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Old 07-12-2013, 06:38 AM   #1
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Oh Poop!

One issue we have had since aquiring our current Airstream is that the black water tank does not drain well. I usually end up repeatedly running a hose into the outside drain to fill it with more water and act as a snake to get things flowing. Not my favorite thing to do at the end of a trip.

I used the soap and ice cubes method to scrub the inside of the tank but still it wouldn't empty without assistance.

Finally I picked up an inspection camera that I can run through the plumbing and see what is going on, I was sure there was something stuck in the pipe that was causing this problem.

I found that the waste valve and pipe are clear but I have hardened "debris" on the bottom of the tank. This includes a pencil and what looks to be part of some eyeglasses.

Prior to us purchasing the trailer an older couple lived in it in Florida, it was up on jacks in permanent trailer park. I think that because of the static position and the heat from Florida that this allowed this to happen.

At least now I know what is going on inside the tank, I think the next steps will be to remove the toilet, install a lot of plastic sheeting, and get out the pressure washer. I think once the inside of the tank is clean and smooth I ought to be able to empty it easily again.

-Alden
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Old 07-12-2013, 06:43 AM   #2
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I would fill with water and soap then let it sit for several days, like a week.

A pressure washer may make more of a mess than you want to clean.

Regards,

JD
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Old 07-12-2013, 08:42 AM   #3
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are you dumping the best way for how you camp?

When I am hooked up at a camp ground, I leave the dump valve closed. When the tanks are close to being filled I open the dump valves. The large amount of rushing liquids move the solids. FILL the tank with clean water, and dump again. I NEVER get clumps or even visible pieces of TP because I am using the enzyme treatments, which doesn't call for a spotless black tank. It sounds like you have a dried TP build up, due to the PO leaving the dump valve open. Yeah, a long full tank soak with enzymes might work. I would try to wash out all of the blue treatments, because the blue stuff impedes the enzymes from doing their job. The enzyme method calls for some liquid AND some solids for the enzymes to " eat ". When not in use for a long time, or over the winter, you can still do the spotless tank method. You could also try waiting a few days after getting home, to dump. Allow the TP and " stuff" to dissolve. Google search Phred's Poop Sheet
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Old 07-12-2013, 09:15 AM   #4
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I'm on board with a good long soak also. I would try filling it about half way with water then add a cup of laundry detergent and a cup of Calgon water softener. Let it sit for several days, a week isn't too long, then take it for a ride through the neighborhood with many left and right turns to slosh things around, then fill it as much as practical and dump and then inspect to see if this made any progress. Repeat if necessary. It will also help after dumping to add and leave 1" or so of water to the BW tank to assist in dissolving anything that may have remained. We typically don't accumulate enough liquid in the tank through normal use to permit a complete flush when dumping so additional water helps. Enzyme treatments may also be beneficial in the long run.
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Old 07-12-2013, 09:20 AM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jdalrymple View Post
I would fill with water and soap then let it sit for several days, like a week.

A pressure washer may make more of a mess than you want to clean.

Regards,

JD
Use an enzyme treatment, double-strength, rather than soap. Soapy water will soften the solids, but not dissolve them. Enzyme digestion should dissolve the solids down to a slurry that should drain.
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Old 07-12-2013, 09:21 AM   #6
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I've done the long soak with the Calgon followed by ice cubes prior to travel and I still have a hardened mess.

I do follow Dave's method of filling the tank completely before flushing, then filling with water again before flushing. This trailer also has a setup that I can hook a hose to and rinse the tank but I think that the stuff that is hardened in there is almost in a fossilized state at this point.

I was given another suggestion of TSP and then Rid Ex which I might try before resorting to the pressure washer.

-Alden
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Old 07-12-2013, 09:24 AM   #7
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I'm with Protag. RidEx now makes a liquid enzyme solution now....no grit. I would leave it in for weeks if in storage.
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Old 07-12-2013, 10:18 AM   #8
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Probably a lot of buildup from prior owner ... will take time to "flush." I'd just keep doing the detergent or enzyme treatment plus occasional treatment with 25lb. of ice and driving around. It may take time, but I bet it will slowly do the trick.
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Old 07-28-2013, 07:38 AM   #9
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You are on the right track with the long soak, ice cubes, etc. You will eventually get it all out of there.

One other thing, it is possible that your holding tank vent is clogged with a mud dauber nest or some other similar obstruction. An easy test would be the next time you dump the black tank, have someone hold the flush valve on the toilet open and see if it drains noticeably faster.

The only way I know to clean that vent stack is to get on a ladder and blast water down the stack with a garden hose.
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Old 07-29-2013, 07:30 AM   #10
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I soaked the tank with 10 gallons of water and a box of TSP for two weeks. I went to drain the tank so I can rinse it fill it with water and add RidX to it. I opened the valve and nothing came out.

I got the inspection camera out and verified the valve was opening just fine so I went and bought a hand held drain snake to see if something was clogging the line even though the tank had been empty prior to the TSP soak. I can run the drain snake all the way in, it comes out wet but nothing comes out...

I checked the trailer level and it is reasonably level, not perfect but not enough that 10 gallons of liquid should stay in the holding tank.

Now I am totally confused, I wonder if the tank is sitting at an angle or something like that. I think next step will be to pull the toilet and see if I can get a better look inside the tank with a flashlight and mirror.

-Alden
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Old 07-29-2013, 08:12 AM   #11
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Not to be a smart a##. But are you sure you are opening the black water valve and not the grey water valve?
How do you know which tank the snake is headed for? Because there is a sanitary Y somewhere that connects the grey and black water lines.
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Old 07-29-2013, 10:54 AM   #12
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Quote:
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Not to be a smart a##. But are you sure you are opening the black water valve and not the grey water valve?
How do you know which tank the snake is headed for? Because there is a sanitary Y somewhere that connects the grey and black water lines.
That's a fair question, opening the wrong valve is not beneath me...

If I am opening the correct valve, that is the tank that the snake is going into. Whichever valve is open is the one it is going into, otherwise it would just stop when it hits the valve.

Now I have something to check when I get home!

-Alden
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Old 07-30-2013, 06:53 AM   #13
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Well, TG Twinkie was right...

I have no excuse except maybe that the valves are reversed from our old trailer and I did not get down on my knees to check what was printed above the valve.

Now happily the 10 gallons of TSP and poop is out of the tank and it is now filled almost to the top with water and RidX which will stay and soak until we go out towards the end of September.

I sure hope I wasn't doing this all last season... Anyway, I labeled the valves a little higher up so I don't have to remember or get on my knees to see which one is which...


-Alden
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Old 07-30-2013, 08:10 AM   #14
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Alden,
Glad things seem to be working for you now. I wanted to let you know about this stuff I've used. It is called ByoGon. It is some sort of accelerant for the bacteria to consume the solids. The owner of the local SOB RV place claims that they use it with great results when the tank is completely plugged with solids. Dump six oz down the toilet, fill the black tank completely full and let it do its thing for two-three weeks. I recently treated my half full black tank this way and when I dumped the tank, the only thing that came out was clear water with a slight green hue. I was amazed. I hope you get it all cleaned out.
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