The. Black. Tank.

The. Black. Tank.

My current volunteer position here in Arizona brings in a variety of people. You really have to make a commitment to get here, as it’s a 1.5 mile hike into the visitor center, that’s after a 15 mile drive from town, and the little town is 40+ miles from anything. We get a lot of avid hikers, and some people not so prepared. There were four septuagenarians ladies who hiked in last weekend and were so wonderfully upfront about talking about scat, and investigating items left on the trail for identification purposes.

I sure want to be like them when I grow up.

That’s my gentle way of easing us into to this blog post.

In December I went to a friends house for dinner and was warned ahead of time that her 9 year old son had some questions… I knew exactly what line of questioning I was going to get, so in all it’s glory, I am posting about my trials and tribulations on The. Black. Tank:

Not long after picking up Sylvia last April after some repairs (the original axel replacement), Sylvia pulled me aside, and gently said, “girl, you’ve got an odor problem.”

I realized I had to do something about the black tank, but not quite sure what. Off to the handy google and youtube for some tutorials.

When I purchased the trailer, my tech told me two things I could do with the tank to keep things moving properly. One, was help with the sensors. You see, there’s these great sensors in your tank to tell you when it’s full. Both my grey tank and black tank have read “Full” since day one of my ownership, and because I am just one person, I have a pretty darn good idea how long it takes for things to fill up, so it’s never been a problem for me.

He said, to help clean the sensors, fill the tank up with ice and go for a drive on bumpy roads to help agitate some of that debris away. Since I have tested this method, it has never helped with removing items covering the sensors, but will keep it in the wheelhouse as something that could help with a general cleanse.

The second tip he gave me was to add a quarter cup of fabric softener in the tank each time you empty… it acts as ex-lax, so to speak. I did that for a bit, but really wasn’t seeing any benefit on that front.

So the google and the youtube provided a solution called the Geo Method that includes using Calgon and dish detergent; other methods suggest to add septic tank cleaners.

One of the videos that stuck with me was a fellow that said, if this grosses you out, you have no business owning an RV. Point taken. I can’t say that it ever grossed me out, sure it’s not pleasant, but really, just like the book title suggests, “Everyone Poops.

As a child, I grew up on well water, and sometimes you start to think of these things – where does it all go. Upon asking one evening, my mom said, “Jessica, we don’t talk about such things at the dinner table.”

That video really goes into deep clean, and pointed out a flush port on his rig. I was a bit jealous that he had such an access port, where you hook up a hose so that you can pump fresh water into the tank to help move things along. There are other after market wands that I was looking into to put down the toilet and flush out that way, but by mid summer all I had purchased was Rid-X. It was kinda working…

July I was heading to Yellowstone for one of my events, and spent a few days parked at a KOA in Dubois, WY. I had the trailer for over a year at that point but figuring out new things each day. Low and behold I was looking for something else and saw another water port – into the black tank! My life was forever changed.

In order to properly flush, you need to be at a site that has full hook-ups, so that you can fill and empty your tank several times. Video guy even goes so far as to say to get a clear adaptor for your sewer hose, so you can see all the bits. Again, if it grosses you out, you have no business owning an RV!

Things were running smoothly for a while. Then, sometime in the fall, I encountered what I thought was a simple hiccup. I later dubbed this situation my pyramid-toilet-paper-monster.

It all started as a blockage in the pipe down to the black tank. I bought a plunger and called it good.

All that really did was put the TP Monster in a different place in the path. RV-Marine toilet paper is a fast degrading ply. My current understanding is that the original blockage was a wad of TP that just didn’t dissolve, and just kept growing.

I tried all of my best tricks with no luck, and getting nervous because of visitors coming to stay.

My final push wasn’t to flush, but remove from the other direction. Let’s just say I now own a long set of barbecue tongs. Everyone was ordered out of the coach, and I went to work. Tongs plus a healthy dose of hot dish soapy water tamed the monster.

At the same time, there was a post on one of the RVing FB pages I follow and someone had posted: TP – flush or no flush. Who knew not flushing TP was an option? I can’t say that I am there yet, but I am now dramatically auditing the TP and flushing situation. This is like the roll-under/roll-over debate: it was about half and half with regards to flushing TP or not. Also, I am strongly in the roll-over camp.

Meanwhile I was worried that with the tongs I knocked loose the rubber gasket that is up against the initial valve you see in the toilet. The gasket is pivotal, and fresh water post-flush was seeping down when it should stay put above the gasket as a line of defense for smells. Another quick search on the google pulled up both info on how to replace this gasket, or to try to revive it with some Vasaline.

After watching the replacement video, I prayed that the Vasaline would work… so far so good, and Sylvia hasn’t needed to pull me aside for any further concerns.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *