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Answering Common Questions About RV Holding Tanks

July 27, 2017

Unique Camping + Marine Logo over an image of a seashore

Below is an excerpt from a training video that we offer store associates to help answer the commonly asked questions about RV holding tank problems. There is some good information here that may be valuable to you, our fellow RVers who are struggling with common RV tank issues.

Happy Reading! 

Hey guys, this is Ricky Stewart from Unique Camping and Marine.

I wanted to take a few minutes to go over a few of the questions that you are likely being asked about our line of products, and holding tanks in general. Hopefully by the end of this short video you’ll have a good arsenal of answers that can help you connect customers with the right products and also help you deepen your knowledge of tank treatments.

Before we start, if you have any questions, don’t hesitate reaching out to me. I’m always happy to help. My email address is ricky@uniquemm.com.

Let’s jump in!

Typically you’ll run into a few of the same questions over and over when customers come in with holding tank issues:

How do I get rid of holding tank odors?

How do I fix my sensors because they read FULL all the time?

What type of toilet paper should I be using?

How do I fix a clog in my black water holding tanks?

Obviously, there are other questions you’ll run into, but these are the most common, so we’ll take them one by one.

How do I get rid of holding tank odors? Well, to answer this one it helps to know WHY they have holding tank odors. Tank odors can result from improperly working equipment (like exhaust systems or seals), improper use (like pouring things into the tank that only increase odors or using the toilet improperly) or improper treatment (like not using good treatments). Let’s go over each these.

Exhaust Systems and Seals

RV holding tanks work fairly similarly to your own home. The waste goes down the drain and hopefully into the sewer and all of the smelly and dangerous sewer gas exhausts from exhaust pipes on your roof. If there is improper exhaustion from the top of the RV, smells can back up down into the RV. This is usually because of faulty exhaust equipment - you may need to sell them exhaust fans or steer them towards a siphon system that uses wind to draw the gasses up and out of the RV so they exhaust into the air and not into their RV.

RV Toilets also have a seal that keeps the gasses from seeping into your RV through the toilet and you’ll want to make sure your customer maintains those seals and keeps them in good working condition.

Improper Use

I mentioned earlier that RV toilets are similar to your home with their exhaust systems, well, they aren’t similar when it comes to the flow of water. Your home toilet has a trap of water that creates a barrier so dangerous and foul sewer gasses can’t seep into your home. Your RV won’t have a trap like that, but keeping water in the bowl is the easy solution. Simply add a few inches of water to suppress any foul gas that can sneak past the toilet seal and stink up the RV.

One of the common issues people run into is putting improper items down the toilet that kill the beneficial bacteria that keep the system operating correctly. This is really important to understand!

Tank odors can exhaust from the roof or be suppressed by the tank seals, but let’s get into the nitty-gritty poop talk. Why are odors in my tank in the first place? Well, the reason there are odors in the tanks in the first place is because when you go to the bathroom your body releases it’s waste along with naturally occurring bacteria from your stomach. This bacteria is part of our system to digest the waste and it ends up in our tanks. It consists primarily of two types of bacteria: Aerobic - the kind that need oxygen to survive and Anaerobic - the kind that don’t require oxygen to survive. Both are present in our bodies and thus, in our tanks. Ideally we want more Aerobic and less Anaerobic in our tanks. Why you ask… well, both types of bacteria go to work to digest the solid waste inside your tanks to liquefy the contents so they can flow easily out of your tank and into the sewer lines, but Aerobic bacteria as they are working exhaust only carbon dioxide and water. That means no smells and no clogs! Great! Well, unfortunately, anaerobic bacteria have no oxygen to work with, so they can’t exhaust carbon dioxide and water like their aerobic counterparts. They instead feed on sulfate and exhaust smelly hydrogen sulfide and this is the primary cause of foul tank odors. So, now you know WHY tanks smell. How do your customers treat their systems to solve this? It’s simple. They need to add more aerobic bacteria to force out the anaerobic bacteria so smells don’t persist.

The best way to do this is to treat your tank with a treatment that adds high concentrations of aerobic bacteria and also feeds the naturally occurring aerobic bacteria from our stomach gut to  promote and grow them. Bacteria are living organisms that will reproduce as long as there is a food source (your waste), water, and oxygen. So, there is no reason to treat them only by adding more bacteria. This is certainly an important part of the solution because your body produces a lot of anaerobic bacteria and we want to force them out, but your body also creates a lot of aerobic bacteria and we want to promote and grow those, so waste gets broken down and odors aren’t present.

This is where RV Digest-It is your clear winner. Not only does it have incredibly high concentrations of active bacteria, but it’s a very specific blend of the RIGHT kinds of bacteria to ensure the fastest and most effective odor elimination. It also contains vital nutrients that promote and grow the bacteria colonies in your tanks, so your billions of GOOD bacteria turn into trillions of bacteria and solve your waste and odors problems.

To add to that it costs less than $1 per dump in most applications!

