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Frozen Plumbing and Draining Black Water Tanks!

February 8, 2008

Here on our land we have septic, power and “city” water. Even though we have septic, we are living in an RV, which means that our waste water still runs through two tanks. The one the toilet is connected to is called the “black” water tank. All the rest of the water goes into the “gray” water tank.

The gray water tank drain valve we leave open. So, when we shower or wash dishes, it just runs right into the septic. The black water tank, however, is a tank of a different color. 😉

The first time we went to an RV park that had sewer hookups we learned a VERY valuable lesson. Being the beginners that we were, we thought we could leave the black water tank ,valve open. Boy did we find out THAT was a mistake. We can laugh about it now…but it was NOT funny then. We thought we had a plug keeping things from draining. What we really had was a pile of you know what right under the toilet in the middle of the tank, making it look full. I won’t describe all we went through trying to figure out how to “unplug”it before we got it figured out. Yikes!

So, now we keep the blank tank valve closed! This morning was pull the valve time. Our RV has a special hose port in the side so that we can flush out the tank with the hose while it is draining. This is something we need to do about every three to four days, depending on how much of that time we have all three of us here. When the hose to flush it is frozen, I have to keep filling dishpans and dumping them down inside the toilet to encourage some kind of nominal “flushing” action.

Dave has the drain valve area surrounded by straw bales, styrofoam, foam insulation and plastic. It is almost like a bale lean-to covered with sheets cut from a roll of insulation. Inside, he has lights we keep on to generate just enough heat to keep the valve and the pipe between it and the tank from freezing. We really do NOT relish the idea of having to put a heater out there again in order to unfreeze it!

We also have a bale “lean to” that protects the water hookup and the water hose going into the RV. We have had to unfreeze that hose a few times, too. Now, with all the stuff protecting it, we just leave the water dripping on the times when it gets cold enough to penetrate our covering.

Was that more than anyone wanted to know about RV plumbing? hehehe

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