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Old 08-30-2015, 04:52 PM   #1
2014 27' FB Classic
Livingston , Texas
Join Date: Oct 2011
Posts: 194
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Black Tank Handle Problem

Have a few questions about an issue we are experiencing with our black tank handle. First some background, then our questions:

After the last blank tank clean and rinse, we could not push the black tank handle back into position to seal off the black tank. The result is leakage - first the leakage accumulates behind the closed sewer hose connection and then, we think, when it has nowhere else to go, it finds a way to leak onto the ground. When we get to a new campsite and open the sewer connection to hook up the sewer slinky, black water comes pouring out and during the day, it seems we are leaving liquid on the ground which we think is from the black tank.

Here are our questions:

1) what caused the problem?
2) can it be prevented?
3) is there a fix we should try on our own before taking it in to a dealer to

Thanks for the help!
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Old 08-30-2015, 04:58 PM   #2
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2006 23' Safari SE
Biloxi , Mississippi
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Something is blocking closure of the flap. Time to put on your gloves and get dirty. Reach up inside the valve and wipe it out. It does not take much accumulation to block complete closure. I had an issue with this right after buying my trailer. A marble sized chunk of unknown material was blocking the flap.

Do you know what a learning experience is? A learning experience is one of those things that says "You know that thing that you just did? Don't do that."
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Old 09-02-2015, 11:33 AM   #3
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sequim , Washington
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FWIW, a good friend who has been a travel trailer person for about 35 years and counting told me, ' paper in the black tank...'. combine that with the idea that most of us use way too much paper, and you have a recipe for problems. i have a stick on hook with a plastic bag for paper disposal, emptied daily, no issue to date with valves. another of his suggestions, 'trick', is to not empty the black water tank until they have moved to the next days spot. that allows for plenty of sloshing time to stir things up and dissolve the solids.
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Old 09-02-2015, 11:39 AM   #4
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1995 30' Excella
Bowie , Maryland
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Originally Posted by gpt View Post
FWIW, a good friend who has been a travel trailer person for about 35 years and counting told me, ' paper in the black tank...'. combine that with the idea that most of us use way too much paper, and you have a recipe for problems.
I've been a travel trailer person for 40 years and am here to tell you paper is fine in the toilet. Use water when you flush - which you need anyway as you pointed out - and it'll be fine.

Also, it's probably not paper blocking the valve.
1995 Airstream Classic 30' Excella 1000
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Sold but not forgotten: 1991 Airstream B190
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Old 09-02-2015, 11:50 AM   #5
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Ravenna , Ohio
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Rather than trying to reach inside and clearing the obstruction you might want to do the better job of taking the valve apart to ensure the seals are not damaged.
You didn't mention the age of the valve assy but they aren't too expensive as only $16 at Amazon and are easy to replace.

1. Dump and flush the tank and lines a few times.
2. With everything empty unbolt the valve (4 small nuts & bolts.
3. Remove old valve and inspect the rubber seal.
4. Get new seals or a complete new valve which has new seals.
5 put it all back together

Throw away the rubber gloves you wore and clean your tools is a bleach water bath and you should be good to go.

I would estimate 30 min or less once the tank is flushed out.
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Old 09-02-2015, 12:04 PM   #6
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1995 25' Excella
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Can the OP easily get to the valve? I just replaced both valves on my 1995. I had to cut a hole in the belly pan.
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Old 09-02-2015, 01:37 PM   #7
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2005 30' Classic
Burlington , Ontario
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As fir water pouring out when you remove the drain cap, in my experience, this can happen even if your valves are closing properly.

It dependents on the slope that the trailer is on when you dump it and one campground versus the corresponding slope at the next.

I think it is possible to have wastewater still ling in the plumbing after the valves depending on the slope of the trailer, (side to side). If the next campsite has more of a slope, the accumulated waste can then exit whenyou remove the cap.

To deal with this, I have put a third easily attached valve right at the exit (where the cap normally goes. I then put the cap on after that valve

You can get these twist on/off valves at Camping World or other places.

I close this "third valve" at campsite A before removing the stinky slinky, then don't pen it again until I have reconnected the slinky at campsite B !

I guess it could be a bonus also if one of your main valves suddenly will not close properly.

The thing that worry about most is a black tank valve that I cannot open becsuse the handle has just pulled out of the valve blade!

I dread the day that happens and wonder how to deal with it!

I suppose one way would be to call a septic tank outfit and see if they could pump the tank out via the toilet.

I don't know why Arstream in their wisdom make these valves so inaccessible - at least on my mode trailer.

