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Alice

First trip is just over a week away!

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We boondock a fair amount.  For this summer we have used a macerator to dump here at our mountain property.  The septic is nearly 100' away.  As I said we start with 3 to 5 gallons in a 70 gallon tank.  This type of boondocking is our usual way as we rarely stay in campgrounds.  We have been doing this type of camping since 1987.  It has worked for us.  For those that say you don't need any starter water, they may well be right.  All I can say is what works for us.  Adding some water certainly won't hurt.  We already took steps to ensure water management isn't  a problem for us.  Our HDT has a 100 gallon fresh water tank and a 100 gallon waste tank.  We start with 170 gallons of fresh water usually and if others are along I usually throw on a 50 gallon barrel for more.  If that isn't enough we can easily drive the truck somewhere to get more.  When we leave to travel with the 5th wheel I  empty and add about 10 to 15 gallons to slosh around before our next site.  It works for us.

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You'll devise your own system and will soon be telling other folks "the correct way" to deal with the black tank. 😉  I always think.... wouldn't it be nice to have a light in the tank and a monitor in the RV to see what's happening in there!  Well.... maybe not!  Bottom line.... no one knows for sure what is necessary. I'm sure there are people that don't do any of these recommendation and have no problems.

I think the only important thing to remember is to fill the tank as much as possible before dumping.  RE: the amt. of water people put in their tank as a starter, you're getting answers from those with varying tank sizes and ways of RVing. None of us really knows.

As far as your tank rinser.... since you're only using it on weekends and perhaps it sits a while inbetween, just do a rinse before your final dumping procedure of the trip.  You certainly don't have to rinse after every dumping during your trip.  Things won't dry up that fast.  As full-timers we only rinsed occasionally.  Instead of rinsing we sometimes just dumped a bucket of water down the toilet before driving off... thinking the water is swishing and doing the rinsing.

RE: your question of rinsing with the valve open.  I would advise this.  We once had a RV neighbor closing the valve to let the tank fill and he got distracted by someone stopping by to talk. .... not a pretty picture when the tank filled with water and created an eruption inside the RV.  

Don't over think all of this!  We're all just guessing on the best way to do things.  Like I said... we don't really know what's going on inside.

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Well I have one more thing to add.  My experience is that the swish that everyone recommends is way overrated.   We had a houseboat  on Lake Powell.  It is illegal to have a gravity dump there.  When I remodeled the boat I installed an RV toilet that came attached to a 10 gallon tank.  There wasn't room for a bigger tank there.  I also plumbed in a macerator that was mounted 10 inches above the tank.  Using a 2 inch suction tube into the 10 gallon tank the waste was transferred to a 100 gallon tank on the roof of the boat.  The 100 gallon tank was suctioned at the marina.  I could easily see inside both tanks and they emptied just fine.  I used a little clean water to finish the macerator or marina suction.  We used that system for about 3 months every year for 7 years.  The last time I visited with the people that now own it it is still working flawlessly. I think as long as you don't abuse these tanks these are very forgiving and will work just fine.  And we used septic safe tissue there.

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I understand everyone.  We have only a 45 gallon fresh tank and 30 gallon grey and black tanks.  Obviously, we're not full-time.  We're planning on maybe a week at a time - 9 days tops, and a lot of weekends.  So, that's a huge difference from folks with 80-100 gallon tanks. 

Pretty sure we'll figure it out.

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You might also hear to put ice cubes in your tank to clean it.  Here's a video for you to see if it's for you..... along with some more videos by the same author on testing various products for the black tank.  Enjoy them in your 'free' time.  By the way, have you had a chance to sit around a campfire with your camping neighbors and discussing black tanks?  That usually happens eventually. :)

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iH6acEmqvcw

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dfTd0Slt_cU

.... and more RV videos by this person (The Fit RV):

https://www.youtube.com/user/TheFitRV

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4 hours ago, Alice said:

Okay.  I give up.  What of the dreaded "poop mountain" that supposedly happens if you don't start out with water in your black tank. 

