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Understanding Your RV Holding Tanks

If you’ve been RVing for any amount of time, you’re probably familiar with RV holding tanks. These pieces of infrastructure assist with water management — and although they’re less than glamorous — still require your attention.

Here’s our ultimate guide to cleaning, maintaining, and flushing RV holding tanks.

What Is An RV Holding Tank?

RV holding tanks are essentially water storage tanks designed to manage different states of water.

There are three kinds:

Understanding Your RV Holding Tanks | RV Masters in Kenner, LA image Connecting RV holding tank to RV dump station hole

1. Black water tank in RV

These are the tanks that hold unmentionables and other unusable water. Think water from flushing toilets and other septic systems. If you don’t have a gray water tank, all dirty water will flow into your black water tank. 

2. Gray water tank in RV

These tanks hold dirty water from showers, bathtubs, or sinks. It doesn’t contain human waste, but it certainly can’t be reused.

3. Fresh water tank in RV

This tank holds exactly what you think it does: freshwater! This includes the water that comes out of your taps — unless you have a problem with your holding tanks.

Which brings us to our next point:

How To Maintain Your RV Holding Tanks

Nobody wants a malfunctioning holding tank, especially on a big trip. Luckily, it’s not hard to maintain your tanks with continuous maintenance and regular check-ins. 

Here’s everything you need to know about draining, maintaining, and cleaning your RV holding tanks:

1. How To Drain Your RV Holding Tanks

There’s no set rule for how often to empty your holding tanks. You may want to empty black and gray water tanks once they reach two-thirds of the way full.

You need to drain all three tanks — black, gray, and freshwater — to ensure the health of your RV.

Here’s how this works:

  • Start by donning a pair of gloves to protect your hands.
  • Find the tanks titled ‘grey water’ and ‘black water’ around the back of your RV.
  • Hook your sewer hose to the black tank first, then attach it to the dump station.
  • Pull the valve and allow the black tank to drain (close when done).

Follow draining the black tank with the gray tank, which can help to flush out the former. If you’re returning from a trip or winterizing your RV, you also need to drain your freshwater tank.

2. How To Maintain Your RV Holding Tanks 

Draining your holding tanks is not enough to ensure the health of your RV. You also need to pursue specific maintenance tasks to keep everything working (and prevent unfortunate surprises).

Let’s take a look at the most important things you need to know:

  • You should only flush your freshwater tank with a potable hose, and not just a regular sewer hose. Doing so could lead to cross-contamination, which may be dangerous on an RV trip.
  • Use screens and other meshes in your sink, shower, or tub. This helps prevent solid waste from flowing down the drain and clogging your gray water tank, which is typically much smaller than the other two. 
  • Only use single-ply toilet paper for your RV to prevent backups or clogs in your black water system. You can find RV-friendly toilet paper at RV Masters.

This leads to the most important maintenance task of all:

3. How To Clean Your RV Holding Tanks

You must regularly sanitize each of your holding tanks to prevent the spread of disease. This requires what’s known as tank flush service — a maintenance service offered by RV Masters.

If you live in or around New Orleans, LA., you can have your tanks flushed before and after your next big trip.

Bring Your RV For A Tank Flush Service At RV Masters

RV Masters of Kenner, LA and Laplace, LA make tank flushing service a snap. We offer ongoing services and competent professionalism to flush, deodorize, and maintain your towable or motorized RV. There’s no need to stress about problems, issues, or repairs; we’ll get you ready to go before (and after) your big trip.

Ready to learn more? Give us a call at (504) 466-3431 to set up a tank flushing service today.