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Old 04-23-2005, 03:38 PM   #1
dcowie
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M.O.C. #3207
Holding Tank Levels

Being new to RVing and planning to travel for extended periods of time, I am wondering how I will know when the various tanks are filled to capacity. From reading various threads it seems the gauges will not be an accurate measure, so what are the telling signs? Do any of you full timers have a rule of thumb as to the number of days in camp before the various tanks needs dumping? Or is it a matter of when the sink drain isn't draining it is time to dump!? On a recent trip the galley tank light indicated full early on in the trip, but I never saw any evidence that it was! And of course, when I dumped I did not realize the galley tank had a separate release lever tucked away in the wheel well. Surprise - surprise - not all tanks are empty!

Doug
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Old 04-23-2005, 04:24 PM   #2
Montana_1240
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Doug,

I’m surprised at how fast our gray tank fills up. There’s just my wife and I. I take fairly short showers, and she takes “medium” showers. If I don’t either drain the tank every two days, or just leave the gray valve open, on day three, the shower drain starts backing up. It surprised me, because the 3380 we had before seemed to go four days before being absolutely full. And all the tank sizes, according to the dealer and paperwork, are the same.

Our galley tank, (which is used fairly frequently washing the dishes,) seems to last four days.

The black tank can go about a week before the toilet starts having trouble flushing. We notice it will bubble back when we step on the flush lever.

One thing you might want to check when you have a chance, and before it becomes a problem, is the security of the plumbing fittings in your basement, and under your counters. We had a loose joint under our shower. I noticed some dripping after a shower, when I was in the basement, looking for some boxed stuff. My dealer tightened the fittings, and noticed a piece, (the plastic shower drain,) that they had to replace with a metal drain. They caulked it and added silicone sealant. It stopped dripping, of course.

Then there was a pinhole-sized leak at the top joint under the toilet, where the pipe enters the basement. Apparently the factory sealant wasn’t enough, so “water” was able to run slowly down the pipe. I don’t know if it dripped on anything, but I could see the white calcium build-up along a line leading from that sealant around the fitting. I washed up under that spot, and used some of the “Odo-Ban” we used to use for the dog’s odors in our old brick & stick home. No new water line.

I can keep the gages working pretty well if I use the black tank flush when I drain that tank. And you can keep the gray tank gages working fairly well, unless you have a lot of soap suds going down the drain. There’s a thread somewhere that my wife pointed out about using some softener solution to help with all tanks. It's good to check a little while after you've dumped, to see how the gages register. They do require the inside of the tank to settle down and let the residual water flow down off the side walls, where the gage sensors are located. (Flushing the black tank helps remove toilet paper that may stick where the gage sensors are, and show it's more full than it really is.)

When I know I have one more day before having to flush the black tank, I close the gray tank valve and let it get at least half-full to use to flush the pipes after draining and flushing the black tank. The galley tank’s valve is so near the drain hose connection that I save that tank until last, myself.

Good luck. Everyone will have their own preferred methods.

Happy Camping,
Steve
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Old 04-23-2005, 05:18 PM   #3
ols1932
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Since you can't trust any of the sensor lights, I fill my water tank until it runs back out at me. I know that my wife and I can dry camp for at least a week without running out of water or filling the galley tank and the black and gray water tanks. We take sponge baths, and only use about 4 inches of water in the sink to wash dishes. We also use paper products a lot so that helps save water.

Another thing my wife does is she puts "certain types" of used toilet paper in the waste basket, so this helps to keep the black water tank from filling up. We can usually go up to 12 days without dumping the black water.

We also purchased a macerator so that we can pump the black water about 200 feet if we can reach a sewer. That way we can dry camp longer.

As full timers, we learn a lot of ways to live comfortably and conserve.
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Old 04-23-2005, 06:04 PM   #4
patodonn
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We usually go 4, maybe 5, days before it is necessary to dump the grey or galley tanks. Longer for the black tank. If we know we are going to dump the black tank soon, we will dump only part of the grey and/or galley tanks, then use it a couple of days later to help rinse out the sewer hose after dumping out the black tank.

A good way to help with the unreliable grey/galley tanks indications is to install a gate type valve at the dump outlet. Simple job, and there are a couple of threads in the Forum regarding how to do this. One advantage is that you can "interconnect" the grey and galley tanks by closing the gate valve and opening both galley and grey water tank valves. Also gives you about 3 gal more "waste water" storage. Finally, no more unpleasant liquid surprises when you take the cap off to install the sewer dump hose.

Best,
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Old 04-25-2005, 05:26 AM   #5
mike johnson
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M.O.C. #3382
hello,i'm confused please somebody explain,our sink water does'nt go into our grey water tank????.we had a spill situation while dry camping and i could not figure out what happened,all i do know it was not a black water spill,now i think i know what it was.maybe our gally tank was full,i did;nt know we had a gally tank. thx for the info. mike&amy johnson
05-2955rl
97 power-stroke
rio vista,calif
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Old 04-25-2005, 05:40 AM   #6
CountryGuy
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Mike, you should have 3 pulls for waste water, 1 for black, 1 for gray and 1 for galley. Does your tank indicators show 3 tanks?? plus fresh water levels. Course, we all know the indicators rarely work, or work poorly, but, do you have black, galley, gray and fresh water tabs on that indicator?? If so, you have 3 tanks, and your galley is full, and that is probably what is leaking. Course, it should not leak, but that is another discussion, finding leaky plumbing joints, etc.

