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Author Topic: Black Tank Issues  (Read 3882 times)
captain ron
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« on: March 08, 2007, 08:47:42 PM »

I need to re-plum my black tank, it now runs through the floor and is too low for a decent drop in the hose to sewer connection at the campground`I'm staying at. I may pull the tank once I get it empty (it's clogged now) and raise it the few inches that I have to spare. I'm also thinking about putting a small gray tank above it on the passenger side and have it dump into the black to help clean it out but also have another drain in gray tank for times I need to dump it without dumping black. Any suggestions on any devices that help flush or unplug the black tank that I should add when I re-plum it?
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« Reply #1 on: March 08, 2007, 09:08:19 PM »

The best unclogging device I found was a 3" pipe cap with a hose connection on it.  Before I got the jest of how my system worked, my black tank also clogged up.  Bought that cap, attached the cap to the sewer outlet (be somewhere where you can hose down the bit of sewer junk that might come out)hooked up the hose, turned it on, then opened the valve, and in just a couple of seconds all was clear-turned off the water, closed the valve (only clear water came back out) then dumped it normally.  Simple, low cost.
Now what I do, after dumping, will fill my toilet to the brim twice and dump that as an initial charge.  It is about 5 gal, and I figured would fill the drain pipes with clear water keeping the clogging paper and solids out until they are flowing out through the sewer hose.  Good Luck, TomC
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« Reply #2 on: March 09, 2007, 05:58:16 AM »

sounds like you are maybe leaving your dump valve open while parked at the park. Suggest you not do this. Instead, let the tank fill to 3/4 and then dump it all at once. Maybe once a week or so.  Also, I'd suggest you let the grey water run into the tank so you get more liquid in there to help break down the solids.

There's a fitting with a hose connection you can put on your dump that allows you to push water back up the dump line. Check your camping store.

There's also a device called a Sewer Solution that you can attach to your dump valve and use a garden hose to help dump through another garden hose. The pressure of the shore line breaks up the solids and pumps it out with the shore water. There's also a switch to allow you to shoot cleaning water up into the tank.

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« Reply #3 on: March 09, 2007, 07:58:21 AM »

This is an issue I've been thinking about as a lot of conversions just put the tanks on the cargo floor and that leaves no room for downflow. I seen a Motot home that used a big flat water tank on the bottom and then put black and gray over it. I am going to try to emulate that design..  Jerry
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« Reply #4 on: March 09, 2007, 08:00:02 AM »

 When I started my conversion I noticed that most people had there sewer outlet going through the floor. It looked like a great idea. It is one of the worst things I did on my bus!!!! Never again!!! I've been at dump stations with curbs that are higher than the bottom of my bus. Among other things.
 I've also had a problem with dumping. Not from letting the the product run through the tank either.
 The comon suggestion I found was to put 2/3 bags of ice in toilet and drive around. To let ice brake up solids. Ice then melts and drains out. Just drivng around befor dumping also helps. Another suggestion was to insert a stick throught toilet and stir! I don't want to do this, but ya gotta do what ya gotta do.
  When I bought my tanks, I had them add a 3 inch fitting to the accessible end of the blackwater tank. and use it as an inspection/cleanout. If you are pulling your tanks you could have one added?
 Gumpy suggested adding greywater to tank. Beer also works well for this. Easiest method to add to black water tank is to drink it.
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captain ron
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« Reply #5 on: March 09, 2007, 09:02:12 AM »

Gumpy, I don't leave my gate open I learned that lesson with my first motor home. I just crap alot and use a lot of toilet paper. Once I get it empty and cleaned out I'm going to raise it and replum the outlet. It is also equipped with 2 fittings on the far side that I will hook a water hose to for help in flushing. I think I might install an outlet that comes through my wheel well. Then I can get the drain higher if there's enough clearance.
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« Reply #6 on: March 09, 2007, 11:05:44 AM »

I wouldn't recommend coming through the wheel well with the dump. Should you blow a tire or pick up some debris between your duals, you could bust it off. Granted, the gate will be inside, but the force of a chunk of rubber or a large rock hitting the outlet might break it off inside the bay, ahead of the gate, and that would be an aweful mess.

I plumbed mine to go out the bottom of the bay. I love it. Yes, I often have to get on one knee to hook up the hose, but it's well worth it. I've never had a problem with curbs, either, as Jim suggested. The tank level is always above the curb, and s&^T flows downhill. When the curb is a bit high, I just dump till it stops flowing out of the tank, and then with the valve open, I pick up the hose starting at the connection and work my way towards the sanitary sewer end, moving the contents up and over the curb. Might have to do this once or twice at the most. You have to leave the gate open so it can get air into the line as the contents moves out the hose. I've never encountered a curb that was higher than the floor of the bay. Never had a problem doing this, though I've only been using it like this for a couple years. The best thing, though, is that by having it come out the bottom of the bay, there's very little chance I will get contamination in my bay, which also houses my fresh water system and drinking hoses.

