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sewer rat in RV toilet - rv sanitation

How To Keep Your RV Holding Tanks Free Of Sewer Rats and Flies

Sewer rats living in your RV’s gray water tank? Sewer flies breeding in your black water tank ? It may sound like an urban legend or the stuff of nightmares, but unfortunately, these things can happen if you’re not careful. So, what do you do to maintain RV sanitation?

As the name implies, sewer flies (or drain flies) live in the sewer system, so they can have a clear path to your RV if you neglect to keep your gray water tank closed while in an RV park.

In this video with RV Travel’s Chuck Woodbury, you’ll hear about a couple that heard thumping noises in the middle of the night after making this common RV waste management mistake. It turned out that the couple wasn’t alone in their RV — a sewer rat was living with them! You’ll also watch Chuck tell the story of a woman who watched in horror as sewer flies emerged from her toilet after making the same mistake.

Don’t be left vulnerable: watch our video to learn how to keep critters out of your holding tank sewage system and subscribe to Drain Master’s Youtube channel for even more RV living tips!

motorhomes in a row with mountains in the background - grey holding tank tips and tricks

RV Waste Management 101: 3 Reasons You Should Keep Your Grey Water Tank Closed

Whether you’re new to RV living or an old pro, you know that after connecting your sewer hose, you keep the black water tank closed, while you’re at an RV park. But many RVers are in the habit of leaving their grey water tank open anytime they’re hooked up at a campground. While this may prevent dirty water from backing up into your shower and sinks, it can cause some other truly unpleasant issues.

Here’s why:

  • If your grey water tank is allowed to fully empty, scum will build up in both the tank and the inside of the hose — in addition to being unsanitary, this can cause a really nasty smell!
  • If you let your grey water tank fill to ⅔ full before emptying it, a vortex is created which helps to remove the scum and eliminate most buildup.

grey water tank draining

 

bathroom faucet - rv dump valve

Adding a Second Switch Inside Your RV for Drain Master Electric Valve

Over time and talking to our customers it became evident that we needed to develop a simple system for our customers, without a lot of electrical background, to install a second switch in the living space of the RV. Folks are beginning to understand the importance of keeping the gray valve closed and only open when the tank is 2/3rds full. Putting a second switch inside for the electric RV dump valve makes it simple to empty the tank with a push of a button after washing clothes or taking a shower.

showering - rv dump valve

standardized flat plugs - electric rv dump valve

We standardized on the Mate N Lock style 4 pin flat plugs many years ago.

electric wye - rv dump valve

 

extension cable - rv dump valve

Every valve we sell for use in RVs has this plug on the valve, unless the RV mfg. specifically ordered valves  without them.  We then offer a number of extension cables that plug into the valve and go to the operator switch wire harness so it is a simple matter of plugging each one together.

Here is a diagram that illustrates how everything plugs together.

diagram for installing a second switch for your rv dump valve

 

Like this idea?

Click here to order the Wye harness and click here for the extension cables (Pt 5218 – 5223).

Still have questions on how to do this or what to order?  Just give us a call. (877) 787-8833

Fast Flow Pipe - learn about the best sewer hose around - Waste Master

Does Dumping the Black Tank 1st & the Gray Second, Clean the Hose?

Every RVer knows that dumping the Black water, then the Gray water is to insure any residual Black water will be flushed down with the Gray water—but is this really true? After we answer this age old question, stay tuned for information on the best sewer hose we’ve found that works wonders in keeping you and your RV clean.

Actually it is, providing your Gray water dump valve and drain piping is 3″. Unfortunately many RV manufacturers still use 1.5″ piping and valves on the Gray water tank outlets. What actually happens in this case, is that only a very small portion of the inside of the sewer hose is cleaned.  Probably looking a lot more like this

slow flow pipe - waste master best sewer hose system

But this theory of dumping the gray water second, assumes that the water flow goes a little more like this

fast flow pipe - waste master best sewer hose system

To get maximum hose flushing action, the Gray water exit valve and piping needs to be 3″.

Here are the reasons:

1. It takes 2.56 times longer to empty a 35 gallon tank through an 1.5″ hole than it does with

a 3″ hole.

2. With the overall flow slowed so much, the water doesnt rush down the hose as it should,

cleaning the whole interior of the hose.

3.  As your Gray tank fills, a scum forms on the top of the water, generated from soap, oils,

shampoo, toothpaste etc. When the valve is opened, the faster the water exits, the

more it creats a whirlpool sucking the scum out. This action is minimal to non existant

through a 1.5″ hole.

Converting your existing system from 1.5″ to 3″ on the Gray tanks can only be done if the Gray holsing tank has a 3″ collar with a 3″ to 1.5″ reducer in it. You will be able to tell by looking at it. The first sign is, there is a band clamp around the tank collar.

holding tank - best sewer hose question solved

Second is some white looking paste around the fitting area where the reducer was inserted. This material doesnt ever harden fully, so you can loosen the band clamp and by moving the reducer back and forth with pulling pressure on it and a little patience the reducer will come out. If your tank has a 1.5″ tank collar you are better off aborting the project.

If and when you look for a new RV, make sure you look to see the plumbing system detail, it is the area you do not like to go near, so be sure to check this area out before you buy. The devil is in the details and most folks buy the bling first, then are stuck with the issues that they didn’t look for in the first place. Finding the best sewer hose for you is also important, so do some research on various systems before getting something you won’t be able to use or clean.

For some great holding tank tips, be sure you have requested our 7 Essential RV Holding Tank Tips

As promised, here are the details of our favorite system aka the one with the best sewer hose! The Waste Master system provides an opportunity for greater cleanliness and less hassle. What a deal, right? Learn more by reading the product description here.

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!

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.