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Quarantine on Wheels

Safely Navigating the Quarantine in your RV, 5th Wheel, or Camper

In an effort to curtail the virus and slow the movement of the epidemic in the US, almost every state has enacted travel bans and issued orders to shelter in place.  For most people, this is an inconvenience, but for people who have sold their homes and embraced the nomadic lifestyle it can be a real challenge.

At Drain Master, we have an intimate understanding of the challenges you are facing as an RV owner.  From finding a safe place to park, to getting your groceries, life is presenting some unique obstacles.  We’re here to help remove those obstacles and be a lifeline for those on the not so open roads.

You can view this resource from Campendium for closures of campgrounds across the US due to the state mandated travel restrictions.

With Every Challenge is a New Opportunity

Staying with Family

While living on the go is a bit uncertain, many people are finding that having an RV, 5th wheel, or camper in times like these is beneficial.  Having the ability to pick up and go, and then stay for an extended period of time can be vital for those in hard hit areas, for those with older relatives who need a bit of extra help, etc.

Avoiding Hotspots

If your area is looking at a serious increase in the number of cases reported with the virus, having an RV, 5th wheel, or Camper is a great way to ride out the curve in a less affected area.  If you are leaving a region with a significant outbreak, please take care to follow CDC and WHO guidelines so as not to contribute to the spread of the virus.

Vacations:

Vacation spots are being hit hard by this epidemic.  Airline travel is restricted, hotels are closing, these “mobile” homes are just about the only way to travel right now.  And they’re definitely the only method of doing so affordably in an uncertain economy. Check the resource above for a list of campgrounds and locations that are open and available before leaving for any trips.

Self-Quarantine

If you or a loved one is being tested, or is working as an essential employee, quarantining away from the rest of the family significantly lowers the risk of spreading the virus.  Many people who own RVs, 5th wheels, or campers are either using them for self-quarantine or loaning them to those in need.  In fact, there’s a whole Facebook community dedicated to loaning these mobile homes to healthcare workers so that they can protect their families.

Plan Ahead:

Food:

Be prepared to have a stockpile of food before making any travel plans.  Local grocery stores in certain areas may be closed, changing hours, or limiting the number of shoppers allowed in the store at a given time.  You don’t want to travel somewhere and risk running out of food.

Water:

Make sure you have water on hand for drinking, cooking, and cleaning.  In addition, make sure that you can refill your water supply with treated water wherever you might travel.  Water is vital in cleaning and avoiding the spread of the virus.

Supplies:

Much like food and water, you’ll want to make sure that you have the right cleaning supplies and products before making any travel plans.  Running out of disinfectant, toilet paper, or anti-bacterial soap could cause a big problem.

Sewage:

The dirty side of the RV life, even if you can shelter in place for a number of weeks, you’ll still need access to safe place to empty your sewage.  Campsites often offer easily accessible sewage dumping sites. Here are some of our guidelines for staying safe while emptying your tanks:

  • Wear gloves!
  • Spray the water faucet with a mix of 2 parts water, 1 part bleach (because the guy before you could have turned the spigot off with his dirty gloves)
  • Use our Waste Master Ultimate Sewer Hose Storage system as it provides the safest most sanitary way to transfer holding tank sewage from an RV to the ground sewer inlet. You don’t have to connect the hose or any fittings, all the sewage is contained inside the hose, and no waste touches the ground or your gloves!

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.

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.