When RVs have to go...

Article: Managing Your Tanks

KC Chavda

Many of us take the water management systems in our RVs for granted. We are so accustomed to the flawless operation of our 'stick house' water systems that we naturally assume that everything should work the same in our RVs. In many cases, this is true, especially with proper preparation, proactive maintenance, and knowledge of just what you're putting into your system. This column is all about helping you achieve this.

You're probably thinking: why write a column? Isn't this information already available? Doesn't my operating manual cover this? I've been RVing for a long time, is it not the same as before?

The simple answer to all of these questions is: yes; however, many things have certainly changed. Here are just a few examples:

  • Formaldehyde chemicals, which many of us have used in the past, are now banned in many places.
  • RVs are getting bigger and that means an increase in weight. RVers are demanding more and more creature comfort, such as king-size beds, granite counters, built-in generators, solar panels, and microwaves, which tax the relatively static vehicle carrying capacities, meaning our safety margins have been steadily declining. Road safety is becoming an issue. According to the Department of Highways research, over 50% of the RVs on the road today exceed one of their vehicle weights. In addition to being stopped by authorities on your trip, your insurance may deny a claim if they determine that you have exceeded weight. This could be your gross vehicle weight (tow vehicle, motor home; GWVR), gross combined vehicle weight (GCWVR), or any one of your axel or tire weights.
  • Today's RV tanks have increased in size, ranging from two to ten times, depending on the type of RV you own. It's not unusual to carry over 200 gallons of water between your fresh, grey, black, and hot water tanks. Given that a US gallon of water weighs approximately 8.33 pounds (10 pounds per Imperial gallon), your RV's weight could see a swing of over 1,600 pounds. That's like carrying a Smart car!
  • Boon docking and staying at Walmart is a new phenomenon which means relying on our water tanks.
  • More and more readily accessible dump stations are closing due to abuse and cost. This means that many RVers are driving longer distances with full tanks.

I haven't even touched the incontinence factor when your tanks get overfilled due to inoperable sensors, the mysterious gurgling in your toilet, leaky tank valves, or the hardening of solids in your black tank, which can cost several thousand dollars to have replaced.

I hope I have your attention when I say that managing your water tanks is important. This column will help you avoid many of these issues through education, helpful tips, and simple do it yourself items.

My partner, John, and I have been RVing for several decades each. John started his RVing by converting a van, while I started with a pop-up tent trailer. Over time, we have both upgraded to fifth wheels that we tow with diesel trucks today. Over two years ago, John started collecting information about sanidumps, or dump stations, in our local area of BC with a listing of 100+ sites. Today, we are closing on 12,000 sites. We do over 1,000 updates per month and our 18,000 monthly visitors provide us with many additional updates and feedback to help keep our site current.

In talking with several fellow RVers, both new and experienced, we found that many have issues with managing their tanks and there are few places where one can attain this knowledge. When you buy an RV, the dealer does an RV orientation session (at least the good ones do) that can last anywhere from one to four hours, where they cover the whole RV. As my wife says, it's an information overload. RV clubs like Good Sam and Escapees have very good training events, but we can't all be there. So we developed our own seminar on managing your tanks that is tailored for a one to four-hour session, depending on the audience. We have delivered this seminar at various events from dealer shows, RV shows in Chilliwack, Abbottsford, and Puyallup, Escapade events, and locally at the Okanagan LifeStyle event at Okanagan College, which we will be doing again this year on June 19th. We will be sharing information from these seminars in this column. If you would like us to discuss a particular topic of interest, drop us an email.

With the end of every column, we'd like to leave you with a helpful tip.

Tip: Tank valves

When hooked up at a campground, always keep your tank valves closed. Only dump when your tanks are at least 2/3 or more full. This will avoid what I call a 'brown pyramid' being formed at the bottom of the black tank just under the toilet pipe and will keep the grease and food particles from sticking to the sensors in the grey tank. Next time you are camping, walk around the campground to see how many RVers have both of their valves fully open - now you can help them!

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When RVs have to go...™

Dump Station Types

The type of recreational vehicle dump stations you will find on Sanidumps.com include: private, public, RV park, non-park, municipal, truck stop, rest stop, campground, camping, resort, commercial, pay, donation, waste disposal, and free.

It is important to dispose of human waste properly when RVing. The RV dump station, dump point, or sanidump station you choose to empty your gray and black water holding tanks is up to you; we're hoping that you will choose an approved dump station site that's green and environmentally friendly, using an environmentally sound method.

Know Where To Dump Your Tanks

Do you need to know where to dump your holding tanks when your RV is on the road? Now you can know where the RV dump Stations are while traveling with a e-book. More information about the RV Dump Station location e-book.


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Sanidumps.com is not affiliated in any way with any place/location listed on this site. Fees are subject to change; availability and prices can and do change.

We thank all the RVers that have contributed information :-)

The Sanidumps.com Team

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