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Old 05-16-2018, 02:43 PM   #1
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Black Tank Acting Strangly

Okay, I know that the gauges aren't the most accurate and all that. Paid extra for the supposedly better than stock ones. Yeah, well, I know they're still not 100% accurate. I can deal with that.

So, twice I've emptied both tanks (recently). Both times stuff comes out of both the black and grey tanks. Both times the grey tank will register E. However, the black tank does not register empty. I've opened and closed the valve thingie twice each time, making sure there isn't anything else coming out. Nope, nothing coming out. But it's registering 2/3rd full. (Earlier in the trip I didn't have this problem.)

I've had this sort of situation happen before, but after driving the tank(s) will register empty. However, this time around that black tank will not show it's empty. Now it's at F, after driving from Barstow to Flagstaff (and using it along the way).

I'm really puzzled as to why the grey tank will register E but not the black. I left the valve thingie open for quite a while. The trailer was not leaning the other way. TP does not go down the toilet, so I know there isn't a piece hanging on the gauge.

So, what the heck? I'm not able to empty the tanks at my friend's and hadn't booked full hookups at my next spot, as I figured they would be close to empty from my last campground. But I might have to change the reservation and see what happens there.

Can I assume that since the grey is empty, the black is the same way? Or assume it's full and not really use it until I can dump the tanks again? I do use the trailer bathroom whenever I pull over at a rest stop, gas station or an exit (when rest stops are closed!!!).

Thanks for any suggestions or comments (well, the positive type comments - HA!) that are posted. I'm heading out of Flagstaff early tomorrow AM, so hoping for some useful information before then.
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Old 05-16-2018, 02:54 PM   #2
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Black tank gauges are notorious for inaccurate full readings because there is more.....well...stuff, that can hang up on a sensor and clog it. Right after you dump, just hold the toilet flush valve open and look down inside - may be necessary to shine a flashlight - and you should be able to easily see that the tank is empty. If black water is discharging when you dump, it's almost certainly just a clogged tank sensor. That's where the cleaning wands and other gadgets of that nature come in....or you can just visually look down into the tank.
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Old 05-16-2018, 02:56 PM   #3
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We always believe our fresh water readings, the grey, not so much and if in doubt about the black, dare I say it, look down the hole. 100% accurate, never fails.

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Old 05-16-2018, 02:58 PM   #4
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Hi: NW Cat Owner... Face It... Your black tank has a stigma attached to it!!! Alf
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Old 05-16-2018, 03:18 PM   #5
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It sounds like your black tank could use a cleaning. On our old motorhome we would mix up some Calgon (helps make things slippery) in a pitcher of water and dump it down the toilet, followed by a gallon or so of water with some Tide. (I have seen automatic dishwasher soap recommended, probably because it is low suds) Then we fill it up with fresh water and drive and let is slosh around. We didn't follow exact measurements or instructions but this basically is the "Geo" method and we have had great luck with it.

Also, when you dump try to dump a full black tank even if it means adding fresh water to the tank via the toilet. This helps clear things out. We would usually close the dump valve after and dump down another 5-10 gallons of fresh down the toilet and then dump again. When emptying/flushing the black tank water is your friend.
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Old 05-16-2018, 03:27 PM   #6
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Originally Posted by NW Cat Owner View Post
Okay, I know that the gauges aren't the most accurate and all that. Paid extra for the supposedly better than stock ones. Yeah, well, I know they're still not 100% accurate. I can deal with that.

So, twice I've emptied both tanks (recently). Both times stuff comes out of both the black and grey tanks. Both times the grey tank will register E. However, the black tank does not register empty. I've opened and closed the valve thingie twice each time, making sure there isn't anything else coming out. Nope, nothing coming out. But it's registering 2/3rd full. (Earlier in the trip I didn't have this problem.)

I've had this sort of situation happen before, but after driving the tank(s) will register empty. However, this time around that black tank will not show it's empty. Now it's at F, after driving from Barstow to Flagstaff (and using it along the way).
# 5 Mike is right on . Tank needs a cleaning . Remember before I suggested you want black tank full before you dump . Another way is the wand in the toilet through the bath window . Pat
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Old 05-16-2018, 03:28 PM   #7
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I'm really puzzled as to why the grey tank will register E but not the black.
My trailer was doing the same thing so I took a look at the black tank probes (you can see them by looking through the under bed access hatch) and found that they had been installed incorrectly. The black probes have a shield over the probe element that is suppose to keep them from fouling but mine had been installed with the shield upside down which caused the foul quickly.

After pulling the probes, cleaning them, and reinstalling them correctly, they have been working well.

The proper installation method is documented in the Horst installation manual. Here is an article that describes how the probes work and how to check for correct installation.
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Old 05-16-2018, 03:57 PM   #8
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Thanks for the info folks. I have been dumping when the tank is full or 2/3rds. Yes, Pat, I remember that you told me that last year. And I've been following that advice.

I was not aware you could actually see the probes. Not looking for them now, but will check into that later.

Will look down the toilet. I know I need to give it a good dumping and swirling around with the wand, but haven't been somewhere that I could do that. Too stinking hot. I really wanted to start my trip a month earlier, but wasn't able to. Or if it wasn't hot, the trailer wasn't level enough to get the tank fully emptied.

I do have some dishwashing soap so I'll probably try that trick for the haul between here and Albuquerque. Dump again and then run another batch of water through the tank and use the wand.

Thanks! So, for now I can pee with confidence. Hee, hee.

PS - just looked down the toilet. Can see water/stuff there, but it's no where near the top/bottom of toilet. AND the monitor now says 1/3rd for both tanks. Jeez. After hours and hours of not telling me that and me freaking out it'd overflow. Jeez. I'll wait till I get to Houston to wash out the tanks as that's my next stop where I'm there long enough (as opposed to overnight) to take care of that.

PPS - We installed one of the Lippert Components White Roof Vent for the black tank tube - works WONDERFULLY!!! The stink I had complained about before is now gone. I don't have to smell sewer for the first day after pulling up somewhere after traveling. I don't have to be embarrassed to show the trailer to someone due to the smell. It was easy to install (just make sure you use the correct adhesive; otherwise you'll be installing another one - trust me on this). I strongly advise this for anyone with a 21' trailer, as from previous discussion I guess it's more of an odor problem with the 21 than their other sizes. Many thanks to the forum members who suggested installing one.
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Old 05-16-2018, 03:59 PM   #9
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Another way to clean the black tank is to dump as normal, add about 5 -10 gal water
Then dump 2 bags of ice cubes down the toilet, at least 10 lbs.
Take a ride and as the ice moves about in the tank it will scrub off a lot of gunk from the tank walls and sensors.
Dump at the next convenient time, and hope it helped.

I use the look down the hole method most of the time though
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Old 05-16-2018, 04:13 PM   #10
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Another way to clean the black tank is to dump as normal, add about 5 -10 gal water
Then dump 2 bags of ice cubes down the toilet, at least 10 lbs.
Take a ride and as the ice moves about in the tank it will scrub off a lot of gunk from the tank walls and sensors.
Dump at the next convenient time, and hope it helped.

I use the look down the hole method most of the time though

There is a video on Youtube that demonstrates that dumping ice cubes in the black tank doesn't accomplish anything. Video of ( plexiglass ) black tank shows that the ice sloshes around, but doesn't clean anything.


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