I'd really think you should combine the gray and black while you are parked so there's more liquid in the tank. I think you'll find that with more liquid, you won't have problems with clogs. Would sure beat having to move and replumb that tank and all the lines going into it.

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« Reply #7 on: March 09, 2007, 11:12:24 AM »

Jerry - there is something inherently wrong w/ black and grey tanks above fresh water - there's got to be a better way to get what you want - FWIW
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« Reply #8 on: March 09, 2007, 11:34:39 AM »

This is just my way of doing things.  When coming into a park with full hook ups, I only hook up my elec and water.  The only time I use the sewer hose is once a week to dump the tanks.  Then when driving there is water sloshing around keeping things in suspension and breaking things down.  I know some don't like to drive with the extra weight of holding tank water, but it sure simplifies coming in and out of campsites.
I always marvel at how some people can take more than 15 minutes to get set up.  I come in to a campsite, get parked, hook up my elec and water, then level the bus with my air suspension manual leveling system.  Maybe 5 minutes total.  Then if the car is behind, another 10 minutes to unhook.  15 minutes max.  Not 30, 40, 45 minutes I see some others getting settled (usually ones pulling a trailer that don't know how to back it-which is amazing to me since they are driving the trailer).  Good Luck, TomC
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« Reply #9 on: March 09, 2007, 11:54:44 AM »

I never have a flow problem as the wooden blocks above the tank are different from one side to the other to allow the tank to be slightly tilted to drain side! This tank will completely empty in about 2 minutes. Flush the toilet twice and you have clear water. The dump tube from the tank goes straight thru the bay floor to the dump site hookup with a gate valve just above the floor.

http://groups.msn.com/AceRossiMotorsports/foolsgold.msnw?action=ShowPhoto&PhotoID=467

Works Great... and being round, there are no corners to hold trash or solids in!

Ace
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captain ron
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« Reply #10 on: March 09, 2007, 04:50:22 PM »

Gumpy, I already thought of that problem and would only have a hole to access it with a cover over it that opens and then I could run the hose inside and hook it up.
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« Reply #11 on: March 09, 2007, 05:19:21 PM »

Yeah, that would work and keep it safe. Maybe you can find a boat access panel that will seal tightly and won't leak.  You still will have the problem of the connection leaking sewage into the bay every time you unhook the hose after dumping. Must not be too much of a problem, though, as that seems to be the norm for most RVs and conversions. 

I still like mine under the floor.

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captain ron
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« Reply #12 on: March 09, 2007, 05:45:56 PM »

Yeah, that would work and keep it safe. Maybe you can find a boat access panel that will seal tightly and won't leak.  You still will have the problem of the connection leaking sewage into the bay every time you unhook the hose after dumping. Must not be too much of a problem, though, as that seems to be the norm for most RVs and conversions. 

I still like mine under the floor.



It's ok under when you pull up to most dump sites as you can usually get right over them and use a short hose. but in a campground parked it is usually too low and a pain in the a$$ making for a $h!ty job. 
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« Reply #13 on: March 09, 2007, 05:46:54 PM »

 I have my dump so as when you disconect it drain's out a port hole that has a cover to seal it as you can see in the picture.I have a cover to the left that is for sewer hose  & water hose goes out in a campground, I still can close my bay door with everthing hook up.

        Pete & Jean
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« Reply #14 on: March 09, 2007, 05:51:50 PM »

Niles,
I think it is just a matter of design although it sounds wrong but to see how to do it looked just fine to me. It was on a high end diesel MH that I looked at this arangemn=ent and liked it.  When It is done it actually comes out like two different  compartments side by side.  with fresh watrer on one side and waste on the other side.

Jerry
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captain ron
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« Reply #15 on: March 09, 2007, 05:53:34 PM »

Nice job, I will eventually do mine similar to yours.
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« Reply #16 on: March 10, 2007, 08:58:38 AM »

I like to keep the lines of my bus clean, even when hooked up.  My electrical hook up comes out from a hidden door underneath; my sewer is accessible from the side, but drops down so it looks like the hose just sort of appears.  The only hook up on the outside is the water.
The sewer is at the lowest point of the bus.  Granted when the air suspension is down, it is low.  I just dump when the air suspension is up.  If there is a curb, just have to help it along by rolling the hose from one to the other to create a pumping action, no big deal.  Personally like it that you don't see a bunch of plumbing hanging down when driving-like you see on the cheaper S&S.  Good Luck, TomC
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« Reply #17 on: March 10, 2007, 03:37:21 PM »

It's ok under when you pull up to most dump sites as you can usually get right over them and use a short hose. but in a campground parked it is usually too low and a pain in the a$$ making for a $h!ty job. 

