing. We usually do this twice, and at the end, the back tank is dumping clear water.

We have the factory installed black tank flusher on our Airstream, but find that the Flush King is still an invaluable sanitary engineering device. We have found that the Flush King is also able to flush the gray tank using the same proceure. We realize that the gray tank does not need flushing. We do it anyway because we overdo everything.
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Old 12-04-2006, 07:48 PM   #11
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Holding Tank

My trailer (85 Sovereign) has never had chemicals in either the black or gray water tanks. I make sure there is plenty of liquid in the black water tank. Typically, I dump the dishwater down the toilet just for volume. Combined with a little motion when traveling, I have a very clean tank after dumping (at least that's what it looks like with a flashlight).

I agree, that keeping liquids in the gray tank to help flush the sewer line is a good idea.

For winter storage, I flush both tanks and add RV antifeeze.
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Old 12-04-2006, 08:36 PM   #12
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Many voices of experience

Chemicals are nice, flushing is good;
but keeping things where they belong
is number one in our 'hood.

My one offering is to check all things related to using your drain hoses and connections TWICE. Just when you think that twist on connection is securely in place (and you will have at least one loafer or brand new Nike parked in the wrong place); that sucker will blow off as soon as you yank that valve.
You haven't lived a full life until you have a shoe full of stuff that you weren't even suppose to see.

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Old 12-05-2006, 01:33 PM   #13
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Exclamation Holding Tank Proceedures

I thought I would collect and summarize the sage advice that everyone has provided, for myself and others. If I've got anything wrong, please let me know.

Some useful accessories to have
1. Non-potable water (green water) hose
2. Disposable gloves
3. Flush King www.flushking.com
4. Tank cleaning wand (swizzle stick)
5. Elbow, flange, etc. required to hook sewer hose to sewer connection
6. Water Thief available at www.campingworld.com

Starting with empty clean tanks
1. Check to be sure all valves are closed and caps in-place.
2. Add the required amount of chemicals to the Black Tank according to the manufacturer’s directions. If using pre-measured packets, bottles, etc., more chemical than required by the instructions for the capacity of your tank is okay. For dry chemicals, add the packet or dry measure of chemicals through the toilet flush valve, then fill with 1 – 2 gallons of water. For liquid chemicals, fill the toilet bowl, add the required chemicals to the water (this prevents staining of the toilet bowl) then open the toilet flush valve and rinse bowl with additional water to get 1 – 2 gallons in the tank.
GO GREEN: Please don't use chemicals with formaldehyde, as it kills the good bacteria in campground sewer systems. Use enzyme based products.
PRODUCT RECOMMENDATION: www.odorlos.com
TIPS: Always add the chemicals before the trip if possible, so that the motion of the trailer will mix everything well in the tank. You want to start out with at least 1 – 2 gallons of water in the Black Tank. If not, stool can build up in the tank below the toilet and form the dreaded “Black Mountain.” Adding chemicals to the Gray Tank is optional. There are chemicals just for the Gray Tank, but consensus is that adding a cup of bleach every once in a while will keep it fresh. Empty and rinse your tanks thoroughly before you switch from one type product to the other. Don't mix chemicals except as approved by the manufacturer.

