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RV Black Tank Flush – What You Need to Know?

RVs are perfect for a trip, whether it’s camping or living away from the cities for some time. RVs have access to most life necessities, such as kitchens, beds, wardrobes, and toilets.

Most of these functions the same as a typical home, but the main difference between your traditional home and RV is the toilet system. The RV toilet’s waste, unlike homes, is collected in a black tank where it is stored until you dispose of it to some spot. This process can get messier if you don’t handle it properly.

Here is a guide on RV black water tank flush to find the toilet system’s basic information.

What Is A Black Tank Flush?

A Black tank flush is a power wash system directly connected by a hose to the tank’s inlet valve. RV owners use it to clean the black tanks. It ensures that the process is simple and easy for RVs.

Some RVs have a built-in Black Tank Flush system from the manufacturers. These systems come with guides from the manufacturers to make sure that you are using them correctly. The guides have important instructions that, if followed properly, save you from much trouble.

One such example is to leave the black tank valve open. If you don’t, the water might back up and flood your RV through the toilet.

If your RV doesn’t have a built-in black tank flush system. It comes in different sizes and shapes, but this aftermarket option requires you to drill a hole in the RV black water tank. It will not work as perfectly as the built-in system.

One more thing, if you don’t have a Black Tank flush from the manufacturers, and you don’t want to install an aftermarket to clean the tank, you will have to work on a manual method to clean the tank.

You can clean it manually with an RV holding tank rinser, an extension to the garden hose. These rinsers are designed in such a way that they spray water in multiple directions. This way, it can easily clean debris and tissues from the sides of the black water tank.

How to Use The Toilet In Your Motorhome?

You know how to use a typical bathroom, go in there, do your thing, flush, and you’re done. But compared to a standard toilet, an RV toilet is an entirely different thing.

They have a flush pedal at the bottom or a lever at the side of the bathroom. RV users tend to fill the newly flushed black tank with at least one gallon of water with a pint of RV back tank chemicals. This ensures you won’t get a somewhat messier flush next time.

Before using the RV toilet for your business, put a little water in the bowl to get a clean flush. And to clean the bowl, use products like simple green as they won’t disrupt the tank’s enzymes.

Remember, never use bleach-based, as they will damage the airtight seal between the tank and your RV. Not only that, they can kill the good bacteria inside the tank too.

How Is A Toilet In An RV Different From A Toilet In Sticks And Bricks House?

An RV toilet does the same job as a standard toilet in a sticks and bricks house, but it works entirely differently. A normal one has a fresh water supply in the system, and its flush system is connected to the main drain system.

You don’t have to get up to dispose of this waste as the drain system removes wastewater from your home into a sewer line.

Meanwhile, an RV doesn’t have a sewerage system. The wastewater is stored in the black water tank until you drain it in the RV’s disposal area. The only thing between you and the black tank’s waste is a tight rubber seal in the toilet.

So, you should take care of it and replace it as soon as it gets worn, dry, or cracked because failing to do so can result in a flood of waste in your RV.

What Types Of RV Toilets Are Available?

There are mainly 3 common types of RV toilets available.

  • Gravity Flush toilet.
  • Cassette toilet.
  • Portable Camping toilet.

The gravity flush toilet relies on upon, well, gravity to flush away contents. It is a more common option for RVs, as it is cheaper than most other toilets. The wastage is flushed into a black tank underneath it with the help of gravity.

A benefit of using gravity flush toilets is they have stood the test of time. Therefore, they are famous in the industry. This means it is comparatively easier to find a technician to repair or replace them.

One of the cons of this is that waste in the tanks can cause blockages. Not only that, if you are inexperienced in emptying the black waste tank, the process can get messy and smelly.

Cassette toilet system comes in between the gravity flush toilets and the portable toilets. This is because the cassette toilets aren’t portable. You can detach their holding tanks from the RV and dump them in traditional bathrooms or dumping sites.

This tank has a significant holding capacity, so it is a good option for many people. But a good toilet is a full holding tank that can be as heavy as 40 pounds.

If your RV didn’t come with a  Black Tank toilet system or, if you are minimalist, the Portable Toilet is perfect for you.

These toilets have comparatively smaller holding tanks attached directly to them. Not only that, they can fill your RV with a serious sewer smell if you do not dispose of it appropriately. Although, if you have multiple people using it, you’ll have to empty the tank frequently.

How Do I Maintain An RV Toilet Seal?

RV toilet seal is an airtight seal between the black tank and your RV that keeps the inside of your RV safe from smelly odors. Maintaining this seal is a must in RVs; if not, it can result in a disaster.

The first thing is to make sure that the seal is well lubricated and holds water in the RV toilet bowl base. Household toilet cleaning items and substances can deal with damage to seals.

You should remember only to use RV-friendly chemicals to clean your toilets because if you use bleach to clean, it can damage the seal and ruin your RV experience. Not only that, harsher substances like antifreeze can dry out the seal too.

