Recreational Vechicle

Not Happy with Cable Pull Valves? Electric Valves- A Better Solution

The RV industry standard dump valve found on most RVs, especially 5th wheels is a manual cable pull style, knife gate valve. Most people have issues with them within the first 6 months, and the first indication is when they remove the sewer cap to install the sewer hose, they get sewage all over their shoes! What a surprise! Electric valves are our preferred solution because they work and keep you clean!

sewer cap removal

What exactly happened? It turns out the valve design has a couple of short comings.

1. The Seal Gap. If you were to have the valve in hand, a new one, with the knife gate closed, and the 2 seals on either side of the gate, then opened it, you would notice a slight gap between the seals.

gap in valve - try electric valves

This gap will allow some water to get back into the body of the valve when it is in the open position. This water is contaminated.

2. The cable pull valve has to be mounted in the side of the piping, in the 3 o’clock or 9 o’clock position so the gate slides back and forth like a pocket door in a house. The contaminated water in the body has no place to go so it sits, dries out, leaving a scum in the track the gate slides in.

gate valve vs electric valves

Debris in Gate Valve

Usually there is no issue opening a cable pull, the issue is on closing. What happens is when the cable is pushed, it has to exert enough pressure on the gate to overcome the now sticky track that the gate slides in. When the gate does begin to move, it runs smack into the seals which have to spread, to allow the gate to pass to the closed position—which it doesn’t get to, before the pressure stops the gate and the cable flexes, instead of continuing its push.

When we discovered this issue years ago, we informed our customers about the problem and recommended the valve be mounted in the 10 o’clock to 2 o’clock position over the piping. The reason is quite simply, water flows downhill! Luckily, electric valves alleviate some of these problems by automating the process.

Let’s take a trip. The water inside the holding tanks builds pressure as it rises creating pressure on the gate of the valve. Most gate valves will withstand pressure equal to a 10 foot high column of water which creates 4 times the pressure any RV holding tank could produce, so pressure on the gate is not an issue.

THE TECHNICAL NITTY GRITTY

We all connect to the sewer inlet with the proper 3″ sewer hose, (we will address other methods later) and we push the button in our case, to open the valve. The water begins to push the air in the piping downstream of the valve, creating a back pressure (momentarlily PSI) which is short lived, but in time that water can get back into the valve body. Not a flood of water because there is air in the body already, but a few drops. Then all of a sudden the back pressure PSI turns into full flow GPM. At this point, if the valve is installed over the drain pipe, the water flowing past the seals creates a slight venturi action, which helps the water in the body run down and out the piping.

Back pressure creates the issue and full flow helps remove unwanted water from the body. If this can’t happen, the water stays in the body of the valve, allowing the contaminates in the water to settle in the small track the slide gate rides in. This causes the slide gate to stick, taking more pressure to open it, which in the case of the cable pull, causes it to flex instead of pushing the gate, so it doesn’t make it all the way closed. You get to experience the result of this when you remove the cap to put on your sewer hose.

If you’ve had enough of your cable pull valves, we can help! Electric valves are simple, easy, long-lasting.

Do you have a cable pull? Do you have electric valves? Leave a comment with your experience!

Dump Valve Size and Why we Don’t Make an 1.5″ Valve

Have you ever wondered why a lot of RVs use a small 1.5″ valve on the gray water tanks? We spent considerable time asking RV manufacturers that question a number of years ago while in the process of designing a true 12vdc electric dump valve. (Prior to this all other electric valves were not really electric valves—they were manual dump valve actuators.

We got a number of answers including;

1. It costs less for both the valve and the pipe and parts.

2. The gray water doesn’t have solids so a smaller pipe and valve works fine.

3. So the customer knows which valve does what.

4. Because we always have.

At first this sounded reasonable but the high cost of tooling to create injection molded parts and not being convinced a 1.5″ valve on the gray water tank was correct, we did further testing. We found first and foremost using a 35 gallon tank, it took 2.56 times longer to dump the tank through a 1.5″ valve than it did through a 3″ valve!  The thought occured to me as an RVer; why would the manufacturer want to keep its customer in a place they do not want to be for longer than they need to be?