I mean, I've literally now been told I need to start with anywhere from 5 gallons to ZERO water in the black tank.

Alice, you need to realize that a lot of us are full timers, extended travelers with various tank sizes.  Our black tank is 80 gallons, so one bucket full of water just takes care of wetting the valve for us.  If you have a 15 gallon or so, then a bowl full is enough.  Especially since you are just weekending, make sure you have water in the tank while it isn’t being used.  That’s what is essential.   When we had our Class C we didn’t dump after every weekend end outing, especially is we had plans in the next couple of weeks to take it out.

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Well said, Barbaraok. Nothing to add.
 
I would like to tell Alice that you do not need to immediately throw or give up, this is difficult at the initial stage, but after a while it will not be difficult for you.

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I am reminded of a book I read about live aboard boating, specifically during the winter.  The author noted that there are many different levels of budget and many different philosophies toward comfort.  RV's range from huge multi room condos to small flip out bunk types and many $$$ in between.  (Paraphrasing here)  But, eventually, the discussion always comes down to pumping poop.  :)

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18 hours ago, Alice said:

But the amount of water to use keeps varying.  Sandsys says to start with 1 bowl full.  Barbaraok says 3 gallons or so.  Other places I've been told 5 gallons to start with.  If we're dumping after a weekend...there's not going to be much time to dissolve anything, including paper. 

As Barb said, the differences are mostly a matter of tank size. What you want is to have the bottom of your black tank covered with water. I think that if you take a gallon jug and pour that much into your toilet bowl it will give you a feel for how much water it holds and you will probably be surprised by how little that takes. Ours holds about 2 quarts when the bowl is full. When I say not to be stingy with water when flushing, I mean that by way of the toilet bowl and not by gallons of water. What you don't want to do is to try and flush solids with only a cup or 2 of water. The desloving process probably takes less time than you might think and it doesn't need to be total, just enough to the point where the solids carry out with the rush of water. TP will be mostly broken down in an hour or so(as long as you don't use excessive amounts) and other solids start to break apart in a pretty short period as well. Don't over-think this, but just make sure that when flushing solids the bowl is more than half full. We know RVers who do not put their TP into the black tank but we always have and still do. Also, since your RV has a tank flush system, that minimizes the need for all of the precautions in this discussion. A through flushing will correct a lot of problems inside of the tank.

The pile of solids below the toilet isn't something that happens overnight nor is it looming out there waiting to get you. I believe that you are over-thinking this issue. 

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First of all, ice cubes in a black holding tank is an urban myth unless you live in Alaska.  The only thing they will do is float around for about 10 minutes until they melt.  

My suggestion before your next time out.  Pick up a $3.00 package of Scott's RV toilet paper at Walmart.  It is back with all the other RV supplies.  Take your septic safe toilet paper and put 2 folds into a plastic water bottle.  Take the Scotts and put 4 folds (twice as much) in another plastic water bottle.  Fill them both 3/4 full of water.  Let them sit for 24 hours then go back and give them just a little shake.  I suspect what you will see is that the Scotts RV paper almost completely dissolves and they septic safe paper looks like you could take it out, dry it, and reuse it.

As far as your internal black tank flush.  In all my RVs I have let it run for a couple minutes to help clean the sides and bottom first after dumping.  Then I close the valve and let it run some more.  I have a 50 gallon black tank so with this RV I let it run with the valve closed for 2 minutes.  I then open the valve and watch how much dark nasty water comes out.  I usually repeat this twice.  On a smaller 30 gallon tank I would be comfortable leaving the tank flush on for 1 full minute with the valve closed.  

When rinsing this way just be 100% sure you never get distracted and walk away from your work!

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20 hours ago, Alice said:

I do have a thing about...…...

