RV Waste Water System Care & Maintenance

Waste water is divided into two categories: Black water and gray water. The term black water refers to the waste flushed down the toilet and stored in a separate tank*, referred to as the black tank. Gray water is the wastewater from the sinks, tub and shower drains and is stored within one (or more) gray tank(s). Waste tanks empty through a single outlet, but a separate valve controls each tank. The most common problem associated with the waste system is solids build up. Using plenty of water when flushing the toilet, and keeping the holding tank valves closed until ready to flush the system can reduce the risk of buildup.

Should you ever have a buildup of solids, close the valves, fill the tanks at least 3/4 full with fresh water, drive a drive a few miles to agitate the solids then drain the tanks.

Do not put these items in toilet:

  1. Facial tissues, paper towels, sanitary products (including those labeled flushable).
  2. Detergents or bleach. Use a sewage tank deodorizer.
  3. Automotive antifreeze, ammonia, alcohols, or acetones.
  4. Grease from cooking, table scraps or other solids that may cause clogging.

Black tank – It’s very important that you “prime” the tank before each use with a minimum of three to five gallons of water (depending on the size of the tank) and RV toilet chemical. Toilet chemical promotes proper breakup of the solid waste and toilet paper. It’s recommended that you use toilet paper made especially for RVs since it breaks down when wet (regular toilet paper won’t). Use sufficient water at each flush to speed up the break down process, and to deodorize the tank. Some chemicals can also assist in lubricating the dump valves.

After dumping the black tank, it’s best to flush it out with water to remove any residual waste. The method used to flush out the tank differs depending on how your RV is equipped. If it does not have a black tank flush built in, water can be added through the toilet itself, either by pouring it in with a bucket, flushing long enough to allow several gallons into the tank, or by using an extension wand on the end of a water hose.

Here’s a tip: It’s best to dump the black tank first then the gray tank since this helps rinse out the sewer hose.

Gray tank – Although there is very little solid waste in the gray tank (mostly from kitchen chores like washing dishes), you should still use tank chemical to eliminate odors. Prime the tank with a few gallons of water and chemical, and be sure to keep the dump valve closed when you have an on-site sewer hook-up.

So remember you can help make your camping trip enjoyable and hassle-free with the right way to use and empty your RV’s waste water system.

For more tips about RV maintenance and service, contact Mike at mikeb@rvglass.com

or call (800) 551-9149 ext. 2030