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Old 03-31-2024, 02:35 PM   #1
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Question Draining the waste tanks if the macerator fails?

I'm new to the Forum and to a 2017 Inerstate. My rving experience has
as been with a 20ft trailer. The Interstate is a very different animal.

I've searched the forum and wasn't able to find an answer to whether the tanks can be emptied if the macerator fails. We will be leaving on a 10,000 trip in May and this has me concerned. So, any words of wisdom would be appreached.
Thanks.
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Old 03-31-2024, 06:27 PM   #2
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You could open the black tank valve and gravity will start to drain the tank, but any solid waste would likely clog the impeller on the macerator pump. You would then need to crawl under the van, stick a screw driver in the slot at the end of the macerator pump and turn the impeller manually to clear any solid matter. It would take some time, but should work.
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Old 03-31-2024, 07:35 PM   #3
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No, not really but just maybe some light fluids and depending on the angle that youíre parked in but definitely no solids. It all depends on how much work youíre willing to put in before your trip and install a gravity fed system. We did to ours just in case our macerator pump failed while on the road. We carry a spare and Iím very capable on replacing it in a comfortable spot slightly lifted off a curb but I didnít want to chance it so I added a gravity fed dump along side of our macerator and can use both. However, Iím not going to lie and say that this is easy to do as is one of the hardest mods that we did to our 2015 Interstate. You can find our install information here on post # 64.

https://www.airforums.com/forums/f24...-234941-4.html
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Old 03-31-2024, 09:56 PM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JimMartin View Post
You could open the black tank valve and gravity will start to drain the tank, but any solid waste would likely clog the impeller on the macerator pump. You would then need to crawl under the van, stick a screw driver in the slot at the end of the macerator pump and turn the impeller manually to clear any solid matter. It would take some time, but should work.
Iím not willing to test it, but I guess you could run a dry run or actually ď a wet run ď in your driveway.

Iím thinking with the ability to add the hose to spray into the black water tank. You could get a lot moving combined with manually moving macerator with screwdriver, if you were stuck for a few days / a week while waiting for a repair replacement good weather to replace macerator.
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Old 04-01-2024, 09:24 AM   #5
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Draining the waste tanks if the macerator fails?

If you travel with a battery powered drill or screwdriver, you can turn the slot at the end of the macerator pump with a flat blade screwdriver attachment and turn the impeller. It's a lot faster than turning it manually.
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Old 04-01-2024, 04:33 PM   #6
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Originally Posted by gregpk View Post
If you travel with a battery powered drill or screwdriver, you can turn the slot at the end of the macerator pump with a flat blade screwdriver attachment and turn the impeller. It's a lot faster than turning it manually.
I have never tried this but have recently replaced the macerator pump. I looked at the mod Stogie made and what a great idea but not an easy one. I would think a drill and screw driver would be easier. You have me seriously thinking about that now. Are the gate valves easy to manually open?
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Old 04-02-2024, 07:47 AM   #7
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You should still be able to open the gate valves electronically, even if your macerator pump has failed. I know I've manually operated my gate valves as well, but can't remember if it was difficult or easy. Frankly, nothing is easy when you're working on the waste system!
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Old 04-04-2024, 11:43 AM   #8
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I have never tried this but have recently replaced the macerator pump. I looked at the mod Stogie made and what a great idea but not an easy one. I would think a drill and screw driver would be easier. You have me seriously thinking about that now. Are the gate valves easy to manually open?
"RTFM"
I found the info for manually opening the gate valves in my 2021 owners manual on page 9-12. I found a power drill on Harbor Freight site for about $15. There is a limit to how much cargo the van will hold but some kinds of failures are significant enough to prepare for in advance. We carry a spare tire, a jack, tire chocks, a fire extinguisher, etc. Pondering if we need to include a few items to manually do a tank dump.
(RTFM - Flippin )
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Old 04-04-2024, 12:03 PM   #9
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Just so all you kids know...

