In this blog entry we will be discussing the basics of an RV Water Tank and Pump System. The following information is all independent research, this is the reason information will vary from the information provided by the people from COMET Camper.
Imagine you and your buddies riding down Route 66 in the brand new, renovated VENTURA. You’ve decided to take the major camping trip of your life, in which you will journey across all the USA from West coast to East coast. Though VENTURA is small, the new renovations have created multiple ingenious and creative storage spaces, the best is there is no need to pay for motels as VENTURA can comfortably sleep four! Everything is going great, you’ve got a full tank of gas and Life is a Highway by the Rascal Flatts is blasting on the radio, when suddenly you get a flat tire. In your rush to get on the road, your forgot the spare tire and its gonna be awhile till a tow truck can come pick y’all up. The burning sun is starting to make you guys thirsty, lucky for you VENTURA is equipped with a Water Tank and Pump System. As your buddies and you fill up glasses with water, you can’t be more than happy you installed this system. The beautiful memory takes you back to when you hadn’t a clue of what a Water Tank and Pump System even was.
Of course, caught up in the moment you turn to your buddies and say “Hey did you know that an RV’s water tank is responsible for the water we are drinking right now?”. Noticing they don’t take interest in the subject you take it upon you to enlighten them of the watery wonders of a Water Tank and Pump System:
“This water we are drinking right now should not be taken for granted, because when the trailer is not hooked up to an external supply, like right now, fresh water must be pumped from the on-board water tank using the water pump. An on-board water tank, is just as it sounds, it is a tank that holds fresh water, that can then be extracted and used for water in faucets and showers, this water tank works automatically when the power is on. It is important to note there are two types of water tanks, a Black water tank and a Gray water tank. In a travel trailer a Black water tank holds all the water and human waste in your toilet, since VENTURA does not have a toilet it is not of much importance to our case. Now a Gray water tank holds dirty water from your lavatory sink, shower, bath and the kitchen sink.
An important part to the trailer’s water system is the pump. Water pumps take up to 12V DC electricity to be powered, even when plugged into 120V AC power, it is converted to change the 120VAC TO 12VDC electricity. The main function of a water pump is to keep a stabilized water pressure. What happens you see, when water pressure drops, because water is being used, the water pump will run long enough to restore the pressure then turn off, this action creates a pulse. In order to minimize the sound created by the pulsing, an accumulator tank is installed. An accumulator tank contains an internal bladder that stores air, holding water in the tank and in your water system under pressure. When water is being used, the water from the accumulator tank will be the first to be used. When the accumulator’s storage tank is exhausted, the water pump will turn on to maintain the water pressure. Over time an accumulator tank can help extend the life of a water pump, because it will cycle on and off less often.
Right now you’re probably thinking that you just need to fill the tank with clean water, or hook up the hose? Well its not as simple as it seems. It is important to use a certified portable water hose, when filling the tank or hooking to city water. These hoses are easy to identify as they are white in color. The reason this is done is to prevent their use for other things, which could then contaminate the fresh water stored in the water tank, keep in mind we are drinking this water. These water hoses are specifically manufactured not to cause an odor or bad taste on the water. In the event there is a contamination, bad taste or odor the water system should be disinfected with household bleach. To disinfect the water system the water tank must be emptied then one cup of bleach to a gallon of water should be used to fill the empty tank. After this all faucets should be turned on until bleach is smelled. When this has been let to sit for 24 hours, you then drain and refill the tank. Afterwards continue to refill and run all the faucets until the odor of bleach is gone.
Another thing to remember is the water hose must always be protected by a pressure regulator when connected to the city water port. The pressure regulator will protect the hose from high pressure and the water system as well. In high summer temperatures, like this, it can cause a hose under pressure to weaken and split, which is why it is important to insulate the water line year round (as the hose can also split in cold temperatures) when you’re stopping for long periods of time.
Now remember how I mentioned that Gray water tanks stored dirty water from the lavatory sink, shower, bath and the kitchen sink and the Black water tank holds all the water and human waste in your toilet? Well these tanks need to be emptied, I learned to empty the tank from the RV Owner’s Lifestyle Seminar:
Step 1: Start by pulling up to the RV dump station and placing your black holding tank drain valve as close to the opening of the dump station as possible. This will ensure that if there is an accident, it will be contained in the dumping area. If your RV has more than one location for your drain valves, always do the black tank first. Unlock any compartments that you need to access for dumping the tanks.
Step 2: Put on latex or other disposable gloves (to avoid any contamination) and get your sewer hose out. Before removing the cap to the holding tank drain opening, ensure both the gray and black water valves are both closed.
