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Old 06-23-2013, 11:05 PM   #1
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Blackwater Tank Draining Issue

We're out on our 2nd season now with our 22FB and enjoying the Jayco immensely. However this past weekend I encountered, yet once again, a problem when it came time to drain the blackwater tank into the sewer hookup. As was the case once before, at the end of a 3-day weekend excursion the BW tank was about 1/3 full. I pulled opened the drain valve handle and encountered very little liquid draining out. I turned on the water to the hose that was connected to the BW tank 'rinse' inlet and heard a ton of water gushing in to the tank. But no water yet emerging into the external drain hose. With the 'rinse' water now gushing into the tank (and the valve open) the BW level gauge at the control panel indicated a 2/3 level in the tank.

My suspicion was that the hole at the bottom of the tank itself was clogged. So I reached under the trailer chassis and GENTLY tapped below that point on the tank with a small hammer. After a few careful taps luckily the tank then began to drain.

So my question is what might I be doing wrong? My conclusion, at this point, is that once the BW tank drain valve is opened the waste that has accumulated in the holding tank rushes towards the now opened drain valve and gets caught. Thus nothing drains. Since most of our camping with the trailer at this point is limited to short 3 or 4 day stints, the accumulated paper (yes, we're using appropriate RV paper) and solid material in the tank won't have ample time to dissolve and break apart. (correct?) Thus everything gets caught at the tank exit hole. I do add an appropriate RV sanitary tank chemical additive to the tank if only to minimize any potential odors, though I would think that the chemical additive won't cause any chemical breakdowns to occur in the span of a few days like this.

Should I be doing something differently? Has anyone else encountered this problem? Is there any kind of useful cleanout tool which is made to combat this particular problem? My worst fear is that someday I go to drain the tank and it WON'T drain. And the hammer tap remedy doesn't fix the problem either. So I'll be forced to endure a rather unpleasant cleanout task when I get home.

Any thoughts, comments or suggestions?
Thanks.
Ed
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Old 06-24-2013, 04:36 AM   #2
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We use a homemade concoction that seems to make everything, including paper, dissolve very rapidly, and we never have any odors. Like you, our camping is usually less than 4 days at a time, and we don't have any problem draining the tank. We put this concoction down the toilet along with several gallons of water, and it sits for as much as a month between trips. Then just before we leave on a trip, I dump 10lb of ice down the toilet, and it scours the tank while on the road. Dump that after arriving at CG, then put another dose of concoction down the toilet. Dump normally just before leaving CG (add water if necessary to get up to 2/3 full first). Concoction is mixed like this: 8oz Pine-Sol, 8oz liquid fabric softener, 8oz household ammonia, 1 cup baking soda. Mix in a gallon jug, then add water to fill jug. Pour 1 cup of concoction down kitchen sink and one down bathroom sink, then the rest down the toilet. Hope this helps.
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Old 06-24-2013, 07:17 AM   #3
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You may want to also consider some construction debris in there that won't come out.

Any way you can see in there without asphyxiating yourself when it is empty, or tapping on it when empty to listen for something rattling in there loose?

Try filling the tank full before you dump it also to see if that makes a difference.

Good luck with it. I have seen people at dump stations running a stick up in the outlet to clear a clog. Not a pretty sight!
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Old 06-24-2013, 08:02 AM   #4
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I have had to snake mine a couple of times with a piece of tubing. Similiar situation, 3 or 4 days, 4 girls using too much TP and not enough water. Fill the tank to near full before pulling the drain valve. This will give it enough pressure to push out all the thinkgs that may be stopping it up at a lower fill level. After 3 to 4 days, I would think you would be more than 1/3 full.
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Old 06-24-2013, 08:22 AM   #5
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Is it normal for the black tank valve to leak just a little bit? My trailer has been sitting for 2 weeks with 3 gallons of water plus chemical in the black tank with the valve closed. When I pulled the sewer cap off, an ounce or two of green chemically treated water dribbled out. It's a brand new trailer, used the black tank once.

To the O.P. - try using more water each time the toilet is used. Sounds like you're cooking more of a "stew" than a "soup" LOL
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Old 06-24-2013, 09:41 AM   #6
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Thanks for the concoction mixture info. We'll certainly try that out. Sounds great. Typically we will pull in the the CG on a Thursday night and head home mid-day on Sunday. I'm convinced that the key to the problem, most likely, is the rate at which the tissue paper can dissolve and given the short amount of time of our stay. The paper is still not sufficiently dissolved (if at all). Anything to speed up the breakdown process would be a big help. Will try out your remedy. Thanks!
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Old 06-24-2013, 09:53 AM   #7
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Hey, Steamboat_Willie, take a few sheets of that paper you use and drop it in a glass of clear water and watch how long it takes to break down. You may just need some more water in your tank to let it work, especially if you aren't filling it but 1/3 after a few days.

I can go a week with mine, entirely dependent on how many are using it, but I make sure it has a few gallons in it to start.
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Old 06-24-2013, 10:08 AM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Steamboat_Willie View Post
As was the case once before, at the end of a 3-day weekend excursion the BW tank was about 1/3 full. I pulled opened the drain valve handle and encountered very little liquid draining out.

Should I be doing something differently? Has anyone else encountered this problem?
Ed
Steamboat - It's not best practice to dump your black tank 1/3 full....before you head to the dumpstation fill your tank to 2/3...that way you will get the maximum force and extended cleansing when you dump. Second, I would get a clear coupler for the waste gate so you can see (gulp) the condition of the blackwater as it exits. If you are still seeing bits of toilet paper and waste...do another rinse. Lastly...whatever your toilet paper use habits are at home....try to learn to cut them in half.

If you don't know what a clear coupler is let us know....
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Old 06-24-2013, 10:18 AM   #9
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I've seen those clear coupler fittings online. Will put on my 'to-buy' list. Good suggestion. And yes we have minimized our TP usage habits as well.
Thanks.
Ed
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Old 06-24-2013, 12:30 PM   #10
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Has anyone tried Breakup Plus? I just learned of it last week and it sounds like it should help with the debris in the black tank. I pulled my 30 gallon tank out this past weekend and was surprised at the amount remaining after draining and rinsing.

The valve should not leak at all.
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