How to Clean an RV Sewer Hose, Vent, and Tank (Full Guide)

To make your RV vacation even better, you need to make sure you use the right equipment and cleaning technique. These help you make sure any foul odor does not find its way inside your RV and drive you out.

How to Clean an RV Sewer Hose, Vent, and Tank: Keeping your RV sewer system clean is vital if you want a good vacation. All it takes is a little elbow grease and some good cleaning tools to make sure there is no residue blocking your vent, hose and tank.

To find out how to clean your RV’s sewer system just keep reading our article. We go into great detail to make sure your RV’s sewer system is clean and ready for action. It never hurts to get a little help keeping your RV nice and clean and feeling like home.

How to Clean RV Sewer Vent

This is probably going to be the easiest cleaning job you will have when you tackle a dirty sewer system. That is because you do not have any residue or other foul particles to deal with. The air vent simply helps ventilate the tank and make sure the odor has a clear path to the outside.

Here are some simple steps you can use to make sure your black water holding tank vent remains clog free:

Climb up on the roof of your RV and inspect the vent cover, caulking and pipe

Take the vent cover off and look down the pipe. If the caulking is cracked, you will need to remove the old caulk and re-caulk the area.

Use a flashlight to look inside the pipe. If you see bird’s, rodent’s leaves or other debris, resist temptation and do not push the items down deeper into your pipe

Get tongs or similar tools and pull the debris up and out of the vent. If the vent cover is missing, just buy a new one and replace it

After you do all of this drive a few miles to get fresh air into the vent pipe and tank. If you still smell an odor, the problem may be on the other side of the vent pipe

To handle the other side, connect your rinse wand to your garden hose, then empty the tank

Once this is done, open the trap at the bottom of your RV’s toilet and leave it open

Turn on the rinsing wand and spray inside the air vent pipe at the toilet side. This should clean out any left over residue, etc.

Add new RV enzymes to the black water tank and water per instructions and close the trap and tank valve.

A Couple of RV Vent Pipe Cleaning Tips

#1. You can use a shop[ vac or a strong household vacuum cleaner to pull the debris, nests and leaves out of the top of your air vent pipe

#2. Inspect your gray water tank pipe as well. It has a vent that may get clogged from time to time. If it is, just clean the clog using the wand or another piece of cleaning equipment. This vent may be under your bathroom sink

How to Clean RV Sewer Hose

Most people dump their gray water tank after dumping their black water tank. They use the same hose as the gray water tank helps clean the sewer hose as it flows through.

The problem with this procedure is that black water sewer hoses are usually 3 inches in diameter and the gray water connection is only 1 1/2 inches in size. Another problem with this procedure is that most people think the gray water will travel at high speeds and pressure through the sewer hose.

This is not the case as normally, the gray water goes through a black water hose like a little quiet stream and does very little cleaning. Plus, you would need an adapter that has a 1 1/2 inch connector on one side and a 3 inch connection on the other.

The best way to clean out your sewer hose is to buy a special rinse wand, you do not want to have this rinse wand touch other hoses or water connections, and flush the sewer hose out.

After you flush it out, give it a good back wash to make sure every particle is out and the hose is clean. At this time, you could use some enzyme treatments and make sure every inch of the hose has no leftover sewer residue or particles.

One tip to Cleaning Your Sewer Hose

It is probably best if you clean your black water holding tank first before cleaning your sewer hose. If you do it in reverse order, you will dirty the hose again and possibly cause you some health risks.

Make sure the tank and connection is totally clean before you tackle cleaning the sewer hose.

Best Way to Clean RV Sewer Tank

The importance of cleaning your black water holding tank should be obvious. Keeping the tank clean stops foul odor from invading your RV’s interior.Plus, it makes sure you are not at a health risk due to the amount of bacteria that can grow inside the tank.

The other important reason to clean your holding tank is to keep your plumbing system in top working order. A badly cleaned black water tank can cause you operational issues that may be costly to repair.

The first thing you need to know about cleaning your black water holding tank is that it is not hard to do. The second thing you need to know is that it doesn’t take a lot of time to do it.