Step 3: Always use an elbow and a hose ring to connect the sewer hose to dump station hole as this will hold the hose in place and avoid any splatter. If the ring or the elbow is not available, insert the end of the sewer hose into the dump station’s hole about eight to twelve inches (if you only insert the hose a few inches the hose may come out when dumping the tanks and we don’t want that!). Use the hole’s cover, a brick, or something heavy enough to hold the sewer hose in place so it doesn’t pop out of the hole (Do not use an object that could fall into the hole, you don’t want a plugged dump station). Many web sites mention Step 4 then Step 3; we do Step 3 first to prevent any accidental spillage.
Step 4: Check your sewer hose to ensure the hose is securely clamped to the adapter that attaches to the holding tank drain outlet. Remove the cap with the sewer hose underneath to catch any drips (open end up), when any drips have stopped, attach the sewer hose ensuring the adapter is completely attached. You can tell if it is when the tabs on the adapter are lined up with the stubs on the tank drain. A partially attached hose is more common than you think.
Step 5: If you have a permanent-mount black tank rinse system, now is the time to connect it up to both the RV and the dump station water supply with a dedicated garden hose. Do not use your fresh water hose for the black tank rinse and do not turn on the water until the next step has started.
Step 6: Once you are certain everything is secured, pull open the Black water tank valve first. You will hear the effluent rush through the hose, start to slow down, and finally become a trickling sound. Some solids may still stay lodged at the bottom of the tank as well as on the tank sidewall.
Step 7: If you have connected a black tank rinse, turn on the water, let this run for two-five minutes to help remove solids left behind, then shut off the water and disconnect the garden hose. Now close the black water tank drain valve by pushing the handle completely closed. If you do not have a black tank rinse system, you can fill the toilet bowl with water using the internal pump and water from your fresh tank. Ask your partner to flush the toilet to duplicate the action of black tank rinse system. You may need to do this twice. Please be sensitive if there is a line up at the dump station.
Step 8: Now open the gray tank valve. As in step 6, you’ll hear water flow, then slow, and stop. Close the gray tank valve. Repeat this step if you have more than one gray tank.
Step 9: At this point, you’re almost done. If you want to flush and rinse your tanks once more, you can do so by filling your tanks to 2/3 full (if you don’t have a gray tank rinse system) and repeat the emptying process. If others are waiting to use the dump station, be courteous and skip this step. Do not put non-potable rinse water into your fresh water system for this as it will contaminate your system and it will require complete sanitation.
Step 10: Recheck that both your black and gray water tank valves are closed and then disconnect the sewer hose from your tank outlet.
Step 11: Lift the end of the sewer hose (the end you just disconnected) to completely drain the hose into the dump station. If a non-potable water hose is available, run water through the sewer hose to rinse it out. Remove the sewer hose from the dump station hole and rinse the outside of the hose. Rinse the area around the hole to ensure that any spillage has been cleaned up and cover the dump station hole. Replace the tank outlet cover.
Step 12: Return you sewer hose etc. to storage.
Step 13: Dispose of the latex gloves into the garbage bin (we don’t mean down the dump station) or put them in your garbage bin in the rig. Clean all the surfaces you touched when wearing your gloves with bleach wipes. Wash or hand sanitize your hands just in case the gloves leaked.
Step 14: If there is a line up, move your rig to allow the next user to use the dump station and then check holding tanks display panel. If they do not read empty, this is an early sign that your sensors may be getting gummed up. Visit our site for an inexpensive environmentally friendly tip for solving this problem. (http://www.sanidumps.com/howtoemptyyourtanks.php)
Now add about three to three gallons of water (about three full bowl flushes) to your black tank and then add the appropriate amount of holding tank treatment. If you use a treatment for your gray tank, do that as well. This will ensure that everything stays moist and healthy in the tank till your next trip.
Step 16: The task of emptying your RV’s holding tanks is now finished.
The Ice Cube Trick: If in Step 13 you notice that your display panel for your holding tanks is not reading empty, empty several bags (6-8) of ice cubes into your holding tank. While driving with ice cubes in the tank, they will help clean your sensors and the ice will have melted by the time you arrive at the next dump station. You may have to repeat this process. This is a environmentally friendly method to clean your tanks.
And don’t forget just as the RV Owner’s Lifestyle Seminar mentions remember Recreational Vehicle Dumping Etiquette. So do you guys feel like you know a little more about the Water Tank and Pump System?” you say finishing your lecture on the importance of the water tank and pump system.
“So what did you guys think?” you ask your friends.
“You know, I really appreciate this system, now that I know more about it,” your friend says.
“Since you really appreciate the water tank and pump system, you wouldn’t mind dumping out the gray tank then?” you say.
-Libertad P. Escobar
Trendy Trailers Inc. “Eco-Friendly and Eco-Trendy”