Carrying a spare macerator is a good idea if you want to hand it to the RV tech who is brave enough to change it for you.

But if you have to change it, carry the correct tools.

As an example, on the interstate you need an 11mm deep well socket with extension, a tube of silicon, a few wire nuts or wago connectors and some tie wraps.

Don't ask me how I know this.
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Old 04-07-2024, 11:34 AM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DaveG View Post
"RTFM"
I found the info for manually opening the gate valves in my 2021 owners manual on page 9-12. I found a power drill on Harbor Freight site for about $15. There is a limit to how much cargo the van will hold but some kinds of failures are significant enough to prepare for in advance. We carry a spare tire, a jack, tire chocks, a fire extinguisher, etc. Pondering if we need to include a few items to manually do a tank dump.
(RTFM - Flippin )

I'm new to the Interstate as well. Should I assume from all of the posts here that the macerator failing is a fairly common occurrence? Sounds fun! You have my attention...
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Old 04-08-2024, 08:58 AM   #11
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Originally Posted by cwessel View Post
I'm new to the Interstate as well. Should I assume from all of the posts here that the macerator failing is a fairly common occurrence? Sounds fun! You have my attention...
It seems to be something that happens from time to time.
Not a big thing to stress over. Are you a DIY type?
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Old 04-08-2024, 03:06 PM   #12
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Originally Posted by cwessel View Post
I'm new to the Interstate as well. Should I assume from all of the posts here that the macerator failing is a fairly common occurrence? Sounds fun! You have my attention...

Yes. The whole waste dump system is unquestionably the least good thing about these vans...well, except for maybe the electric shades. Best ways to extend life of macerator and associated plumbing:
  • Never run the macerator unless it's actually pushing liquid. Running it dry is a sure-fired way to burn it out.
  • Don't put anything down the toilet you didn't eat or drink first (e.g. no TP because TP can block valves and jam up the macerator)
  • Only use the toilet for #2 in an emergency. The less poo you have in the black tank, the less drama you'll have pumping that tank out later.
  • Be careful when winding and unwinding the macerator hose. It's finicky, and bad things can happen, including kinking the hose backward on the reel or having the reel decide it doesn't want to wind / unwind anymore, and all at the worst possible moment.
  • If something stops working altogether, check the switches in that dump control panel to see whether one or more of them has gone bad.
  • Find out where the fuses are that control whether the valves can open/close, the macerator pump can run, and the reel can...well, reel.
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Old 04-09-2024, 10:05 AM   #13
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Rocinante's advice is good, but I'll add a couple of points based on our own experience.

We have 65K miles on the van (bought new in 2017). We always use the van's facilities for shower and toilet; we never use campground or rest-stop facilities. So far there have been no macerator problems. The black tank collected sludge over the years, and we had to pay recently for a cleaning. But no problems otherwise.

On the other hand, the hose reel caused problems. The pins connecting the reel to the axel stripped. We had our tech rebuild the reel assembly with an aftermarket kit (rather than getting a new assembly). It has worked fine since then. It is tricky to wind the hose onto the reel without jamming. Some people have cut about 5 feet off the hose to make it easier.
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Old 04-10-2024, 02:47 PM   #14
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We had an issue with the macerator on this most recent Eclipse trip to Ohio. We dumped the grey tanks twice without issues. On the last day, when there was "enough" in the black tank to warrant dumping, I immediately blew a couple of fuses. Once on the black tank and then once on the grey tank (I figured I should at least see if we could get fluid through the macerator before returning to the black tank). On the third fuse, with one spare left, I used the screwdriver to free the impeller manually. It was definitely tough the first several revolutions, but after a minute or so of turning, I was confident enough to risk the penultimate fuse, but only on the grey tank. Worked fine. We decided to drive home with the black tank as is and fight this fight near home instead of at a campsite.

This is the first time I've been able to dump successfully after manually freeing the impeller, so I consider that a success.

