This post is going to be about our travel trailer’s sewage system. I will be describing our philosophy, our handling of the grey and black tanks – not literally, but figuratively, of course. So, if you don’t have any interest in these matters, I’m just letting you know, you may not get anything out of this post, except for the crappy jokes. Ha ha. Sorry, I couldn’t resist that one.
To start, let me tell I am certifiably NOT an expert. Everything I know or don’t know was taught to me by RV sales people, friendly RV camp neighbors, YouTube, and/or the School of Experience from which I’ve received many alerts and notifications. I’ll share what I know, what I’ve learned, even the mistakes we made. I see questions quite often in Facebook groups about the grey and black tanks, so maybe my post will help somebody sometime.
First, while I know many operate differently, we do not put solids in our black tank. We have lots of good reasons. Please don’t try to change my mind on this, and I won’t try to change yours. Just accept our choice, and know, even as it is, you may still find helpful information in this post. If not, you get your money back.
Let’s deal with the grey tank first. For newbies, the grey tank receives waste water from the kitchen sink, the bathroom sink and the shower. Most of the time, when we camp, we have full hook ups, and we always leave the grey tank open. That way, we can shower until the water runs cold, and we don’t have to worry if our indicators are accurate , and we don’t have to worry about emptying the grey tank.
This has worked just fine. I do try to put any large kitchen scraps in the trash can, rather than letting them go down the drain. In my mind, this prevents a possible “scrap pile pyramid” in the grey tank. We’ve had no issues so far, and knock on wood, I hope I didn’t just jinx myself. Bottom line, with regards to the grey tank, it’s pretty black and white.
Now the black tank. Things are not so clear here. At least, it wasn’t for us in the beginning. For the first couple years (yes, a couple years), we left the black tank open all the time, since we were not supplying raw material for the “proverbial poop pyramid.” For newbies, that’s when poop, for lack of a less disgusting word, accumulates in the tank, forms a pyramid over time, and in time solidifies like petrified rock. Then you got big problems.
Since we don’t put solids down there, we thought we were golden. However, after a year and a half with our travel trailer, we had “Tissue Issues” when in Michigan. We thought it was because we didn’t have full hook ups and didn’t use enough water. However, when our camping season began this year, we noticed a ton of toilet tissue coming out of our black tank system on our first trip out. This gave a whole new meaning to the term “shake down trip.”
It seems, while we weren’t creating the dreaded “poop pyramid”, we were creating a sort of “rising golden triangle of toilet tissue.” So we have learned, we weren’t so smart.
So now, even with full hook ups, we do keep the black tank closed. And every three days or so, we empty it. And then, we do something else we didn’t do for two plus years.
A black tank flush.
Yes, that’s right, it was the beginning of our third year of having a travel trailer before we thought to do the black tank flush. Hey, don’t judge! There was a lot to learn! Now, like the hokey pokey at wedding receptions, we gather around the tanks every time.
So, here’s our whole process now with the black tank. About every three days or so, we open the black tank valve, and let the water run out until it stops. With the blank tank valve open (and remember the grey tank valve is already open, too), we start the black tank flush. We “quick connect” the hose to the black tank flush opening, and let it run for at least ten minutes.
Once the water runs clear, we “quick disconnect” the hose from the black tank flush opening, and close the black tank valve.
Now, we probably wouldn’t have to do the black tank flush every time we open the black tank valve. We probably could get by with doing the black tank flush at the end of each trip. However, after the water runs for a while, we do see additional pieces of toilet tissue coming through. Since we use “quick connect” hose adapters, it’s an easy job to do. Plus, once we’re done, everything feels nice and clean, and we’re good for several more days.