DO YOU WANT TO WAIT FOR THIS?

slow drip hose - gray water

As an RVer I know that all of us dump the black first and the gray second, so we clean the inside of the hose. The problem is that when it is done using 1.5″ piping, the water running down the hose is a trickle not a flood, as it is with 3″ plumbing. We also noticed that as the water drained slowly through the 1.5″ pipe the scum that forms on the top of the gray water adheres to the sidewalls of the tank, much more so than it does when using 3″ pipe. In addition the whirlpool or tornadic effect inside the tank pulls the scum out much better as it exits the tank. With an 1.5″ valve this action is almost undetectable.

OR WAIT FOR THIS?

water rushing onto rocks - gray water

The decision to not spend the tooling money to create a valve that didn’t have any advantage to the customer, became pretty easy.

What to do? Educate the RV manufacturers on our findings and provide a reducer flange so folks wanting to retrofit their existing RV could do so.

reducer flange small

We designed the flange so it will fit into an 1.5″ pipe easily, see directions HERE

If you have any questions, as always we are here to assist you, whether you want to switch from 1.5″ to 3″ or completely redo your waste configuration.
Call 877 787 8833 toll free or email us admin@drainmaster.com

Need to order a 1.5″ Reducer Kit? Click Here

3 Ways to Prevent a Plugged Black Water Holding Tank

As anyone who has experienced a plugged tank will attest, it is not fun and can be extremely difficult to clear without making a big mess!

To prevent you from ever having to experience this unfortunate situation (or other black holding tank issues) you will need to remember 3 key things.

1. Use lots of water!

People don’t seem to realize that they should use more water than the volume of water used during the flush cycle. A good rule of thumb is to fill the bowl a second time and dump it, to insure you are using enough water. This is just one way to avoid a plugged tank.

bucket of water2. Do not use Toilet Paper in the toilet!

Sounds a little bizarre but you have a couple of choices. Boat owners have always had a waste basket beside the toilet and they fold the paper after use and put it in the basket. Their motto is, if it has not been in your mouth it does not go in the toilet. A second way to do this is much more appealing (at least to me).  Add a bidet to your toilet. We carry such a device called the Biffy. This eliminates any possibility of odors, and is actually better for you. The toilet paper is used simply as a drying device, cutting the volume of toilet paper in your holding tanks dramatically.

biffy bidet - prevent plugged tank

3. Keep an eye on the Grandkids.

It turns out that kids seem to like putting toys, or cats, where they do not belong. I can’t think of a less desirable find than a fuzzy cat as the culprit of a plugged tank!cat in toilet

The other, more common than you would think, culprit that you have no control over, is the RV manufacturer leaving plastic plugs from the hole saw, used to penetrate the tank for input plumbing from the sinks, shower etc., and of course the roof vent which goes on both the black and gray water tanks. This is an example of a hole saw plug.

plastic piece plugging tank - plugged tank

As always, common sense applies when using your RV and if it doesn’t feel good it probably needs investigating.

Do you have a suggestions to add? Any plugged tank stories to share? We welcome them here in the comments section below.

Terminals on the back of the HD Switch—Do NOT Touch!

Every so often we have a customer call, like Mr. Kelly who had bought a new 5th wheel, that came with our Drain Master valve system, as a standard feature with the Drain Master switch. He discovered that the factory had either mislabeled the switches or connected the Gray Switch to the Black valve.drain master switch

Drain Master Switch Front

Frustrating….. but a simple matter of changing the labels (not so easy, or available, if damaged). Or you could change the plugs on the wiring going to the valves. These plugs are either a

4 pos plug

4 pin flat plug, or

2 position switch plugs

 2 ea. 2 pin plug

These plugs are located about 12″ away from the switches themselves. This option is about a two minute process IF you know they are there.

If not the next logical thing to do is remove the Sta Con terminals on the back of each Drain Master switch and reinsert them on the other switch.

hd switch side view

 Not so simple as you now have 8 terminals on each switch, which means you have 16 wires with terminals on the end. (Some of the Sta Con terminals have 2 wires in them.)

The other option is to remove the belly pan, the big sheet of plastic sealing the underbelly of the coach and change the plugs near the valves. This is not a good option because the pan is very difficult, if not time consuming to remove and reinstall.

So to sum it up, NO it is not good to remove the terminals on the back of the Drain Master switch.  But if you already did, simply give us a call, and we will try our best to help you get them put back where they belong and get you on your way.