Here are some steps to take while you clean your black water holding tank:

  • Wear protective clothing- the materials coming out of the tank can be toxic and dangerous to your health. Wear gloves, eye protection and protective clothing to make sure none of it gets on you
  • Drive to a dumping station- connect your hose to the RV black water outgoing outlet and the dump station inlet connection
  • Next empty your tanks- make sure your connections are tight and done properly. This will avoid leaks and spills
  • When the tank is empty- fill it about 3/4 of the way with fresh clean water and add about 2 cups of liquid bleach or other safer powerful cleaners
  • Let the mixture stand- this won’t take long, about 10 minutes and then empty the tank again. If you use bleach make sure you do not violate the 10 minute threshold
  • Now fill the tank again- you want to use fresh clean water and again fill it to about 3/4 full. Then dump the tank once again. If you still see debris repeat this step until nothing but water appears in the transparent elbow connection
  • Now backwash the tank- you want to use pressurized water to make sure any stuck residue comes loose and empties out through the sewer hose
  • Finally use RV enzyme treatments- do this almost immediate after cleaning and back washing your black water holding tank. If you frequently dump and clean your tank, yo may skip a few cleanings then add the enzymes when you feel it is needed

Some Black Water Holding Tank Cleaning Tips

#1. Do not let your black water tank get full. Not only does it add a lot of weight and helps reduce your mileage, it is harder to clean the tank. Usually dump and clean the tank when it reaches half capacity

#2. Watch what you dump into your RV toilet. Sanitary napkins, the wrong toilet paper, leftover food and paper towels should never be thrown into your black water holding tank

#3. If you do not have a built-in backwash unit on your RV, then buy a good flushing wand to create the pressure you need to thoroughly clean your holding tank. Just do not use the wand for other water lines or cleaning tasks

The Benefits of Cleaning Your RV’s Sewer System

Just like home, cleaning your RVs waste system comes with its share of benefits. Even if you do not like to do it, you can motivate yourself by knowing the benefits you are a few of those benefits:

  • It is practical- you keep your RV smelling fresh and you keep small animals and leaves out of your RV
  • It is healthy- you protect your self from germs and other harmful bacteria that can silently creep up or down into your RV. You also keep your RV’s interior safe for any asthma or allergy sufferers in your home
  • It protects your sewer system- clogged drains, tanks, vents and hoses can cause damage to your RV’s waste disposal system. This means you will have to spend more to repair what shouldn’t be damaged
  • It doesn’t take a long time- cleaning out your vents, hoses and tank doe snot take a lot of time. This means you can return to your vacation activities and enjoy them a lot more
  • You get a little exercise- climbing up and down ladders, handling the hoses, and moving the cleaning wands help you get a little exercise. This makes you healthier and lets you enjoy life a lot more

Things you Should Consider When Buying a New Sewer Hose

In a previous article, we talked about the lack of quality in those sewer hoses that come with your RV. The manufacturers do not put top quality sewers hoses in their newly manufactured RVs.

This means the first upgrade you do to your RV is replacing the sewer hose. Here are some things to look for when searching for a better sewer hose to use:

Hose length- in 90% of all dumping situations a 20 foot hose should do it. But there is that 10% that require longer hoses to make good connections. You should go with a 20 foot hose and a 10 to 15 foot spare to handle those rare dumping situations

Hose thickness- the thicker the better. The thickness will help the hose be more durable and last yo along time. You do not want a sewer hose thinner than 23 millimeters. 23 millimeters is almost 1 inch in size

Storage space- this is another concern as you do need enough room to hold the hose when it is not in use. A compressible hose should help with storage issues you may have

Flexibility- you really do not want a rigid hose. A flexible hose helps you move it around easier and gets you into tight corners with ease. You also can handle uneven ground a lot better

Waste Flow- make sure the hose will fit your standard 3 inch connection. If you want to have a larger sized diameter to help the flow move faster, then make sure an adapter is available and buy a bigger diameter sized hose

Cost- a sewer hose is not the place to save some money. If it breaks or cracks during the dump, you will have a big mess on your hands. Plus, you will be looking at an extra expense you did not count on. Pay the money for a top quality hose that will last you a long time without any issues

Some Final Comments

As you can see handling your RV equipment is not difficult nor is it hard to keep clean. By doing regular maintenance, you can avoid having those foul odors enter your RV and spoil your vacation

Believe it or not your black water holding tank vent is a nice spot for birds and small animals to create nests. It is a safe location for their young and it does happen from time to time. Just make sure not to push the nests down into the pipe. Instead use a shop vac to suck the debris out and clear the vent.

Also, cleaning your black water holding tank and sewer hose is not that difficult. It will only take a little time and a few repetitive measures to make sure they are clean and bacteria free.

The key to cleaning is to make sure you wear protective clothing. These items may not be hard to clean but then can present health risks you would rather not face. Be safe first.

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