Plumbing Learning Curve

Sunday afternoon, I arrived in Kapuskasing, Ontario, and found a conveniently located dump station right on the main drag. I was very glad of this because I have to dump once a day. WHAT?! I can hear all the full-timers say. Well, I have very good evidence that the POs didn’t do much research about RV plumbing systems.

Since I got Miranda, her black tank sensor has read critically full even after dumping. I finally shone a light down there and discovered that they committed two sins of RV toilet use:

1) they didn’t use the right toilet paper;
2) they most likely left both valves open when on sewer hookups.

Yup, my tank was full of a solid wad of other people’s human waste.

Just like Robin Williams in the movie ‘RV.’ If you haven’t seen this movie, go rent it before continuing with this post.

So, I pulled up to the dump station fully cognizant that I was having this problem. This wasn’t my first time dumping, so I felt pretty cocky. I made sure that the tank was full of water and then I got started.

I attached the hose and discovered that it was too short.

But the hose is extensible so I pulled a bit (lot) to get it to the drain.

Then I opened the black valve…

Not realising that I hadn’t fully latched the hose to the drain pipe.

Sewage started to spray everywhere.

I had the presence of mind to slap the valve closed.

I sat there for a full two minutes laughing. I couldn’t do anything else. Considering the foul mood in which I’d gone to bed and woken up, I was ecstatic to discover that I still had my sense of humour. There I was surrounded by other people’s fecal matter and I could see how funny that was. I knew that I was going to be just fine and that Saturday’s melt down was just a combination of too many stressors in one day.

Thankfully, the sewage stayed on the concrete pad that was on a downward slope to the drain, so I was able to just wash it all away without causing undue pollution.

When I was done there and had cleaned up, I completely filled my toilet to almost overflowing with water and drove off with the sensors screaming ‘critically full’. By the time I pulled over an hour later, my tank suddenly claimed that the tank was just a third full. I suspect that the dried out muck is now sludge and that my next dump will allow me to flush it all away. Hopefully. 🙂

So much fun. I want grand-children just to tell them these stories!

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  • Rae, fill your black tank about 3/4 full of water, then add 2 cups of cheap Walmart bleach, 2 cups of liquid laundry detergent, and 2 cups of Calgon water softener. Let it slosh around for 2 or 3 days of driving, and then dump. That should clean it out.

  • Thanks for the recipe!!! I’ll pick up some Calgon tomorrow!

  • If Kevin’s good advice does not work, another trick is to fill the tank 1/2 – 2/3 full of the coldest water you can find and add about 10 pounds of ice cubes. Immediately start driving around corners and with lots of stopping and starting. Do this until the ice is melted and then dump. The agitation of the ice cubes banging into the walls and each other will break up all the …. You get the picture.

  • My old motorhome came complete with the “Cone of Death” as well and I took it in to a repair facility to be cleaned. They charged me $200 so you want to avoid that is possible.

  • I wanted to do the ice cube trick, but there hasn’t been enough room in the tank to put a sufficient quantity of ice cubes!!!

    Today was the first time my tank has read so low (1/3 full instead of critically full) so I figure there’s hope for Miranda yet!

    One thing that might have helped today (although I’ll admit to not knowing if this was ‘smart’ or not) is that I pulled up short of the dump station and then drove onto my leveling blocks, but just one one side, to give a bit of a slope to the tanks. That made a huge difference on the grey tank which hadn’t been emptying fully either.

  • The levelers is a good idea as it ensures a full drain. Something else I do is after the black tank empties and with the valve still open and the hose attached, I pour a garbage can of clean water down the toilet to give it one last, good flush.

  • I tried the pouring a ton of water in the tank while the valve is open method… and nearly flooded the coach! Whatever’s down there plugged up the drain pipe. An hour later, though, the mess had absorbed the water and I actually was able to drain a bit and my tank is now only a third full. So, what seemed like a disaster at the time worked out well! LOL

  • This item could become your new best friend. This one is flexible but they also come in a rigid form. If you can look down into the black tank, you could do with the rigid version. WalMart will have them as well.

    This is one of the reasons WalMart always welcomes us RVers. We always go into the store to buy something. For us it is usually at least a frozen dinner.

  • I forgot to mention and I know you already know this but anyway: Never use your white drinking water hose for anything to do with holding tanks, toilets or spills! Buy a cheap garden hose for these tasks.

  • Wand: I’m actually in the process of *making* myself one! I thought it was silly to spend 20$ on something for which I have the parts at home!

    Hose: what white hose?! I have a green hose I bought at Walmart that claims to be for RV potable water. As for cleaning up, the dump stations I’ve been at so far have all had their own hoses.

    I don’t drink from my holding tank, but whenever I fill it I clean all the connections (potable water tab, hose ends, intake) with bleach.

  • Standard green garden hoses are bacteria factories and also give the typical “hose” taste to water. Even if you don’t drink from the holding tank, you wash and rinse dished and hands with it. Play it safe and pick up a white RV hose from WalMart which you will use only for filling your tank or hooking up to the water in an RV park. These hoses are specially made for the purpose.

  • Here is a link to a statement on garden hoses by the Ontario Public Health:

    You see many folks parked with a garden hose hooked up to their RV so don’t feel bad, you are not the only one! Better safe than sorry.

  • Hose: I read the fine print! It says that it’s an ‘RV grade’ hose not suitable for running drinking water through, but okay for the other stuff, like bathing and washing dishes. I don’t plan to drink out of my holding tanks ever, so my hose should be fine. If it’s not, I’ll sue the company and make a fortune! 🙂

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