BEAMALARM.COM

Wastewater Tank Maintenance

 

Everyone who owns an RV should be concerned with maintaining its wastewater tanks. Problems with wastewater tanks that can be avoided should be avoided. Wastewater tank repair is expensive. Due to health concerns, many service facilities will not work on wastewater tanks and lines until the tanks have been completely emptied and sanitized. This may be quite difficult when the tank(s) is in need of repair. So, common sense dictates that the tanks should be kept relatively clean at all times. Additionally, improper use of the wastewater tanks can lead to a build up of solid wastes, which in itself may cause the system to fail.

If you have not been maintaining your tanks I believe you will be pleasantly surprised the first time you employ these tips. I do these things and they work.

1. DUMP A FULL TANK

When you are camping and your RV is connected to a sewer/septic intake, leave the drain valves closed until the tank is full and ready to dump. Dumping a full tank provides a sufficient quantity of water to flush solids from the tank. Leaving the drain valves open allows the water to drain off without flushing out solid waste. That solid waste will collect in the tank(s) and cause problems over time.

2. DUMP TANKS IN ORDER FROM DIRTIEST TO CLEANEST

In other words, dump the black (commode) water tank first, then dump the grey tank. This way you will be flushing out the dirtiest water with progressively cleaner water.

3. USE WATER SOFTENER

**Calgon Water Softener link**

This stuff is amazing and it works. Buy a couple of boxes of powdered water softener at the grocery store. You find it located with or near the laundry detergent products. I prefer Calgon Water Softener because it dissolves quickly in water. Cheaper water softeners work just as well but dissolve more slowly. Dissolve two (2) cups of the water softener in a gallon of hot water. Then, pour the solution down the drain into the empty black tank. Use two cups of softener for each wastewater tank in your RV. The tank's drain valve should be closed otherwise the softened water will just drain out. Then use the tank(s) normally until it is full and drain it normally. Add a cup of laundry detergent to the black (commode) water tank at the same time. This will help clean the tank. The gray water tanks should already contain soap through normal use.

The water softener makes the solid waste let go from the sides of the tanks. If you ever taken a shower in softened water you know that after rinsing the soap from your body your skin will feel slick. That's because all the soap rinses away with soft water. Softened water also prevents soap scum from sticking in the tub. Get the connection? With softened water gunk washes away instead of sticking. The same thing applies to your RV's wastewater tanks.

I use one of those clear plastic elbow connectors to attach my sewer drain line to the wastewater outlet on my RV. It allows me to see how well things are progressing during a wastewater dump. This way I can tell if the water softener had actually done what I had intended for it to do and made solid waste, which had been stuck to the interior of the tanks, let go and drain away. I added water softener to all the wastewater tanks for the next few dumps to be certain all the solid waste possible had been cleaned away. The wastewater only appeared black on the initial treatment. I now add water softener to each tank once after every few dumps to maintain the system.

Occasionally, I pour a gallon of liquid bleach into each tank to sanitize and disinfect them. I no longer use the blue toilet chemical because it isn't necessary. I have no odors coming from my black water tank. Generic brand liquid bleach is cheap and very effective.

4. USE A WATER FILTER ON YOUR FRESH WATER INTAKE LINE

Most fresh water contains sediment. Sediment will accumulate in your wastewater tanks and your fresh water lines. It also tends to discolor your sinks, tub/shower, and commode. They eventually fill up and begin restricting the fresh water now resulting in low pressure. That's how I know it's time to get a new filter. It works, it's cheap, it avoids problems, do it.

5. SANITIZING

It is recommended that you thoroughly sanitize the water system upon delivery, following long periods of non-use, and after any suspected contamination. There are various commercial solutions approved for RV use available that will assist you in completely sanitizing the water system.

Prepare a chlorine solution using 1 ½ cup of household bleach (5% sodium hypochlorite solution) per 100 gallon tank of water. This solution can be funneled into an empty garden hose and forced into the tank by water pressure. Repeat as needed.

Complete filling the tank with fresh water. Open all faucets to release air. Pressurize the system until the water flows. Turn off the pump.

Allow the solution to stand for three hours.

Drain and flush the tank with potable fresh water.

To remove excessive chlorine taste and odor which may remain, prepare a solution of one quart vinegar to five gallons water and allow solution to agitate in tank by vehicle motion (several days if possible). The same method of installing bleach can be utilized to install the vinegar solution.

Drain the tank and again flush with potable fresh water.

SOME OTHER THOUGHTS

I believe occasionally traveling with partially filled wastewater tanks that contain softened water promotes cleaning by agitating the water. The same goes for chlorine bleach. I believe this process works faster and more efficiently during warm weather. However, I know it works well even during cool/cold weather.

I believe the process works best the longer the water softener remains in the tanks. So, I don't add water softener during periods of heavy wastewater generation. I wait until I know we won't be generating wastewater quickly so that the softened water remains in the tanks for several days before dumping.

My tanks are plastic and my pipes are PVC.

Don't be afraid to use your tanks. Just use common sense about their care and maintenance. These tips are inexpensive to do. Some ofthem don't cost anything. You have nothing to lose in trying them and I encourage you to do so. I actually feel a certain amount of pride in the condition and cleanliness of both my waste and fresh water systems. Naturally, these tips make dumping a much more pleasant and sanitary procedure.

If you have odors in any of your water systems these procedures should eliminate them. Odors indicate a sanitary problem and degrade the enjoyment you derive from your RV.

When my RV is parked and not in use I place stoppers in my sink and tub drains. This allows the wastewater tanks to vent through the vent pipes to the outside instead of through the drains into the RV.

Waste Tanks Slope

>
© Barry Brideau 2003-2017