If I was facd with the problem of a handle that had pulled out, I guess I would cut an access hole in they belly pan and then see if I could manage to grab the valve blade end with vice grips or something to pull it open. Might have to cut away park of the valve housing to get a grip onto the blade.

Hope I never have to find out!

Brian & Connie Mitchell

2005 Classic 30'
Hensley Arrow / Centramatics
2008 GMC Sierra SLT 2500HD,4x4,Crew Cab, Diesel, Leer cap.
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Old 09-02-2015, 02:20 PM   #8
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2002 19' Bambi
Lafayette , California
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Several years ago we had a similar problem: valve would not close and the black tank leaked. In addition, the tank would not empty properly.

It turned out our valve was blocked by the plastic disk that had been cut out of the tank to attach the drain pipe. That disk had been in there for years!

The manager at the RV park said he and his wife had experienced the same problem in both a trailer and a fifth-wheel which they had owned. Neither was an Airstream.

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Old 09-03-2015, 01:25 PM   #9
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1989 25' Excella
Albemarle , North Carolina
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Posts: 33
leaking black tank

Get an extension (twist on) this should solve your problem
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Old 09-03-2015, 02:38 PM   #10
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1991 34' Limited
Tucson , Arizona
Join Date: Nov 2014
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On our '91 Limited the ability to close the valve has been a problem twice. My father, from whom I inherited the trailer, treated the seals several times with suggested solvents and cleaners, which helped for a time, but eventually the black water valve was reluctant to seal completely.

Shortly after he passed in 2005 my mother requested that the valve be replaced. $600 later a new valve was installed on site by a reputable RV company in Show Low, Arizona, where the trailer was parked for the summer. The replacement required cutting an access panel and the black water valve was removed by cutting it out. We were told ahead of time that this was the only way to do the job on our trailer - and that 'alien' RVs often had a better system that could be more easily be removed.

Ten years passed before the same problem occurred.

Last year I had a wonderful handyman that works on all sorts of RVs suggest that I replace it with one of the newer styles where the valve seals could be replaced without cutting out the old ones. The valve assembly, including grey water valve and new handles, was only about $35. Total cost for parts and installation was just under $200. The handyman said that solids tend to build up along the seals and that unless they are cleaned religiously before shutting down for the winter we were likely to experience the same problem again in the future. The problem is exacerbated by the minerals in the water in Arizona. He suggested that when he comes to winterize that we remind him to use his special pressure washer adapter to clean the black water tank and valve.

BTW - toilet paper has never seen the inside of this tank. Mom and Dad forbade it, and I'm following suit with my friends and family. We keep a box of sandwich bags under the sink and encourage everyone to use two. Trash is dumped daily.
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Old 09-03-2015, 02:52 PM   #11
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Originally Posted by Skater View Post
I've been a travel trailer person for 40 years and am here to tell you paper is fine in the toilet. Use water when you flush - which you need anyway as you pointed out - and it'll be fine.
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Old 09-03-2015, 03:18 PM   #12
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1995 25' Excella
xxxxx , xxxxxx
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If you own a trailer long enough, those valves are gonna need serviced no matter what ritual you follow using them. My 1995's original valves lasted 20 years. Matter of fact, I think they were still good, but the plastic tank adapters had cracked with age... I pulled out the big Airstream 3 ring binder...Right in it, it said Airstreams way of replacing the valves was too cut a hole in the belly pan. This past Monday I replaced both valves, both tank adapters, and all the PVC. It cost me 167 bucks and wasn't a complicated job.
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Old 09-04-2015, 06:59 AM   #13
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1990 29' Excella
Stone Mountain , Georgia
Join Date: Jul 2010
Posts: 308
We've trailered since 1971, always used paper, and at times had five of us in the entourage, and never had a problem with paper messing up the shut off valve. We keep the valve shut until the black water tank is full, or we are ready to pull out. We arrange to have the grey water tank full just before a dump. When we dump the black water, I pour 2-3 five gallon buckets of clean water down the throat of the toilet after the tank has drained and this helps clear any paper that lagged behind. I fill them in the shower, so they are right there. We close the black water valve gate and then dump the grey water which helps get the nasties out of the slinky as well. And we use regular home TP designed for septic systems. Yes even after 44 years I guess the paper could give us a problem, but I will deal with it when it does. So far, it hasn't.

WBCCI 2456 Georgia Unit 32
1990 Excella 29' Centramatics
2016 GMC Sierra Crew Cab 2500 HD 4x4
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