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Cleaning Black Water Level Indicators


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#1 Robert Griffith

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Posted 18 January 2012 - 09:25 AM

Other than commercial tank cleaners, any suggestions about cleaning black water sensors??


I saw one suggestion about filling with 1/2 clear water then adding a bag of crushed ice to use as a cleaning method... Then drive for an hour or so making plenty of stops and up/down hill routes so that the ice "scrapes" the gunk off the sensors...

Any other suggestion that you have found that will work???

#2 dartmouth01

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Posted 18 January 2012 - 09:36 AM

I also had an issue with that and after reading a bunch of tips I went with water softener and bleach. Poured in a few cups of each into the toilet( can't remember the exact percentages, pull find more info if u search the web), Filled up the whole tank with water from a non drinking hose, and let it sit for a few days. Before I headed out for a long trip, I went to the local dump station and dumped the load. And then i put a few gallons of water back in, since supposedely you should never leave the tank dry. Everything seemed to be cleaned out after that. I also heard the ice trick works, I'll probably use that te next time I remember to buy a bag of ice before driving.....

#3 Mike Simpson

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Posted 18 January 2012 - 10:20 AM

A half-gallon of cheap liquid laundry detergent (Wal-Mart's finest!) into the black tank seems to work for me.
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#4 Rif

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Posted 18 January 2012 - 10:39 AM

Sadly, the ultimate answer to this question is to give up. Eventually nothing will work. The only option is to replace the in tank sensors with the through the tanks sensors of the more expensive systems.

Many of us full timers or long timers just learn about how long we can go before dumping. That, and the bubble upon flushing when the tank is almost full, are the only true indicators.
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#5 Kirk

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Posted 18 January 2012 - 10:45 AM

The best thing that I have found to clean waste tanks was suggested at an RV seminar many years ago in Trisodium phosphate but it can be difficult to locate now. I think that the problem is the "green" movement as it is heavy on phosphates. If you can find it, that is by far the best cleaner around. If not, then dish washer detergent is next and then laundry detergent. The best all purpose cleaner that we have ever found is Reliable Spry cleaner.

What most of us do is to learn to know when the tank is near full and just ignore the level indicators. There are more reliable level monitor systems that can be added to an RV but very few of the manufacturers bother to use them because they cost more.

One thing that I should mention is that dish detergent is not a good choice. It creates suds when agitated. Friends or ours tried that as a cleaner and when they went to flush the toilet, the bowl filled with foam! It took several rinses to completely get rid of the result.

Edited by Kirk, 19 January 2012 - 09:24 AM.

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#6 Stanley P. Miller

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Posted 18 January 2012 - 11:30 AM

Dump and flush thoroughly and then use a cleaning wand that you stick down from the toilet. That will give you a stream of water that you can direct at the sensors and blast most stuff off the sensors and tank walls.

Without the wand we dumped in a quarter cup of dish detergent and dumped the hot water heater into the tank, that helped but the wand worked better. If you have a long dump pipe you'll want to add the water first or all your cleaner will end up in the pipe.

If you have access to cold water the ice can do some good, warm water and the ice will be gone in a couple minutes. Starts and stops, just driving around the park are enough to get the ice sloshing, no need to go out looking for hills and soon is good or the ice will be melted.

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#7 PETE & PAT

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Posted 18 January 2012 - 12:30 PM

We used water softener and water in the tank and it seemed to help - got chunky sounding stuff out when we dumped it. Since our MH was used, we have no idea how someone prior to us used the system. Automatic flush didn't want to work - may have sat unused. We have that starting to work now by repeated attempts at using it. Can hear it spray now, so will continue rinsing tank from inside every so often and the water softner which seems to be helping everything until we are sure the flush system is working correctly.

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#8 ralph perrello

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Posted 18 January 2012 - 12:51 PM

Dump and flush thoroughly. Put in 5 gallons of water. Put in one cup of laundry detergent and one cup of water softner. Do this just before traveling.
This will not only clean the sensors but the whole black tank and make it very easy to flush out at the next dump. Then do it again at that next dump.
I do not have a sensor problem and never did but I do this as it is a very good tank cleaner.

