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Full Time RVing: The Definitive Guide To Treating Your Tank

January 17, 2020

Full Time RV Toilet Treatment Chemical - What is the best safe natural holding tank treatment for full timers hook ups- Guide

As a full time RVer, it’s vital that you properly maintain your RV waste water systems, not only because you want to avoid disgusting odors, but also because prevention is the best defense. As a rule, it’s always better to avoid a problem than to have to deal with it later. There’s quite a bit of misinformation out there regarding the best ways to treat your tank, so we’ve developed this easy-to-follow, step-by-step guide that will teach you how to effectively treat your black tank and gray tank. 

Best Holding Tank Habits For Full Timers

  • Always keep your black tank valve closed, except when dumping your tank.
  • Always keep several inches of water in your toilet bowl when your RV is stationary. This will keep sewer gas from backing up into your RV.
  • Always flush your RV toilet with an ample amount of water. This will ensure that the microbes which keep your tank free of waste and odors are well-hydrated and holding tank temperatures are below 85-degrees Fahrenheit.
  • Keep your tank temperatures down. If your tank gets too hot, the bacteria will begin working less efficiently. We recommend adding water or ice to your tank if you believe temperatures are exceeding 85°F.
  • We recommend dumping your holding tanks every 5 days. This prevents odors and keeps tanks in good operating condition.
  • Never clean your RV toilet bowl with chemical toilet cleaners. Chemical products will kill the good bacteria that keep your black tank clog and odor free. Clean your toilets with a safe, non-hazardous toilet bowl cleaner like Unique RV Toilet Bowl Cleaner + Tank Enhancer.
  • After every dump, treat your black tank with a bacteria-based tank treatment like RV Digest-It. Doing so will ensure that your tanks remain clog and odor free.
  • Back-flush your tank for 20 to 30 minutes every 5 to 10 dumps. This practice will help to maintain working sensor probes and ensure that no residual waste has collected in the corners of the tank—which can easily lead to clogs or odors.

Treating Your Black Tank—A Step-by-step Guide

  1. Dump your black tank.
  2. Back-flush your black tank. If your RV is equipped with a back-flush system, run the back-flush until only clear, fresh water is coming out of your discharge hose. For some people, this can take 30 minutes (or more) depending on your RV’s system, the dump station fitting, and how level your RV is. Don’t be fooled. You may start to see clear water coming out of the tank and assume your tank is clean. However, keep flushing for another few minutes. Often, a second wave of waste will flush out that has collected in the corners of the tank. If your RV isn’t equipped with a back-flush system, run fresh water (or gray tank water) following your tank-dump to flush out the residual waste in the discharge hose. 
  3. Close your black tank valve.
  4. Add several inches of water to your toilet bowl.
  5. Shake RV Digest-It liquid thoroughly before each use. Bacteria settle over time, and to ensure that the correct amount is used, the product needs to be mixed before each treatment. This is not a concern with our powder (drop-in or scoop) RV Digest-It
  6. Pour 2 ounces (or one drop-in/scoop of powder) of RV Digest-It into your toilet.
  7. Flush your toilet.
  8. Add several inches of water to your toilet bowl. You’re done!

Repeat these steps each time you dump your tank. To ensure that your waste is being properly digested and odors controlled, treat your black water holding tank, following these instructions, after each dump. You will only need to use 2 ounces of RV Digest-It per treatment after the initial treatment.

Treating Your Gray Tank

Everyone has differing ideas on how to properly treat a gray water holding tank. For full time RVers, the method you ultimately choose is your decision, and it should be based on how you routinely camp. What follows are our recommendations when using RV Digest-It.

Before we get started, full timers who camp with full hook ups should know that we recommend keeping your gray valve open with a trap in the hose to prevent sewer gas from backing up inside your RV. We know this goes against the grain for some of you who’ve been properly trained to always keep your black valve closed, but the reality is that your gray tank should be treated differently than your black tank.

