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Cleaning RV Holding Tank Sensors

How to clean, restore, and fix misreading or dirty sensors and level gauges in you RV black water holding tank and toilet sewerCleaning RV Tank sensors is considered one of the most difficult issues to deal with in your RV
holding tanks. Battling a misreading sensor can be a major annoyance and often it comes when you least expect it. Sensor issues normally come from flawed holding tank maintenance practices and are a relatively easy issue to prevent, but, unfortunately, it is not always the easiest problem to fix. In this post we are going to go over how you can restore your RV holding tank sensors and the steps you can take to keep them from coming back in the future.

Note: Not all sensor issues are caused by poop and toilet paper residue. It is not uncommon to have your RV sensor probes simply fail – to essentially break. Unfortunately, no amount of cleaning will restore broken sensor gauges. You will simply have to replace them. The following recommendations and tips are meant for WORKING RV SENSORS.


What Causes RV Waste Tank Sensors To Misread?

Sensors in your waste tank can misread for a couple of reasons, but the bottom line is that there is something covering the sensor that is causing it to misread. The debris that is coating your sensors, however, varies between black tanks and gray tanks.


Gray Tanks

When it comes to your gray water holding tanks, food waste, grease, oil, and fats cause 90% of the issues during normal use. When we say “grease and oils” don’t think JUST bacon grease. Common items like soap and shampoo will also contribute to grease buildup on your tank walls and floors. It is very common for soap scum / sludge to build up on the inside of your gray tank, coating sensors in a thick slime. By the way, this type of buildup can be extremely smelly as well! Not only do soaps and shampoos propagate odors but so do the food and food byproducts that make their way down your drains. We will get into preventative care a little lower, but food alone can create some nasty smells and build up on the inside of your tank without proper care.


Black Tanks

When it comes to your RV black water holding tank, the issue is a little more cut and dry. Poop and toilet paper are the main causes of misreading sensors. As poop is broken down and diluted into the liquids inside your tank, it can create a residue that can cake onto your sensors as you use your RV. Toilet paper will also get caught on the sensors, especially if you use a lot. That being said, problematic sensors are not inevitable. By using the proper care techniques, you can help to avoid misreading sensor problems in your RV holding tanks. We discuss this towards the end of this article.

Things To Know About Solving Your Holding Tank Sensor Issue

Before we talk about the steps to solving your tank sensor issues, you need to understand that restoring your sensors properly and completely requires a combination of two important things:

  1. Using the right products
  2. Performing the correct maintenance processes to help physically restore your sensors

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Products For Cleaning RV Sensors

When selecting the right treatment product to help you restore misreading sensors we always recommend trying safe / natural products like Unique Sensor Cleaner before you resort to caustic chemicals.

Safe and Natural Cleaners (The best are bacteria / enzyme)

Like we said above, we will always recommend the safe alternative first, so here we go. Hands down, bacteria / enzyme treatments are the most effective, safe, solution out there. Of the many bacteria / enzyme treatments on the market, Unique Sensor Cleaner is by far the highest quality and most effective treatment because it is packed with the highest quality ingredients, the best formulated strains of bacteria, and the highest concentrations of active ingredients. Cleaning your sensors is a tough job, so make sure you use the strongest, safe product on the market – Unique Sensor Cleaner.

Even if you are using the strongest products available, like Unique Sensor Cleaner, restoring misreading sensors is a very tough issue, which is why we are always here to help you get the results you are looking for. Contact us here for assistance!


Caustic Chemicals

Like we always say, we always recommend safe products. But at the end of the day, we truly want to help you enjoy your RV. If you’ve tried everything – including our safe products and STILL have sensor issues, please reach out to us! We are experts on the topic of RV sensors and we can offer some alternative solutions that include less-than-safe products to help solve your sensor problem once and for all! You can email us here to get started.


Alternative Treatments

The most common alternative cleaning methods are:

  1. The Geo Method
  2. Enzyme-based dish soap/detergent.

Many find success using these alternative solutions, but we also hear from frustrated RVers all the time who have tried these “solutions” to no avail.
So, now that we’ve covered different treatment options and discussed the varying reasons why your sensors stopped working correctly, let’s go over the steps you’ll need to follow to restore your tank sensors.


