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RV Maintenance: Keeping Water Tanks Clean & Smelling Fresh

Whether you have a van conversion or a thirty-foot rig, RVs bring the modern conveniences of home to a mobile setting. This means electricity, mattresses, and running water, even when you’re on the road. But while the basics of RV electricity, bedding, and plumbing might be the same, how to take care of them is different. This is especially true of RV plumbing as the wastewater in your vehicle will drain into a holding tank that needs to both be regularly emptied and undergo regular RV maintenance to prevent offensive odors and toxic gases.

RV Maintenance Tips: Keeping Your Water Tanks Clean & Smelling Fresh

  • Never mix up your tanks. Most RVs are built with three different types of water tanks. There’s the potable or freshwater tank that is safe to drink, bathe, and cook with. The second is a grey water tank which contains all of the wastewater that drains from sinks and the shower. The third is a blackwater tank which contains everything flushed from the toilet. It is imperative to never mix up hoses and to only use each of these tanks as directed otherwise you risk contaminating the tanks, hoses, and yourself. Grey water contains bacteria if not filtered correctly and blackwater can carry diseases.
  • Use a bleach solution to periodically sanitize your freshwater tank. Does the water coming out of your sink have funky smells? Or perhaps it tastes off? A diluted bleach solution is an excellent method to clean up any lingering bacteria in your freshwater tank and its hoses. Simply mix one cup of bleach for every five gallons (up to a 60-gallon tank) and then run a full tank of water through with the bleach. Once the bleach-filled tank has been emptied, fill with fresh water and run the water completely through again. Repeat this step until you can no longer smell bleach coming through the faucets. Because you’re draining via your grey water tank, this technique has the added benefit of giving your grey water tank and hoses their own secondary cleaning.
  • Clean your blackwater tank once a season. Blackwater tanks see the most abuse of all your tanks and require the most stringent RV maintenance and care. We recommend committing to a thorough cleaning at least once every season to prevent noxious smells and dangerous bacteria from growing unchecked. To begin a good cleaning, first empty the tank at a dump station. Then, grab a garden hose and push it down the toilet as the blackwater tank is generally located just underneath this. Turn the hose on and fill up the tank while moving the hose so as to reach various sidewalls of the tank. Consider using an RV-specific cleaning agent while doing this. Once the tank is full, empty it and repeat the process two or three times.

For Professional RV Maintenance Tasks, Contact Premier Coach Works

Need a big RV maintenance or repair job done? Let us get our hands dirty for you! Contact our team at Premier Coach Works to learn more about our services.