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Old 10-17-2011, 10:24 AM   #1
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First Trip & Grey Water Issue

Had a great first trip this weekend at Double Lake Rec Area in Coldspring, TX. We had a blast and the AS did not disappoint. We thoroughly enjoyed having the trailer and it solidified our choice to go with an Airstream. And I do have to admit that I garnered some enjoyment from watching everyoneís heads turn as we drove through the park to our spot.

This was an organizational trip for us. Since we keep it in storage and not at the house we hadnít had the chance to get everything organized prior so most everything was just in bags or boxes in the trailer before we got there. But I think we got most of it taken care of and put away now.

And got lucky and met a fellow airforums member. EXTIGER had his 30í Classic setup a few spots down. We had a great time meeting him and his wife and got to tour his trailer. I really liked the wood in there. He also came to my rescue with an o-ring seal to get my fresh water to stop leaking. I had given up and was turning it off when we didnít need it. Also got some good tips and tricks. EXTIGER thanks again for you help.

I did run into an issue with my grey tank on Saturday evening. I have a call in to the dealer to see what they say. But I figured Iíd see if anyone has any ideas. I was checking my status lights throughout the trip to try and get a grip on our usage and how long a tank will hold us over. When I checked it Saturday afternoon we were still below ľ tank on the grey tank. After washing dinner dishes Kerry happened to look in the shower and noticed a lot of standing water. I checked the status light and it was all of a sudden showing red for the grey tank. There was no way we put that much water in it in a matter of a couple hours. So as I paced and wondered what to do we noticed that the water level was slowly dropping. So we waited. The shower slowly drained and as it did the status light changed slowly from red to orange to yellow and back to green. And once again we had about a ľ tank full in the grey tank. So we showered and no water backed up so we went to bed.

Next day after doing dishes and brushing teeth and everything we noticed that the shower had water in it again and again the status light was red. And the water was draining extremely slowly and the status light very slowly changed to orange. There was still water in it when we were hitched up and ready to go so we drove over to an open site with septic and I hooked up and dumped. After sanitizing the system and flushing multiple full tanks last week I have an idea of how long it takes to flush a full grey tank and this wasnít nearly a full tank. Maybe Ĺ. The dump did clear out my shower and reset my status light.And it flowed fast, it wasn't trickling like the water was still slowly draining into the tank. It flushed.


And sidenote when I was sanitizing the system I had no problems. I would fill my fresh tank full and run all the faucets until it emptied into my grey tank and no back ups.

So any ideas? Backing up in the shower to me makes me think a clog in the line before the tank but why would the status lights play along? If the clog was before the tank then the tank wouldnít know any difference would it? It would still show green.
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Old 10-17-2011, 11:00 AM   #2
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I would check your vent. If it is blocked with leaves or debris or for some other reason not able to release the air in your tank, it can cause the tank to fill too slow and water to back up in the lines and into your shower (low point). Sometimes the vent line can be too low in the tank for the air to escape also.

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Old 10-17-2011, 11:21 AM   #3
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It does sound like a vent issue, but since yours is brand new, I'd doubt leaves and stuff plugging the vent. I have heard of the vent pipe slipping down into the tank to the point of the bottom of the vent pipe being below the water level. This causes slow draining that you are experiencing. Look up top and see if you can see the top end of the vent pipe under the vent cap on the roof.

It may not have been glued properly or maybe just cut too long. But you say you had no issue while sanitizing??????
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Old 10-17-2011, 11:37 AM   #4
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No problem sanitizing. I filled and emptied the fresh water tank to the grey four times and noticed no problems.
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Old 10-17-2011, 11:43 AM   #5
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I suppose it is possible there could've been some production waste material left in the tank which could've gotten lodged into the vent pipe. Or like Shari says, something is blocking the top of the vent. Go up top and look. Take off the vent cover and use a pole and see if the pipe is clear all the waw down to the tank floor.
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Old 10-17-2011, 12:05 PM   #6
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This is a good one and a perfect reason to have the dealer earn his warranty dollars. I also sense two things going on that don't appear related at the moment. Whenever you find out what was going on, please let us know.

The 1st problem you describe sounds like a restriction in the drain line between the sink and shower before it enters the tank. As InsideOut suggested this could be the vent pipe was cut too long and extends into the tank, or it could be something partially blocking the drain pipe. Since the shower pan is the low point before the tank, the water backs up there first then gradually lowers as it overcomes the restriction.

The gauge has me stumped and your symptom defies how I thought it worked. I assume you have the MicroPulse monitor... There is a single pressure sensor for each tank. For the GW and BW tanks it is mounted either very low on the side of the tank or in the pipe leading to the dump valve. It is calibrated to the installation so as to know the static pressure on the sensor when the tank is empty and again when full. The display represents the various pressures on the sensor between E and F. A backup in the drain line entering the tank should not effect the pressure of the water in the tank.

