Black Tank Do’s and Don’ts

Melanie ScrogginsOctober 27, 2017

Black Tank Do’s and Don’ts

For many RV users, the blank tank may seem like a big, gross, scary monster.

What if there’s a leak and I’m not home? What if the line busts and I can’t fix it fast enough?

With so many What If? scenarios running around in your head, it may be tempting to throw out your dream of renting an RV altogether. Fear not! Today, we’ll go through the basic do’s and don’ts of the black tank. I promise: it’s not as scary as you think.

We’ll start with the do’s.

DO: Use the right equipment.

black tank
CAMCO RhinoFlex 15′ sewer hose for the black tank.

There are many different brands and types of products for the black tank. No matter which brand you choose, be sure that the equipment you buy is high quality, fits your RV, and can easily be stored underneath your rig.

Because CAMCO is well known for top quality products in the RV world, my husband and I decided to try out their hose, elbow, and hose support. We are extremely satisfied with the results, in that, we have not had a single issue so far.

Before we bought our rig, we researched how to empty a black tank. As novices, it was important that we know as much as possible about the maintenance of our black tank. The RV Geeks have a great video explaining the best way to empty and clean the black tank. We use their method each time we empty, and the clear elbow may be one of the best items we’ve purchased for our rig. A clear elbow makes it easy to see if you are emptying out the tank properly.

I don’t think anyone is ever in the mood to “wing it” when it comes to the black tank. Having the right equipment can make all the difference in your RV experience.

DO: Use gloves.

I know this is a “duh,” but it is so easy to forget how grody the black tank and its immediate area can be.

We use basic yellow dish gloves that we store underneath our rig in the box we keep our hose in when we are not camping. The box is located in an exterior compartment near the black tank. I use one glove to put on the other and set the extra glove on the ground until I am done.

There is no right or wrong way to empty the tank, but I would highly recommend using gloves and washing your hands upon completion. There’s a lot going on in and around the tank. Wearing gloves is a good way to prevent you and your family from getting sick.

DO: Monitor levels as you clean and drain the tank.

monitor black tank levels
Monitor your black tank levels while filling and emptying.

After I empty the tank and start to fill it with fresh water, I go inside to monitor levels. Once the tank is at 2/3, I go outside and wait a minute or two (I also take a watch or phone with me), turn off the water, and pull the valve open.

Making yourself aware of the time it takes for the tank to fill and when to empty it is a good way to thoroughly clean the tank out and not overflow your rig at the same time. These are both “wins” in my book.

When you’ve got a good idea of the basic black tank do’s, it’s helpful to have an idea of what not to do as well.

DON’T: Store black tank equipment inside your RV.

This is another one of those “I know, duh” points, and while it isn’t hard to forget to leave the hose outside, the gloves you use could easily end up underneath the kitchen sink.

In some cases, this may be the best place you have to store them. If that is the case, I would recommend keeping them in a sealed bag away from anything you normally touch or use.

I would highly suggest that any and all black tank equipment be stored on the exterior of the rig. That way, there is no chance of anyone in your rig accidentally using black tank gloves for washing your plates and glasses.

fill black tank with fresh water
Filling the black tank with fresh water cleans out the toilet paper and other solids in the tank.

DON’T: Walk away from the rig while you’re emptying the tank.

When you’re emptying the black tank, you should fill the tank multiple times with fresh water. This makes sure that you thoroughly clean the system. Though this may take a few minutes, you should still pay attention during the whole process.

Why is this so important?

This real conversation I had while emptying the black tank will tell you why:

“Sorry ladies, I’m monitoring the black tank. I’ll need to leave the conversation periodically until I’m done.”

Oh honey, don’t ever apologize for that. One day, I got a call that my RV was flooded. When I got home, I asked my husband what happened. He was enjoying his coffee and a cigar and forgot about what he was doing. Let’s just say I was not a happy lady.

Bad. Day.

If you’re in a conversation with others in the park, don’t feel anxious about walking to and from your rig until you’re done. Other RVers will not only understand, but encourage you to make sure your rig doesn’t overflow.

I usually listen to a podcast while I empty the tank. This shows others I am unavailable and keeps me focused on what I am doing. I don’t mind being anti-social for a while if that means my home isn’t under water.

Once you’ve emptied and cleaned the tank a couple times, you’ll feel like a pro.

Whatever your thoughts or feelings about dealing with the black tank, don’t let it keep you from trying out RV life.

What would you suggest to new RV renters who may be nervous about the black tank? Are there any products or tools you’d recommend?

If you’re new to RVing, are there any questions or concerns you have?

Melanie Scroggins, Outdoorsy Author

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