At a full hook-up campsite
If time at the campsite or tank levels on arrival will require emptying the Black Tank before disconnecting and departure, follow below procedures. Otherwise, keep all valves closed and caps in-place and empty tanks at a dumping station.
1. Put on a pair of disposable gloves.
2. Check to be sure all valves are closed and caps in-place.
3. Remove sewer hose from storage area and lay out on the ground between trailer and sewer connection.
4. Remove cap from sewer connection and connect hose using required elbow, etc.
5. Remove cap from trailer and connect hose.
6. Open Gray Tank valve only (or not, see NOTES below). Black Tank valve stays closed.
7. Remove and discard disposable gloves, clean and sanitize hands.
8. Monitor Black Tank fluid level so that you stop using it a couple gallons short of full to keep the sewage below the toilet valve.
9. The day before you estimate that the Black Tank will need to be dumped, close the Gray Tank valve to collect some soapy rinse water.
10. Check to ensure the Gray Tank valve is closed.
11. Open Black Tank drain valve and drain as completely as possible.
12. Flush the toilet several times to provide a minimal rinse of the tank. DO NOT hook your Black Tank Flushing System to the potable water supply at the campsite!
13. Close the Black Tank valve and open the Gray tank valve and drain as completely as possible. Run the water in the sink to rinse the tank.
14. Add new chemicals and water to the tank(s).
NOTES: Some do not camp with the Grey Tank valve open at full hookups, so as to collect as much soapy water as possible for a good hose rinse. Another caution on leaving the Gray Tank valve open is that if you forget to close it before pulling the Black Tank valve open you could contaminate the Grey Tank.
TIPS: You want to get the Black Tank as full as you can before dumping it (even with full hook-ups). If you don't, you may wind up with solids left in the tank.

At the dumping station
(See Moosetags’ post number 10 in this thread for procedures using the Flush King, which sounds like a pretty good accessory.)
1. Insure the trailer is parked fairly level. If it leans too much to the curb side, you might not get some of the contents out. If it leans too much to the street side, the liquid can run out too fast and not take all the solids (plus it puts extra stress on that thin sewer hose). Use leveling blocks if necessary.
2. Get your green water hose out and hooked up if there is a spigot. This is where you might need the Water Thief. If you have a built-in Black Tank flushing system, hook the other end to the trailer input for the flush system. DO NOT use your potable water hose for this!
3. Put on a pair of disposable gloves.
4. Check to be sure all valves are closed and caps in-place.
5. Remove sewer hose from storage area and lay out on the ground between trailer and sewer connection.
6. Remove cap from sewer connection and connect hose using required elbow, etc.
7. Remove cap from trailer and connect hose.
8. Open the Black Tank valve and drain as completely as possible.
9. If you have a built-in Black Tank Flushing System, turn on the water. Close the Black Tank valve, to fill it maybe 1/3 the way, and then drain it again while the flush is running. If using a tank-cleaning wand, connect it to the green water hose. Run the hose into the trailer open the toilet flush valve and stick the wand in the toilet.
10. Close the Black Tank valve, and let the flush add the couple of gallons you want to start with, and then turn off the water.
11. Open the Grey Tank valve which rinses your sewer hose out with the soapy water you have been collecting. Pour a bucket of water down the sink to rinse the Grey Tank if necessary. Close Gray Tank valve.
12. Disconnect and pack the sewer hose, and replace the caps on the trailer and at the sewer.
13. Remove and discard disposable gloves, clean and sanitize hands.
14. Disconnect and pack your green water hose.
TIPS: Check all things related to using your drain hoses and connections TWICE. Just when you think that twist on connection is securely in place that sucker will blow off as soon as you yank that valve. You will have at least one loafer or brand new Nike parked in the wrong place. You haven't lived a full life until you have a shoe full of stuff that you weren't even suppose to see. Do a pre-dump dry-run (emphasis on dry) at home so you know what your doing when your actually at a dump station. Sometimes you can have people lined up behind you and it can be a little intimidating at the dump station. (Watch the movie RV and you will learn what NOT to do at a dump station.) Each time you have the sewer hoses out inspect all hoses and valves to make sure there are no splits or leaks and that all your valves are working properly. Watch yourself going over lower grounds and pulling into rest stops, our units plumbing hangs rather low and bottoming out can cause damage.

Storing the trailer
Store the trailer with clean Black and Grey Tanks, with the chemicals and water mixed, and RV antifreeze if necessary.
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Old 12-05-2006, 05:54 PM   #14
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A link to my 5th post - beware plastic shrinking from cold water rinses!

http://www.airforums.com/forum...ing-23459.html
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