A light just came on! I think InsideOut nailed it... If the vent pipe going to the roof either extends far enough down into the tank so that it is submerged or is significantly blocked (mud daubers), the tank would assume the pressure of the water level in the shower pan until the air bleeds out of the tank somehow and the pressures equalizes to the true weight of the water in the tank after the shower drains down. That would explain the strange behavior of the gauge. If the vent slipped down enroute to you're campsite, that also answers why you didn't see the problem during your sanitization procedure..
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Old 10-17-2011, 12:41 PM   #7
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Got an appt at the dealer for tomorrow. I'll get the ladder out tonight and see if I see something. Will post updates as I get them. Thanks.
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Old 10-17-2011, 01:04 PM   #8
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Just a Footnote...

*Don't assume you moniter is calibrated until you calibrate it yourself.
Since you purchased a new Airstream, you will find calibration instructions in the stack of stuff your dealer gave you.

This advice is offered in addition to the very good advice already offered by InsideOut and the others.

I like your systematic, logical approach to a frustrating situation without turning it into a rant against Airstream. Every new RV is likely to have one or two issues like this.

Happy Trails!
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Old 10-17-2011, 01:35 PM   #9
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Thanks for the shout out! BIKE _ADDICT recriprocated and we got to tour their very neat and new 25' It is always a treat to camp with other AS owners and swap stories/advice.

Double Lake is a very nice campground, but until the drought is over, they may want to rename it No Lake!
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Old 10-17-2011, 01:56 PM   #10
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It was definitely a great weekend. Can't let a little drainage issue kill a good weekend.

I really like Double Lake. Here's some pics. Notice that the park was nearly full and yet you see no other trailers in my pics. I love the trees between each trailer. The space across the road from us was one of the few empty ones.

The bottom one is my son enjoying the hammock with my wife.
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Old 10-19-2011, 05:06 PM   #11
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Well no word from the dealer. Dropped it off yesterday. Was suppose to hear a diagnosis today but no luck. Hopefully tomorrow.
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Old 10-20-2011, 02:18 PM   #12
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Called the service guy because I haven't heard anything and got the run around. I donít know what the heck is going on. Actually I think they havenít even looked at it yet and heís just feeding me B.S. Just tell me that you havenít gotten to it yet. Instead he tells me that he just got through ďtalking to his manager about it and theyíre going through the steps to eliminate the possible problem. They had to check to make sure the right toilet paper was used.Ē Then I stopped him and asked him why he was worried about toilet paper, the problem is the grey tank. Has nothing to do with the black tank. I asked if theyíd checked the roof vent for the grey tank to see if itís slipped or if itís blocked and he said no. Told him that seems like the logical first place to me to look. I was frustrated with him. He was just trying to put me off and telling me not to worry about it, heíd take care of it. Told him I didnít understand why we were even having a conversation about toilet paper. He apologized and admitted he was new to the industry and didnít understand it much. SO he had been just feeding me crap to try and make me happy. If it was closer Iíd drive by and see if itís even moved from where I dropped it off.

He said heíd get with the tech and get back with me. I asked him when I can expect to hear back and first he said by the end of the day and then he added "or tomorrow". Iím resisting the urge to call the service manager. But Iím trying to give him the chance to get it right. I'm beginning to understand why so many of you drive them to home office.
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Old 10-20-2011, 02:41 PM   #13
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Yes, don't let a tank ruin the memory of your first trip.

I had some issues with my AS after two months of driveway camping. Hauled it back for work, and finally went on my shakedown cruise last week. As far as I can tell, everything worked perfectly.

I hope I never have an issue that would necessitate a trip to Jackson Center because I'm so far away. I am a bit envious of those close to the factory.

Wouldn't it be nice if JC sent a "flying squad" of specialists to every long-distance dealership once a year. We would be informed of their attendance dates, and could take our beloved trailers there....or even just meet them and have a talk.
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Old 10-20-2011, 02:44 PM   #14
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BTW....this is the first I've heard of calibrating the systems' monitor. I never calibrated anything - not even sure what you mean by that - but as far as I can tell, the system worked well. After three days of showering, dishes, hand washing, the grey tank light went from green to orange. The drains worked well too.

So, I emptied the tank. Went back into the trailer and it was green again.

After hearing of the problems, I was so happy to see a green light. Maybe the dealer calibrated it? I dunno....but as they say, "if ain't broke, don't try to fix it."

Sometimes I wonder if my "higher power" knew a nincompoop was buying a trailer, so he made sure I got a good one.
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