Levers, and tanks, and hoses, Oh my!

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Today, I want to share a topic that’s very near and dear to the hearts of all RVers: black and gray water management!

As you may recall from a previous blog (and YouTube video), I’m no stranger to black or gray water mis-management 🤢, so I speak from experience when I say that I know how to deal appropriately with wastewater management in an RV. When we started our journey, I picked a sewer hose based on two things: proximity and appearance. You see, I was at the RV dealer to pick up our newly-purchased fifth-wheel, and I was asking an employee at the dealer what basic necessities we needed. When he showed me the sewer hoses, I made my choice based on what they had and what I thought looked good. While my choice at the time wasn’t entirely bad (I chose the Camco RhinoFLEX 20ft RV Sewer Hose Kit), I know better now that I’ve had actual experience.

Now that I’ve used the RhinoFLEX long enough to wear a hole in one hose, I’ve decided I prefer the more rugged Camco RhinoEXTREME 20ft RV Sewer Hose Kit. In addition to wearing a hole in the hose, I lost some of our sewer fittings on one fateful trip when our tailgate fell open as we were driving, allowing the small container they were in to blow out of the pickup bed. I needed to replace so many pieces that I decided it would be best to pick up a new kit.

The RhinoEXTREME Kit comes with two ten-foot sewer hoses with pre-attached bayonet and lug fittings (there are other hoses that require you to manually attach fittings), a transparent elbow with a 4-in-1 sewer adapter, four storage caps for the hoses, and two storage caps for the elbow (I REALLY like this as it helps keep the sewer water remnants contained during travel).

In terms of durability, the RhinoEXTREME packaging claims these hoses are crush-resistant. From our experience, I can say our old hoses definitely showed some creases from someone either stepping on them or laying something on them. Since we upgraded to the RhinoEXTREME, I haven’t noticed any creases or damage to the hoses.

The only drawback I’ve noticed with these new hoses is that because they are thicker, they don’t collapse down as easily, making them a little harder to carry by hand because they don’t stay as compressed together. Other than that, I like that they are more rugged and came with caps to put on the sewer elbow, which means there’s less chance of making a mess.

In terms of managing RV wastewater, once you have a good hose, you need to know how to manage your gray and black water tank valves. I have a few tips to share in this area.

  1. NEVER leave your blank tank valves open.

Your black tanks need a lot of water to help break everything down. If you leave them open, or if you have a leaky valve, the liquids will drain out, leaving behind all the solids to dry and harden which will create a big, possibly hidden, problem that you’ll have to deal with later.

2. Leaving your gray tank valves open is up to you.

Some people will tell you that leaving the gray tank open can allow bugs and odors to get into your tanks through the sewer. Others will say it’s okay as long as you create a P-trap in your hose to keep a water barrier between your rig and the sewer. I used to keep ours (we have three grays) shut until the gray tank was full or until I wanted to rinse the hoses after a black tank dump. Then, on one occasion, one of the kids was taking a shower while a babysitter was over, and the shower pan started to overflow. The valve was closed, and our babysitter didn’t have a key to access the water bay and open the drain, so we ended up with a small flood on our hands. Now, I prefer to leave the gray valves open so that I don’t have to run to open them when someone’s taking a shower or washing dishes. However, when I need to dump a black tank, I close the connected gray tank valve to save up a slug of water to run behind the black dump and to rinse the hose.

3. Make sure your valves are closed before you start disconnecting hoses.

If you do this simple step, you’ll greatly reduce the chances of a surprise hand-washing when you take a cap off; it won’t eliminate it completely, though, because you could have a leaky or failed valve.

4. Double-check your connections before opening any valves.

As you can see in our video, I goofed on that and was surprised by some gray water while doing a dump; thankfully, it wasn’t black!

5. Rinse your black tank(s) regularly.

Some people recommend doing a black tank rinse every time you dump. If you’re a part-time RVer or weekend warrior, I would stick with that. However, as full-time RVers, we don’t rinse the black tank every time we dump it because we dump ours weekly. Instead, I try to do it about once or twice a month. Having a built-in black tank flush connection makes this super-easy, but even if you don’t have one, you can get a sewer tank rinser or a wand (example below). When I rinse my black tank, I like to close the valve to get a good amount of water churning around in there. If you decide to do it like I do, be very watchful of the water level so you don’t back sewer water up into your RV.

6. Never use your drinking water hose to do a black tank flush!

Get a black/gray tank flush hose and only use it for that. If you’re questioning this tip, just ask yourself (or someone you love) this simple question:

How MUCH SEWER WATER are you okay with drinking in your RV?

If the answer is NONE, use a separate hose to flush your tank!

Even a small amount of sewer water is enough to start growing bacteria in your clean water lines, so keep it separate by only using a dedicated flush hose for black tank rinsing.

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