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Old 03-24-2014, 12:19 PM   #1
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Do we waste good water on holding tanks?

Caution.
I'll start with my mini rant from another forum.

Quote:
Originally Posted by copied
A black tank should be empty before sitting for extended periods.
Quote:
Originally Posted by me
I agree if the ambient temperatures go below freezing. Otherwise empty tanks make more sense for over the road units (fuel economy) as opposed to units in storage, but I guess if you dump before traveling then they are empty for storage.
Quote:
Originally Posted by copied
If the tank is low when you want to drain it simply add water until it is at least 2/3 full, then drain.
Quote:
Originally Posted by me
Not to be argumentative, but where does this stuff come from????

Someone please provide some scientific study and documentation for this.

I operated and managed biological waste water treatment systems for years. Many of our workers could not get their arms around the fact that we were dealing with s**t. No matter how much lipstick is put on the pig, it is still s**t. If it is diluted... it is still s**t.

Whether some solids are left in the drained poly holding tank or it is "somewhat" flushed out with good, clean, treated potable drinking water it is still just sh*t.

There is nothing in your s**t which will degrade the plastic tank more quickly whether it is diluted s**t or straight s**t. Adding or flushing with good clean potable water is a waste of resources. If you think that it will help your tank level monitor system operate more reliably, you are kidding youselves and wasting good water. RV tank level monitoring systems are inherently unreliable. Accept that as fact.

After you drain any black water tank there will be residual solids. The next time the tank is again filled with feely flowing liquids, and rumbles down the highway, those solids will again become free flowing. Edit: Some people like to dump a bag of ice down the toilet before traveling. The idea is that the ice will help scrape things loose. That seems reasonable to me and is easy to do.

Please, please, please accept that black water is s**t. There is no amount of rinsing or other politically correct operations which will change that. In your home all your s**t just goes down a pipe and you never need to deal with it. If you have an RV and holding tanks then you lose that insulation from reality.

Just learn to live with the s**t as others in the service industry know is the truth. No matter how much effort, money, and fussy things that you do as an RV owner you are still dealing with s**t.

Sorry to go on.

:cheers:
vic
Quote:
Originally Posted by copied1
Oh MY! We must have tipped Vic's button! opcorn:
Quote:
Originally Posted by me
It is a bit of a hot button for me. Many people camp in areas out west which are under severe drought conditions. Filling any holding tank (black or gray) with perfectly good potable water just to feel better about dumping it is a terrible waste of resources.

Black water tanks don't need to be clean. They are designed for the intended use. There are chemicals to help control odor. To me the idea that the tank needs to be "cleaned" is an indication of someone just not understanding the situation at all. Dumping some ice in as you describe [with a bit of level in the tank] will prevent any excessive buildup of solids.

Not worrying about holding tanks being clean will help make a greener camping experience.

Quote:
Originally Posted by copied1
Freezing tanks... Well maybe possible to break a tank if it's near full and freezes solid.. or a line.
Freezing of the poly tank would not be my concern at all. What I worry about is the connected hard PVC pipe, valves, etc. They are a low collection point. For that reason I always dump a bit of propylene glycol antifreeze into my emptied tanks for winter storage.
:2cents:
vic
Quote:
Originally Posted by copied3
... It isn't a matter of "clean", it is a matter of flushing out solids....
Quote:
Originally Posted by me
...
I've heard the flushing out solids comment before. I can see where it can be a problem for "condo on wheels" units which never travel. The stuff can pile up under the toilet inlet over time. My problem is that there are a bunch of people wasting a bunch of potable water because they "might" have a problem with solids buildup. If you travel at all with your RV then the risk is minimal because everything gets sloshed around.

So my take is that you should just drain your tanks. Want to flush? After first emptying the black tank, capping the main outlet and opening the gray water to black water valves for level equalization can provide "free" black tank flush water from the gray tank. The basic procedure is: With gray valves closed, dump the black tank. Close the black valve. Cap the outlet. Open the black and gray valves for equalization. Close all valves. Dump the black again, and then the gray. Close all the valves and cap. Finish with a bucket of fresh water mixed with chemicals down the toilet and then move on. (Edit: A small catch bucket will be needed for the cap removal after level equalization. That bucket can then be filled with fresh water [No need to rinse. It's being dumped to the black tank] for the mentioned final bucket with chemicals down the toilet. Little muss or fuss.)

My bet is that the majority of people will not have problems with solids buildup so they do not need to waste all that good potable 2/3 full flushing water "just in case". Should you have a problem with solids then a pressure hose fed up into the outlet to break things loose will likely work. A bit messy, but not the end of the world.

