Don't Get a Case of the Black Tank Blues!

The new Camco Rhino Extreme hose is sturdy and works great!

Our first RV shopping experiences were scary.  We didn't know much about anything!  One gentleman that listed his RV on Facebook told me all about the gray and black tank capacity.  He could have been speaking Greek!  I had no idea what any of that meant.  Now, I know more than I would like about black tanks and more!  And, I want to share some of that with you.  I know.  Gross!  But, if you own an RV, this is a necessary part of the whole gig!  So, keep reading!
Add sewer hose supports to protect your hose and adjusts the height for a better fit into the sewer connection.

Don't Get a Case of the Black Tank Blues!

I hear people say and read posts online about not using the toilet in the RV or just not using to do all of your business.  (I don't feel like I have to elaborate here!)  But, I'm confused by this thought process.  If you own an RV, why not just use it full on!?  We do.  Then what?  If you are new to owning and RV, considering buying an RV or just want to know more about general upkeep on your RV, this is for you!

Get the Right Equipment

For any RV that has a toilet, you are going to need a sewer hose.  And, you need a good one!  We have owned more than one sewer hose over the past 4 years.  However, the Camco Extreme may be our favorite yet.  It does cost more and is a sturdier build.  It is less susceptible to holes and tears.  Just get one!  I'm hoping it will live up to the hype and cost.  So far, so good.  

We use a clear elbow adapter to help us ensure that we have given everything a good clean each time we camp.

If you have a hose you love and are not in the market for something new, I do recommend a clear elbow adapter.  A clear adapter will let you actually see if you black tank is flushing clear.  I feel like we do a better job flushing, and it is an easy addition to your gear.  Getting everything really clean after every trip will make a huge difference.  Don't ask me how I know, but we have made some mistakes along the way where we have learned a lot about black tank maintenance.  A good clean is key!

Additionally, a sewer hose support is also a necessary tool.  It will prop your hose up off the ground and also provide you with the height to reach your sewer connection easily.  This will ensure that things don't get disconnected during a flush and protects your hose.

A sewer hose rinse cap is easy and mess free way to clean out your hose before you store it!

Finally, I think it is important to keep things clean and odor free both in the tanks and hose.  We have a sewer hose rinse cap that we use after we give everything a good flush.  Just attach it to the hose after you flush to rinse everything out before we store our hose.  

These magnetic bumper caps ensure your hose stays in the bumper for neat storage.

When it is all done, where do you store it all?  In the bumper.  Plain and simple.  We have magnetic bumper caps that we use to keep everything stored and in place.  I would encourage you to do the same.  We have never had a problem doing this.  The only thing to consider here is that you will only be able to store hoses up to a certain length.  I would say 20 feet may the max for a bumper storage, but you might can go more.  But, I also think that 20 feet is long enough for almost every camp site and dump station.  

Keep Things Running Smoothly

Its kind of like the whole chicken and the egg theory.  Which came first?  The same applies to the black tank.  Which comes first, the clean tank  or how you clean the tank.  Both are important.  But, let's start with the clean tank.  

I use our garbage can from the kitchen to fill with water to pour down the toilet after we drain and flush everything.

Once the tank is clean, you need to add a couple of gallons of clean water.  I usually fill up my kitchen garbage can with water and pour it down the toilet after it is cleaned.  Next I add a drop in to deodorize and use to break down waste when you use the toilet the next time.  Thetford has been the brand of choice for us.  It works well and does the job!

Next, you need make sure that you flush with RV toilet paper.   Some may tell you it doesn't matter what you use.  Nope!  It matters.  I ask for RV toilet paper as a gift from my mom at every holiday and birthday.  Yep.  I sure do, and I never run out.  That stuff is expensive, but we camp a lot.  Use the right toilet paper.  Trust me and don't skip this step.

Finally, use plenty of water to flush.  It you notice you are at a spot that has low water pressure, flush extra long or add water to the toilet.  And, if you notice a build up of toilet paper in the black tank when you look down the toilet, add some hot water.  I heat up extra hot water in my electric kettle to help ease things up and get everything moving.  

Whatever you do, don't let things build up and avoid the problem.  Keep everything moving and use plenty of water and the right products.  

Properly Clean and Flush!

Once you are at the end of your trip, give everything a really good clean and flush.  We have a black tank flush system on our RV.  A couple of months ago, I noticed that our black tank flush inlet was leaking both on the outside of our RV and inside under our cabinet.  I decided to switch out the inlet for a new Valterra black tank inlet.  This seems to have corrected the issues.  This is a 10 minute job that is worth every bit of effort!

Our original black tank flush was not working well anymore, so I changed out the inlet with this Valterra replacement.  It is well built and works much better!

The black tank flush system is a key piece of equipment.  And I encourage anyone shopping for an RV to purchase one that has this feature.  The black tank flush is an excellent way to keep a healthy sewer system.  Here is what I recommend to flushing your system well:
  1. Empty your black tank by pulling the lever and letting everything drain out.  
  2. Next, close the black tank off.
  3. Set a timer for 5 minutes and flush with the tank closed.
  4. Pull the lever to the black tank after the five minutes and allow everything to flush for 15 minutes with the black tank open.
  5. Close the black tank off again for 5 more minutes.
  6. Pull the lever and allow everything to drain and assess how dirty things are.
  7. Repeat steps 5 and 6 several times until you get a clear water draining through.
  8. Allow it to run for 5 more minutes with the black tank open.
  9. Drain, disconnect and rinse the sewer hose.
This may sound like a lot of steps, but it works.  And don't cut corners here!  If you skimp on the amount of time you allow to flush your tanks, you will regret this greatly!

And, if you still feel like things are a problem, and are towing between spots, drop a bag of ice down the toilet.  The ice sloshing around with a drop in will clean everything out and help get things going.  We have done this more than once!

It may sound nuts, but hot water and ice are ironically your friends when it comes to your black tank.  Use them both and often to help ensure that you keep your tanks really clean and clear!

The last cleaning agent that I use is the Tank Blaster system from Thetford.  This treatment can be used for grey and black tanks.  I highly recommend it for getting things well scrubbed internally.  

Black tanks are not scary, and they are meant to be used.  If you get into a bind, no pun intended, you can sort it all out.  It is important that you learn how to care for you black tank system and are confident enough to tackle problems when they arise.  

If you go the Geo Method for maintaining your tanks, this is what you will need.  Click on the link below to see the original post from my friend Christy on the Geo Method!

Hopefully, this post will help you.  I do only use RV specific products in our travel trailer.  I have a friend that believes whole heartedly in the Geo Method for maintaining her black tank.  I won't say she is wrong.  It is just different from what I do.  You have to choose what is right for you.  But, having a system and process for dealing with your black tank will serve you well over time and help you to enjoy using your RV more!  

This is the least fun part of RV ownership, but all of the fun we have on the road makes it all worth it.  And unless you are planning on using the bath house, it is as necessary part of the process!

Until next time...

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