RV Tank cleaning

kands

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Jul 20, 2007
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Hi all
I am not sure if this has been posted before, I couldn't see it anywhere though :Smile:, I want to post it for everyones attention as this is always a subject that crops up when two RVers meet :ROFLMAO:.
This is not my work but that of a Mr Charles Bruni.
The Geo Method of Tank Cleaning, at least one of our members will be interested in reading this and maybe will challenge for copyright :ROFLMAO::ROFLMAO::ROFLMAO:
Hope that you find it as interesting as I did, and "when" we get an RV again I will be trying it out, so please can we have some feedback if anyone else tries it out too?
Thanks

Keith
 
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kands

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Jul 20, 2007
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I have no idea which one is correct Jim..... There seem to be many different ideas but when I read the one I posted it was the first time I had seen that idea and as it uses no real harmful chemicals I thought I would give it a go (when we finally get our RV...)
We have tried the "culture" method in Rocky but sometimes we had horrendous smells coming from the sink wastes, and usually when dumping I found that the grey tank stank more than the black??? I guess the article I posed works on the assumption that an RV black / grey tank is a holding tank and not a septic tank, and if you follow that line of thinking then it makes sense to keep the tanks "clean" instead of carting around a mobile septic tank?
I believe that you have gone for the septic tank idea, what is your experience of that system? Have you tried to clean out your tanks, and if so to what level of success?
I do not pretend to know the answer mate, I am as confused as everyone else, but after trying one method (not terribly successfully) I am willing to try the alternative approach :thumb:
I will give it a go and let you know.........

Keith
 

scotjimland

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Jul 25, 2007
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I believe that you have gone for the septic tank idea, what is your experience of that system? Have you tried to clean out your tanks, and if so to what level of success?
I do not pretend to know the answer mate, I am as confused as everyone else, but after trying one method (not terribly successfully) I am willing to try the alternative approach :thumb:
I will give it a go and let you know.........

Keith
Hi Keith

Now more than a year full time and I've never used any chemicals or deodorants in the tanks, there are no nasty smells (except when dumping).
After emptying the black I give it a flush with fresh water to ensure the solids are washed out..
When possible I prefer to 'free fall' dump rather than use the macerator which is good but doesn't give the tank a good woooshhh as it empties and I never empty unless it is full to the brim, doing otherwise you run the risk of solids drying out on the tank walls, not good .. :ROFLMAO:
 
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kands

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Jul 20, 2007
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Hi Jim
Now that is interesting to hear. I always prefer to take the advice of those who have personal experience.......
I never had much issue with the black tank, I also much prefer the "free fall" method as I think it discharges much better and the fuller the better. Being weekenders I do expect to get a bit of a smell from the black tank,as it sometimes does not get dropped for several weeks, but it has always been acceptable to me ( I have dealt with worse whilst at sea :ROFLMAO::ROFLMAO:) however the grey tank is absolutely heaving. So much worse than the black....... :Eeek:
I will probably try the Geo method on our new RV grey tank, but continue with the same method as you with the black tank, unless it is stinky, then I will try the Geo method and see what happens then :thumb:
What a wonderful Sunday lunchtime discussion :ROFLMAO::ROFLMAO:

Keith
 

scotjimland

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Jul 25, 2007
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Hi Keith

I think tanks and waste pipes in constant use are less likely to give problems than those used occasionally, if you think on it, the kitchen sink at home seldom smells but after two weeks on holiday .... hmm , not very pleasant :RollEyes:

Any news on a replacement RV .. ?

Jim
 
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kands

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Jul 20, 2007
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I would agree that it is the major difference between us weekenders and you guys and it certainly makes sense mate.... I will neutralise the grey from the get go...
Replacement is still the subject of tense negotiations, so don't want to tempt fate at the moment mate, but once we have won and concluded the deal we will let you all know :ROFLMAO::ROFLMAO:

Keith
 

Bryan

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Jul 19, 2007
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On a related note, and one mentioned in the Geo linn Keith provided, what sort of paper does everyone use? Ordinary household stuff or specialist stuff?

We use Thetford aqua-roll as we used to use it in the boat.