Do you have questions about the Drain Master switch or RV plugs? Leave us a comment below!

HepvO Waterless P-Trap, How big is it?

Frequently folks call and ask us how big the HepvO waterless P-trap is.

 HepvO complete kit

  The HepvO can be installed both vertically or horizontally.

 

If you are not familiar, The HepVo Waterless Valve replaces the old P Trap with a short tube and internal diaphragm that prevents backflow of air and water into showers and sinks.

The water inlet pipe side of the HepvO uses industry standard thin wall pipe. The output side of the HepvO adapts to both thin wall or sch. 40 or 80 drain waste 1.5″ ABS/PVC piping.

The HepvO® is certified to meet the requirements of ASME/ANSI A112.18.8 and can be installed in new homes and industrial buildings by having the building inspector use the “Alternate Materials section” of the Building Code. HepvO® can also be used to fix existing plumbing systems by replacing p-traps which are suffering from odor or noise.

While the HepvO® is relatively new to the North American market  it is not a new product. It has been in high volume production in the UK since 1997 and it is widely used in Europe, Australia and the Far East. It has attained numerous international approvals against very demanding standards and has achieved an enviable track record of trouble-free performance. There are over 2 million installations worldwide.

How Does that LED light in the switch work on the Drain Master?

How does that red LED light on my Drain Master switch work?  We are asked this by customers about 5 times a week. So we thought it might be a good idea to explain how in detail here.

In simple terms if the light is on, the valve is open (to some degree.)  If it is off, the valve is fully closed.  So in other words, if you close your valve and the light stays on, chances are, something is stuck in the gate path.

Light ON = valve OPEN

Light OFF = valve CLOSED

Now if you are the type of RVer that prefers to know “how” it works, then keep reading for a technical explanation.

Your switch should look like one of these. 

 

 

The Magnetic Switch we will be referring to in this article is on the back of the valve and looks like this.

 

 

 

 

 

First we need to start with the 12vdc power going to the operator switch from the coach battery. If we use a wire placed on the + (positive) terminal of the battery and run it to a magnetic switch placed on the back of the Drain Master valve and then run the wire from the magnetic switch through an LED light and terminate the wire by connecting it to the – (negative) terminal of that same battery, the LED light would light up.

Now if I take a magnet and place it over the switch on the valve the light will go out, remove it and the light will go back on. What we have done is glued a magnet on the gate in a precise position so when the gate is in its closed position the magnet is lined up under the switch.

Battery + —————-Magnetic switch N/C———-LED light————Battery –

The dash lines indicate the wire.

There you have it, simple and effective. If the light is OFF the valve is CLOSED. If the valve gate is in any other position the light is ON.

If your magnetic switch is not working you can replace it. The part# is 5016 and they are $5.98 ea and come with complete replacement instructions. You can find it here.

Chemical or Biological Holding Tank Treatments, The REAL Facts!

As the typical RV’er stands in the “Toilet Chemical” or “Sanitation” aisle in just about any RV supply store they often become overwhelmed by the number of different holding tank treatments sitting on the shelf. There are blues ones, green ones, orange ones, yellow ones. Liquids, tablets, powders and pouches. Big bottles, small bottles, boxes, bags, tubs, jugs, tubes and blister packs. As you take a step closer and start reading the large print, the confusion deepens. They all claim to do basically the same thing!

So, how is one ever expected to make an informed choice?

The simple answer is, “It isn’t easy.” Knowing that answer isn’t going to be of much help, let’s see if we can somehow demystify the buying decision with some basic knowledge of holding tank treatments.

For the sake of simplicity, RV holding tank treatments generally fall into one of two broad categories: Chemical Treatments and Biological Treatments.

aqua-kem chemical holding tank treatments

A Typical Chemical Treatment

Chemical treatments contain one or more active ingredients that are intended to eliminate odors by essentially halting the waste breakdown process until the contents of the holding tank are emptied to a larger holding facility or a municipal sewer system. The majority of these active ingredients are bacteriostats (suppresses bacterial growth), bactericides (kills bacteria), or masking agents (chemically “locks” odors or attempts to cover them up).

