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Eliminating Tank Odor and Backups

 

Proper Maintenance Guidelines For Your RV Black Water Holding Tank

 

Every tank is a little different, but there are a few things that every RV'er should know and do consistently regardless of your specific system. Doing these 5 things will dramatically decrease your chances of foul tank odors and backups. That means you can travel in comfort without embarrassing odors and gross repairs.

Rule 1: Keep your valve closed

Leaving your black water tank valve open can result in your liquid wastes draining into the sewer while the solid waste gets left behind to clog your tank. This is known as a pyramid plug and will lead to backups and odors. It may also lead to costly repairs.

Rule 2: Don't allow caustic chemicals or anti-bacterial products in your tank

Your holding tank remains clog and odor-free from naturally occurring bacteria that are present in your tank. Killing those beneficial bacteria will increase your chance of odors and backups.

Rule 3: Treat after each dump

Treating your system with more beneficial bacteria after each dump will greatly lower your risk of odors and backups.

Rule 4: Clean your toilets with an RV toilet cleaner

Cleaning your toilets with bleach or chemical toilet cleaners will kill the beneficial bacteria in your tank and increase your likelihood of backups and foul tank odors.

Rule 5: Watch your tank temperatures

The beneficial bacteria that keep your tanks clog and odor-free are inhibited by extreme heat and cold. Regulating your tank temps will allow those bacteria to flourish.The beneficial bacteria that keep your tanks clog and odor-free are inhibited by extreme heat and cold. Regulating your tank temps will allow those bacteria to flourish.


Tank Odors

What causes odors in tanks?

Tank odors are caused by naturally occurring anaerobic bacteria (that come from your stomach and are found in nature) who release foul odors as they break down the waste in blank and gray tanks. RV Digest-It infuses a blend of naturally occurring aerobic bacteria into the tank to replace the anaerobic bacteria and quench the foul odors by breaking down the waste while emitting only water and carbon dioxide. Unique’s proprietary blend of safe, eco-friendly bacteria are much more concentrated than competitor brands and outperform competitor products by breaking down waste faster, eliminating odors better, and leaving behind no residue in your tanks to clog lines, foul up sensors, or degrade seals.

Simply put, Unique spares no expense in creating the highest quality bacteria blends with concentrations that far exceed competitor products which means better waste break-down and stronger odor removal. And to top it all off, it’s less expensive per use than leading tank treatments!

Why am I getting odors in my RV?

Odors in a holding tank are bound to happen but if you are doing all of the right things you shouldn't experience those odors inside your RV. When you smell odors inside your RV it is a good indicator that something isn't right and it's a smelly reminder to address these problems.

Below is a list of the common reasons why tank odors make their way into your RV:

Keep water in your toilet

Water is a natural barrier for sewage gasses. In your home toilet you have a trap that keeps water in the line at all times preventing the sewer gas from seeping into your home. Not only does sewer gas smell terrible, it is also dangerous and can be damaging to your health if you allow it to seep into your RV.

To ensure no tank odors seep into your RV always keep a few inches of water in the toilet bowl whenever you are parked. Obviously, you will want to flush the water from your toilet before traveling so the water in the bowl doesn't splash out.

Ensure your vents are working correctly

Again, just like your home, your RV is equipped with a vent that allows the naturally occurring sewer gasses to escape out the top of your RV so the smells don't backup into your RV. If you are experiencing odors in your tank there is a good chance that you need to take a look at your exhaust systems.

Several things can cause your exhaust system to underperform. Outdoor temperatures or wind can force a downward pressure on the sewer gas causing it to backup into your RV. Installing a vent cover, fan, or damper can help eliminate this problem. There are several options available so try to "sniff out" (pun clearly intended!) the root of your problem and that will help you to determine what your solution is. There are even turbines that will use the wind above your RV while you are moving or are stationary to lift the sewer gasses out and exhaust them into the air.

Watch your tank temperatures

The waste in your tank should be breaking down and becoming liquified if you are following our 5 Rules For Proper Black Water Care (see above). The specially formulated bacteria and enzymes in RV Digest-It boost the naturally occurring bacteria that is in your tank (from your stomach) to digest all of the waste into liquid as well as remove the odors by forcing out the anaerobic bacteria that gas off methane (the nasty smell coming from your tank). However, bacteria are living organisms and just like humans they tend to become less active if they are overly hot or cold.

To ensure the bacteria in your tank are performing at their peak regulate the temperatures in your tank. If you encounter extreme heat pour cold water or ice into the tank. If you are in extremely cold areas bacteria activity is a concern, but so is freezing of the sewage, so explore your options for ensuring your holding tank is well insulated. You may need to use a heater as well depending on your situation.

The ideal temperature for properly working holding tanks is roughly 45 degrees Fahrenheit to 85 degrees Fahrenheit. 

Tips for eliminating odors

1. Keep water in your toilet

2. Make sure your vents are working properly

3. Regulate tank temperatures

4. Don't kill the bacteria in your tank by allowing chemicals into your holding tanks

5: Dump regularly and treat with RV Digest-It

6. Make sure enough water is getting into your tanks so they waste doesn't dry up - this will also kill the naturally occurring bacteria, making it impossible to digest waste


Solid Waste In Tanks

It is very important that you consider the solid waste in your tanks. So often, people only think about the odors in their tanks and neglect to ensure that the waste is being digested properly. In fact, may of the popular "treatments" that are sold everyday are made only to mask or eliminate odors. Many of these not only completely neglect the need to digest waste but they actually make the problem worse by adding heavy minerals to your system that coat your toilet bowl and lines, damage your tank sensors, and degrade the rubber seals that keep the sewer gas from seeping out of your tank.

Tips for ensuring proper solid digestion

1. Make sure your valve is closed unless you are dumping

2. Use a very high quality waste digester like RV Digest-It to digest the difficult solids, like grease, toilet paper, and human waste

3. Ensure enough water is the tank so waste never has the opportunity to dry up or become thick

4. Do not allow any chemicals or anti-bacterial soaps in your tanks

5. NEVER allow flushable wipes into your tanks