Bryan
 
Aug 16, 2007
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Cassette

I was just explaining to Kath about you tank problems and she said "Why do you not change to a cassette version"
Well why????:ROFLMAO:
 

Tony Hunt

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Sep 27, 2007
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Keith, I prefer the free fall method also :ROFLMAO: trouble is we dont have a lot of choice being fulltimers who never drive anywhere in our RV :( We have had two years now in our Newmar and have maybe stupidly left all the sea cocks open so that everything goes straight down the public sewer. I realised after reading odd posts on forums that we might run into trouble with crud forming on the walls of the tank but upto now we havent had a problem with smells and have only had minor blockages which i quickly cure by stuffing a fairly high power hosepipe ( and wiggling it about) down where the sun dont shine. It seems to have done the trick so far but after reading your post I'm thinking maybe i should go the route of Calgon & tide and close the stoppers occasionally and maybe lubricate things down there. being plumbed into very high pressure mains water ( on a meter I might add :( ) we always fill the toilet bowl up before flushing to ensure that the contents has no option but to wizz out the other end. Been keeping everything crossed that we dont get trouble as the last thing I fancy is getting down and dirty to dig out a blockage. :ROFLMAO::ROFLMAO:
 

Tony Hunt

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Sep 27, 2007
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On a related note, and one mentioned in the Geo linn Keith provided, what sort of paper does everyone use? Ordinary household stuff or specialist stuff?

We use Thetford aquaroll as we used to use it in the boat.

Bryan
We started off by using the proper expensive stuff but after a while went onto sainsburys cheaper version which because its thin seems to do the trick just as well for a lot less money.
 

Road Runner

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Jul 26, 2007
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On a related note, and one mentioned in the Geo linn Keith provided, what sort of paper does everyone use? Ordinary household stuff or specialist stuff?

We use Thetford aqua-roll as we used to use it in the boat.

Bryan
Normal soft paper (not the high quality extra soft) and seem to disintegrate OK:winky:
 

Bryan

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Jul 19, 2007
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A cassette system in an RV?

One of the benefits of an RV holding tank system is the fact that there is no need to traipse across a site to a dump point, daily.
 
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kands

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Jul 20, 2007
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Where to start????
I think (and I am sure that an expert will contradict me, but here is my thought anyway...) that ARVs are built with large holding tanks, usually about 50 gallons, so that they are not looking for somewhere to dump every day. Most RV tanks will last a family for several days without needing to be emptied. A cassette would need to be emptied pretty much every day to stop it filling up and I do not know of any RV owners that would swap their tank for a cassette, with all the discussions that go on, it really is not a big deal, to be honest, most of the chit chat is about "which method" to use.
I certainly would rather experiment with methods than having to do the Thetford Walk every morning :ROFLMAO::ROFLMAO::ROFLMAO:
I hope this explains it mate :roflmto:

Keith
 
Aug 16, 2007
479
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Small price

A cassette sustem in an RV?

One of the benefits of an RV holding tank system is the fact that there is no need to traipse across a site to a dump point, daily.
Yes, buy if you have problems emptying and keeping the tanks from smelling, it would be a small price to pay!:ROFLMAO:
Not as silly as it first sounded!:thumb:
 

scotjimland

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Jul 25, 2007
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Most RV tanks will last a family for several days without needing to be emptied. A cassette would need to be emptied pretty much every day to stop it filling up and I do not know of any RV owners that would swap their tank for a cassette,

Our's needs emptied about every two weeks .. and there is no way would I go back to doing the Thetford walk every day .. :ROFLMAO::ROFLMAO:
 

Sundowners

LIFE MEMBER
Oct 30, 2007
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Hi
Interesting subject!!
We had problems with VERY BAD smell from kitchen waste tank, and toilet blocking , I think the trailer had been standing some time and tanks not "used" properly. I tried some things to cure my problems, had I seen "The Geo Method" I feel sure that my tanks would soon have been sorted. In the end I used a container of "one shot" in each of the 2 problem tanks, bit risky I know, this gave me a quick fix and cleaned out the drain pipes. Since then I have used Bio-Magic and all seems to be working OK , BUT we use as much water in the black tank as possible, we even tip dish water down the loo on occasions to prevent THE BROWN MOUND. We may use GEO METHOD over the winter to see if it helps to clean off the level sensors. After reading about putting rabbit droppings in grey tanks on another forum, I have tried that , and although I feel really stupid collecting them, they do seem to work happily with BIO MAGIC.
We just use the cheapest loo roll we can find.
We have not had time to use the trailer as much as we would like but are trying to get to know the routine before we fulltime!!
Nigel & Pamala
 

GJH

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Aug 20, 2007
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Our van - being a mere dwarf compared to an RV ::bigsmile: - has an easily accessible grey waste outlet pipe which I empty into a bucket when necessary and a toilet cassette which I find easy enough to take to a black waste point.