Everyone is for the environment until it actually affects their lifestyle. Seems to me that people should try not wasting potable water on holding tanks and see what happens. I think that it will work out just fine for them.

:2cents: vic
Quote:
Originally Posted by copied4
I've always dumped any tank on any MH I've owned any time I felt like it never worried once about any levels. I always dump black first then gray to clean up the exit port. Then I add some water in the black and use black tank additives. If The sensors ever stop working I do the water softener, borax, pinesol, salt mixture, fill with hot water drive around let it sit and dump - instant clean sensors.
Quote:
Originally Posted by me
I did the Google on the internets. I'm not interested enough to dig very deep, but here's a start if you're interested.
Here's one example of where the 2/3 full black tank dump philosophy makes sense.
******************

•Only dump when tanks are nearly full. When parking at a campground, hook up your sewer line if you wish, but don’t open the valves to dump until your tank is at least two thirds full. This will ensure that the weight of the collected waste water pushes everything through the lines rather than building up a little at a time and causing a clog. Keeping the valves closed until you are ready to dump will also keep the smells of the sewer system from drifting up into your RV.

http://stephaniehenkel.hubpages.com/...te-Tanks-Clean

There's some other good common sense information there too.
******************


What they are saying is that you are better off dumping in batches than letting the RV tank(s) trickle into the provided site waste piping.

Believe it or not, there is science to dealing with poo (to use Old Crows's word). The pitch or incline of waste piping is critical. Too little pitch and the water and solids won't move. Too much pitch and the solids lay on the bottom and the free water just runs over the top and leaves the solids behind. The ideal situation is when the pipe has a pitch which allows the free water to build up behind the solids and move them along with the flow.

I'm not a plumber by trade, but I recall that 1/4" per ten feet of pipe run is a pitch which works.

Back to your RV.
It is next to impossible to maintain a proper pitch from an RV to the provided site waste water hookup. When you add to that the corrugated, flexible hoses which are commonly connected, it should be pretty clear why using a batching method for dumping is preferred. If the waste and water are allowed to trickle out into the improperly pitched ribbed flex hoses then clogging is almost unavoidable.

So when you are connected to a provided waste hookup for extended periods of time, the 2/3 rule makes sense. That said, it becomes much less critical with a frequently moved RV. The solids don't build as much and are sloshed around when the vehicle moves. Given flush water mixed in with the solids, the relatively smooth tank outlet piping, and the effluent flowing to a free flowing hose to a dump station the tanks can be effectively emptied at much lower tank levels than 2/3.

This is a link to a revision draft for NFPA 1192. It contains a bunch of interesting information and some references to other standards relative to RV's. I post it because no registration or membership is required to view it as some other versions seem to require. I find it to be interesting information.

http://www.nfpa.org/Assets/files/Abo..._F2013_FDR.pdf

vic
My reason for posting all of this is to ask these questions:
What are you doing to conserve our increasingly precious fresh water?
If you have tried to conserve, what has or hasn't worked for you?

Please reply with actual experience, not with fears spurred by internet searches of what "might" happen if you don't maintain "clean enough" holding tanks.

vic
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Old 03-24-2014, 01:00 PM   #2
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Me thinks you protest too much.
A lot of that precious fresh water gets dumped on the ground when the RV leaves the campground and dumps their fresh water tank.
The "be green" philosophy can only go so far. How much pollution and carbon footprint is created by manufacturing RVs? How much gas is used to haul these gas innefficient vehicles across the country to camping sites? How many trees and plants are cut down to make camping sites in State Parks? How much air pollution occurs from having campfires?
None of this is "essential" or a requirement for our existence. It is all "luxury" and contributes to pollution, similar to the magnum opus you've posted about wasting precious water.
We all know this hobby of ours uses precious resources. I suppose we can all recycle our RVs and stay at home in our caves with the lights out and the heat off. I for one do not intend to give up my RV or the pleasure of camping.

I hope you realize I have stretched things in my response to make a point.
Do whatever you want with your black tank. I'll manage mine the best way I see fit.
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Old 03-24-2014, 01:22 PM   #3
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Gee. Thanks for the reply, but it does not really answer what I asked. My post is somewhat over the top to perhaps get people thinking. So yes, my post is also exaggerated.

I'm really not trying to debate the issue, I asked for input from those who may have not wanted to just squander more resources than necessary. I'm certainly not asking for people to stop their recreational activities.

Maybe you could start another thread for debate? Call me out if you wish.

Back to topic maybe?

What are you doing to conserve our increasingly precious fresh water?

