One of the number one ways people find this blog is their toilets break, or smell, or need maintenance.  It is totally awesome to be completely self-contained.  You are probably partially attracted to the RV life because of the desire to be self-contained.  To master your life, your finances, your time, and your home.

This week we played with the black tank.

You know why no one has pictures of themselves working on their black tank?  First of all, it is embarrassing.  You mostly don’t tell people you are having constipation issues with your body or your house.  Secondly, you are panicked.  You use both hands.  No distractions.  If you are not moving and fixing things, you are putting both hands together and praying to God that nothing terrible happens.

I had the privilege of playing with my black tank because we thought we could save a nickel.  At a trip to the grocery store we noticed they were out of our brand of toilet paper.  We don’t use RV specific paper, we use Scott’s tissues.

Scotts works great.  If you put Scotts TP in water you can see it starts dissolving instantly.

Last month, the store had no Scotts, but had another brand that said compare to Scotts.

Three weeks later I noticed we went from emptying out black every 10-14 days to every other day.

I could see towers of white paper grow slowly towards the bottom of the toilet.

I think we lived in denial for about a week.  At some point we poured in about 20 gallons of water, but nothing seemed to break up the tissue in our tank.

Finally we ended up being relegated to using the bath house bathrooms like lowly tenters.

I love camping.  In an RV.  With my own bathroom.

I do not really want to share a head with my neighbor in a spider infested concrete block house with bad ventilation.

My wife sent me photos of giant daddy-long-leg spiders in the stall.

To Tracy’s credit she did not blame me or the boy for the clogged black tank.  She even ultimately found the solution to our being able to unclog it.  Ultimately I secretly blame her for buying non-Scotts brand tissue, but I  can’t say anything, because I didn’t think far enough to test the paper myself.

It was classic American poor person thinking.  Save a nickel, and then spend $80 fixing the problem.

Lets look at the steps we took to fix it.

First off we filled the tank with about 20 gallons of water.  We know it was 20 gallons because Tracy put it in 1 gallon at a time while she was home schooling the boy.

We let that sit for a few days.  We could see the paper under the water, but the paper was not dissolving.

My next step was to ask about a honey wagon service.  I had heard that the suction from the honey wagon could often clean out a tank.  Unfortunately we didn’t have a honey wagon available to us.

Next Tracy found something called Tissue Digester.  This stuff is like Riddex, but it is a much higher acidic concentrate.  It is engineered to eat toilet paper.  Pro Tip: Just keep some of this on hand from now on ok?

The Tissue Digester needs about 2 days to work.  We poured in half the bottle and  let it sit for about 30 hours. Then I drained the tank.  After I looked down the toilet again, I could still clearly see tons of toilet paper in the tank.

Then we dumped in other 30 gallons of water and put in the rest of the tissue digester.  I also stuck a metal stick in there and stirred up the tank.  I know – totally gross.

I also bought some more Tissue Dissolver.  And I bought a clear sewer pieced with hose attachment.  I tried spraying water up the black tank drain, but nothing came out.  My RV also has a black tank cleaner, but nothing was coming out of that as well.

After a few more days the boy and I pulled the tank valve and got a big gush of water.  And we saw paper go down the clear sewer extension.  We then put down about 60 gallons of water, one jug at a time.  Every 20 gallons or so we dumped.

Good news!  We did not get poop on us.  We did not spill poop.  It looks like the paper is gone.

So here is the deal.  Some people are obsessed with their black tanks.  They buy cameras to put into the tank and take pictures.

I am not going to that.

What I can say is that it feels good to have a fully working bathroom again.

I talked to my best friend Gigantical this week.  We talked about having peace in our lives.  About not giving into stress, worry, or fear.

You know what?  It was worrisome to have a clogged black tank!  That is horrible!  It makes you want to curl up into a ball and go to sleep.

Peace, joy and happiness are not just feelings.  They are choices you have to make.  You have to choose to have peace and joy.  You have to choose to see things as adventure.

Was I panicked?  Yeah, I won’t lie.  I don’t have any pictures of our adventure because of the stress.  After the boy and I had it working, we sat down to watch some TV that night.  We had hot chocolate.  At bed time, the boy said the he had a really great time with me fixing the black tank.

What you don’t understand was how upset he was when we started working on it.  The hopelessness and panic we felt.


It’s an honest feeling!

I was getting mad at times.  The sewer bay door is partially under the slide and can’t stay upright on its own.  Our neighbor was awesome and volunteered his snake and sprayer and hose.  He also had some friends over.  They sat in a semi circle watching me work.  That is a lot of pressure!

You know what?  Everything worked out.  After a few good days of tissue digester, and a few 100 gallons of water, we have a working black tank again.

A clogged tank is nothing I would wish on anyone.  Of course if you don’t experience it, you won’t have stories to tell and celebrate either….



Article Name
Peace of Crap
I had the privilege of playing with my black tank because we thought we could save a nickel.
Brent Homer
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