My wife is already considering composting toilets, but I would rather upgrade the power system first.

So, my comment regarding using a drill is:
1) Smart
2) It didn't work for me last year when I was fighting a dead macerator because the line of sight to the impeller screw with a drill was not straight. The trim work hangs lower than the line extending from the screw, so you're trying to turn the screw with the drill at an angle. It just didn't work for me, and I don't have some extension that allows you to do this with the drill not directly in line with the screw.
3) Having manually freed the macerator early this week with a screwdriver has me declaring success in my case, but it definitely is not a scalable solution if you have to do more than a few turns.
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Old 04-10-2024, 08:13 PM   #15
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Glad you got it working again!

Yeah, that macerator jam is one reason why we never put TP down the toilet, and don't put #2 in the tank unless it's an emergency. It's not wrong to use the black tank to it's "fullest," but one takes on a bit more risk of something like this, or a jammed black tank valve, happening.
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Old 04-10-2024, 11:12 PM   #16
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Thanks all for posting it allows us to learn.

In our short, three months usage, we only use the interior restroom and shower. I am comfortable with putting TP down there.

So I may be complaining about this a month from now or a year from now. I’m not sure.

For u, we don’t wait for tanks to be worth dumping we dump them all, all the time and black water flush them and then re-dump them.
We are new but 20 nights in 3 months is something.
We also when black is empty, dump grey in there for extra help
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Old 04-11-2024, 12:21 AM   #17
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There may be something to the dump early and often theory, especially in combination with a lot of #1, and/or water, and not as much #2. We don't put any TP in these days, even the "RV-safe" stuff. Also, using the black tank rinse approach is probably a good thing. We do make sure that we put water back into the black tank after dumping it in combination with the treatment liquid (never powder).

We have been using the RV-Digest-IT lately, but wow, you really have to read the directions and follow them closely. The smell of that stuff is arguably worse than the untreated black tank odors.
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Old 04-11-2024, 04:13 AM   #18
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The one solid piece of advice that I can give and I have learned over the years is to always use the black tank flush after every dump. Airstream puts one in for a reason and it will save you some grief. I use it religiously when tied to full hookups and if on the road with no way of flushing, I do it as soon as we get home. This is why I setup my dump station at home in order to be able to dump and flush after.

Another tip is to keep some dawn in the bathroom and pour a small dab in the toilet after youíve dumped your tanks to keep the blank tank lubed up a bit.

Lastly, every so often before you know youíre going to dump and leave camp, take your sink wand and pour hot water into the toilet and let it sit for a bit before dumping.

You really shouldnít be emptying your black tank when itís not full. If you get into the habit of dumping it this way or not putting enough water, you can cause an even bigger problem. Google or check out some videos on the poop pyramid prevention.

Iíve also attached a video that has some good tips on blank tank management / boondocking and dealing with a small blank tank that we have in our Sprinters. Again, we donít follow all their tips or advice but some are good.

Prior to installing an indoor macerator pump switch, I would setup the gravity system in order to be able to keep our grey tank valve open for showers etc. and not needing to go outside to empty it. Now, I donít setup the gravity system when we get to our location as I can keep the grey valve open and dump from the inside. Works great especially when the boss lady is showering. The gravity system is now only used for an emergency. However, I do exercise it every so often to make sure everything is flowing correctly.





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Old 04-11-2024, 08:05 AM   #19
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Quick Connect

To make it easier to use the black tank flush, I have installed one of these at the inlet that I leave on and have a dedicated black hose for it as well. Actually, I have one for our city water hose too.

https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B0...e?ie=UTF8&th=1
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Old 04-11-2024, 08:53 AM   #20
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What is the opinion on Drain Valve Lubricant? I am using in both black and gray about every other dump, and alternating with Dawn detergent. There is no "science" behind my choice, just instinct. Comments welcome.

https://www.campingworld.com/thetfor...-oz.-4179.html
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