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Old 01-24-2021, 08:20 PM   #1
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21C' Black Tank configuration?

I'm a few months into ownership of my 2017 21C and getting the hang of things, but am confused about how the black tank is configured under the toilet.

I can see part of the tank under the bed, and it seems to align with the fiberglass riser that the toilet sits on. I imagine that entire space under the toilet being black tank. However...

We quickly ran into trouble with the tank seeming prematurely full, and the dreaded poop pyramid directly under the toilet. I bought one of those PVC wand attachments for a hose for cleaning in there. Using it with an empty tank, I was surprised when the wand hit plastic bottom only a few inches below the bottom of the toilet, and at most half way down the platform toward the floor.

The only explanation I can think of is that the blank tank isn't actually under there, but rather a pipe "slide" to the side. That seems like a terrible design. Maybe the entire bottom of the tank is sloped? It also means that looking down in there, the tank always looks nearly full. The tank itself being black, I can't eye the level under the bed and I just don't know whether or not the sensors are trustworthy yet.

So the questions:

Can anyone explain how the black tank sits under the toilet?
Can that explain my findings of shallow depth?
Is there a good strategy to avoid a pile under the toilet while not using up all the fresh water?
Is there a way to know how full the tank is, when I can't see the level and knowing that the sensors are notoriously unreliable?
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Old 01-24-2021, 08:45 PM   #2
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I will be interested in seeing what the answers to your questions are. I am planning to buy a 21C, but if the black tank is off to the side, it may be a deal-breaker.
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Old 01-24-2021, 09:16 PM   #3
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Here is my black tank pic 2019, 21. No issues yet.
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Old 01-24-2021, 09:45 PM   #4
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Originally Posted by kernwig View Post
I'm a few months into ownership of my 2017 21C and getting the hang of things, but am confused about how the black tank is configured under the toilet.

I can see part of the tank under the bed, and it seems to align with the fiberglass riser that the toilet sits on. I imagine that entire space under the toilet being black tank. However...

We quickly ran into trouble with the tank seeming prematurely full, and the dreaded poop pyramid directly under the toilet. I bought one of those PVC wand attachments for a hose for cleaning in there. Using it with an empty tank, I was surprised when the wand hit plastic bottom only a few inches below the bottom of the toilet, and at most half way down the platform toward the floor.

The only explanation I can think of is that the blank tank isn't actually under there, but rather a pipe "slide" to the side. That seems like a terrible design. Maybe the entire bottom of the tank is sloped? It also means that looking down in there, the tank always looks nearly full. The tank itself being black, I can't eye the level under the bed and I just don't know whether or not the sensors are trustworthy yet.

So the questions:

Can anyone explain how the black tank sits under the toilet?
Can that explain my findings of shallow depth?
Is there a good strategy to avoid a pile under the toilet while not using up all the fresh water?
Is there a way to know how full the tank is, when I can't see the level and knowing that the sensors are notoriously unreliable?
Ok, let's start with how the toilet is connect to the black tank. The black tank is installed directly under the fiberglass shell of the shower. A toilet flange is proflexed directly to the black tank - looking down the toilet flange, you would see the bottom of the black tank. There are no 90's etc. - just straight down.

https://www.escapeforum.org/forums/f...tml#post235848

The toilet is bolted to the toilet flange with two bolts. That's it.

Now to the poop pyramid. You HAVE to put water in the black tank before using it. There should be an inch or so of water there or the pyramid begins.

To clean the black tank through the toilet, you need to be able to hold the toilet ball open. I use a Johnny Chock. You open the flush valve, drop the chock in the toilet and it holds the ball open while letting the flush water run.

https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B0...?ie=UTF8&psc=1

Now you can insert you black tank cleaning wand down through the Johnny Chock and clean to your hearts content.

