Black Water Basics

On the Road Basics

One of the things that RV owners have to deal with when they pull up to a campsite is draining the vehicle’s sewage system. It may seem a bit unpleasant, but drivers need to know how this system works and the proper methods for maintaining it to avoid issues from brewing.

The show “Ask the Professor” on RVNN is a handy resource for those who are RVing for the first time and many not know how all of the systems in their vehicle work. Handling the sewage system is something that all RV owners should know how to do, as it’s key to having a pleasant trip.

The waste water used in your vehicle is divided into two categories and holding tanks: black water and gray water. Gray water involves the liquid washed down the drain in the sinks, tub and shower. Black water is solely waste that is flushed down the toilet. These tanks empty through a single outlet, but there are valves for each tank.

The number one thing you should remember is to keep these valves closed until you’re ready to empty the tank. Even when hooked up to an exterior sewage connection, keep the valves closed. The valves should only be opened very briefly – when you actually are ready to drain the tanks through the sewage connection.

Some people leave the valves open as soon as they have their sewer hose connected, thinking that their waste will simply be flushed all the way through the hose. In reality, this is a good way to build up solids in the tank that can be a hassle to remove. This is the top problem for RV owners when dealing with their waste system.

Instead, only open the valves after you have hooked up the hose. In general, try to empty the tanks when they are nearly full. Once the tanks are drained, close the valve and disconnect the sewage hose from the outlet.

Another way to fight solids build-up is to take care of the tank after dumping. Fill both tanks with about five gallons of fresh water after you’re done. You may also want to add a deoderant or similar product to the tank – there are many on the market approved for RV use.