Imagine this, you have had a great time on your RV vacation with your family. With so many of you in the RV, you notice it is time to empty your tanks.
You finally go to the dump station only to discover that your grey tank simply empties just a couple gallons or sometimes nothing at all. This is a pretty common issue that RV owners face, especially those that are emptying a preowned RV for the very first time.
Incorrect RV grey tank maintenance is perhaps one of the major causes of clogged grey tanks. This typically happens when the prior owner of a preowned RV did not properly take care of the RV’s wastewater holding tanks.
There are numerous reasons as to why a grey tank won’t drain, however, the three major reasons are:
- Inorganic Blockage by foreign objects
- Broken T Handle or Gate Valve
- Organic Blockage
This article aims to provide tips enabling you to not only find out why your grey tank is not draining but also help you unclog your grey tank.
This is article is bound to be useful if you happen to be at a dump station at the moment and you cannot figure out why your tank is not draining. Let us begin!
For the most part, you are only able to tell that there is something wrong when you head to the dump station to empty your grey tank and then nothing happens.
But there is still another sign to show that you have a problem. This happens when water begins to back up in the shower or the sink.
When this happens, the first thing you have to do is to ensure that your grey tank’s drain valve is correctly functioning. There are times when the handle might move but this movement would not translate to the inside gate causing the grey tank not to drain.
If the valve is fully opening and functioning as it should, then it is more than likely that the tank has a clog. While black wastewater tanks are known for clogs, clogs in grey tanks still happen.
The main culprits of this are the build up of grease, food and hair which gums up the great tank stopping it from properly draining. In the event that water backs up in the shower or sink, then it could also be caused by the grey tank being completely full.
When the tank is filled up, water tends to flow in reverse to the lowest lying drain and that is why numerous RV owners see their showers back up. This tends to happen when the tank capacity gauge is not working as it should.
It could show that it is not as full as it is. If this is not the case, then the tank has a clog created by food, grease or hair build up. While this can be quite annoying, you should not let it run your RV vacation.
Just take the time out to unclog your drain using the following steps and go back to enjoying your vacation.
If your grey tank is not draining, then the easiest method to clear your clog would be to flush the pipes using hot water. This can help to clear out any built up gunk is cleared up.
- You will have to boil 2 to 4 pots full of water.
- Any strainers, drain gates or caps should be removed.
- At this point, you should pour hot water down the sink or into the shower
- Pour enough water and let it sit for the night.
- If it is needed, you can add more hot water down the drain in the morning.
If you have tried the above method of using hot water to no avail, you could also try using chemicals that have been specifically created to clear RV drains. If you don’t have any RV pipe specific chemicals, you can also use the products you use at home.
If you are not a fan of chemicals, you can use home made solutions such as dishwashing liquid. A note of warning, you should avoid using caustic chemicals like bleach or Drano as that can result in your seals and tank becoming damaged.
When using store purchased chemicals, it is important that the manufacturer’s instructions are followed. If using dishwashing liquid put 1 to 3 cups down every drain. You might need some trial and error to find the correct amount that deals with your clog.
You could also choose to add baking soda mixed with white vinegar. When you do this ensure that you put how water after it. At this time, you should take the RV for a drive so that the solution can move around inside the grey tank.
Drain snakes and sink plungers can offer a more direct approach to unclogging your back up the drain.
If you use an auger ensure that it is a manual one as a mechanical one could cause damage to your RV’s plumbing. Pliers and tweezers can also be used to get rid of things such as hair from your drains.
- The first step would be to insert the auger or snake carefully into the drain
- Turn the handle in a clockwise manner in an attempt to hook the clog.
- Once the clog has been hooked, remove and flush out the drain using water.
- Carefully insert the snake or auger into the drain
If the obstruction proves to be a bit more difficult than that then you can try to loosen the clog first using chemicals and then carefully clear the tank using a flush valve.
If your grey tank is clogged and not draining it an be quite difficult to get to it directly as the grey tank does not have a direct outlet like the black tank does.
A note of warning, however, if you are going to use your black tank and any water in it to flush a clog in your RV’s grey tank out, you might want to ensure that the black tank has been completely drained as well as cleaned. Trust me, you do not want raw sewage seeping into the grey tank.
To ensure your black tank is completely clean, empty it using a black tank spray and also dump at least 5 gallons of dish soap and water mix into the toilet a couple of times to flush it and ensure that it is completely clean.
Once this is done, fill the tank with freshwater which will be used to flush the grey tank. As stated earlier, there isn’t a direct way to access the grey tank, so it will be quite difficult to get that much water into the tank at once.
Pour tank treatment into the sinks in the RV, as well as the shower and then attempt to pour down as much water as you can into every drain simultaneously. Doing this ensures that you have as much water flowing into the tank.
Once you cleared your clog, you will want to ensure that it does not get clogged again. For one, the plumbing system in your RV is not as hardy as one in a household system. It might not seem like much but even a tiny bit of food or hair has the ability to jam up your pipes and the tank.
Ensure that you properly scrape the dishes before they are rinsed in the sink. You could also use a strainer in the sink as it is an extremely easy yet economical way to ensure that your plumbing is not backed up by solids that find their way to your drain. You should also ensure that you regularly clean your grey tank.
In dealing with your clogs, hopefully, one of the tips listed above can help you and get your camping trip back on track.
Remember, if you purchased a pre-owned RV from a dealership or a private individual, ensure that you fill all the tanks with water and then dump them. This should be done before you take your first camping trip with it.
Sometimes, things go wrong with your RV. There isn’t an RV owner that hasn’t had to fix one thing or another on their RV, particularly if it was purchased second hand.
Having to unclog your grey tanks is part and parcel of owning an RV. It is just one of those things. Hopefully, the fact that you can travel around bringing your home with you would make the experience more positive.
All you have to do is just ensure that you follow the steps listed above when it comes to regular grey tank maintenance so you never have to experience clogs.