RV Holding Tanks and how to maintain your Sewage Tank

The Black Water Tank!

The POOP holder!

The Big Stinky!

Whatever you want call it, this is where your Poop and Urine is held and stored until you have to dump it. And, You will have to dump it ….. regularly!

The thing that a Camper or RVer learns very quickly is that this is not a Septic tank, but just a temporary holding device for some extremely nasty stuff!

Perform all of the right steps, and it will be minimally offensive to use the tank for storage. Ignore it, and a number of things can occur that will cost you in dollars and/or scents! Sic!

This tank just like the Fresh Water Tank and the Gray Water Tank has been designed to hold the excrement, urine and toilet paper of a typical couple for about a week. You and your spouse may fill it sooner or later, but that is usually the design criteria.

The following items are for the typical camper, that, if followed regularly, will ease the task of dumping and maintaining a Black Water Tank:

Toilet Paper:

The Toilet Paper you use in your camper must meet certain special standards. For instance, when purchasing, be sure the package states that the toilet paper is “Safe for Septic Tank or RV use” This means that it will break down (eventually) and meets certain basic standards.

You will probably need to go a little further than that though. I recommend that you only use single-ply paper. This means that it is thinner, and you though you might use a little more with a single “wipe” it will be thinner than other multiple-ply papers, and porous enough to break down easier.

To test your toilet paper, try this: Place a few sheet of your toilet paper in a cup of water. Wait an hour or so, then cover the cup and shake it for a minute. Remove the top and the paper sheets should be shredded into pieces. If not, it probably will not break down in your tank either.

Toilet Chemicals:

If you get odors from your tank, or when you flush your toilet, this can be minimized greatly by using the proper Chemicals in the Black Water Tank. I will not recommend which chemicals to use, but whenever you dump your tank, pour a couple of gallons of water into the tank along with a chemical that is designed to assist in the break down of the excrement how much does a septic tank cost faster. These come in septic tank overflow Pellet, Powder and package form. Pick one that works for you.

Flushing the Toilet:

Here is a place where you do not want to be frugal with water. When you flush, make sure a decent amount of water is also flushed. This water will help keep the excrement soft and help the toilet paper break down.

My toilet has the typical foot pedal for flushing, but it has two positions. If you hold it halfway down, water enters the toilet but it does not flush. This allows you to manage the amount of water 2000 gallon septic tank used with a flush. Once you have an adequate amount of water in the bowl, press the pedal the rest of the way down, and you get a clean flush and you use enough water.

Dumping the Tank:

As mentioned in the section about the Gray Water tank, when you dump your Black Water tank, dump it first, then close the valve to it, and then dump the Gray Water tank to help clean out the excrement, etc. from your sewage hoses.

Also, after dumping a Black Water Tank, always put a few gallons of water into the toilet just in case there is hardened residue. This water will help soften this residue for the next dumping.

Flushing the Tank:

Most campers and RVs now have a “Tank Flush” system built in to the Black Water Tank. It is usually a water connector that goes to a hose with a “shower-like head on it to spray the tank walls, meter sensors, and bottom.

It’s purpose is to; 1-clean toilet paper remnants off of the meter sensors, 2- clean residue from the walls of the tank, and 3-help break down the excrement and paper remnants that may have hardened on the bottom of the tank. They work to a degree, but they are not perfect, so keep this in mind.

While on site:

When you pull in to a camp site, one of the first things you will do is hook up your sewage connector to the one at your site. Even though you hook up, DO NOT open the valve until the tank is full. You do not just let the sewage flow straight from the tank all of the time.

The waste will harden due to a lack of water in the tank, and you will end uf with a very expensive tank pressure cleaning job to get your tank cleaned out later. Leave the valve closed, and open only when full and ready to be dumped.


When many Campers are leaving a site, and will get to their next site that same day, they will dump the Black Water tank and fill it with water for the trip. This will allow the water to shake around during the bumps and turns of the trip, and can then be dumped again when you arrive at the next site. This agitation during the trip can really help clean the tank.

And again, when you are within a days drive of home, fill your Black Water tank with about a quarter tank of water to allow for a good agitation during the drive before you get home. Then dump the tank and you will have less potential problems with odors and buildup, when you store your camper or RV.



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