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Old 12-01-2015, 02:00 PM   #1
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Overflow from gray water to black water tank?

My limiting factor in the waste water is always the gray water tank fills up long before the black water tank. Has anyone ever considered or worked out the plumbing to overflow the gray water into the black water tank?

Or, is this Stupid Question #26? Like is the gray water above, below, or even with the black water tank?

My thoughts only....not always at a level of high intellectual functioning...LOL
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Old 12-01-2015, 02:25 PM   #2
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Many people use the black tank to empty dishwashing water into, or other grey water, for the exact reason you highlighted.

We opted for removing the normal toilet altogether, replace it with a composting model, and use both tanks as grey water tanks.

An added bonus of this solution is that we don't need a dump station to empty the grey tank, any drain will do. On private land, for as long as you're careful to only use biodegradable soap, it can even be ok to drain the grey water directly.
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Old 12-01-2015, 02:36 PM   #3
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Some of the newer AS gave the bath sink emptying to the black tank.l would think this could be a retrofit. Then use the bath sink for dishes. Catch the kitchen sink water and dump it into the toilet. Shower water would be a dif story.
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Old 12-01-2015, 02:41 PM   #4
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Many people use the black tank to empty dishwashing water into, or other grey water, for the exact reason you highlighted.

We opted for removing the normal toilet altogether, replace it with a composting model, and use both tanks as grey water tanks.

An added bonus of this solution is that we don't need a dump station to empty the grey tank, any drain will do. On private land, for as long as you're careful to only use biodegradable soap, it can even be ok to drain the grey water directly.
Any drain will do?? Gray water must be dumped in an approved disposal station, not in just any drain. If anyone pees in the shower it is no longer gray water. Gray water cannot be dumped into storm drains, please.
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Old 12-01-2015, 02:48 PM   #5
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Drain some gray water from the tank into a bucket. Pour that water into the toilet. Problem solved. No plumbing or other modification needed.


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Old 12-01-2015, 02:51 PM   #6
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Now that's an easy solution.
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Old 12-01-2015, 04:02 PM   #7
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Now that's an easy solution.

Yes. That gray in the bucket can also be used to flush, saving that much fresh water.


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Old 12-01-2015, 07:38 PM   #8
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Also, catch the water that comes out of the shower head before it gets hot, and dump into the nearby toilet, or save for flushing.
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Old 12-01-2015, 08:10 PM   #9
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Drain some gray water from the tank into a bucket. Pour that water into the toilet. Problem solved. No plumbing or other modification needed.
Easier to do if you have a macerator pump, because shutting off the pump shuts off the flow— no worries about overfilling whatever bucket you use to catch the gray water. It's a lot harder to control the flow if you're discharging through a slinky.
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Old 12-01-2015, 08:19 PM   #10
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Not a stupid question at all. I haven't considered plumbing fixes for this problem but I do have a few tricks when needed.

I sometimes wash dishes in a large Tupperware container in the kitchen sink and dump that water down the toilet.

I'll also sometimes have a mop bucket in the shower. When starting the shower, you usually get maybe a half gallon or more of water while warming it up. That goes in the bucket. I keep the bucket in the shower and it collects a good amount of the grey water. That too gets dumped down the toilet.

Since these are very minor inconveniences, I personally don't see the need to reconfigure plumbing (way more cost than benefit for my tastes but your mileage may vary).

Good luck!
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Old 12-01-2015, 09:30 PM   #11
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Originally Posted by Msmoto View Post
My limiting factor in the waste water is always the gray water tank fills up long before the black water tank. Has anyone ever considered or worked out the plumbing to overflow the gray water into the black water tank?

Or, is this Stupid Question #26? Like is the gray water above, below, or even with the black water tank?

My thoughts only....not always at a level of high intellectual functioning...LOL
It's a great question I started a Thread about a while ago. The answer was that nobody had done it, only by way of buckets and wash basins as mentioned here, I got scolded several times saying don't put black in the grey (which I made clear was never the intention) but this forum seams to be full of uptight Airstream owners. So if you do it, be sure to let us know.

The easiest way would be to direct the grey to either the black or grey tank from a valve in the coach. You would need some backflow protection to ensure the black doesn't back up into the drain piping and the valve would need to allow for good flow since you are redirecting a gravity drain pipe, not a smaller pressurized water pipe.

Manufacturers probably haven't done this due to cost and the fact not everyone camps the same way. Boondockers, full hookups, state parks with water only, all present their own needs.
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Old 12-01-2015, 09:44 PM   #12
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My previous owner had an acrylic sink-like thing that fit as an insert into one of the bowls in the galley sink. We put a stopper in it and use it for dish washing and then take it across the hall, hold it over the toilet, and pull the stopper.
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Old 12-01-2015, 09:51 PM   #13
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Get an empty milk or water jug - gallon size. Take a sharp knife and slice off the top leaving the handle intact. When showering leave the drain plug in (especially if you want to do a pedicure afterwards!). Empty as much of the shower water as you can via the handled scooper/bucket into the toilet. Pull the plug on the last inch. Unless you take a complete spit and polish shower using a gallon or less - you can easily even out the tanks with 3 to 5 showers.