To my way of thinking it's so much easier than having tanks which have to be dumped into a MH drain - but I happily accept that others have a different view. One of the great things about motorhomes to me is the variety, from the little Romahomes up to the 37 foot monsters like Bryan & Suzy's - something to suit everyone. :Smile:

On the related point of paper - when we bought the van the dealer (naturally) recommended the Thetford stuff. With experience we decided that Tesco Value brand shouldn't cause any problems and have been using that since finishing the pack of the posh stuff.

Graham
 

scotjimland

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Jul 25, 2007
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Can any of you remember the days when we used news paper???yuk yuk:Sad::cry::ROFLMAO:
For years I thought that was what the Radio Times was for, nice square 1/4 pages all threaded neatly on a string .. these were the days ! :ROFLMAO:
 

lugnutt

LIFE MEMBER
Sep 9, 2007
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autotrail apache
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ahh that brings it all back.running down the yard to light a newspaper on the floor to warm up the place runn back an give it 5 mins to retun for number 2's
:ROFLMAO::ROFLMAO::ROFLMAO:
 
C

Charles Bruni

Deleted User
Hi all
:ROFLMAO:.
This is not my work but that of a Mr Charles Bruni.
The Geo Method of Tank Cleaning, at least one of our members will be interested in reading this and maybe will challenge for copyright :ROFLMAO::ROFLMAO::ROFLMAO:
Challenge for copyright? That's a good one. I wrote the article and hold the copyright. It says so on my site. Get your facts straight please.

Charles Bruni
"GeometricEnigma" from RV.Net
Cabot, Arkansas, USA

http://cbruni.googlepages.com/
 

Jim

Ringleader
Jul 19, 2007
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Hi Charles, a nice article and as most RVers seem to have black water as the main topic of conversation I am sure the article is well read. :Smile:

As for your copyright, you might not know that we have a member in good standing here called "Geo" The copyright reference is a joke in his direction and no one is trying to steal your copyright. Maybe a bit of British Humour was lost on you::bigsmile: I hope you didn't join just to make the one post, we have quite a few members here from the USA and the RV owners here appreciate learning from their experience.

Meanwhile, welcome to the fun:thumb:
 

Geo

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Jul 29, 2007
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Challenge for copyright? That's a good one. I wrote the article and hold the copyright. It says so on my site. Get your facts straight please.

Charles Bruni
"GeometricEnigma" from RV.Net
Cabot, Arkansas, USA

The Geo Method - The Geo Method official homepage   <!-- google_ad_client = "pub-2615861085057897"; //468x60,
Hi Charles
Welcome to the FUN site, I too hope it wont be your last visit, As for any attempt to steal yours or any others intellectual rights,Please rest assured the subject matter would be very very very low on my agenda:ROFLMAO::ROFLMAO:
Geo
Ah the sweet smell of success:Blush:
 
C

Charles Bruni

Deleted User
I'm sorry, I understand now. Well, what can I say.

Are all you folks in the UK? Amazing! It's also amazing that The Geo Method has made it to the UK. The world is getting smaller.
 

Geo

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Jul 29, 2007
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Glad you got back to us Charles, if i ever get U Tube to fully load i intend to give your method a go, have you a link to a written description
Regards Geo
Ps and yes were all crazy on here:thumb:
 
C

Charles Bruni

Deleted User
The Geo Method Article

The Geo Method
By Charles Bruni

cbruni@gmail.com

Cabot, Arkansas
U.S.A.
______________________________________

RV owners should be concerned with maintaining its wastewater tanks. Problems with wastewater tanks can and should be avoided. Wastewater tank repair is expensive. Due to health concerns, many service facilities will not work on wastewater tanks and lines until the tanks have been completely emptied and sanitized. This may be quite difficult when the tank(s) is in need of repair. So, common sense dictates that the tanks should be kept relatively clean at all times. Additionally, improper use of the wastewater tanks can lead to a build up of solid wastes, which in itself may cause the system to fail.

