Recently, I became concerned when I pulled the release handle on “The Folie a Deux’s” (my Winnebago Journey Motor home) black water tank and nothing happened. I mean zip. There should have been a gush of waste flowing out.
So I went back inside and dropped a green bio tablet in the tank guaranteed to dissolve waste material with enzymes and eat up the special RV toilet paper that is supposed to dissolve in water. I flushed a good amount of water down the tank.
The next morning I said a prayer and pulled the handle again. Nothing. I realized that I had made a terrible mistake a day or two earlier prior to the first time I pulled the handle and nothing happened. I had the handle on both the gray water and black water tanks open. I knew not to leave the black water tank open because water flushed with the waste would just empty out leave a mound of sedimentary waste behind.
But, I thought, it was only for a day, or was it two? Never the less, I’m getting very anxious. I head to YouTube to see how people handle black water back ups. One guy punched a hole near the top of the waste water hose connection and ran a stiff wire, like a coat hanger wire, up through the pipes to dislodge any paper that may have accumulated.
I tried that. I ran the wire up through one elbow, through a short straight piece and up through another elbow into the tank. I think I could feel something thick and disgustingly gooey at the end, but there was no release.
My helpful neighbor said he had a similar problem when his pipes froze. He used a hair dryer to unthaw it. I tried that; result – nothing. I tried another green tablet and very warm water. But there was no effect.
By now I’m getting very anxious. You can’t keep using the toilet without incurring even more dire consequences. I could just see me making the news with a horrific waste tank explosion that would quarantine the area and be uninhabitable for decades.
I read about one couple that used a tank cleaner called Unique RV Digest-It for Marine and RV tanks. I could order it on line and get it in two days, but that would be too late. I needed it now.
I recently moved north to an area in Tennessee where it gets really cold compared to where I was in southern Alabama, near the Florida line. Where I had rarely used the heat in my motor home, I now have to go get the propane tank filled once a week, whereas prior to that my propane lasted about 8 months. For the first couple of months I thought there was something wrong with my LP gas panel gauge. It always registered full.
This, however, would be my “Hail Mary” play. I decided that I had done all I could and that maybe when I headed out to get the propane tank filled, it would shake up the black tank and mix everything up to a nice liquid.
After filling up the propane tank I drove over to a local hardware store which was supposed to carry the Digest-It. They did, but not for marine/RVs.
Back at the RV Park I hooked everything back up and pulled the black water tank handle with a lot of trepidation. I felt like doing a dance to God when the waste water exploded out like Niagara Falls.
Earlier in the day, I had contacted several RV repair shops. They all told me horrible consequences of the impacted tank, which really just had plenty of dollar signs behind it. None of them, however, worked on the tanks, unless they were empty. You’re on your own if you have tank trouble. I had visions of telling my wife that we were going to have to move into a motel until I could find an RV repair shop somewhere that would unclog the tank.
The point is, if you find your tank is clogged and you’ve tried a number of chemical methods and they didn’t work, and your release valve pulls in and out and nothing happens, try riding around with your motor home or RV trailer and see if the movement loosens the clog.
And the moral of this tale: ignore your tanks – especially your black tank – at your own peril.