Unfortunately, it has been found that most of these chemicals are toxic to a certain degree and some pose a very real risk to human health and/or the environment. In fact, a number of these chemicals have been under legislative scrutiny for many years due to their potentially harmful effects. The six most commonly used chemicals are: formaldehyde, bronopol, dowicil, glutaraldehyde, paraformaldehyde, and para-dichlorobenzene. All of them have been the subject of various regulations restricting their use in other industries and it is probably just a matter of time before they become regulated in the RV industry.

pure power blue biological holding tank treatments

A Biological Treatment 

pure power green biological holding tank treatments

Pure Power comes in Blue or Green

Biological treatments are based on the principal that adding large quantities of beneficial bacteria to a holding tank will “jump start” the waste breakdown process and control odors by excluding the formation of odor-causing “bad” bacteria. A pure biological formula contains no chemicals and is non-toxic to both humans and the environment. As advances are made in the field of microbiology these types of products, such as Pure Power, now have the potential to outperform chemical treatments in every way. It should be noted that enzyme treatments have also been included within this category because they are biological in origin, but they lack the full performance characteristics of a true bacteria based formula.

Summed up in the simplest manner possible, chemical treatments preserve waste and biological treatments break down waste. Both types are meant to control odor, one does it through chemical suppression while the other does it through a natural biological process. Generally speaking, it takes less of a biological product to control odors than is does a chemical product As the rest of the world goes green, so follows the RV industry.

Cleaning The Sewer Hose After Dumping

The other morning while talking to a customer about his neighbor’s gray tank being caked with Black waste, he mentioned the need to clean his sewer hose after dumping, with fresh water from the spigot.

Lots of folks do this, and quite frankly it is not a good practice, especially if they use their fresh water hose! I have seen people use the fresh water spigot, without a hose on it and put the coach end of the sewer hose up to the spigot then turn it on, yuk!

The proper method to clean your sewer hose before storing, is to leave it connected to the RV and the sewer inlet.

rv sewer hose - gray tank

First dump the Black water, and the Gray water second.

(Most people do this and know it is the right procedure. What they do then, is disconnect the hose from the coach and wash it inside as described above.)

Next close the Gray valve and use the tank flusher mounted in the Gray tank, to fill the tank 2/3rds full.

garnet tank monitor

Then open the valve and let the water go.

drain master valve

If the coach does not have a tank flusher in the Gray tank. (and most do not)
Fill the Gray tank by turning on the taps for the sinks and watch the tank monitor until the tank is 2/3rds full.

drawing of turning on water

Shut off the taps, open the valve and let the water clean the inside of the hose.

If you follow our “First in Last Out” procedure found here you will disconnect the hose from the RV, attach the plug and walk the hose out to the sewer inlet. The remaining water in the hose will drain out of the hose and into the sewer. Remove the sewer fitting. Immediately put the cap on it while over the sewer inlet, or in our case, close the nozzle and remove it.  Then take the hose assembly back to the coach for storage.

Strongest Sewer Hose Yet!

Why Did We Build This Hose From Scratch?

We discovered early on that most hoses in the RV industry are designed and built to cost, or for a completely different purpose, so we set out to create the strongest sewer hose yet–a flexible hose that would last through thousands of use cycles without the typical problems of wear-through, rust through, puncture, crushing, and weather degradation from extreme heat or cold.

Thus the POLYCHUTE SEWER HOSE was born

How We Did It

We accomplished this by designing a solid external helical wear strip with a spring effect, without the use of wire. This helical and its connecting wall are constructed as one, from a newly compounded TPV (Thermoplastic Vulcanite). Simply put . . . rubberized plastic.

Why It’s Superior – The Strongest Sewer Hose

This super-tough external wear strip solves the typical abrasion problems and also protects the outer wall, while creating a smooth-flow interior. Secondly, this revolutionary Polychute hose needed to be permanently mated with fittings to eliminate the need for attaching them to the hose, thus creating one unified waste delivery system that works easily the first time, and every time, without leaks. No wonder people call it the strongest sewer hose!

polychute hose - strongest sewer hose

Over And Above Features

We also knew from customer feedback that you wanted a clear section to know when the water is runnng clean.  So we created the Clear View Fitting for the Polychute hose. The hoses are also permanently bonded [here at our facility] to the fittings, to eliminate leaking.  While our green Hose Nozzle is not new, it remains an integral feature of the hose assembly and makes dumping your tanks sanitary, easy and environmentally friendly.

polychute hose arrow on clear nozzle - strongest sewer hose