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Texasrvers
Recently I was at a Walmart (and no, this is not a post about parking there) and was buying chemicals for the black water tank when another customer (an RVer also, I assume) asked me what I used to sanitizes my tanks. At first I thought he meant the fresh water tank, but soon discovered he was talking about the gray and black water tanks. He told me that about once a month (and more often in hot weather) he fills both tanks to capacity with water (after dumping them) and then adds bleach. He lets that stand for a day or so and then dumps and rinses the tanks.

All we have ever done is run water through the gray water tank and back wash the black water tank. We do keep the drop in chemical packets in the black water tank when in use, but we have never done the bleach treatment.

Is this something we should be doing? Does anyone else "sanitize" their gray and black water tanks?

RLM
It’s a good question, but I wonder how one can completely “sanitize” a place used for the collection of human waste. Getting rid of the odors is only effective until it’s filled up again and I doubt any amount of bleach would overcome that issue. I would think that commercial chemical products are just as good as bleach and they do have a deodorizer in them. Bleach is not supposed to be dumped into a septic system which some campgrounds may have in place.
dalsgal
Adding bleach actually kills the "good" bacteria that helps prevent odors. We travel in our bus and have never added anything to our tanks and have never had any odor problem at all. We let our tank get nearly full and then dump. If you dump too often you end up with lots of sludge in the bottom of your tank. We run a couple of gallons of fresh water into the tank, flush that and close the tank.

We just recently had a camper here that developed an odor problem and we found he was adding bleach any time he smelled anything. We had him keep his tank closed, add a couple of spoonfuls of Rid-ex and when the tank was full to dump again. Then he added a bit more of the Rid-ex and, again, let the tank fill before dumping. He has not had any odor problem since then.
John Blue
TX,

You are doing this job the correct way. Bleach is acid and could damage the dump valves. Add a lot of water in tank and dump it. We do this couple times. To complete the job add in chemicals to black tank plus 5 gals of water and you are good to go. Always keep some water in the black tank.

RLM added in correct information as well. We all need to use care in what we dump in septic systems.
FosterImposters
QUOTE(dalsgal @ Oct 8 2009, 06:31 AM) *

...add a couple of spoonfuls of Rid-ex ...


We were advised, and used this product with a new septic system back when we lived in a stick house in the country. I think the concept was to assist in breaking up kitchen (garbage disposal type) waste in one's septic system. Was not just to 'seed' a new system, but strongly recommended to use on a regular basis.

Was intrigued when this came up in another thread, and am curious how many of us (full-timers or not)use a wee-bit in their RV holding tanks like dalsgal?
jan-n-john
QUOTE(FosterImposters @ Oct 8 2009, 09:14 AM) *

We were advised, and used this product with a new septic system back when we lived in a stick house in the country. I think the concept was to assist in breaking up kitchen (garbage disposal type) waste in one's septic system. Was not just to 'seed' a new system, but strongly recommended to use on a regular basis.

Was intrigued when this came up in another thread, and am curious how many of us (full-timers or not)use a wee-bit in their RV holding tanks like dalsgal?

FWIW, I've researched the topic of Rid-X some, as it applies to its intended use in home septic systems, and have found that the authorities (such as the water quality folks in various states) have different opinions, some saying it's harmful and never use it and others saying it's beneficial. So take your choice of advice. I suppose a small amount in your black tank won't cause much harm and might help something.

As to the idea of "sterilizing" your tanks, I agree that it's probably not a great idea, just like constantly "sanitizing" your kitchen counters is also a bad idea, not to mention ineffective in the first place. My reaction to the OP is that the guy he met in the Wal-mart (and/or his wife) is a bit "anal." Life is not about everything being neat and pretty and safe at all times, and certainly RVing entails some personal involvement with certain processes that at home are taken care of for us and seldom enter our minds. Part of the charm????

As for me, I just make sure there's a decent amount of water in the black tank when I dump, and let it go at that. We get a little odor from time to time, and when we do my wife, bless her heart, calls that to my attention, sometimes with vigor, so I pour in some blue stuff but no big deal. But then I grew up on a farm, and thus shoveled lots of poop in my day, so maybe one's view of all this depends on where one is coming from.
Denali
QUOTE(FosterImposters @ Oct 8 2009, 08:14 AM) *

We were advised, and used this product with a new septic system back when we lived in a stick house in the country. I think the concept was to assist in breaking up kitchen (garbage disposal type) waste in one's septic system. Was not just to 'seed' a new system, but strongly recommended to use on a regular basis.

Was intrigued when this came up in another thread, and am curious how many of us (full-timers or not)use a wee-bit in their RV holding tanks like dalsgal?
We have been on the road for over seven years now, and I have used quite a few black tank chemicals. In my experience, RID-X (especially the liquid version) is a great tank deodorant. The only better product that I have found for that is Odorlos, which is much more expensive.

In terms of breaking up waste, though, my opinion is that it accomplishes nothing in an RV holding tank. I never see any difference when dumping the black tank when I don't use RID-X than when I do. From the RID-X web site: "RID-X® has not been tested on recreational vehicles (RVs). therefore we cannot recommend using it in RVs."

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Dave Rudisill
Dunsmuir, CA
Lindsay Richards
Sanitizing your black and gray tanks is a complete waste of time and effort in my opinion. Chlorine can also do damage to the system it is eventually pumped into. Adding chemicals seems to be a personal preference.
Tom
We are weekend campers. I do sanitize my grey and black tanks with bleach, but at the end of the year when I am winterizing the TT. Sometimes I've done it in the middle of the summer if we haven't used the camper for weeks. I do not find the need to sanitize while we are using the camper... it can sit for a couple weeks with just a good rinsing without any smell (or at least very little).

I think depending on natural bacteria is great if you are using the tanks regularly. But in my experience, when those tanks sit for long periods of no use and they are not absolutely perfectly cleaned out, whatever little bit of "stuff" that is left in them will begin to stink.

I've been doing this for 6 seasons now without any problems.
Texasrvers
Thanks for all the great replies, and it sounds like I do not need to use the bleach after all. I had never heard about using Rid-X in the RV, and I will keep it in mind; but truthfully the little drop in pouches have worked just fine for us. (We've been using Oxy-Kem.) We follow pretty much the same procedures as the rest of you (let the tanks fill up and then dump), so I guess we'll just keep doing it that way.
abbygolden
I'm not a porfessional plumber, but my BIL is and what he told me about RidX and other such checmicals as they apply to RVs makes sense to me. Those sort of chemicals are intended for use in septic systems, not holding tanks. So if you use it to help break up the sludge in your black tank, it won't be effective for that purpose. However - and this is just my thought - using it could concievably help the campground septic system, if it has one. If it is connected to a city system, it probably wouldn't have any effect at all.
dog bone
i will put rid-x in my black tank, if i'm not going to use the trailer for awhile. then when i get full i dump. i am the only site that has it's own septic tank left in the campground. so when i do dump it's helping me. i have been putting off getting hooked up because i have my site set up with rock walls, mountain laural and gravel. it would be a shame to rip all that apart. it will happen sooner or later.
abbygolden
Rid-X is wonderful for septic systems. It has no effect whatever on closed systems such as an RV black tank. It won't hurt it, but it won't help either. My theory on cleaning black tanks is to do/use whatever is right for you. For me, it's the Geo method. As you can tell by the responses, there are many alternatives. I have a friend who uses nothing but copius amounts of water and it works great for him.
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