Call your dealer, or climb around under the rig. A lot of the galley tank pulls are near your kitchen, ours is very near our tires (towards the rear of the rig) under the slide, directly across from the kitchen sink. Seeing that it is black, as is the underbelly, it can be hard to find. I have threatened go get some white paint and mark the pull so it is easier to see.

Good luck

Carol
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Old 04-25-2005, 06:43 AM   #7
padredw
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Since we have the 2955RL as do dcowie and mike johnson, I will add that we definitely have a separate 'galley tank' (which in our usage often fills before any of the other holding tanks). The valve handle is located on the frame above and between the tires on the service side (left or driver's side). It still surprises me how many dealers must not be pointing out the location of this valve handle.

For us the 2955RL is still the "pick of the litter!"

Good luck
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Old 04-25-2005, 07:25 AM   #8
mike johnson
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thx everybody for the input.i don't think i have a leak ,i could , but hopefully it was an overflow problem. the water came from the pipe that you hook up to drain your tanks. and i don't know if the gally valve was closed all the way, since i did not know i had it.we are on our way to Pismo Beach rv,so i will find out more then, and until i figure this out i'll will be carrying around a 5 gallon bucket at the ready.thx again.
mike &amy johnson
rio vista calif
05-2955. this the 3rd time out with the 2955 hopefully everything works out this time.
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Old 04-25-2005, 07:46 AM   #9
CountryGuy
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Ah, Mike,

That is not uncommon, the galley drain line does not have a great "slope" to it, or at least that is the way I understand it. Al gets some drain from there everytime we dump after running down the road. Seems the rocking and rolling down the hard road gets past the slope situation and there is a bit if a drain when you first put the sewer lines on. Solution some have suggested is to get one of those extra gate valves, Al wants to do this, just has not done so yet. Then you have the extra gate to hold the liquid back while you attach sewer hose, then you open the new gate, then you open the valves and no leaking.

Have fun on your trip!

Carol
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Old 04-25-2005, 12:24 PM   #10
HamRad
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We've learned that you cannot trust the gauges!

I was just re-reading one of my Trailer Life magazines and found an article on this very subject. It is in the January 2005 issue if you're interested. I was surprised to learn that even the fresh water tank gauge will get corroded and not give and accurate reading.

Basically the article says that the RV industry uses the internal type gauges to help keep down costs. But there are after market units that mount on the outside of the tank. They supposedly are very accurate and will never get corroded. Cost is in the $200 to $300 range.

Like many of you we have learned about how long we can go before we need to dump. A few trips and you'll get the feel and smell of it!

HamRad
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Old 04-25-2005, 05:05 PM   #11
sreigle
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I also fill the fresh water tank until it runs out of the fill tube. If I want it full, that is. Otherwise, our lights do work for the fresh water tank and I'll fill it until it lights to 2/3 full.

On the other tanks, you do learn about how long you can go. The black tank usually goes 7 days for the 2 of us. I'd say 90% of the time it's 7 days. If we're out sightseeing a lot, it can go 8 or 9 days. On rare occasions, 6 days. When it starts to "bubble back" as mentioned before, then I know I need to dump within 24 hours. If I don't, it will rise to the point we can see the liquid in the tank when we flush. That bubbling back is when the flush water seems to jump up before it goes down the toilet drain. You'll know it when you see it since it's different than the normal look.

The bath gray tank depends on time of year (frequency of showering). Generally about 3 or 4 days. We added the extra gate valve and share tanks as mentioned above when we're not hooked up to sewer. Doing that we can go 5 or 6 days, a week if we're more careful. We're not real careful about conserving water when showering.

I recently changed my practice when hooked up to sewer. I used to close the black tank and open both gray tanks. A day or so before I'd be ready to dump the black tank I'd close both gray tanks to accumulate water to flush the black tank and the hose after dumping the black tank.

Countryguy recently convinced me to leave the galley tank closed so those food particles that go down the sink don't solidify on the bottom of that tank. So, my new procedure when hooked to sewer is to leave the bath gray tank open and close the galley tank and the black tank. When ready to dump, I first close the bath gray tank so black water doesn't back up into that tank. I then open the black tank. When it's done draining I leave it open and open the galley tank. That will clean out the hose with that soapy water and will back up into the black tank, helping to flush it out. If you use a clear connector like I do you will be able to see patches of brown flushing out of that tank. When done I close the galley and black tanks and open the bath tank. Since we use our washer and dryer I make sure the bath tank is open or we'll have a mess in the bathroom (been there).
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Old 04-29-2005, 01:49 PM   #12
dcowie
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Thank-you to all who responded. Your replys are very helpful.
Thanks.
Doug
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