How to Clean Your RVs Holding Tank Sensors | Pete’s RV Service Tips (CC)

Hey guys, Randy with Pete’s RV TV again with
you today. Another quick tip segment for you. Have you ever gone out on a camping weekend,
and you’ve dumped your tanks after the weekend, and you come back into your camper, and you
get a false reading on your black or your gray tank kind of like that.
Looks full and you know it’s not. You just dumped it. Well, I’m going to take you into the bathroom here in just a few minutes, and I’m going to show you a couple of tricks
to alleviate that problem for you. So let’s go take a look into a bathroom.
Alright, so here we are in a bathroom at one of the RVs we have here at the shop at Pete’s
RV Center. Kind of an awkward place to have a conversation or shoot a video, but here
we are anyway. Good information. So as I was mentioning earlier at the monitor panel, you
know you’ve dumped the tank but it’s still reading full on you monitor panel.
How this happens is we have black ABS plastic tanks underneath our RV which are our holding
tanks, our waste water holding tanks. And we actually spin weld metal sensors into the
side of those tanks and hook wires to them that go back to that monitor panel. So we
use continuity of what’s in the tank. We especially see this happen on the black tanks because
some slime, and some sludge, and whatever else we throw down the toilet gets caught
up on those sidewalls and will actually give us that false reading.
So a couple important things I want you to do while you’re camping that will help alleviate
this, or make it easier for you to clean it if the problem does arise. when you have solids
or paper present in the toilet bowl, I need you to fill up that toilet bowl before you
dump. Obviously if you’re dry camping, this is going
to be a little harder for you to do because you want to get as much longevity out of that
tank if possible. But if we’re at a campground where we can dump whenever we like, this is
a great way to do it. So if there’s solids or toilet present in there, I want to see
you fill that bowl up with water. I want to get as much water as I can in that bowl before
I dump. What that’s going to do, is it’s going to
do things for us. It’s going to put more water into the tank, and it’s also going to help
solidify anything that we put in the tank in conjunction with our toilet chemical. Make
sure you’re using the appropriate RV toilet paper. [00:02:00]
Any toilet paper that is built for a chemical toilet will work on this. It breaks down a
lot quicker than some of the household toilet papers we use for septic systems, so important
to do that. So we just fill that guy up and dump it, as much water as we can. Most of
your today’s toilets out there will have a way where you can step on it halfway and get
some water to it, and that way we’re going to get as much into that tank as possible.
If you do that that will help out. The next thing you need to do, if it does
arise, especially when you’re at the campground where you can dump where you want, we’ve got
these couple of little options here that work really good. And a lot of today’s new units
are coming with sewer sprays on them or some kind of tank wash spray that is hooked up
to the side of the unit that actually sprays inside that tank.
Here’s a couple of options that we sell in our store. We call them swizzle sticks in
the shop. Heh. You hook the garden hose to this end. It’s got a little on and off valve,
and it’s actually got a sprayer that spins around at a very high rate of speed down here
and will actually wash the side wall of your tank.
Here’s one that’s a little bit longer. If you own a fifth wheel, this is going to be
tough to do because usually the tanks are very far away from the toilet, which are not
in a travel trailer situation. So fifth wheels are a little bit tougher to do. So you can
use those methods. Another method that I use when I’m at the
campground is before I leave, if my tanks are getting full, I’m going to fill that tank
up with water. Now, be careful when you’re doing this because you don’t want to overfill
the tank and have a mess or have it come up the toilet, but I want to fill that tank up.
A lot of people I see at the dump station here at the dealership, they’ll bring a garden
