Dear Dr. R.V. Shrink:
In our relationship, my husband is the RV technician and I am the cook. If I were the RV technician nothing would work, and if he were the cook we would starve. In our respective specialties we get to make certain decisions that affect our daily lives. This has always worked out fine.
Since recently moving into a small motorhome things have changed in both departments. I cook simpler meals, and he hauls fewer tools.
Everything seemed to flow smoothly in our new lifestyle until I was advised we could no longer deposit any solids into our new RV holding tank. My husband told me it would mound up in the tank and clog the outlet. We are now inconvenienced with running to the campground public restrooms. I find some of them rather disgusting.
I don’t want him telling me how to cook, but I question his decision on the toilet. Why would millions of RVs have toilets and holding tanks designed into them if they were not usable?
How should I approach this question without stepping on his turf?
--Down in the dumps in Dawson
As odd as it sounds each time I hear it, this practice is not uncommon. Many people seem to have a hangup with using the toilet in their RV the same way they would anywhere else. In some cases perhaps they watched Robin Williams dump his “RV” in the movie with the same name and developed a phobia.
Some I have asked feel RV toilets are not engineered well enough to flush out solids and therefore create constant blockages. Others simply find it disgusting to have to deal with the doo.
You will have to figure out which category your husband falls into before you can solve your problem permanently.
If it is a simple phobia issue, you can help solve that by volunteering to take on this simple and sanitary chore yourself. If it’s an engineering question you will only have to give him a few lines of instruction to solve all doubt.
Your husband is right. If not managed properly, solids can mound in the tank and clog outlets. There are certain precautions that must be taken from dump to dump.
You must start with a few bowls of water in the tank. Do not flush solids into a dry tank. Adding some septic safe chemicals can help break down solids, suppress odors and lubricate slide valves.
Another important point is tissue type. You want it to dissolve quickly. Buy tissue designed for RV holding tanks or test the brand you choose by sloshing it around in a jar of water. It should quickly disintegrate into small specks of thin tissue. Whatever it does in that jar of water is exactly what it will do in your holding tank.
The tank emptying procedure is also very important. Having a tank near full when you empty is ideal. If it is not and you have access to water, fill it. It’s simple physics, or math if you prefer. An abundance of No. 1 (liquid) will help eliminate No. 2 (solids). Pressure and gravity equal a forceful flush.
One common mistake people make is leaving the blackwater valve open when hooked to a campground sewer. This immediately empties the tank of liquids and leaves the solids to accumulate and harden in the tank.
Precautionary maintenance in the form of knowledgable fill and emptying procedure should give you trouble-free use of the RV toilet facilities.
Having the right equipment (rubber gloves, hoses, connectors, hand sanitizer and assorted fittings) should make dumping the holding tanks quick, sanitary, and efficient.
It should not be a gender specific job. Like everything else when dealing with RV living, everyone should be prepared to handle all duties.
Perhaps your husband should attempt a quiche, while you practice sanitary engineering. The old dirty-swirly is not as difficult as it’s cracked up to be.
If your problem is actually a foul odor in a small confined space, consider Frasier Fir spray by a company named Thymes. A short burst and it smells like you are sitting in the woods.
--Keep Smilin’. Dr. R.V. Shrink
Editor: Here are some items mentioned in the post which are available at Amazon:
Septic-safe toilet paper
Citrus-smell air freshener
Holding tank deodorant
Sewer hose rinser
Liquefy solids in holding tanks
Disposable dump gloves
Thymes Frasier fir spray