If your seal dries out, use an RV seal lubricant and apply it according to the product directions. But if your seal breaks or cracks, you can replace it conveniently. You may hire an RV technician, as DIY toilet projects can get too messy.

See also: How to unclog a black water tank?

Do I Need To Use RV, Toilet Paper?

Toilet paper is mandatory while going on with business. RVs hold waste in their black tanks for a long time. It is necessary to make sure there is no solid waste in the tanks that don’t clog over time. A new type of toilet paper is common as RV toilet paper.

This type of toilet paper dissolves in black tanks over time. They are comparatively more expensive than normal ones, but extra bucks are worth preventing clogs due to their usage and situation.

RV-friendly toilet paper is designed to disintegrate quickly in the tank to avoid clogging up the sewage system. Therefore, it is needed to use RV toilet paper to enjoy your camping trip without making an emergency stop to a technician.

Some companies such as Scott and Thetford test their RV toilet papers to make sure that it dissolves effectively in the tank. For this, they carry out extensive testing. Due to their quality toilet paper, consumers are ready to pay extra for a niche product and peace of mind.

Can You Flush Toilet Paper In An RV?

Although it is not a regular toilet paper in an RV, it can lead to clogs, blockages, etc. Because RV toilet paper dissolves quickly in the black tank to avoid clogs over time. Regular toilet paper fails to possess these qualities.

Some RVers claim that the Septic-safe toilet paper is for the same purpose as RV toilet paper. It is safe to use in RV black tanks. Even though this is a relief to the RVers, septic-safe toilet paper is for the septic system. The conditions here are different from an RV black tank system.

Even if you are using RV toilet paper, make sure to flush plenty of water in the black tank. You’d never have to battle clogging problems or blockage.

Some RV owners refuse to flush even the RV-safe toilet papers. They use a bin with a lid to dispose of their toilets.

A pro-tip while flushing is to ensure that toilet paper has flushed ahead of releasing the flush lever. It is to stop toilet paper from causing problems.

Should I Keep My Black Tank Open Or Closed When Hooked Up To A Sewer Connection?

If you leave your RV black water tank open for a long time, the liquids inside it can dry out, leaving a pyramid of solid waste inside the tank. This is the last thing you want when going out on a trip or camping somewhere.

The pyramid of concrete waste forms when the liquid dries out and clog the tank too. Not only that, the smell that will develop inside the tank will be deadly.

This goes on when you hook up in the sewer connection because for the waste to flush out easily. You need to have enough content in the tank. Experienced RV black tank users always recommend filling the black tank with at least one gallon of water so the solid waste doesn’t stick on the tank’s walls.

What Is An RV Macerator?

Do you have to dump your waste while defying gravity? It seems impossible, well actually it isn’t, a macerator is what you need.

Macerator grinds up the solid waste from the black tank. This way, the waste can flow through a smaller hose. Macerator comes with an electric pump to push the solid waste. It can even defy gravity for you and pump the slurpy waste. Some RVs available in the market come with pre-installed macerators or optional upgrade when buying a new RV. While in most cases, you’d have to install it later-on.


How Do They Work?

Black tank flush comes as a built-in feature in most RVs. If your RV is missing one, you can get it from the aftermarket. A black tank flush is like a power wash of your RVs black tank to leave the tank sparkling clean.

Most RV dumping stations have a water hose that directly connects with the inlet valve. The water then flushes into the black tank to remove any concrete forming on the tank’s walls. Not only that, it eliminates any blockage from the tank sensors too.

How Often Should I Empty My RV Tanks?

Before dumping your RV black tank, make sure it is at least three-quarters full. This is necessary as it will have enough water and gravity to allow the tank to drain. But if you have to empty it before it’s three quarters filled, then fill it with water.

The RV black tank should be dumped before you are storing it. Before going to a camp, even if it’s for a few days, dump your black tank. And add one gallon of water and chemicals to it before using the tank again.

Why Does RV Smell Like A Sewer?

If your RV’s insides smell like a sewer, you’re not alone. Most RV campers go through the same frustrations. This is because when waste sits on the bottom of the black tank, the bacteria from your body start decomposing.

This is why the black tanks and RV airtight seal make sure the waste and nasty odor don’t find their way inside the RV.

The first thing is to make sure the seal is intact. This seal usually isn’t enough to stop the smell, so the other option is using RV black tank chemicals. These chemicals dissolve solid waste and significantly reduce the odor.


After going through this guide, you can choose the perfect options for your RV’s toilet system. This guide contains information from the RV toilet on how to keep your tank clean and odor-free. It mentions the RV black tank water flush system too. Some RVs come with a flush system, while others can install it from the aftermarket.

The RV black water tank flush system is a relief for RVers as it will clean the black tank of any solid waste that is stuck on the walls. While dumping the waste in the city dumping station, make sure it is still three quarters so the water can easily drain the waste.

And after the dumping session, fill the tank with one gallon of water and add a pint of RV black tank chemical. These will ensure the tank starts its process as per need.

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