RVing can take you to some pretty amazing places, with the mountain views, swimming in the ocean, or getting to see the changing colors of the trees and fields. But not every part of RVing is glamorous. For example: the holding tanks. The black and gray holding tanks can give you quite a bit of grief sometimes. But by emptying them properly, storing them well, and taking care to keep them clean, you can have a less stressful trip that allows you to really appreciate those views and experiences.
Emptying your Black and Gray Holding Tanks
Emptying your tanks is an important step that you really can’t forget to do. But how often should you dump them? Well, there isn't a hard and fast rule for that. It depends on how many people you are traveling with and how often you use the tanks (toilets, showers, sinks, etc). A good rule of thumb, though, is to wait until the tanks are about two thirds full before emptying them. This helps to create a better flow, making the process a little more efficient.
So, then you’ve decided it’s time to empty the tanks. How do you do that? The process is quite simple, though it’s very important to follow the steps closely. First, only ever empty the tanks at a designated dumping station. You can get in legal trouble by dumping in an unregistered area. Then, dump your black water tank first. Before your first water tank dump, make sure you have a sewer hose and some gloves. Hook the sewer hose up to the waste valve of your black water holding tank on the RV. Take the other end and secure it to the sewer dumping station you are using. Make sure it’s secure on both ends before continuing. Then, pull up the valve and let the tank drain. Close the valve only when you can no longer hear any material coming through the hose. Before removing the hose, make sure the valve is tightly closed. You do not want to find out that you didn’t close it, so make sure this step is completed properly. Once that valve is closed, remove the hose from the black holding tank waste valve and connect it to the gray water holding tank waste valve. Repeat the process with the gray tank. Make sure you flush the gray water tank after flushing the black water tank, as doing so will help flush out any solids that may be stuck in the sewer hose.
Here are some tips for when you’re dumping your water tanks:
Use RV-specific or one-ply toilet paper for the toilet. Using anything more than that can lead to clogged pipes or a clog in the tank, which is a pain to get rid of and can cause further problems.
Flush regularly, always adding water to the toilet bowl before flushing. This simply helps the waste to flow into the tank easily and without clogs.
Sanitize your tank after dumping. Using a tank sanitizer can help to remove build up in the tank and can also cut down on odors in the future.
You can help to clean your tanks by putting a garden hose down the toilet. Depending on your model, this can help to flush the system and clear out any build-up that has accumulated in the system.
Storing your Black and Gray Water Holding Tanks
Storing your RV isn’t as easy as simply not driving it. While you might be able to get away with parking it in your driveway for a week, storing it for longer periods of time takes more care. Storing your RV and your tanks without taking precautions first can cause serious problems to occur.
For the black water holding tank, it’s vital to empty out the tank and rinse it out before storing it. If there is still material in the tank before storing, it can dry out, causing sensors to misread levels, odors to increase, and clogs to happen in the tanks. Always make sure to dump the tank out before storing it away. If you are able to, use a rinse system such as a tank flusher to rinse the tank for 20-30 minutes as well. If you are not storing your RV over winter or through freezing temperature, it can be a good idea to fill it up with fresh water and a full treatment of waste digester to get rid of any residual waste clinging to the tank walls. If you are storing it over winter or through freezing temperatures, do not fill it up. You will need to instead winterize your RV properly.
For the gray water holding tank, it is also vital to empty the tank before storing it. Without rinsing out the tank, residual soap scum and grease can be lifted off of the bottom of the tank and become suspended in the water, coating the tank walls and sensors, causing problems with your sensors and gauges and creating odors. It is recommended that you perform a deep clean on your gray water tank before storing it. Again, though, if you are storing your tank over winter or through freezing temperatures, it will need to be winterized.