I've discovered very simple, effective, and inexpensive methods of maintaining my wastewater tanks in a relatively clean condition at all times. I developed these methods myself through my understanding of chemistry, physics, and biology with a smidgen of common sense thrown in for good measure. I also read my RV owner's manual. Although we are not full time RVers we use our fifth wheel camper at least one weekend a month. We never use public bathing and toilet facilities. In other words, our wastewater tanks are fairly heavily used. Since I've met a number of RVers who don't seem to know how to maintain their wastewater tanks I thought many RVers would find my tips useful. If you have not been maintaining your tanks I believe you will be pleasantly surprised the first time you employ these tips. I do these things and they work.

RVs are equipped with waste water HOLDING tanks; NOT septic tanks. Those holding tanks are nothing more than chamber pots. Chamber pots should be cleaned and sanitized after their contents are disposed of. The Geo Method is based on this fact.


1. DUMP A FULL TANK

When you are camping and your RV is connected to a sewer/septic intake, leave the drain valves closed until the tank is full and ready to dump. Dumping a full tank provides a sufficient quantity of water to flush solids from the tank. Leaving the drain valves open allows the water to drain off without flushing out solid waste. That solid waste will collect in the tank(s) and cause problems over time. If your tanks are not full when you are ready to dump them, fill them with fresh water first, and then dump them.


2. DUMP TANKS IN ORDER FROM DIRTIEST TO CLEANEST

In other words, dump the black (commode) water tank first, then dump the galley tank, then dump the bathroom tank. This way you will be flushing out the dirtiest water with progressively cleaner water.


3. USE WATER SOFTENER, DETERGENT, and CHLORINE BLEACH

This stuff is amazing and it works. Buy a couple of boxes of powdered water softener at the grocery store. You'll find it located with or near the laundry detergent products. I prefer Calgon Water Softener because it dissolves quickly in water. Cheaper water softeners work just as well but dissolve more slowly. Dissolve two (2) cups of the water softener in a gallon of hot water. Then, pour the solution down the drain into the empty tank. Use two cups of softener for each wastewater tank in your RV. The tank's drain valve should be closed otherwise the softened water will just drain out. Then use the tank(s) normally until it is full and drain it normally. Add a cup of laundry detergent to the black (commode) water tank at the same time you add water softener. This will help clean the tank. The gray water tanks should already contain soap through normal use. Water softener makes the solid waste let go from the sides of the tanks. If you've ever taken a shower in softened water you know that after rinsing the soap from your body your skin will feel slick. That's because all the soap rinses away with soft water. Softened water also prevents soap scum from sticking in the tub. Get the connection? With softened water gunk washes away instead of sticking. The same thing applies to your RV's wastewater tanks.

I use a clear plastic elbow connector to attach my sewer drain line to the wastewater outlet on my RV. It allows me to see how well things are progressing during a wastewater dump. Before I began using water softener regularly the black water tank's water was brown, the galley tank's water was brownish, and the bathroom tank's water was white. The first time I added water softener to the tanks the water coming from the black water tank was actually black (not brown) and the kitchen tank's water was also black (not brownish). The bathroom tank's water remained white. That told me that the water softener had actually done what I had intended for it to do and made solid waste, which had been stuck to the interior of the tanks, let go and drain away. I added water softener (and laundry detergent to the black tank) to all the wastewater tanks for the next few dumps to be certain all the solid waste possible had been cleaned away. The wastewater only appeared black on the initial treatment. I now add water softener and detergent to each tank once after every few dumps to maintain the system.

Too little water softener may not be of sufficient concentration to work effectively. Too much water softener will NOT hurt the tanks. So, if the amount you used didn't quite do the job, then use more the next time. Don't forget the laundry detergent.

