The motorhome life is a synonym of freedom, enjoying your life according to your own rules and expectations. But to be able to enjoy all of these benefits, some maintenance aspects cannot go unnoticed, and one of them is the septic system of our motorhomes because without proper care things can get pretty ugly.

Whether you are new to the motorhome life or you have hundreds of kilometers at your back, being able to understand how the septic system works, and what are its requirements for keeping things running smoothly is a must.  So, go grab a pen and a piece of paper because in this post we are going to give you all the information that you will ever need, plus some handy tips.

Get to know the septic system of your motorhome

There is a wide variety of motorhomes in the market, and each of them has its peculiarities. However, one thing that all of them keep in common their septic system. Usually, all the vehicles will have three tanks which will be located on the underside of the motorhome. These three tanks are:

  1. Fresh Water Tank: This tank holds the clean water that will come out of your taps
  2. Grey Water Tank: This tank holds the dirty water that comes from domestic use, such as the shower or the sink. They can be reused directly into the toilet to save some water
  3. Black Water Tank: This one is the one that tends to scare the newbies, in here we can fin the fecal waste the motorhome is generating, and therefore they require a canalization system and due treatment.

As you can see the septic system of your motorhomes requires proper maintenance, so that we can avoid future problems.

How often should I empty the tanks?

Water drainage is an extremely important issue especially is you are planning on not spending the night at a campsite. Thankfully, there is an increasing number of motorhome areas that are incorporating more and more spaces for emptying the tanks of our vehicles.

Nevertheless, a generally good rule of thumb is to empty the tanks when they are about 2/3 full. By doing so you make sure that you do not need to stop that much, and also it generates a better “stream” when emptying.

How do I empty the tanks?

«Dumping» the waste is easier than you may think, you just need to follow these simple steps:

  1. Always start with the Black Water Tank
    1. Hook the sewer hose up to the valve of your motorhome, and take the other end to the sewer. Make sure that both ends are well secured and fastened!
    2. Pull the valves and just let the tank drain
    3. Once you are done, you will know when you cannot hear any liquid coming through the hose, close completely the valve
  2. Continue with the Grey Water Tank
    1. Once you know that the valve is shut, pull the grey tank valve and repeat the process

We recommend do it in this order since by draining the grey tank after the black one will allow you to “clean” your sewer hose from any solids that may get stuck.

Some tips and tricks

  • We recommend you to use gloves, and a bucket to put the hose back when you are done.
  • If the water is not getting out, try to raise and lower the hose. By doing so you are dispelling the air in the tank, which will help to push the water out.
  • Use single-ply toilet paper, it can help you avoid clogging your Black Water Tank
  • Flush regularly and always add water to the toilet before doing it.
  • Try to sanitize your Black Water Tank as regular as possible, one rule of thumb is to sanitize it after every dump
  • When we talk about the water tank, remember to pay attention to the weather: When it is freezing insulate your hose as much as possible, and when there is extreme heat avoid water stagnation by draining your freshwater.
  • If your tank starts to smells several products will help you with this problem. Some of the are:
    • Aqua San: You can use it to purify your Fresh Water Tank
    • Tank Fresner: This product is designed for the Gray Water Tank, and is commonly used among caravan users
    • Cassette Tank Cleaner: Designed for your Black Water Tank, you just need to pour the product with very hot water, and the smell will disappearç
    • If you do not have any of these products you can always use household bleach to clean the tank.
  • Even though the newer motorhomes have systems that detect how full the tanks are, we recommend being extra careful with them since just a little piece of paper may block the sensors. So try to be aware of how much waste you are generating.

We know that draining sewage is not what everyone envisioned when we decided to embark ourselves in the motorhome life, but this is an essential part of having a motorhome, so every one of us should know at least the minimum to make this process as fast and painless as possible. So, just follow these steps and you will be fine, also always remember to use the authorized points for draining your sewage.

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