Smooth Flowing: Operating and Maintaining Your Waste System

Your RV’s waste system is vital to a carefree, pleasant experience.

Unfortunately, many users fail to consider the importance of this aspect of RVing until it doesn’t work properly.

A waste system which stops working as designed can result in increased odor, decreased holding capacity and an overall unpleasant trip.

Luck for you, all it takes to avoid problems is proper operation and general maintenance.

Waste System 101

Your on-board waste system is not as complicated as you may believe.

In the most basic form it consists of two holding tanks, a monitoring system and a single drain connection.

One tank, calle the black water tank, holds waste from the toilet. The second tank, called the grey water tank, holds waste from the sinks and shower.

Each tank has a monitoring system which allows for remote monitoring of waste levels and when it is necessary to drain the system connects to a single external connection.

A flexible hose is connected to this drain, stretched out until it reaches waste collection facility and connected to the receptacle.

System Operation

Unlike your home septic system your RV’s waste system requires a little bit of care when used day to day.

  1. Never flush foreign objects, food waste or non-septic safe paper down the toilet. Foreign object will cause unwanted blockages, food waste will result in nasty smells and non-septic safe paper will likely interfere with monitoring system & proper draining.
  2. Always insure black water tank contains a sufficient amount of water BEFORE using system (see owner’s manual for specific amount needed). Using a dry tank will increase likely hold of both smell and blockages.
  3. While grey tank may be connected directly to camp system the black tank should never be used in this manner. Always keep black tank closed until ready to drain.

Hassle Free Draining

Draining is an unpleasant but necessary aspect of RVing. It is impossible to make this task pleasant, but it is possible to make it less unpleasant.

1. Drain tanks only when at least 2/3rds full as it relies on gravity, and the weight of the waste in the tank, to properly empty.

When you do drain the tanks always start with the black water and follow with grey water as this will help flush the hoses.

2. Replace standard discharge hose with a heavier duty version. Most standard hoses are 10’ so I also recommend adding a 20’ hose just in case you cannot get close enough to the drain.

While you are at it is recommended you purchase a simple hose support system which will both hold the hose in place and allow you to adjust the angle.

3. It is important to flush and treat your black tank every time it is emptied.

A properly working system relies on the correct balance of enzymes and bacteria, which is lost when the tank is cleaned, so proper treatment is essential.

4. Always use environmentally friendly treatments and cleaning agents. Using harsh chemicals is not only harmful to your system but can damage the campground’s collection system as well.

5. Periodically it may be necessary to clean and treat the grey water tank as well, especially when grease or food particles enter via the kitchen sink.

The easiest means of doing this is to add dish washing detergent when the tank is empty as these soaps are designed to breakdown greases.

Just make sure the collection point is capable of accepting the soap containing waste next time you empty the tanks.

Check out this youtube video for more information on using your waste system properly.

Updated: November 25, 2017 — 4:48 pm
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