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#9 Robert Griffith

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Posted 28 January 2012 - 06:56 AM

Not sure "what" is meant by water softener..... Do you mean softening salts?..... I've looked for softener products and only found Fabric Softeners and chemical for use in dishwashers.... Can you please clarify? Thanks - Bob 8989 -


Dump and flush thoroughly. Put in 5 gallons of water. Put in one cup of laundry detergent and one cup of water softner. Do this just before traveling.
This will not only clean the sensors but the whole black tank and make it very easy to flush out at the next dump. Then do it again at that next dump.
I do not have a sensor problem and never did but I do this as it is a very good tank cleaner.



#10 dartmouth01

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Posted 28 January 2012 - 07:05 AM

http://www.amazon.co...27755828&sr=8-1

This is the stuff I used, Calgon Water Softener. It's a powder, I found it at the local Walmart in the laundry detergent section.

#11 Kirk

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Posted 28 January 2012 - 08:23 AM

Don't waste your time and money with the long list of things from RV mythology, as there are many who promote things that only work from the placebo effect. Believe enough that something helps and............................................. At one time it was Pinesol, then it went to Calgon, and I am sure that there will be others. Even the manufacturers of those products disclaim any positive effect from those products.

There are things which help for a while, mostly cleaning products. Most fulltimers eventually just learn when to dump and ignore the indicators. There are a couple of tank level indicator products that do seem to work. I have read positive reports on RV Probes and a much better gauge system than most RVs come with is the one from SeeLevel, both of which can be retrofitted. I have not used either of these.
If you want there are many ways to spend more money on the problem but their greatest effect of most is to lighten the wallet! :P

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#12 Biker56

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Posted 28 January 2012 - 09:14 AM

Black tank has shown full for the last 9 years Gray always 3/4 but will go to FULL when used and Fresh Water tank still works OK on all sensors since I have own it.
First year I spent/wasted a lot of $$ money on chemicals, etc, and home fixes. :angry: None worked for me.

I full time and what has worked for me is to dump(40 Gal tank) every 12 days when sitting. More often when traveling, maybe every 4-5 days, just to cut on weight carried.
I Close Gray tank two days before Black dumps.
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#13 Jack Mayer

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Posted 28 January 2012 - 10:07 AM

I can assure you that the SeeLevel works, once calibrated. I have had it on several rigs. But as others have said, for the black it is easy to "learn" when it is near full and dump. I'm not sure I'd do anything - you will learn your tanks. There is no product that will reliably "clean" the probes and keep them working accurately. We have external tank sensors on this rig, but I never look at them. I know when my tanks are full from the toilet.....for the grey, when in a park I leave it open most of the time, except for the couple of days before leaving when I accumulate water to flush the black before leaving.

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#14 ed ed

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Posted 28 January 2012 - 04:40 PM

There are lots of ways to clean the interior sensors. All the methods have one thing in common. They will work until the very next time you use the black tank then the sensors will foul again.
I gave up worrying about it years ago. As previously said, after you use your RV for a long time, you get a good feel for the tank levels. With us, the grey tank fills first so if the grey tank is filled, it's time to dump. If we're running off the fresh water tank, as we almost always do(we basically never hook up to the city water connection ), we'll run out of water before the black tank is full. When it's time to add water, it's time to dump the tanks. So, I dump if out of water or if the grey tank is full; whichever comes first.

If it's really important to you, go with the SeeLevel system as mentioned. You can get a nice system professionally installed for about $800.
ed

Edited by ed ed, 28 January 2012 - 04:42 PM.

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#15 Michigan Mac

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Posted 05 February 2012 - 02:33 PM

There are lots of ways to clean the interior sensors. All the methods have one thing in common. They will work until the very next time you use the black tank then the sensors will foul again.
I gave up worrying about it years ago. As previously said, after you use your RV for a long time, you get a good feel for the tank levels. With us, the grey tank fills first so if the grey tank is filled, it's time to dump. If we're running off the fresh water tank, as we almost always do(we basically never hook up to the city water connection ), we'll run out of water before the black tank is full. When it's time to add water, it's time to dump the tanks. So, I dump if out of water or if the grey tank is full; whichever comes first.