hose in or dump it. You can also purchase one of these guys here.
This is what my prep techs use when they are prepping a camper out to make sure everything’s
working properly. They’ll drop that right in and it will keep the water on while it’s
filling that tank. Again, make sure you keep an eye on that tank, because if this comes
up through the toilet it’s not going to be a fun thing to clean up.
Once you’ve got that tank filled, let it sit for an hour or so. Maybe do it in the morning
on the last day there, while you guys are picking up. Then go ahead and pull that valve.
Now that water that’s in that tank is probably going to clean those sensors off. Sometimes
I’ll even put a little chemical in there. That should clean it off, get everything taken
care of for you [00:04:00] in conjunction with one of those swizzle sticks there, and
the extra water we put in. That should keep those tanks reading clean.
Now, if you have one that’s not … again, typically it’s the black but sometimes I do
see it on the gray. You can fill up the gray the same way. Even put a little toilet chemical
down the gray and it will help out with odors. Gray odors are just as bad as black odors.
I’ve had tanks apart and they really stink. So pour a little toilet chemical down in that
gray water you’re using before you dump as well. It’s not going to hurt anything, plus
it will keep the sensors clean. On the really hard to clean sensors, or if
you have one now that’s been dirty for a long time and are reading full for a long time
and you want to get that one done, warm water. I’ll take and fill up a five gallon bucket,
and I’ll dump it down the toilet of an empty tank with, of course, the valve closed on
the outside. And the steam from that warm water will actually help loosen up any solids
that we might have stuck to one of those sensors inside the tank. I’ve done that on numerous
occasions and had very well, great, success with that as well.
There is also product that you can purchase at an RV store that you can put. It’s called
a tank sensor cleaner. I put that down in there, or toilet chemical cleaner, or toilet
chemical works pretty well as well. And if it, again, it’s one of those tough ones, let
it sit in there for 24 hours before you dump. Even if you’ve got to take it home and bring
it to the RV dealer a day or two later after letting it sit in there. What that liquid
is going to do is, it’s clean liquid, it’s going to just soften up all the material on
the side of the tanks that may be giving us that false reading.
Now, on the rare occasion that doesn’t clean it out, you may need to add a new well nut
or something on there. We do do that occasionally at the dealership. But those tricks that I’ve
just shared with you, that gets it about 95% of the time. Hopefully, if you’ve got one
of your tanks and you try my tricks, it’ll help you get that [inaudible 00:05:32] reading
at empty so you can have an accurate, you know, know what’s going on in your tanks and
know how full they are before you dump them. Really important with the black tank.
Once again, let it fill up as much as you can while you’re using the RV before you dump.
This is going to help us evacuate the tank properly and can keep those tank sensors reading
clean. And it’s also going to give the chemical enough time to break down the solids and break
down the paper. So use a lot of water if you can, if you’re
not in a dry camping situation. If that doesn’t work for you and you still get a false reading
[00:06:00], fill the tank up with water, let it sit for as long as you can before you dump.
That should clear out. If it’s a real toughy, get yourself five gallons of hot water and
dump it down that toilet. Let that sit around for a little while, and that’ll actually steam
the sensors. And then you can go ahead and flush the tank really well. And you can try
the products that I showed you earlier, the swizzle sticks and things like that.
So hopefully this helps you clean those tank sensors. Thanks again for stopping in, checking
out our quick tips with Randy. And always check us out on our Facebook page, and we’d
love to see you on the YouTube channel as well. Thanks for thinking of Pete’s RV and
happy camping.