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Old 12-01-2015, 10:00 PM   #14
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The need to redirect gray water into the black tank— at least when boondocking— stems from a design deficiency. Airstream got it right (for once) on their Interstate Class B motorhomes, where the gray tank is the same size as the fresh tank, 26 gallons each. With fresh and gray tanks the same size, even if you don't use the toilet and therefore don't use the black tank, by the time the fresh tank is empty you still haven't overfilled the gray tank.

Even though I don't generally boondock, I make use of this feature when I'm camping for an extended period at a Corps of Engineers campground or State Park with a dump station rather than sewer hookups. Instead of hooking up to municipal water, I fill the fresh tank, then use it until it's empty. When the fresh tank is empty, it's time to go hit the dump station. I don't worry whether my tank gauges are accurate, because the fresh water pump sucking air is all the indication I need that the gray tank is getting close to full. In four years of ownership I've never overfilled the gray tank.

But on most Airstreams, the fresh tank is larger than the gray tank, and that is the design deficiency I mentioned— and that's what causes the need for a way to transfer gray water to the black tank.

Perhaps the most elegant way to do it, if you're willing to make the effort, is to install a second pump, that draws water from the gray tank and routes it to the toilet, so you are always flushing the toilet with gray water. A duplicate of your fresh water pump would serve admirably for the purpose, but the gray tank would have to be modified with the same type of fitting that connects your fresh tank to your existing pump.
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Old 12-02-2015, 01:59 AM   #15
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Thank you, thank you, thank you

I will look at the various options, but until then will do some manual transfer from gray to black.

Thanks again,
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Old 12-02-2015, 10:46 AM   #16
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My gray water backed-up into the shower stall almost over flowing it. Had to run outside and open up the gray water valve which emptied the shower stall and the gray water tank. Has anyone experienced this before on a 2013 '25FC FB?
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Old 12-02-2015, 11:34 AM   #17
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We recently saw a new LeisureWay B-class built in a Sorinter platform that had many innovative double use functions including dumping grey to black if you want to. In their case, the grey is above the black. Not clear on AS TT's, though!
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Old 12-02-2015, 11:36 AM   #18
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My gray water backed-up into the shower stall almost over flowing it. Had to run outside and open up the gray water valve which emptied the shower stall and the gray water tank. Has anyone experienced this before on a 2013 '25FC FB?
Yes, this is quite common and why we carefully monitor the level of our tanks all day long!
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Old 12-02-2015, 11:55 AM   #19
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The need to redirect gray water into the black tank— at least when boondocking— stems from a design deficiency. Airstream got it right (for once) on their Interstate Class B motorhomes, where the gray tank is the same size as the fresh tank, 26 gallons each. With fresh and gray tanks the same size, even if you don't use the toilet and therefore don't use the black tank, by the time the fresh tank is empty you still haven't overfilled the gray tank.

Even though I don't generally boondock, I make use of this feature when I'm camping for an extended period at a Corps of Engineers campground or State Park with a dump station rather than sewer hookups. Instead of hooking up to municipal water, I fill the fresh tank, then use it until it's empty. When the fresh tank is empty, it's time to go hit the dump station. I don't worry whether my tank gauges are accurate, because the fresh water pump sucking air is all the indication I need that the gray tank is getting close to full. In four years of ownership I've never overfilled the gray tank.

But on most Airstreams, the fresh tank is larger than the gray tank, and that is the design deficiency I mentioned— and that's what causes the need for a way to transfer gray water to the black tank.

Perhaps the most elegant way to do it, if you're willing to make the effort, is to install a second pump, that draws water from the gray tank and routes it to the toilet, so you are always flushing the toilet with gray water. A duplicate of your fresh water pump would serve admirably for the purpose, but the gray tank would have to be modified with the same type of fitting that connects your fresh tank to your existing pump.
On our 2009 International 28, all three tanks are the same size.

When boondocking, a larger fresh tank would actually be nice, so I guess if you have that set up I wouldn't exactly call it a design error :-) When we boondock, we create a larger fresh tank by filling up about 12 gallons of fresh in portable tanks as we do the pre-camp fill up as close to camp as possible. We bring these in in our Sprinter TV, and then park them next to the fill for fresh and top off the fresh over the first few days. (These tanks are collapsible, and stored in the skinny, difficult to use back corner of the rear bedroom lower wardrobe.)

We monitor our gray and black tanks and can pretty well predict when we'll need to dump. Because the dump station is only 8 miles away, we long ago decided to be a little less conservative in our water use (we're windsurfing in salt water, so nice to shower after sailing). When we boondock in a fresh water sailing area, we can go ten + days, but when we're sailing salt water, we'll fill the grey in about 5-6 days.

We've never done the bucket thing with the pre-heated shower water--nice idea, everybody! But when we do the math, even two trips to the dump station in two weeks is just not that much of an inconvenience from our point of view.

Of course, if the dump station were 50-100 miles away, that would be a very different story!
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Old 12-02-2015, 01:05 PM   #20
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On our 2009 International 28, all three tanks are the same size.
Which kind of means your black tank is too large; under normal circumstances you'll never come close to filling it even when your gray tank is brim full.

I'll admit, 26 gallons isn't a whole lot of fresh water, but for just me it does all right, and it's about the most you'll find on a B-van. By sponge-bathing in a bathroom sinkful of water (easy when you're bald as an egg) I can routinely stretch 26 gallons to about 9 days/8 nights of camping.
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