I must be doing something wrong. I've never been able to drive over the hole, and most have a 6-8 inch curb in front of them. I have even been in parks where I was so far away from the hole I had to add on the second hose. I've never have a hard time and I seldom lose even a drop when I disconnect. I guess I just don't understand the problem.

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« Reply #18 on: March 10, 2007, 03:56:15 PM »

I have both my grey and black exiting the bay through the rear, just in front of the duals.  Although I plan to add a heating wire, it could be an issue in cold country if they freeze.  I mounted them that way so I could maximize my tank capacity in the bay.  I put electric valves on them, and also added a separate manual valve thats just inside the bay, in case the electrics ever failed.  All the plastic that is in front of the wheel well is pretty well protected by parts of the rear suspension and inner fender.  I am more afraid of freezing than a tire failure (I run new michelins).  It figure it was a success because of everything I fit into one bay.  330 gals of water and waste, generator and sound box, and 10 gal hot water heater etc.

Having said all that, I did have a failure of the electric actuator.  I only dump every three to six months - I have a 58 gal tank, and mostly its me for short trips, and I like to get it half full before dumping.  Evidently, that did not work the valve enough and it did not have the power to overcome the sitckiness of sitting too long. I replaced the black tank valve with a manual one. It was not a fun task.

My black tank is above the grey one - so the toilet can drop straight into the black one.  It all  works very well. No leaks no regrets (except that electric valve).

Gumpy, maybe its where you dump.  Most of the places in Cal I dump have almost a trough with a raised perimeter.  The low part extends under the coach, so many times I do not even need a hose.  I just pull up and open up the valve.  Usually a little hosing down is nice since it dumps so fast there is a little splash up. quick and easy.
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« Reply #19 on: March 10, 2007, 09:56:13 PM »

My bus came with only one waste tank and the drain higher than the tank bottom. I was upset with that at first but now realize it is the best setup.

The grey water keeps solids down and the high drain keeps the tank from completely emptying.

Why is that good? Because the tiny little microbes that eat waste solids never get flushed out of the tank and continue to do their good job. I've never flushed out my tank or completely emptied it and won't.

You certainly wouldn't flush out your septic tank at home and the bus has the exact same system without the home system drain field.
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« Reply #20 on: March 12, 2007, 06:04:50 AM »

Ron, you said you use lots of paper. Is it the RV paper? It breaks up easier. I have heard to test the papers suitability for RV use is to fill a quart jar with water & add a few squares of paper, close the jar & give 1 or 2 shakes. If the paper breaks up easily, it is suitable for RV use. If it doesn't break up, then it probably won't in the tank either & will cause blockage problems.

Another thing some people have done is to have a 'special toxic waste can' for the paper to keep it out of the black tank & thereby eliminating the problems of 'black tank constipation'. I thought this too much trouble, but they claim it is no bother once you get used to it. The added bonus is easier tank evacuations.

Phred's Poop Sheets have lots of good info on this sort of thing too.   http://www.phrannie.org/macerator.html

Happy trails
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« Reply #21 on: March 12, 2007, 01:46:51 PM »

Gumpy, I know you have never spilled a drop. You also have never dumped in front of me!!! And it is that guy/lady who always leaves a mess!! Some municipalitys have round holes in the ground for RVs to dump. Very nice of them. Just remove the cover pull over and pull the handle!!  Make sure its says sanitary not storm.
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« Reply #22 on: March 12, 2007, 09:36:21 PM »

My bus was converted in í79 and the photo below shows how the PO did it. I havenít had a problem with it yet. My question is: Would it had been better instead of laying the tanks flat, sit them on edge with the discharge at the bottom? With the same volume and smaller bottom I would think that it would push the crap out faster and with more force, lessening the chance to clog up.
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« Reply #23 on: March 12, 2007, 10:08:32 PM »

Barn Owl,

It may be that it would have been better.  They probably did it because of other reasons such as these were the tanks they had, maybe even with the openings where they are. 

When I was looking at tanks for my conversion, capacity and shape loomed more important than just the ideal placement.
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« Reply #24 on: March 12, 2007, 10:41:54 PM »

Craig,

I don't understand the spill problem either. When mine stops running I shut off the valve, disconnect the hose at the tank end, lift it higher than the drain hole and flush it out while walking the high spot to the drain hole??
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« Reply #25 on: March 13, 2007, 09:28:27 AM »

This is a good topic................ well, good information at least!!   Wink
 
I am going to be doing ALL my tanks this month and am all ears (eyes) about what you guys have done and what works best.  BELIEVE ME, I really, really, REALLY want to do it the BEST possible way as I really, really, REALLY don't want to have issues.  Tongue Eeeeeeuuuuuu!!!!

