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Black tank won't drain- help


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#1 BostonRob

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Posted 17 January 2013 - 07:13 PM

My BIL, who is a member but hasn't registered yet, has a problem with his black tank...

"I have a Heartland Sundance 2012 5th Wheel, with a sewer drain problem. It won't drain when I pull the valve lever. This model has black water, grey 1 and 2 in a compartment behind the main front hatch. Even though I leave the lever fully pulled out, the level indicator still shows 1/3 to 1/2 full, plus I can't hear any discharge down the hose. The valve lever still has resistance so I don't believe it has become disconnected. Any ideas?"

Rob
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#2 Jean Hoyle

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Posted 17 January 2013 - 07:35 PM

Level indicators are known to give false readings, so I don't rely on them. You say you leave the levers pulled out, on the black tank also? What makes you think there is a problem other than the tank indicators. Like when were the tanks last emptied? Close the tank valves and let them fill up, then pull the handle.
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#3 2gypsies

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Posted 17 January 2013 - 07:37 PM

Does his 5th wheel have a sewer flush mechanism? If so, use it for 10 min. or so. Or has he tried having someone inside adding a bucket or two of water in the toilet and does he hear it emptying through the hose? If he can hear it draining out then, most likely, his tank is already empty and the problem is common - faulty readings on the sensors. In addition, does he always leave the black water valve open? If so, that's incorrect. He should always keep it closed until the tank is at least 3/4 full. Then empty it followed by emptying a full tank of grey water to flush the hose out. Hope this helps.

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#4 Lou Schneider

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Posted 17 January 2013 - 07:54 PM

First, tank indicators are notoriously inaccurate. They're just a pair of probes (usually screws) spaced about an inch apart at levels matching the LEDs on the monitor display. The theory is when they're dry, no current flows between them and the corresponding LED on the monitor panel stays dark. When the liquid in the tank reaches their level, they conduct electricity and light the LED.

The problem is, it only takes a little bit of crud hanging up on those protruding screws to continue conducting electricity and lighting the LED after you dump the tank. Even if the tank is completely empty, the LED will stay lit as long as the crud on the probes is damp.

So the first question is what is the real level of the tank contents? Does the pipe from the toilet go straight down into the black tank? If it does, you could turn off the water, prop the valve open and shine a flashlight down the pipe and take a look. Make sure you don't drop the flashlight. <g> Do you see the tank floor or is the tank actually full?

If it's empty, close the valve, pour a couple of gallons of water into the tank. The easiest way is use the flush valve to fill the toilet bowl to the top and flush. Do this 5 or 6 times.

Now open the drain valve and see if the water you added runs out. If it does, you're set. If not, close the valve, add more water and wait a while. Eventually it will soften and dissolve whatever's blocking the outlet.

Be careful using the tank flusher - if the outlet is truly blocked, adding water under line pressure to an already full tank is a VERY bad idea. Think Robin Williams in "RV".

Edited by Lou Schneider, 17 January 2013 - 07:56 PM.

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#5 RayIN

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Posted 17 January 2013 - 10:08 PM

Assuming the black tank is full, but will not drain; the first item is to know absolutely the drain valve is actually opening fully. I use a clear backflush connector on the drain hose so I can see what is draining instead of guessing, and it is already in place should there ever be a blockage. All that must be done is to remove the drain hose and attach a twist-on Valterra valve to backflush. .If the RV will not be used for a week or more, add a bottle of Robic septic system and lateral line cleaner and allow it to do its thing on any solids and tissue paper. After allowing the tank to "brew" for a few weeks, backflushing should then clear a stubborn clog/blockage.
After the tank has been cleared of blockage, always use plenty of flushing water after the stool is used. I echo the previous advice to keep the black tank drain valve closed until the tank is 3/4 full. The force of the nearly full tank of sewage (which should be mostly water) will push out nearly all solids, which makes using the built-in tank rinsing feature work efficiently.

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#6 Earl

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Posted 17 January 2013 - 10:35 PM

Assuming you have eliminated the problems of probes and the tank is full or almost full, just get the back flush as Ray indicated. There are many brands out there and available at any RV place. Just hook up the hose and back flush. That should break free any blockage.

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#7 Kirk

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Posted 18 January 2013 - 07:28 AM

My BIL, who is a member but hasn't registered yet, has a problem with his black tank...


So, has one of the replies been the answer? There really isn't enough information to give us the ability to give a certain answer. Is he having the same problem with all three tanks? Does anything come out when he opens the valves, after they have been closed and the tanks used? If the main gray tank is full it will back up into the shower and the other gray will back up into the sink. If the black tank is actually full then you can look down into the stool with the flush valve held open and you will see the liquid. Has any of these symptoms happened?

Base upon what little information we have been given, I suspect that it is simply that he has discovered that most RV waste tank level indicators are not accurate, but if you want useful information we need to know for sure what his problem is. Very few RVs have waste tank indicators that are accurate and stay that way. There are many things that one can do in an effort to clean them, but none of those work very wll and last that long. If the tanks really are full, then there is something very strange going on if none drain when there are three different dump valves..............

More information, please?

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#8 SWharton

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Posted 18 January 2013 - 07:33 AM

We have hd little problem with our probes since several years ago we went to 1/3 c. blue Dawn in each tanks plus 6 polident tables(just a random number) in the black tank. solved our probe problems.

This year we started out without the Polident and had all sorts of probe problems. A couple of tanks with polident and the problems cleared up.