Don't forget to use a good tank treatment like Happy Campers or Odorlos.

https://www.amazon.com/Happy-Campers.../dp/B005XEFADU
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Old 01-24-2021, 09:51 PM   #5
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On build pics the bath shell is usually already installed so you canít see the full tank. The best shot of a 21 black tank was when Reace had one on the bench showing how to fix a leaky connection. It definitely extends under the toilet.
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Old 01-24-2021, 10:01 PM   #6
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On build pics the bath shell is usually already installed so you can’t see the full tank. The best shot of a 21 black tank was when Reace had one on the bench showing how to fix a leaky connection. It definitely extends under the toilet.
Thanks Dave! That white threaded fitting on the upper right hand side of your pic is where the toilet flange is attached.
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Old 01-24-2021, 10:10 PM   #7
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Now to the poop pyramid. You HAVE to put water in the black tank before using it. There should be an inch or so of water there or the pyramid begins.
So the 21 with the long, flat tank and a long run of pipe to the dump valve will need quite a bit of initial liquid/treatment chemical to keep things copacetic. 21 owners can confirm Iím sure. One of the biggest mistakes you can make is dumping too often or leaving the black tank valve open when hooked up to a sewer connection. Only dump the black tank once itís 2/3 or so full. Also never let the tank dry out. Always keep some liquid and treatment chemical in the tank. Your wand may be hitting hardened deposits in your tank (waste and toilet tissue) if you happen to have broken the rules I outlined above.
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Old 01-24-2021, 11:50 PM   #8
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Another trick to "scrub" your black tank after draining & spraying it clean is to put in a little bit of clean water & 3-4 big bags of ice cubes. Then drive it around. The ice does a scrub.

Makes one heck of a daiquiri, but doesn't clean the tank at all.

See video evidence:
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Old 01-25-2021, 12:18 AM   #9
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Not sure what you do in your black tank, but I prefer to spend my time in a Zero Gravity chair with a beer. Never found myself contemplating how to sanitize the interior of the black tank.
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Old 01-25-2021, 12:41 AM   #10
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Not sure what you do in your black tank, but I prefer to spend my time in a Zero Gravity chair with a beer. Never found myself contemplating how to sanitize the interior of the black tank.
Make that two chairs - two beers, I'm with Glenn.
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Old 01-25-2021, 01:18 AM   #11
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can I get beer all up in here too?
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Old 01-25-2021, 09:25 AM   #12
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Regarding the concern of wasting fresh water (especially during boondocking) on your black tank, put a basin in your kitchen sink when washing dishes. The soapy gray water is perfect to dump through the toilet to wash down the poop pyramid from your day’s accumulation
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Old 01-25-2021, 10:56 AM   #13
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Not sure what you do in your black tank, but I prefer to spend my time in a Zero Gravity chair with a beer. Never found myself contemplating how to sanitize the interior of the black tank.
Hi: gbaglo... Tanks for the memories!!! Alf
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Old 01-25-2021, 08:48 PM   #14
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So many responses!

Thank you for the picture of the actual black tank. That confirms my expectations.

Capturing dishwater and pouring into the toilet is a great idea! Especially since the grey tank fills faster than the black.

> You HAVE to put water in the black tank before using it. There should be an inch or so of water there or the pyramid begins.

Any idea how much water it takes to achieve that? The first couple gallons just fill the pipe coming out of the tank, right?

> To clean the black tank through the toilet, you need to be able to hold the toilet ball open. I use a Johnny Chock.

I just stand on one foot with the other on the flusher (with pump turned off).

> Only dump the black tank once itís 2/3 or so full.

One of my questions though was: how do I know? The sensor goes from empty to 2/3 almost instantly, as far as I've monitored in the two trips we've used the toilet.

I've tried cleaning the sensors with some commercial black-tank buildup cleaner, and with Simple Green sloshing around. The tank smells nice now. Looking down the hole though, it still looks near full. (Which is what led to this post!)

> Also never let the tank dry out.

I assume we aren't counting winterizing.

> Your wand may be hitting hardened deposits in your tank (waste and toilet tissue) if you happen to have broken the rules I outlined above.

We bought this used, and this seems to have been a problem when we got it. I'll try a brighter flashlight to look down the toilet, but am not sure I'll be able to tell the difference between a years old buildup and the bottom of the tank given that small portal.

Assuming that an old build-up is the only possible explanation, is some scrapper-on-a-pole the only option to clear it out? (I mean, besides enough beer until I don't care?)
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Old 01-26-2021, 09:23 AM   #15
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> Only dump the black tank once itís 2/3 or so full.

