Recreational Vechicle

Ever Get Sewer Gas Smell Inside your RV? Time for a P-Trap

If you have ever experienced that unmistakable smell inside your RV, you absolutely know it is not supposed to be there EVER! Why it came into the living space of your coach is in all probability for one or two reasons. If you have been travelling down the road when you smell it or enter the coach when you stop, the possible problem is water has escaped out of one of the P-traps in your sink or shower, breaking the “water seal” created in the RV P-trap and allowing the sewer gases back into the living space of the RV.

water traps sewer gas - rv p-trap

The other possibility is that the holding tank roof vent allowed the outside air to enter the vent stack, creating a positive air pressure in the holding tank and the air is seeping into the living space through a poor seal somewhere.

diagram of rv with and without vent cap

With our most recent partnership with 360 Products Inc. we are in a position to help eliminate sewer odors in your RV once and for all, guaranteed. As you may already be aware, we sell the HepvO waterless RV P-trap which eliminates the issue of water spilling out of the traditional P-trap, however, if you have positive air pressure in the vent system, the potential for sewer gases to permeate the living space still exists.

We have looked in the past at carrying a roof vent but any of the units that worked required moving parts. The first on the market to address this problem was the 360 Shark Fin that turns in the breeze, causing a negative pressure in the vent stack and holding tanks. It’s popularity with consumers caught the eye of a couple of companies known in the RV Industry for “knocking off” good products and two more appeared on the market. The original inventor of the 360 Shark Fin knew this device had limitations, and his goal was to make a product with no moving parts that was very low profile and would never allow a negative pressure in the vent stack, under any wind condition. Five years in development and hundreds of models tested, the perfect unit emerged and they could not make it fail in any of the test labs it was sent to!

We are proud to be partnered with 360 Products Inc. and with the 360 Siphon added to our waste management product family, we feel all our products are designed to make your RVing experience uneventful when it comes to dealing with human waste issues.

360 Products Siphon - RV vent for odor control

Creative Ways to Install Drain Master in the Proper Position

We have talked about valve positioning in the past and most manual valve failures can be contributed solely to the position the valve body is in, in relation to the pipe it is located in. Keeping the valve body over the piping, as opposed to beside or under the piping, is the key to long term reliability and performance.

rv sewer tank valve orientation

 

This sounds simple, but in reality, once the RV is designed, built and sold to the consumer, the task of repositioning becomes a separate challenge. You will find that most of the time, a workable solution can be found. In rare cases, you are stuck with the existing configuration with no recourse, even if you replumb the whole system starting at the holding tank outlets.

Increasing the Gray Tank Outlet

Most RV manufacturers buy their holding tanks with an 1.5″ reducer in a 3″ hole on the tank for the gray water. This reducer can be removed in most cases.  By having the gray tank outlet 3″, you will get the actual water flow necessary to remove the scum build up on top of the water as the gray tank fills. If this is possible, you should definitely do it!

holding tanks in half pipe - rv sewer tank valve installation

Imagine your holding tank (pictured below),outlet(s), and begin here.

holding tank outlet - rv sewer tank valve install

First make sure you can remove the reducer in the gray tank(s). If not, you will need to look at alternates (described later) then see if you have 6 to 8 inches above both tank outlets. If so, the valves should be mounted as close to the tank as possible (see pic below), to prevent solids from building in the pipe, between the tank and the valve face, causing a cork.

drain master system on gray tank - rv sewer tank valve install

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

If you do not have the room, come out until you have the overhead room to mount the valves over the pipe in their respective flanges. Now plumbing to the side of the coach where you connect the sewer hose becomes pretty simple—in most cases.

Alternative– 1.5″ tank outlets mean you will need to continue with the in 1.5″ pipe from the holding tank and use a reducer on the tank side of the valve, then increase the  pipe size to 3″. If not, you will have to plumb the rest of the way with the existing pipe and termination assembly.

Our goal is to make dumping your holding tanks uneventful and as efficient as possible. We highly recommend reading our “First in Last out” rules of dumping your tanks. If all RVers used this method we would eliminate ground water contamination between the RV site and the sewer inlet, a common issue at parks with full hook ups. Be an environmentally friendly RVer!

We are happy to work with our customers on these types of issues, so please feel free to contact us 877 787-8833 toll free with any of your questions.

Prevent Plugged Holding Tanks with the Biffy Bidet!

We have been carrying a product called the Biffy for the past 4 years and it is an attachment that turns any toilet into a Bidet. A bidet is used for personal hygiene and extremely popular in Europe and more and more in high end homes in the US and Canada, as we become a more global society. Stay tuned to see how this could be the solution you’re looking for regarding plugged holding tanks!

biffy bidet toilet - reduce plugged holding tanksThe Biffy Installed

History Behind the Product  No pun intended!

The reason we carry the Biffy is the result of a call from an RVer who spends a lot of time RVing in Mexico that is always trying to conserve on water and is big on recycling. He had had a problem with plugged holding tanks due to too much T/P in the toilet while conserving on water. He discovered the Biffy and thought even though it uses more water he and his wife would not need to put the T/P down the toilet.

The Biffy delivers a soft shower of fresh clean water to cleanse your bottom completely – in seconds. No other bidets or bathroom accessory works as well, Guaranteed!

adjust pressure for bidet with inset - reduce plugged holding tanks

What Happens When the Biffy is Operated

When you are sitting on a toilet seat your bottom is perfectly positioned for thorough bidet cleansing. The toilet seat supports your cheeks while your body weight presses down, spreading your cheeks apart and exposes your bottom parts to the cleansing rinse of the Biffy. In just a few seconds fresh water rinses your bottom completely, like a bidet, only much better for your body and your health.

What Happend in Our Family

We make absolutely sure any product we sell works as advertised, so the first unit was installed in my RV. My wife was very hesitant feeling the water would be too cold. I didn’t think so and finally she tried it. I was right (not often mind you) and she began to use the Biffy on a regular basis. We installed one in each of our bathrooms at home and as the rest of the family came over—and used the Biffy, they too had to have one as well.

The Benefits of Using the Biffy

The Biffy bidet doesn’t require manual dexterity or coordination and so it is perfect for disabled or elderly persons. Because the Biffy bidet cleans without touching, the chance for fecal contamination on hands, skin, clothing, and bathroom fixtures can be eliminated. The Biffy bidet also provides gentle, non irritating care for many other health problems including hemorrhoids, rashes, and postpartum care for new mothers.

Hemorrhoids, a problem irritated by toilet paper can be relieved with the use of the Biffy. The Biffy bidet easily cleans around hemorrhoids without manual contact or rubbing of any kind. It’s soothing rinse helps heal them. It’s gentle rectal stimulation also relieves constipation. The Biffy is good for your body.

It is also a very eco friendly option, dramatically reducing the amount of toilet paper a household or RVing family uses over a year.  Some studies have been done on just how much of an impact toilet paper production and usage costs and you would be surprised at the numbers.

If you would like to join the Biffy Revolution, call or order yours on line.
Say goodbye to plugged holding tanks and wave hello to a clean, cost-effective solution!

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.