And it’s completely safe for septic systems and sewer lines. In fact, your septic system works off of the same bacteria so campgrounds where RVers are using ONLY RV Digest-It are literally boosting their septic systems every time customers dump their tanks! This is the complete opposite result when customer’s dump formaldehyde products whose job is LITERALLY to preserve the poop, toilet paper and pee. How gross and worthless is that? Why would you preserve that waste when you can digest it and let it flow out into the sewer or septic correctly? To add to that, formaldehyde products are also known carcinogens and have HUGE amounts of fragrance to help conquer the smells created by their preserved bricks of poop. Think portapotty. This is formaldehyde at work! Smells mixed with overpowering fragrances. Pretty awful.

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So, simply put, steer your customer towards Unique RV Digest-It if they are looking for a real solution at a very affordable cost. They will love you for being the one who FINALLY guided them to a product that works instead of the same old junk they’ve been using forever and does nothing but fill their RV with strong fragrances! They can use it in their black tanks to digest human waste and they can use it in their gray tanks to digest all of the greases and oils that accumulate from sinks.

It is also imperative that RV users keep their holding tank valves closed until they dump. If they don’t, all of the liquid will run out into the sewer line leaving the solid waste to accumulate, build up, and eventually clog the toilet. Remember I said that bacteria require waste (their food), oxygen and water to survive? Well, if you allow all of the liquid to run out there, is no water left and the bacteria will die. Which means they won’t be digesting that solid waste and paper and clogs are going to happen.

The last thing I’ll touch on here is the importance of not KILLING the bacteria colonies in our tank. For some of you all of this bacteria talk has probably made your stomach turn, but the simple reality is that we are discovering more and more how important bacteria are. It’s why we drink kombucha, take probiotics, and eat yogurt! For our tanks to work they need flourishing bacteria but often we do everything we can to kill that bacteria! Things like antibacterial hand soaps, antibiotics in our bodies, tea tree oil, sink and toilet chemical cleaners. All of these are killing your bacteria and begging for backups and odors! Think about it, you now understand the importance of bacteria in your tank yet we clean our toilets with bleach and harsh chemicals? That has to stop! Your customers must be cleaning their toilets with non-toxic cleaners. Or you can go the next step further and recommend Unique RV Toilet Cleaner. This toilet cleaner actually cleans with bacteria so not only do you have sparkling toilets but you're treating your holding tank with every flush! I highly recommend that you train your customers to understand the damage they are doing by adding chemicals to their tanks.

Now that we’ve covered tank odors - the most common question - let’s discuss Tank Sensors.

Gray and black water tanks have level gauges inside of them to help users know how full their tanks are. Unfortunately these sensors get debris on them from waste and corrosion and will read full at all times. Thankfully we have a solution! Unique Sensor Cleaner will clean off those sensors and restore them overnight. And full timers - especially those permanently parked - will love that you don’t have drive around to agitate the tanks with this product. Now, if your customers are keeping their valve closed and are treating their tanks with RV Digest-It after each dump they will likely never deal with a misreading sensor, so the best solution is being proactive and treating their tanks with RV Digest-It so they don’t ever deal with this problem.

On to toilet paper!

What type of toilet paper should I be using?

Often people are told they have to use expensive, uncomfortable RV toilet paper. Now, if your parts manager really likes RV toilet paper you can simply disregard this section, but the truth is, if you are regularly treating your tank with RV Digest-It you can use any brand of toilet paper! This will save your customers money and increase the enjoyment of their RV, so we recommend telling this to customers.

Side Note: Toilet paper of any brand is fine, but customers should never put flushable wipes, paper towels, or feminine products into their tanks. These will certainly lead to clogs.

And finally, How do I fix a clog in my black water holding tanks?

Clogs primarily occur in gray tanks from a buildup of grease and oils. These backups are rare. Usually odors are the main issues in gray tanks. RV Digest-It will eliminate both odors and backups, so your customer is covered there!

In black tanks - the major problem is backups from a thing called a pyramid plug. Pyramid plugs occur when all of the liquid runs out of the tank (from leaving the valve open all the time!) and the waste and paper form a pyramid over time until they are actually touching the bottom of the toilet and you are completely plugged. So, to solve this be proacitve! Don’t let this happen by keeping your valve closed, flushing ample amounts of water with each flush, and treating your tank with RV Digest-It. If your customer doesn’t do these things it’s only a matter of time before they come to you in a panic. Thankfully for them there is an overnight, inexpensive solution to clogged tanks: Unique Tank Cleaner. Tank Cleaner will open clogged tanks overnight! And again, no driving necessary! Save your customer hundreds of dollars and the hassle of bringing their RV in for service - or having a tech come to them. But to sound like a broken record, if they had been properly treating their tank from the get-go with RV Digest-It they wouldn’t have to be worrying about this.

Simple routine maintenance with RV Digest-It will enhance their RVing experience and will save them loads of money and hassle down the road.

That’s it for my training. I know there is a lot here to digest, so feel free to go back and rewatch any sections that you need clarification on. You can also find a transcript of this training session in the link in the description. And lastly, always feel free to reach out to me if you need further clarification or have a question on something that wasn’t covered here. Again my email is ricky@uniquemm.com.

Thank you for taking the time to help your customers. Happy camping!

 Further Reading

Did you like what you just read? Check out some of our other related resources!

+ Why Our Products Work Better
+ Eliminating Holding Tank Odors
+ FAQs


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