Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Sh!tter's Full - RV Holding Tank Problems

One afternoon as I came in the door when I arrived home after work, I heard my husband's voice from somewhere in the bowels of the RV, "Don't use the bathroom!"   He knows I usually head in that general direction after my hour-long commute home on the bus.  When I asked him what was wrong, he answered "shitter's full" quoting one of the scenes from the movie Christmas Vacation that we've joked about many times since we started thinking about living in our RV.

Our 5th wheel is pretty basic and doesn't have a black water tank flushing system. When we hooked up our sewer pipe to the RV Park sewer system we just left the valve to the tank open to the sewer pipe to drain continuously.  Apparently that may not have been a good idea - another newbie mistake. Now the sewer line was clogged and the tank was full.

There is something very ominous about looking into a toilet with a full holding tank.  Fortunately the RV Park has a nice shower facility available to guests which includes toilets, so we schlepped up the road and made use of the park facilities for the rest of the day and night while we searched the internet to look for ideas of how to unclog our toilet.

RV Park Shower and Bathroom
There were all sorts of after-market sewer flushing systems out there available on Amazon.

But of course, even with Amazon Prime and free 2-day shipping we really didn't want to wait two days to fix our sewer problem.  There are were a couple of places that sell RV supplies about 25 miles away, but several hardware stores that are much closer.  So first thing the next morning my husband stopped at the hardware store to look for some ideas before driving all the way to the nearest RV specialty supply business.   He saw a ten foot length of 1/2" ENT flexible blue conduit  for about 3 bucks and decided to buy some to use to make a snake.

Corrugated flexible 1/2" ENT Flex Conduit-  end sealed with duct tape
He left the black water tank valve open to the sewer pipe outside.  Then he went inside the RV, wrapped one end of the tube with duct tape to seal one end, shut off the water, opened the toilet flush valve and snaked the tubing down the hole a couple of times.

Using a homemade snake to unclog the RV waste tank
Success!  The clog was broken up and the tank emptied.  Fixed for less than $5.  He then filled a bucket with water and flushed the system by pouring a couple of gallons of water down the toilet.  We have since left the black water tank valve closed and only open as necessary when the tank gets about 2/3 full.  After opening the valve to empty the tank, he always flushes it with a bucket or two of water.  He then shuts the black water tank valve again and adds a package of holding tank deodorant from the toilet.

We've had no problems with clogs in the 4 months since he started using this process.

Camping World

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