One of my questions though was: how do I know? The sensor goes from empty to 2/3 almost instantly, as far as I've monitored in the two trips we've used the toilet.

I've tried cleaning the sensors with some commercial black-tank buildup cleaner, and with Simple Green sloshing around. The tank smells nice now. Looking down the hole though, it still looks near full. (Which is what led to this post!)
Once you clear the crud and are certain you are seeing the bottom of the tank you'll be able to look through the hole and better guesstimate when it is time to dump the tank. Sensors are notoriously unreliable. You might want to remove the toilet to be able to get a better picture of what is going on. It's not hard - two closet bolts at the bottom of toilet and disconnecting the water line. Because it is made of plastic and mostly hollow it is very light.

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Originally Posted by kernwig View Post
> Also never let the tank dry out.

I assume we aren't counting winterizing.
For winterizing you should make sure the tank is rinsed out really well and dump a bunch of RV antifreeze in the tank. Most of the antifreeze will likely go into the drain line but with a clean tank its not of much consequence.

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> Your wand may be hitting hardened deposits in your tank (waste and toilet tissue) if you happen to have broken the rules I outlined above.

We bought this used, and this seems to have been a problem when we got it. I'll try a brighter flashlight to look down the toilet, but am not sure I'll be able to tell the difference between a years old buildup and the bottom of the tank given that small portal.

Assuming that an old build-up is the only possible explanation, is some scrapper-on-a-pole the only option to clear it out? (I mean, besides enough beer until I don't care?)
Some others may have a better idea but if it were me I would fill the tank mostly full, add some treatment chemicals, and let it sit a few days to hopefully break up any crud. Then I would drain the tank, remove the toilet and then with a really bright headlamp take a cut off broom stick or the like and poke around. Don't rule out that someone could have dropped something into the toilet. It's a dirty job but somebody has to do it. With a really good light you should be able to discern when you are hitting the bottom of the tank.
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Old 01-26-2021, 08:46 PM   #16
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You might want to remove the toilet to be able to get a better picture of what is going on.
Thank you for the suggestions rubicon327!
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Old 01-27-2021, 09:40 AM   #17
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I have one of these, and have found it so useful looking into spots I cannot get into to see what is inside
https://harborfreight.com/digital-in...era-61839.html

Another option is an endoscope camera for your phone or laptop
https://www.amazon.com/DEPSTECH-Wate...NsaWNrPXRydWU=
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Old 01-27-2021, 11:36 AM   #18
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I have one of these, and have found it so useful looking into spots I cannot get into to see what is inside
https://harborfreight.com/digital-in...era-61839.html

Another option is an endoscope camera for your phone or laptop
https://www.amazon.com/DEPSTECH-Wate...NsaWNrPXRydWU=
I had the Harbor Freight inspection camera & it died after a year. Small screen & low resolution, but it did the trick for a number of wire runs in the trailer.

I've since purchased the DEPSTECH inspection camera & with the phone or iPad, a much more useful device, although the stiff camera to display on the Harbor Freight was sometimes easier to use than the very flexible DEPSTECH camera.
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Old 02-06-2021, 04:15 PM   #19
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Thumbs up All good

I took the toilet off today, and saw what was clearly the ABS black plastic bottom. Near spotless and no smell. It looks extremely shallow, but when I put a measuring tape in there I measured about 5.25" of inside depth. That doesn't seem like a lot. Measuring the fiberglass step up that the toilet sits on, if I recall, that was about 7". Accounting for the thickness of the fiberglass and the top and bottom walls of the tank - it all seems about right.

The tank just isn't very tall inside. :shrug:

Based on comments, I think what I'm missing is prefilling a bunch of water. I've been relying on the flushed water and, ahem, biological fluid output. I suspect that by the time there's enough of that to fill the drain pipe the pyramid has already begun to form.

I still wish the tank was translucent so that I could see the level from the exterior hatch.

Thank you all for the education.
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Old 02-06-2021, 04:25 PM   #20
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not sure what you do in your black tank, but i prefer to spend my time in a zero gravity chair with a beer. Never found myself contemplating how to sanitize the interior of the black tank. ;d
here ya go!
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