If it's really important to you, go with the SeeLevel system as mentioned. You can get a nice system professionally installed for about $800.
ed



#16 Michigan Mac

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Posted 05 February 2012 - 02:42 PM

We have a septic system at our S&B. The fellow that pumps it for us is an avid
RV'r and gave me this advice. Use RID-X in the RV but not in the home septic system. His claim is that it introduces a bacteria that is a digestor of the black "stuff". Not needed in a home system of 1500 gallons. He leaves enough in it to re-start itself.
I dump using a see-thru section of hose and find absolutely NO solids or paper when I dump. As for the sensors, I ignore the problem and listen for the tanks indegestional "burp".

I use about a 1/4 cup after each dump. I find that it satifys my anxiety of build up phobia. I also keep the tank with an amount of water in it after dumping. The amount is purely a guess each time but I feel it is ample.

Good luck in clean sensors.

#17 Stanley P. Miller

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Posted 05 February 2012 - 09:51 PM

Rid-X is great for anxiety attacks, the stuff in it works too slowly to do much if any good in an RV tank that gets dumped every couple weeks.

We did use Rid-X when we came back to our RV spot after several months away, a dump of the gray tanks, then the black freshened the septic contents and a scoop of Rid-X gave the bugs a head start.

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#18 Biker56

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Posted 05 February 2012 - 10:20 PM

Rid-X is great for anxiety attacks, the stuff in it works too slowly to do much if any good in an RV tank that gets dumped every couple weeks.

We did use Rid-X when we came back to our RV spot after several months away, a dump of the gray tanks, then the black freshened the septic contents and a scoop of Rid-X gave the bugs a head start.

They must of fixed the slow acting Rid-X since you used it Stanley. Rid-X FAQ

I have used it all winter in my winter spot for over 12 years that uses a home septic system. It never cleans the sensors. But it does break every thing down in the 12 days before each dump.
That every thing goes through a 3/4" sewer solution hose 35-40' uphill from the MH. :)

How soon does RID-X begin work? A: The enzymes in RID-X begin working as soon as they come in contact with water. The bacteria take 2-4 hours to germinate and then begin to break down solid waste. If the temperature and conditions are favorable, then the bacteria will multiply to the maximum level that the environment will allow in about 2-4 days. Since septic systems vary, the speed at which the bacteria and enzymes break down waste varies.


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#19 Jack Mayer

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Posted 06 February 2012 - 09:35 AM

I've used Rid-X in the past in our system. It probably does help breakdown. But I'm not convinced that it does enough to justify its use. We go a minimum of 20 days between black dumps. With using NOTHING I have very few identifiable items in my dump stream. There is a "little" toilet paper - but we do use the toilet up to the time we dump. The same was true when we used Rid-X. Just a little toilet paper. One thing I know - it does not hurt. And especially if you are dumping into a friends septic system it might be a good thing to do....that way you know for sure that all the effluent is well bugged up....

I doubt Rid-X would do anything to help sensors, though. Possibly it might help prolong intervals between "problems". But even that is doubtful. The only real solution to sensor problems is external sensors.

I would never use any of the advertised "chemicals". They are totally a waste of money, IMO, and not necessary.

Edited by Jack Mayer, 06 February 2012 - 09:38 AM.

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#20 Kirk

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Posted 06 February 2012 - 10:00 AM

I used to add Rid-Ex on a regular basis, when I first got away from the blue chemicals that we started RVing with. Eventually as we got to know more and more fulltimers who use only water, I began to use it less and less. After a while I simply put some in after a trip where we cleaned the tanks with TSP cleaner. Eventually we stopped using anything at all. But when you use no chemicals it is probably more important to be somewhat generous in the amounts of water used in flushing.

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