 So one of the things I seen in this thread is leaving some of the "material"  Undecided in the tank. Is that really a good idea??? I have to make my tanks and would like to do this the best way possible.

 Also, would it be a bad idea to put some sort of "Drano" or something like that in there to help with the break down of solids??

  I'm ALL ears here guys. And eyes too, as I would reaally like pictures if possible!

  Thanx a MILLION!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! This is one topic I want to know about and do perfectly!!!

   Being anal about this one,                             (no pun intended!!  ;Dlolol)
        Chaz
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« Reply #26 on: March 13, 2007, 09:52:50 AM »

I ahve never put anything in the tank to hep it break down - the bes thing there is, is poop, and yo add that every day.  anything else slow down or stops the process.  I have 2" vent which hlep insure that the breakdown is aerobic, not the really smelly anerobic.  I have never put any additives, and after I put the 2" vent, have never had an oder problem.  I also don't dump all the time.  As someone else said, it works just like a septic system, but without the leach lines.
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« Reply #27 on: March 13, 2007, 10:07:31 AM »

Yep, the reason you leave a little in the tank is to have a starter solution for the good bacteria.

If your waste tank is healthy, the odor should be a musty one, but not offensively so.

If you use antibiotic soaps &-or chlorine bleach, you will kill the good bacteria & increase chances for a smelly tank. Most tank additives are perfumes & preservatives.

The best advice concerning what to put in the tank - If you ate it , it can go in, otherwise put it some where else.

BTW a lot of the 'RV tank additives' are bad for a septic tank & leach lines & is why a lot of public dump stations are closed.
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« Reply #28 on: March 13, 2007, 01:11:13 PM »

Gumpy, I know you have never spilled a drop. You also have never dumped in front of me!!! And it is that guy/lady who always leaves a mess!! Some municipalitys have round holes in the ground for RVs to dump. Very nice of them. Just remove the cover pull over and pull the handle!!  Make sure its says sanitary not storm.

I dunno. I dumped there in Arcadia where we had the rally. I thought that one was the worst one I've ever dumped at because of the manhole cover. I would not have been able to get over the hole without having to back up to get off it, which would have meant unhooking
the car. I used the hose, found it more of a mess dumping down that big hole then having a 4" PVC pipe to stick the elbow into.

I suppose I'm just in the minority. I don't use gloves when I dump, either. More incentive to be careful and clean  Wink
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« Reply #29 on: March 13, 2007, 02:47:43 PM »

I agree with the 2" (or Larger) vent, especially if you have a single tank or both tanks share a vent. I had a 1-1/2" vent and dumping the 3" valve would suck all the water from the p-traps.  Took a while to figure out why the bad smells after I dumped.

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« Reply #30 on: March 13, 2007, 03:10:57 PM »

Can that vent go thru the floor in the cargo compartment or does it have to go thru the roof?

Also, if it can go thru the floor, could a person have two vent tubes in which one is angle cut to scoop in air while driving and the other angle cut to exhaust the air.  It would seem that the more air circulating thru it the better. (aerobic action)

  Just ventin,
     Chaz
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« Reply #31 on: March 13, 2007, 03:17:11 PM »

Chaz,

YOu can do the multi vent thing, although I'm not sure its necessary. I do have one of those venturi caps on mine, but since I am parked a lot more than I am driving I'm not sure how much good it does.  Of course when the wind blows it probably helps.

I find the grey tank is more smelly than the black.
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« Reply #32 on: March 13, 2007, 07:38:26 PM »

Chaz my vent pipe comes out of the top (side) and goes straight downward thru the bay floor. It then goes rearward a short distance with a baloney (angle) cut on the end! I have yet to smell anything while sitting or moving!

It worked for me but I'm the one with the round aluminum black/grey tank that is hung from the rafters! LOL

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« Reply #33 on: March 13, 2007, 09:35:52 PM »

kyle4501 sums it up as well as anything I have seen on this string so far, short and to the point.

My tank doesn't have a vent, the top flap is loose and it vents there (It appears to be a farm tractor spray tank). I know, I know-but that's the way the PO built it. Amazingly enough I've had no problems with it so far but do plan to run a vent through the floor.

Another really weird thing is that the commode is on the opposite side from the tank (one tank only) and the sewer pipe from it to the tank has very little slope!! According to everything I've read this won't work but it does, even on an opposite slanted parking spot?? This thing defies all common sense but works fine. Go figure!
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« Reply #34 on: March 14, 2007, 04:32:33 PM »

Thanx guys. Being such a sh***y subject, I want to do it right the first time.  Wink 

  So, the two vent idea really is a method? Hmmmm.... Go figure.

 What about that venturi cap? Are those also mounted underneath?

  Chaz
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