61 Replies to “How to Clean Your RVs Holding Tank Sensors | Pete’s RV Service Tips (CC)

  1. Great advice! Thanks for sharing this 🙂 For those needing to put their precious #RVs  in storage, check out our site for awesome #storag  solutions


  2. Is CLR safe to use in the tanks to clean sensors? I'm going to try the hot water clean with RV chemical first.

  3. Im an RV Tech…I once had a customer return a month old camper that she couldn't get the Black tank to empty at all, Upon inspection it was discovered that she had been dumping her cat litter from the cat box kept in the bathtub down the toilet! It was the clumping type of litter and became a solid block in the tank! When explained to her she cant do this ,she said" I do it at home with no problems"! Well I had to drop the tank and break the news to her it wasn't covered under warranty. She wasn't a "Happy Camper"LOL when she got the $300. Bill!

  4. I have installed  Horst brand  Black and Gray water monitor sensors ( the pin sensors in the tanks ) in my  RV they work great

  5. Hi Randy.why hasn't anyone done a video on solar and generators combined and how the two work together.Thanks Doug Okanagan BC

  6. Having trouble with the black tank sensor and saw this video. Tried everything short of the ice cube trick, but this is the first I've heard regarding the use of hot water. I should have thought of that myself, and thanks for alerting me to this common sense idea. Since totally flush-rinsing it clean with its two built-in Sani-Flush spigots, adding a few gallons of water plus some Happy Kampers powder, some Dawn, and a couple packets of Tide down the hole, followed by 70 miles of mountain highway, the Aladdin readout went from 288 gallons to 128, so we're gaining some ground. If it doesn't clear with the next dump, hot water it is!

    Apparently our sensors are the pressure type, but behind a large water bay panel that's not easily removed I hear. I'm hoping if necessary, the sensors can be accessed just by removing the stainless cover that hides the gray/black valve at the bottom of the panel. The Aladdin system is no longer made, and most go to See-Level systems, but if I can get the sensor out and clean it or repair O rings or diaphragm I will. Perhaps the sensor itself is standard fare and a replacement part is still available.

  7. Our bowl has a foot pedal that allows you to lift it and fill the bowl and flush solids with max water flush.

  8. Extremely Helpful. Going to fill that tank to get a clean tank each time.Thanks Randy this was a terrific video.

  9. At the end of every trip I dump the tank at a station then, after coming home, I fill the tank half full with water then roll a few feet and slam on the brakes a few times. This sloshes the water around in the tank pretty good. Then fill full, wait an hour or two and dump.

  10. my gray tanks marks that is 3/4 full, why is it doing that? I open the valve and hear the water coming out but still makes 3/4, can someone help me please.

  11. Sound like a great idea. I have my grey water reading 2/3 full all the time and well was also going to buy calgon water softener and add it to the tanks . Hope the hot water Idea works for the grey water. Must have food stuck on it lol!!!

  12. I get no lights at all on either of my holding tanks… all of the other Indicator light up as they should so it's not the bulbs.
    How about Baking Soda and Vinegar into the Grey water tank ?

  13. Toilet cleaning rigmarole can be the biggest clincher when deciding to buy an RV. Why do we have to use the RV toilet the same way we do at home? At home we don't have to clear up the septic tank physically every three days. In the RV toilet can't we keep a plastic bag in the commode and after every use you just pull the bag up, tie up its mouth and and store the bags till we get to a dump yard and dispose all the bags. That would be clean and simple. Have the black tank only for urine. Has anyone tried any such alternative ways of using the toilet without water? There is also one more suggestion. The bath should have a shower but don't use soap. If you are in a countryside you don't even need to have a black tank at all, just let the water flow out. It is like having a shower in the open. If you are in a city then you should not use the toilet in the RV. Go to a restroom. You should use toilet and kitchen only when you in the countryside. Will that not solve the problem?

  14. Having a pitcher sitting handy inside your shower to catch the cold water coming thru the shower head before the water becomes hot and using that cold shower water to pour into the toilet before using it for #2 would be efficient and not wasting water normally running down the drain while waiting for a hot shower.

  15. I typically wait until I am back home to dump my black water tank. This usually helps everything break down and cleans my sensors as well. Is this a good idea?

  16. Love the Hot Water idea!!! Can't believe I've never thought of that!!! (full timer 15 years now, sensors haven't been correct in 10 years LOL)

  17. Would someone explain the sani-flush connertor/connection? Probably all the same, but I have 35' Winnebago Class A. What is the deal with small shiny smooth opening in front of garden hose size attachment covered by plastic. What am I to attach there or take apart? I'm sure it's simple and water is to spray inside for cleaning. Someone take pity…what am I to connect…nothing fits or screws!! Help and thanks

  18. Randy, Loved the Video! The quick pace was awesome! Get to the point without going in to the chemical constituents of dung and its cohesive nature. I wish all DYI vids were this efficient! Thanks Bro!