#9 richfaa

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Posted 18 January 2013 - 09:26 AM

Polident?? We had not heard of that one.We will try it. Our new 2013 5th wheel came from the factory with the black tank reading 1/3 full. We have not paid any attention to the indicators for years..
Helen and I are long timers ..08 F-350 Ford,LB,CC,6.4L,4X4, Dually,4:10 diff dragging around a 2013 Montana 3402 Big Sky
SKP 100137. North Ridgeville, Ohio in the summer, sort of and where ever it is warm in the winter.

#10 richfaa

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Posted 18 January 2013 - 09:27 AM

Polident?? We had not heard of that one.We will try it. Our new 2013 5th wheel came from the factory with the black tank reading 1/3 full. We have not paid any attention to the indicators for years..
Helen and I are long timers ..08 F-350 Ford,LB,CC,6.4L,4X4, Dually,4:10 diff dragging around a 2013 Montana 3402 Big Sky
SKP 100137. North Ridgeville, Ohio in the summer, sort of and where ever it is warm in the winter.

#11 Jimalberta

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Posted 18 January 2013 - 09:55 AM

So do you add the polident tablets after each dump or once a year?






1358516018[/url]' post='595719']
We have hd little problem with our probes since several years ago we went to 1/3 c. blue Dawn in each tanks plus 6 polident tables(just a random number) in the black tank. solved our probe problems.

This year we started out without the Polident and had all sorts of probe problems. A couple of tanks with polident and the problems cleared up.


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IT IS A CONTENTED MAN WHO CAN APPRECIATE THE SCENERY ALONG A DETOUR.


#12 Hdonlybob

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Posted 18 January 2013 - 09:58 AM

I had that problem several years ago..(I think from using the wrong toilet paper)
Did it the hard way...
Opened the valve, and used a fairly heavy peice of wire, about three feet long, and carefully poked it up thru the valve from the bottom..
Yep, it was plugged, and when it broke loose, I didn't get the valve closed on time...
I was totally "xxxx faced" (a term commonly used for way drunk) :lol: :blink: :o and took off all my clothes and hosed off, then took a shower.... <_<
But it did work...
Try it, as it cost me nothing to fix...well almost nothing, except a new pair of sweats, a tee shirt, and sox....
Good luck and let us know how you make out..
Cheers,
Bob

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Towing a 1952 M38A1 Military Willys

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#13 Dave & Kathy

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Posted 18 January 2013 - 10:37 AM

Like others have said, if the valve is open you need to free up the plugged tank. Water is your friend. Use lots of it to flush the tank out. You may have the dreaded "brown mountain" in the tank holding things back. There are wands available at Wal-Mart & other places to put down the toilet to loosen things up. Make sure the drain valve is open and then flush with lots of water.

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#14 SWharton

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Posted 18 January 2013 - 10:59 AM

I add the polident after each dump. I have heard of people who add 1 polident tablet. Whatever works...............

Regarding the potential plugged tank use the sprayer first, if it starts running clear the tank is not plugged.

#15 Kirk

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Posted 18 January 2013 - 11:07 AM

Does Polident somehow allow use of less water? We have found that generous amounts of water works very well and never add anything. Water has worked for us for years. I wonder what the makers of Polidnt would say if someone were to tell them of this use?

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#16 SWharton

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Posted 18 January 2013 - 11:14 AM

Yes, I guess it does. What we do is put the dawn in(1/3 c.-blue), put in water for 1 minute, put in the 6 Polident(I pre-dissolve them). After that, just normal flushing. We heard about the Polident from a tech and have used it since. No expensive chemicals or worrying about the environment. I buy the giant economy size from Sams.

#17 SWharton

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Posted 18 January 2013 - 11:35 AM

Random info:

Wife is a quilter and she has told me that freezer paper is used more by quilters than for any other use. Mfg. tried to change freezer paper, had the quilters test it out and the "new" freezer paper didn't work for quilters so they didn't change.

We have used on infrared temperature unit for several things: hubs, air leaks in winter inside trailer and outside, level on propane tanks. Probably a lot of uses we didn't think about yet.

#18 Biker56

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Posted 18 January 2013 - 11:37 AM

Before you drill the hole for the back flush that many have suggested.
Make sure the tank is empty to below where you are going to drill. :D
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#19 Barbaraok

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Posted 18 January 2013 - 01:49 PM

Main ingredients in Polident are citric acid and sodium bicarbonate (baking soda). When they hit the water they produce bubbles (CO2) which dislodge particles. All of these remedies don't really make as much of a difference as simply using a GOOD amount of water and NOT dumping intil at least 3/4 full so there is a good swoosh? Vinger and baking soda will also bubble and clean.
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#20 richfaa

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Posted 18 January 2013 - 04:36 PM

Well we had a box of polident that we do not use laying around so it is now down the john.We use Dawn original for about everything and a generous amount of that is also down the john.Like others we have always used a generous amount of water and have never had a plugged up black tank. The gauges going back to out first "fancy" rv meaning that it had a John have never worked correctly and we learned to pay no attention to them. We are nearly always on full hookups so we just dump on a regular bases. we shall see what this experiment brings.
Helen and I are long timers ..08 F-350 Ford,LB,CC,6.4L,4X4, Dually,4:10 diff dragging around a 2013 Montana 3402 Big Sky
SKP 100137. North Ridgeville, Ohio in the summer, sort of and where ever it is warm in the winter.