Occasionally, I pour a half gallon of liquid bleach into each tank to deodorize, sanitize and disinfect them. I add the bleach when the tank is about half full, and then continue to use the tank normally until it is full and ready to dump. I no longer use the blue toilet chemical because it isn't necessary. I have no odors coming from my black water tank. The chlorine bleach kills the bacteria, which is primarily responsible for waste water tank odor. Generic brand liquid bleach is cheap and very effective.


4. USE A WATER FILTER ON YOUR FRESH WATER INTAKE LINE

Most fresh water contains sediment. Sediment will accumulate in your wastewater tanks and your fresh water lines. It also tends to discolor your sinks, tub/shower, and commode. I use the disposable type and have found that they eventually fill up and begin restricting the fresh water flow resulting in low pressure. That's how I know it's time to get a new filter. It works, it's cheap, it avoids problems, do it. When I fill my fresh water tank I attach the filter to the end of the hose and fill the tank with filtered water.


SOME OTHER THOUGHTS

WATER, WATER, WATER - and more water! The Geo Method assumes you are hooked up to a plentiful clean water supply, and that you have access to a sewer. The water softener will make the gunk let go. That's only half the battle. After the gunk lets go it must then be flushed through the relatively small drain opening in the bottom of the tank. That takes water. Lots of water. I use a Flush King (Google it) to make rinsing more effective and faster.

CAUTION should be used when mixing chemicals. All I did when I came up with The Geo Method was use normal laundry products (water softener, laundry detergent, and chlorine bleach) and put them in the holding tanks which already contain water. I was NOT experimenting with chemicals. I simply applied laundry chemicals in normal combination to the waste water tanks. There are chemical products under your kitchen sink, in your laundry room, and in your garage that can injure or kill you when mixed. If you can do your laundry without harming yourself you can successfully employ The Geo Method. Don't go playing around with novel chemical combinations concocted from household products.

What was novel about The Geo Method was not in the combination of chemicals (all household laundry products intended to be used in combination) but in their application in cleaning RV waste water tanks. Common experience, if you've done laundry, tells you The Geo Method is safe. Doing laundry doesn't damage your washing machine, rot out your plumbing, or destroy waste water treatment systems. The Geo Method won't either. However, substituting other cleaning agents may not be safe.

There's nothing special or fragile about the materials used in RV plumbing. RV plumbing materials are made from the same stuff that household plumbing is made from. The problem arises in figuring out how to clean and sanitize the inaccessible interior of a holding tank. Water softener prevents gunk from adhering to the inside of the tanks, detergent removes the dirt, and chlorine bleach kills germs/odors. Soaking gives the chemicals time to work. Agitating the mix by driving down the road helps the process. Think of it this way; you can put some really nasty stuff in your washing maching, yet the inside of the washing maching doesn't get dirty. It stays clean - right? Same goes for your automatic dish washer. The same thing applies to RV holding tanks.

Those people who claim The Geo Method is somehow harmful just plain don't know what they're talking about. Their objections defy common sense and common experience. Anyone who thinks The Geo Method is harmful has a simple soultion available to their simple minded concerns - don't use it. At one time, daily bathing was thought by some to be harmful to one's health, and many people argued against it advising others to remain dirty. Those who object to The Geo Method fall into the same category of enlightened thought.

Will The Geo Method work even if most of the time I'm NOT hooked up to water and sewer? YES! Just use common sense. If you dry camp ninety percent of the time just keep water softener and detergent in your tanks (especially the black tank) while you're dry camping. This will keep gunk from sticking to the tanks. When you are hooked up to sewer and water take the opportunity to fill the tanks with fresh water and flush the tanks. Keep flushing them until the water runs clear. I know it works because I've done it.

Never put regular toilet tissue in your RV's black tank. Only use toilet tissue which is approved for RV and/or septic tank use. Regular toilet tissue may eventually dissolve, but not before causing a clog in your black tank.

Occasionally traveling with partially filled wastewater tanks containing softened water and detergent promotes cleaning by agitating the water. The same goes for chlorine bleach.

I believe this process works faster and more efficiently during warm weather. However, I know it works well even during cool/cold weather.

The process works best the longer the water softener and detergent remains in the tanks. So, I don't add water softener during periods of heavy wastewater generation. I wait until I know we won't be generating wastewater quickly so that the softened water remains in the tanks for several days before dumping.