If you have tried to conserve, what has or hasn't worked for you?


vic

Quote:
Originally Posted by dewey02 View Post
Me thinks you protest too much.
A lot of that precious fresh water gets dumped on the ground when the RV leaves the campground and dumps their fresh water tank.
The "be green" philosophy can only go so far. How much pollution and carbon footprint is created by manufacturing RVs? How much gas is used to haul these gas innefficient vehicles across the country to camping sites? How many trees and plants are cut down to make camping sites in State Parks? How much air pollution occurs from having campfires?
None of this is "essential" or a requirement for our existence. It is all "luxury" and contributes to pollution, similar to the magnum opus you've posted about wasting precious water.
We all know this hobby of ours uses precious resources. I suppose we can all recycle our RVs and stay at home in our caves with the lights out and the heat off. I for one do not intend to give up my RV or the pleasure of camping.

I hope you realize I have stretched things in my response to make a point.
Do whatever you want with your black tank. I'll manage mine the best way I see fit.
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Old 03-24-2014, 01:26 PM   #4
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I think I'm going to start using the grey water more to top off my black tank. Apparently this is somewhat common practice and wouldn't be much of a hassle for me at all. I'll just hook up my hose adapter, fill a 5-gallon bucket or two each evening from the grey tank and dump it in the toilet just before my nightly shower. It's got to be better than dumping basically clean water down the drain when I could be using it again.

That should add enough purely liquid volume to the black tank while removing the required amount from the grey tank to get a good flush. Then hopefully I won't need to run my black tank flush as long...

Honestly, I've felt kind of bad dumping gallons of fresh water into my black tank just to get a full flush. The above process sits better with me.
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Old 03-24-2014, 02:29 PM   #5
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We conserve a whole lot of water when we RV. Our shower tank holds 32.5 gallons of water, and the wife and I can make that storage last for 5 or 6 days - we take very efficient showers. So 32.5 gallons of water last for 12 showers, instead of for 2 showers.

Also, RV toilets flush with maybe 1 pint of water, instead of with several gallons.

For the galley tank, conservation is likewise needed as to not fill up the galley tank.

So RV'ing is very green, environmentally friendly and cuddly.
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Old 03-24-2014, 03:55 PM   #6
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Question #1. Nothing.

Question #2. I haven't tried.

The way I see it, we have the same amount of water on the earth today that we had when God created it. The same goes with CO2. Our planet is a closed system and the earth has been recycling itself since the dawn of time. You can do what you want but you won't make any noticeable difference in the whole scope of things.
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Old 03-24-2014, 04:02 PM   #7
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I'm with you on the water waste deal. I try to use common sense (is it still common?) and do what seems best. Good luck on finding the best practices answer, and do share.
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Old 03-24-2014, 04:30 PM   #8
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We do the dishes in wash tubs, then dump them in the toilet to add some liquid to the tank before we dump. Seemed to work nicely this past weekend. We will see how it goes when we hit the site that doesn't have sewer hook up Memorial day weekend. Our TT does not have the Black Flush connection on it, so filling it with fresh water can be a chore.
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Old 03-24-2014, 07:44 PM   #9
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All the local farmers where I live screaming about the drought are "wasting" more water in swimming pool evaporation, washing their fleet of equipment, and keeping their landscaping looking nice in one summer than the collective amount of water I'll use in my entire RV/Camping lifetime.

Sending an extra 20 gallons here and their to water treatment plants, or septic systems, where it ultimately funds it's way back to the ground water supply isn't an issue for me.
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Old 03-24-2014, 07:48 PM   #10
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We (2 of us) lived in our 5TH wheel for 2+ years on a site with a 24x24 garage roof-fed 750 gal cistern water system (not winter). We had a septic and were always connected on that end. We always practiced water conservation, similar to dry camping. Showers were a comfortable rinse and soap, shut off water, soap and shampoo, then rinse; water running 2-3 minutes total. Dishes were re-use rinse water as much as possible as you rinse each dish. Grey tank is no problem, just leave it open. Black tank was kept closed and emptied when full, generally weekly.

We kept 5 gallon buckets under the 5TH wheel gutter drains to collect water and would flush those through the system when emptying the black tanks, by dumping into the toilet. We also had a set of rain barrels fed by another out building for garden watering that we would fill 5 gallon buckets and flush the black tank with that water supply as well. These 5 gallon buckets were our only source of black tank flush. I would generally flush 4-5-6+ of these 5 gallon buckets, dumping as fast as I could into the toilet, for a typical black tank dump. Whatever you can do to get water into the black tank is most useful, as long as you have access to dumping, of course.
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