  19. Randy, as your doctor I'm here to tell you you have a throat problem, you can't speak for a couple of days until it heals.

  20. At about 1:55 you say "Help solidify " whats in the tank I thought the idea was to liquify whats in the tank for better flushing. Where did I go wrong?

  21. My tank is giving false reading for past few days, it's not 3 weeks old yet.. I will try your plans .. Thnx

  22. How to clean your black tank sensors. The Tim the tool man method…

    First, flush 50 lbs of scented candles down the RV toilet…(doesn't work, duh!)
    Next, get an acetylene torch…
    Remove the black tank along with a third of the RV….
    Thank the neighbor for the use of his fire extinguisher…
    Open the black tank using explosives….
    Have a nice chat with the local police and fire guys…
    Re-engineer the power washer to use a Chevy 454 engine for power…
    Clean the entire RV, inside and out using 77,000 PSI water….

    Begin to clean the sensors upon returning from the emergency room….

  23. Has anyone ever replaced the shut off valve on your grey tank. Mine is leaking by the shut off slide. Just curious to know how hard it is to DIY

  24. My black tank sensor was messed up for a long time.  Now, just before I head out for the weekend, take a bucket of HOT water, about 4 gallons, dump that down the toilet and throw in one of those Cascade dish washing pods.  The steam from the hot water, the hot water, and the Cascade pod now make for a nice mixture for the 2-hour drive to help clean the sensors, but actually clean the whole tank, and makes it smell fresher.

  25. I Love your videos! Thanks for all this important information! I'm thinking abo it getting a RV and all this information is going to help me make up my mind! Thanks again!

  26. I always add about 8 gallons of water to my black tank after i dump it, the drive home it will slosh around and help break up any solids. Before leaving on my next camping trip I add a large cap of laundry detergent to the tank and let that slosh around on my trip to the campground. If there isn't a smell issues i don't dump until I'm ready to leave. If you have full hook up, water in you black tank is your friend. Always use plenty of water when flushing and always batch dump your black tank, never leave it open to drain. When you drain your black tank, add water back to it.

  27. 1:51 “And it’s also going to help solidify anything we put into the tank….”

    Did you mean to say ”liquefy”?

  28. Like all of us, I struggle with black tank sensor problems. You shared some great ideas here that I have never heard before and I am anxious to try them. As simple as it sounds, never thought of the hot water trick. Thanks again!

  29. I have to say all the videos have really been helpful and has shown how do things correctly and understanding when I take it to repair services to know that they are not taking advantage of me. I was able to get my slide out fixed and get my roof clean and clean out in my black tank thank you.

  30. I was tired of having a smelly tank using chemicals, so I quit. No chemicals and it never smells. I just flush it 2 or 3 times when I dump. Doesn't always read empty but it's good enough.

  31. I have the swizel stick you showed and they do spray well but still the sensors say a full black tank. The unit even has a direct connection to spray the black tank. I will try fully filling the black tank…so that is a good idea..thanks….we use "happy camper" as directed…no smells at all.

  32. I had to replace the battery on our trailer and now both the grey and black tanks show empty however they were not (actually we just brought the grey to completely full). Instead of showing full as described in the video could they show empty as well?

  33. DO NOT let the foot pedal slip while using the wand. Just cost me $165.00 to find that out when the ball valve cracked as it hit the wand while I was cleaning it out. In the Dometic 310 you can NOT replace it. You have to replace the whole toilet. Do you know of a reason my black tank flush will not let water through? Seems like it just sits there and you can hear no water going into the tank and none comes out while trying to flush the tank

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