Important noteIn some states, you are required to keep your waste hose off the ground. This is sometimes punishable by law and can cost unsuspecting RVers their hard-earned money. Please make sure you are aware of all local laws and regulations!

Because we use our gray tanks more than our black tanks, they tend to fill up faster. If you routinely keep your gray valve closed, you will have to dump very regularly—often every day! This means more work for you and more expense if you are treating your gray tanks with RV Digest-It after each dump. This is simply not necessary if you’re camping on full hook ups.

Besides convenience and cost, we also suggest keeping your gray valve open, because grease (from food waste, soap, shampoo, etc.) will likely end up in your gray tank. If you allow water to accumulate in your tank, this grease will end up coating the walls and bottom of your tank and will eventually lead to sensor problems and odors. By leaving your valve open, the gray water, grease, and light residue will run out of your tank naturally.

The majority of the waste going down your sink, shower, or dishwasher drains should be liquid. Ultimately, your goal is to never allow solids into your gray tank; therefore, solid waste (i.e., clogs) shouldn’t really be a problem. If you don’t already use one, a good sink strainer is crucial to ensuring that only liquids go down your drains.

Some will argue that it’s not a good idea to keep your gray valve open, because solids may back up, causing a clog. Also, these people argue that solids may coat your sensors, causing them to misread. However, these concerns shouldn’t be an issue if you are ensuring that no solids go down your drains and end up in the gray tank. Furthermore, by treating your gray tank once per week, you can help eliminate any grease buildup on the walls, in the lines, or on the bottom of the tank.

It is also very important that you put a “trap” in your discharge line. This will prevent foul smelling, dangerous sewer gases from backing-up into your unit. A trap is made by creating a dip or kink in the line (as mentioned above). If you forget to do this, you will know it pretty quickly, as your unit will fill up with foul smells from the sewer!

Guide Continued Below

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Camping With Full Hookups

Even if you allow only liquids into your gray tank, however, you will still accumulate grease, soap, and residue in the tank bottom and lines. As mentioned, grease can eventually lead to foul tank odors and cause sensors to misread. With this in mind, it’s very important that you follow the following steps to make sure that your tanks continue to operate properly and that you don’t get odors in your RV.

Importantit’s crucial that you make a 'trap' in your sewer hose to keep dangerous and disgusting sewer gases from backing up into your RV!

  1. Keep your gray tank valve open.
  2. Once per week, close your gray valve and fill your kitchen sink with warm water. Pour 2 oz of RV Digest-It Holding Tank Treatment into the sink and then release the water so it drains into your gray tank. Use your tank normally. 
  3. After the tank has reached capacity, open your valve and dump your tank.
  4. Repeat regularly. We recommend that you complete these steps once per week—or when you smell tank odors. Remember, tank odors can also come from a line that doesn’t have a proper trap in it, so be sure to confirm that you have a trap before treating your tank with RV Digest-It.

Dry Camping

If you are dry camping (i.e., boondocking) full time and don’t have access to full hook-ups, it’s crucial that you use a waste treatment product to control odors and help keep your sensors in proper working order.

Important note: As we mentioned before, make sure no solids get into your RV gray tank. The waste going down your drain should only be liquid waste. Solid waste in your gray tank will lead to clogs and misreading sensors. If you don’t already use one, a good sink strainer is crucial to ensuring that only liquids go down your drains.

Follow these guidelines when dry camping:
  1. Close your gray tank valve.
  2. Fill your kitchen sink with warm water.
  3. Pour 2 oz of RV Digest-It into the water.
  4. Release the sink water and drain the sink.
  5. Repeat regularly—we recommend once per week—or whenever you smell tank odors.

Thank you for reading and following our Complete Guide to full-time RVing! We hope you have found this article helpful. This article is based on and supported by The Unique Method, our time tested technique to prevent clogs and odors in RV holding tanks. We would love to answer any of your questions or concerns. Please feel free to reach out to us for help!

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