TCM asks Paul Harris, Lance Camper’s General Manager of Customer Service, about how to properly use and maintain RV holding tank systems.
Before joining Lance Campers almost four years ago, Paul Harris owned and operated Paul Harris RV, a Lance Camper dealership in Eugene, Oregon.
As a previous RV dealership owner, Paul has seen just about everything one can imagine when it comes to maintenance. When we talked Paul about the proper care of truck camper holding tanks, we found ourselves learning a great deal, even after six years of truck camper ownership. Who knew there was so much to holding tank maintenance and care? Immediately we knew we had found another expert for our Ask The Expert series. The following article is the result of our conversations with Paul on truck camper holding tank systems.
Fresh Water Tank System
In a truck camper, fresh water is primarily used for bathing, cooking, and washing dishes. When filling your truck camper tank with fresh water, make sure that you use a sanitized fresh water hose.
The sanitized fresh water hose will ensure that your water doesn’t have any residual taste or odor from the hose. Even with a sanitized fresh water hose, many truck camper owners opt to use bottled water for drinking as the water sources on the road can vary in quality.
When filling your campers fresh water tank, Paul highly recommends connecting your sanitized fresh water hose to a quick fill nozzle with a shut-off valve. With the quick fill nozzle, it will be easier and quicker to fill your fresh tank as the quick fill nozzle will allow air to enter the tank, speeding up the process.
Once a year you should sanitize your fresh water tanks. To do this, pour a cap full of household liquid bleach into a gallon jug of water and shake it up. Then pour the bleach and water mixture into your fresh water tank and continue to fill with water until full. Leave it in your tank overnight. Some folks even drive around with the bleach water in their fresh tank to give the fresh tank a thorough rinsing.
The next day, run all of your sink facets as well as the camper shower and toilet. You want the water and bleach mixture to run through all of your camper plumbing and valves. Paul recommends that you flush your fresh water system at least twice with fresh water after this sanitizing method. Some people also follow this sanitizing method with a baking soda product for taste.
Fresh Water City Inlet
If you are staying at a campsite or residence that has an outside water spigot, you can opt to hook up directly to your camper city water inlet. Once an outside fresh water spigot is connected to the city water connection on your camper, you are using fresh water directly from the spigot, not from your camper’s fresh water tank.
Unfortunately, many campgrounds often have water pressure that is too high for truck camper plumbing systems. A pressure regulator will ensure that the water pressure does not damage your truck camper plumbing. When attaching the pressure regulator, it should be attached in the order of faucet, pressure regulator, and then hose. This also helps to protect the hose.
Once you’re properly connected to a city water connection, turn off your camper water pump and turn on the water source spigot. This allows the water to run continuously from the camper faucets, shower, and toilet flush just like it does at home. The water will drain into your grey tank.
Some campers also like to add a water filtration system to their campers.
Grey Tank System
The grey tank is where your fresh water drains as you cook, wash dishes, and shower. There is very little that you need to do to maintain your grey tank. There are RV grey water deodorizers, but they generally aren’t necessary. When washing dishes, it is possible that little bits of food can go down the drain and cause odors. Grey water deodorizers are designed to alleviate these odors if you experience them and keep your tank sensors clean.
Black Water System
Black tanks hold human waste from the toilet in your truck camper. There are two types of truck camper black tanks; standard black holding tanks and cassette toilet holding tanks. For detailed information about cassette holding tanks, read, “Thetford Cassette Toilet Systems”. The remainder of this section focuses on standard black tanks as found in the majority of self-contained truck campers.
To properly use a black tank system, you need to use a holding tank chemical. Paul recommends Aqua-Kem (formaldehyde) or Eco Chem (non-formaldehyde) Thetford holding tank chemicals. These chemicals are designed to control odor, break down human waste and RV toilet tissue, and lubricate the seals on the black tank valve.
During our conversation, Paul stated that you need to decide early on which holding tank chemical type you want to use. He explained that if you frequently switch holding tank chemical types, the chemicals will not be nearly as effective. If you have already switched back and forth, Paul recommends resetting your black tank by completely flushing your black tank. To do this, you dump fresh water down your toilet.
In a RV holding tank, it is very important that you don’t use regular household toilet tissue. It does not break down as well as RV toilet tissue and can clog your black tank system. RV toilet tissue is single ply and will break down quickly in your black holding tank.