Browsing "Plumbing"
Aug 25, 2011 -

Another Way of Emptying RV Holding Tanks

Disclaimer: this is a post about dealing with sewage. Read at your own risk!

This is one of those posts I really hesitated to write. I hadn’t found anybody else who deals with their holding tanks this way. Then I realised that just because no one else has done it doesn’t mean it can’t be done! So, I did it, and it worked, and it saved me a huge amount of time, hassle, and money, and I’m going to share it with you today.

I’m parked for about six months with no sewer hookup. Even if I had a macerator system to pump into a toilet ($$$) I don’t have a toilet to pump into. So, I planned on pulling out every six weeks or so to dump. The problem is that the dump is 20km away round trip and getting in and out of this spot is quite a bit of sport!

I decided after that one trip that pulling out was no longer an option. That left toting waste. I don’t have a blue boy and there’s another reason I’m hesitant to go that route: not being able to control the flow of the waste out of the tank. ‘Nudging’ a holding tank valve just doesn’t work, at least not with mine.

The main piece of the puzzle, then, was to figure out how to control the flow of waste out of the tank while minimizing the potential for making a mess.

The solution was quite obvious: empty the the tank from above, right in the bathroom.

The house that I owned really taught me to think outside the box. I remember one night when I had to empty the toilet to be able to remove it so that I could get a mechanical auger into the drain (fun times). That night, through a combination of trial, error, and conversations with my dad, I accidentally ‘invented’ the siphon. And that’s what I decided to do with my current holding tank situation.

Now, I have to say that since I went to dump I haven’t been putting paper in the tank so that I could prolong the tank getting too full. So I was dealing with a fairly liquid sludge, for which the siphon would work just fine.

These are the tools I gathered:

-newspaper for protecting the floors;

-disposable gloves;

-a large (6 gallon) bucket with a screw on lid;

-a piece of hose long enough to hit both the bottom of the tank and that of the bucket;

-paper towels;

-a garbage bag;

-a disinfectant;

-a wet/dry shop vac

First, I turned off the water pump, then I put newspaper down in both the dressing room and the toilet room to contain spills (unnecessary) and put the bucket into a garbage bag in case it leaked (unnecessary).  I then inserted the piece of hose into the tank, leaving enough out for it to rest on the bottom of the bucket.

A siphon is quite easy to make. The trick is that the liquid levels in the recipient container have to be lower than those in the donor container. So the ideal thing would have actually been to have the bucket outside, below the rig, and the hose snaked out the door, but I wanted to be able to keep my eye on the whole operation. So, I decided to siphon as much as I could and see where I got.

The other thing a siphon needs is a primer. In some cases, sucking on the hose would work, but not in this one! I used my wet/dry shop vac to create the necessary suction.

My set up worked perfectly and I was pleased to be able to fill up just a bit more than three quarters of the bucket before my siphon stopped working. The tank hadn’t been full to overflowing to start, so that freed up plenty of space. I made a note of how full the tank was when I siphoned it so that I’ll know when to repeat the exercise.

I screwed the lid on tight, brought the bucket outside for disposal at the dump station on the way to work tomorrow, cleaned the the shop vac, and then cleaned the bathroom and dressing room thoroughly for good measure. Done in about ten minutes with no mess.

Now, I can’t wait to hear from all the horrified people who will tell me that I shouldn’t have done that! 😀

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Black Tank, Plumbing, Technical, Toilet    11 Comments
May 12, 2011 -

The Deed is Done

I think that only an RVer can appreciate how much work is needed to pull out of a spot just to go dump. I was completely packed up, unplugged, and fed by 5:30. Jody had said she’d arrive ‘sometime after six’ so I curled up in the back with a novel and my two kitties to wait. She arrived around 6:15 and with very little fanfare helped me out of my spot. I then headed downtown on nearly clear roads. I love driving the rig by itself!

The dump station at the Chinkook Travel Centre was super easy to get into. It’s not a bad setup, but their dumps are about three inches off the ground so waste can back up the hose which was to be an issue…

I went into the rig to flush with clean water, misjudged my angle of approach with the jug, and ended up having to mop up two inches of clean water off the toilet room floor. But at least the black tank was empty! And my floor is clean!

I then went out to flush the grey. Before I could do that, I somehow dislodged the hose from the piece that screws onto the motorhome and, wham, I had a small mess on my hands because the hose was still full, and no hose handy for rinsing except for my white one! I decided to deal with the sewer hose first, screwing it back onto the connector properly, and then I spent about five minutes guiding the contents down towards the dump. Once the hose was empty I pulled on the grey valve to flush and that happened uneventfully. This was by far the worst dump I’ve done since Kapuskasing!

Thanking my lucky stars that I had no witnesses (at least, I hope), I moved the rig ahead away from the mess and spent about ten minutes washing the pad clean with gallon after gallon of fresh water. Satisfied that all was good, I packed up and headed back to Jody and Gary’s arriving around 7:30. I’d been gone only an hour!

Jody and I had a little snack and gab while waiting for Gary to come home. When he did, he wasted no time getting me settled back in. Since we wanted Miranda in the exact spot I was in two hours previously and there were tire ruts to guide us it was very easy to get me back in. We set up my porch and then I reconnected everything.

Neelix was unimpressed by this exercise. Soon as we pulled in front of the house to park and wait for Gary he did his little “Mom!” meow as though to say “Wait, we were just here!” Tabitha seems to have napped during the whole event, though.

Well, it’s been a day I’ve been dreading, but it’s done and I know I won’t have to do this again for another six weeks!

By which point I plan to have mortgaged the rig to buy a macerator pump… 😀


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Black Tank, Cats, Driving, Funny, Grey Tank, Nice Folks, Personal, Plumbing, Social, Technical, Toilet    7 Comments
May 12, 2011 -

Preparing to Pull Out

Well, the dreaded day has arrived: I have to pull out to go dump. Yuck! A macerator has suddenly become a priority, especially since the dump station is 20km round trip!

Jody should be available around 6PM to help me pull out and then both she and Gary should be there around 8PM to help guide me back in. Having help is going to reduce the stress of this a lot. There is plenty of room to manoeuvre, but also lots of opportunity for hitting something. Gary and Jody are RVers themselves and are excellent guides. I’ve had times going into tight spots where no help was better than the help available, but this is not the case here!

I was a bit surprised to discover last night that my gas tank was almost empty! I try to never park with less than a quarter tank of gas, but I guess that all the excitement of arrival day made me forget to check the fuel gauge before parking! Instead of adding a trip to a gas station to tonight’s itinerary I simply added 20L of fuel from a jerry can, which brought me up to nearly a quarter full, so I could easily do 150km. The only gas station on this side of Lethbridge that has sufficient clearance for Miranda would be nightmare to get in and out of, so doing the jerry can thing really made the most sense. I can get a bit more fuel on the other side of town where there will be more options.

I was also going to fill the on board propane tank but decided against it since doing so would double my trip and my 30lber is nowhere near empty. 40km round trip in a motorhome is A LOT of fuel! I have to say that for a city this size, Lethbridge is very propane unfriendly.

Well, I’d better finish packing…

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Driving, Nice Folks, Plumbing, Propane, Social, Technical    2 Comments