All 3 of these are quoted to show the difference in opinions I keep getting!  Now, the 1/3 to 1/2 full black tank before dumping I get.  But the amount of water to use keeps varying.  Sandsys says to start with 1 bowl full.  Barbaraok says 3 gallons or so.  Other places I've been told 5 gallons to start with.  If we're dumping after a weekend...there's not going to be much time to dissolve anything, including paper.  When we dumped this weekend, there was certainly undissolved.....

Alice, you have to take about 80% of the advise given on this forum with a huge "grain of salt", including any advise or opinion that I may post.

Everyone is basing their suggestions, opinions, and directions on different experiences and different RVs.  Many folks started out camping part time in local campgrounds close to their homes 20 years before they retired.  They started doing things a certain way and then they might retire and hit the road full time for a few years.  They don't change anything because they have been RVing a certain way so long.  There may be better methods for some of the stuff they do, but with 30 years experience under their belts they won't have it.

Most RV forums have a certain percentage of valuable information.  All RV forums have false or misleading information also, including this one.  You just have to take it all in and then apply common sense before applying it to your camping lifestyle.  What works for me may not work for you.

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16 hours ago, Barbaraok said:

 Our black tank is 80 gallons, so one bucket full of water just takes care of wetting the valve for us.  

You've used the phrase "wetting the valve" a couple times.  I'm not sure what you mean by that. 

5 hours ago, Tom Cooper said:

I would like to tell Alice that you do not need to immediately throw or give up, this is difficult at the initial stage, but after a while it will not be difficult for you.

Not to worry.  :)  We expected a learning curve.  Right now we're more worried about learning to back the darned thing up!

36 minutes ago, FL-JOE said:

As far as your internal black tank flush.  In all my RVs I have let it run for a couple minutes to help clean the sides and bottom first after dumping.  Then I close the valve and let it run some more.  I have a 50 gallon black tank so with this RV I let it run with the valve closed for 2 minutes.  I then open the valve and watch how much dark nasty water comes out.  I usually repeat this twice.  On a smaller 30 gallon tank I would be comfortable leaving the tank flush on for 1 full minute with the valve closed.

I hadn't thought of leaving the valve closed for any time at all.  I may try that, for a VERY short time. 

 

3 hours ago, Sculptor said:

  RV's range from huge multi room condos to small flip out bunk types and many $$$ in between.  (Paraphrasing here)  But, eventually, the discussion always comes down to pumping poop.  :)

LOL!!! 

 


Thank you all.  I had no idea we should be leaving a bit of water in the black tank between uses and never have.  We dump, rinse, close.  I'll remember that.

 

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30 minutes ago, Alice said:

I had no idea we should be leaving a bit of water in the black tank between uses and never have.  We dump, rinse, close. 

It sounds nasty, but you can look into the black tank as a quick check from time to time by holding the toilet flush valve open and shining a light into it. That will reassure you that you do not have a buildup directly below the toilet as well as giving you a feel for the amount of water that you are putting into it. 

Part of the debate over the right amount of water is not only the size variation of tanks but also the configuration. A tank that is very deep but has a small footprint will need less water to cover the bottom than one that is shallow but with a large footprint, even when the two tanks hod the exact same amount. Closing the dump valve with the flush system in operation is not a bad idea and one that I suspect most RVers who have a flush system use. Give yourself some time to get used to the process as it isn't nearly as complicated as it may seem.

Edited by Kirk W

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20 hours ago, Alice said:

Not to worry.  :)  We expected a learning curve.  Right now we're more worried about learning to back the darned thing up!

Glad you have such a cheerful mood! I hope your problem will be solved soon and you will have a positive impression from this forum🤪

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I didn't see it specifically called out yet.  Part of the reason to put an initial addition of water in the black tank is for order control.  Waste in water does not smell nearly as much as waste exposed in the air. Another tip, don't have bathroom exhaust fan running while you flush turn it on after the flush so it does not suck smells out of the tank.

Edited by filthy-beast

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