Cleaning RV Holding Tank Sensors


Cleaning Black Tank Sensors

Here are the steps to clean your black tank sensors.

  1. Close Your Black Tank Valve
  2. Completely Fill Your Black Tank With Water
  3. Add 16 oz. Of Unique Sensor Cleaner Through Your RV Toilet
  4. Let Sit For 8 – 12 hours or longer (the longer the better). It also helps to drive around for a bit to mix the treatment around inside the holding tank.
  5. Dump Your Black Tank
  6. If Sensors Still Read Full, Repeat Steps 1 – 5 With The Other Half Of The Bottle
  7. If you are struggling to get Unique Sensor Cleaner to work in your black tank, please contact us! We CAN help you!


Cleaning Gray Tank Sensors

  1. Close Your Black Tank Valve
  2. Fill Gray Tank Full With Water
  3. Add 16 oz. Of Unique Sensor Cleaner Through Your Sink
  4. Let Sit For 8 – 12 hours or longer (the longer the better). It also helps to drive around for a bit to mix the treatment around inside the holding tank.
  5. Dump Your Gray Tank
  6. If Sensors Still Read Full, Repeat Steps 1 – 5 With The Other Half Of The Bottle
  7. If you are struggling to get Unique Sensor Cleaner to work in your gray tank, please contact us! We CAN help you!

We can’t stress this enough! If you can’t solve your sensor issues, contact us! We are very happy to hop on a phone call with you to get you on the right track. Each sensor problem is different and can take a little extra care to fix!


Best Practices For Preventing Sensor Problems

A sensor issue may not be fixed overnight, but you can keep them from happening every night by employing the right habits.


Preventing Sensor Malfunction In Your Black Water Holding Tank

  1.  Always Keep Your Valve Closed Except For When Dumping Your Tank
  2. Do Not Allow Caustic Chemicals or Anti-Bacterial Products In Your Black Tank
  3. Treat Your RV Black Water Tank With A High Quality, Waste-Digesting, Toilet TreatmentAfter Each Dump
  4. Clean Your Toilets With An RV Toilet Cleaner
  5. Watch Your Tank Temperatures
  6. Use Plenty Of Water – We recommend holding down your toilet flush-peddle for 10 seconds every time you flush your toilet.
  7. Flush Your Tank Often and Thoroughly – We recommend flushing your tank for a full 20 - 30 minutes every 3 to 5 dumps.

Read more on our guidelines for proper black water care here.


 Preventing Sensor Malfunction In Your Gray Water Holding Tank

  1. Leave Your Gray Tank Open While Camping On Full Hookups – This will make sure grease flows out with water and doesn’t get stuck on the sensors or walls of your holding tank. Make sure you keep a kink in the hose so sewer gasses don’t seep into your RV.
  2. If You Dry Camp and Keep Your Gray Tank Closed - Treat Your Gray Tank With A High Quality, Waste-Digesting, Toilet Treatment After Each Dump
  3. Never Allow Food Waste To Get Into Your Gray Tank – Food waste contributes to tough build up, grease, and harsh odors.
  4. Clean Your Dishes With An Enzyme-Based Dish Soap – Dawn Dish Soap is a common choice.
  5. If Possible, Regularly Back-Flush Your Gray Tank. We recommend flushing your tank for a full 20-30 minutes every 3 to 5 dumps

Many products claim to solve your sensor problems, and to put it plainly, they simply don’t. Though products are very important to maintain working sensors, the majority of sensor issues come from how people maintain their waste water systems – not the product itself. Of course, some products are MUCH better than others, but no product is a magic bullet, so if you aren’t using the right product AND employing “Proper Black Water Care” it’s only a matter of time before you have a sensor probe foul up. As you have no doubt seen, cleaning RV holding tank sensors is often a very complex issue. In this article we have outlined some of the common tricks you can use to fix your holding tank sensors. Truth be told, it is impossible to cover every possible issue and its cause, which is why we ask that you contact us if you have any questions or are dealing with an especially difficult problem. We would love to talk with you and help get you back on the road!

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