If you have an older RV you may have to use water softener and detergent several times initially to completely clean the tanks of residue.

Water softener is NOT fabric softener, nor is it the rock salt used to recharge mechanical water softening systems.

Water softener is hard to find for a variety of reasons. Mostly it's because folks don't use it much. Most Wal-Marts I've been to stock liquid Calgon. Even though I know exactly what I'm looking for I still have a hard time spotting it on the shelf. Please don't write to me asking where to buy it. Seek and ye shall find.

Liquid water softener, liquid laundry detergent, and liquid diswashing detergent all work too. The key points are water softener and detergent. I prefer powder because it's cheaper by volume and weighs less by volume. I have plenty of cheap water on hand to hydrate it and pitch it down the commode and drains.

I add a small amount of chlorine bleach to the fresh water tank twice a year to disinfect and sanitize it and fresh water lines. A weak chlorine bleach solution will not hurt you. However, it certainly makes the water taste bad. When we have chlorine in the fresh water system we use bottled water for drinking and cooking until the chlorine is gone - or, you can drain the system and refill it. YES, we drink the filtered water that we have in the fresh water tank. NO, it has never tasted funny or caused any problems.

Folks write to me all the time saying their tank holds X gallons, so how much detergent and water softener should I use? I don't know. How could I? It will depend on the age of the RV, how much the tanks have been used, how well they've been rinsed in the past, how often they've been allowed to dry with crud in them, etc. I'll say this; brand new rigs shouldn't need The Geo Method for several dumps (6-12, or more - maybe less). An OLD rig will likely require a lot of detergent and water softener over several applications allowing the soultion to soak for a week or more. Then, you'll have to do a lot of rinsing to wash the crud out out the tank's drain. Without getting too graphic, I've helped a fellow who had never closed his black tank's drain valve. The experience of cleaning his tanks took forever and was literally nauseating - to both of us. I'll never, ever, do that again.

No, I do NOT do the ice cube thing. The Geo Method works without ice cubes. (Why not try walnuts instead? At least they won't melt within five minutes. No, I'm not serious.)

I don't believe these chemicals harm commercial septic tanks, if you think otherwise, then simply use The Geo Method only when dumping into a sewer system. Or, don't use it at all. It's your rig.

I've seen forum posts lately indicating that some RV parks are asking customers what kind of chemicals are in their waste water tanks, and in their cupboards. I find this hard to believe. It's none of their business. I feel no obligation to answer questions that the questioner has no business asking. Especially when I'll be penalized for a wrong answer. So, the correct answer that I would give is, "I don't use any chemicals at all." That should end the inquisition. If it goes beyond that it's time to take my business elsewhere. They most often need my business way more than I need their park.

My tanks are plastic and my pipes are PVC.

Don't be afraid to use your tanks. Just use common sense about their care and maintenance.

These tips are inexpensive to do. Some of them don't cost anything. You have nothing to lose in trying them and I encourage you to do so. I actually feel a certain amount of pride in the condition and cleanliness of both my waste and fresh water systems. Naturally, these tips make dumping a much more pleasant and sanitary procedure.

If you have odors in any of your water systems these procedures should eliminate them. Odors indicate a sanitary problem and degrade the enjoyment you derive from your RV.

When my RV is parked and not in use I place stoppers in the sink and tub drains. This forces the wastewater tanks to vent through the vent pipes to the outside instead of through the drains into the RV. Water evaporates. Once the drain traps dry out during periods of non-use, nothing is there to prevent gasses (odor) from venting into the camper. Use stoppers when your RV is stored.

PS - The reason this article is so long is that people write to me and ask questions. After I've answered the same question several times I incorporate it into the body of the article for the benefit of those who might ask again in the future. On the other hand, I've noticed complaints in various forums that the article is too long. Then again, I often get mail from people asking a question that's covered in the article.

Don't fret over this. Just try it, use enough to have a chemical effect, and you'll get the knack of it over time. Now, go out into this vast continent and enjoy your RV. Tell 'em Bruni sent you!! <GRIN>

Copyright (c) Charles Bruni





_____________________________________________

Please consider printing this information and posting it on bulletin boards in RV parks and campgrounds you visit. Fellow RVers will benefit from your consideration.
 
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