When you’re going to a remote location with your RV, you are usually completely reliant on the supply of water in its water tanks. You become extremely conscious of your daily water needs and try to use as little of it as possible. You’re always on the lookout for the next location where you can get a refill. And it’s especially stressful when you’re boondocking.
And if the constant awareness about the level of water consumption in your RV is not enough, there is not one, but three separate tanks you need to look after. Proper maintenance of your water tanks is crucial. After all, you don’t want to be left stranded without water. If you invest in high-quality caravan water tanks you can easily monitor the levels and do proper maintenance. Here are some tips on how to keep your tanks working their best.
What Are the Different Types of Caravan Water Tanks?
Motorhome water tanks contain potable, greywater and black water. The tank with potable water – that one is fairly easy to comprehend – it is the one that holds filtered or tested water that is safe for drinking.
Greywater is the water that was already used, but the degree to which it was used, allows to be recycled again before being disposed of. Example of greywater is the water that runs off as you wash dishes and utensils or the water that runs off the shower. This water can be put to use and if your water system is thoughtfully designed you can make multiple uses of it. More on this below.
The black water is the water that comes down the toilet in an RV camper. So, it is a reservoir full of human excrement (feces and urine) and you have to maintain it on a regular basis. Otherwise, it will ruin your adventure.
Making Sure Your Potable Water Is Safe
Now, in a perfect world, your RV is always in use and caravan water storage is in constant fluctuation. Unfortunately, in the real world, this is rarely the case. To begin with, your camper trailer probably spends at least part of the year parked and not used. Maybe this is because you are wintering, or you simply need to make money for your next adventure. Whatever the cause, it is not unusual, rather it is a highly likely scenario.
Then, even when your RV is on the move, your caravan water tanks are exposed to a whole range of different water sources. Some of the water comes from wells. Other is from service stations. You probably have a filtering kit for any other free-running natural water as well.
Considering this, you have to make sure the tank is completely empty and clean when your van is not in use for a long time. And after coming back from each adventure, make sure the tanks are spotless again. Otherwise, you are facilitating a nasty growth of algae and slime. While it’s not impossible to get rid of it, it’s a demanding chore that will consume a lot of your time. The most usual way to get rid of algae and fungi growth is by mixing a solution of bleach and cleaning the tank with it thoroughly several times. Then, you need to rinse of the tank until the water coming from the faucet does not smell like bleach.
This method is completely safe as long as the ratio in the solution is one cup of bleach to 55 litres of water. Don’t do this too often, though. The downsides can include damage to the plastic of your tank. And long term consumption of water purified with bleach is not advisable for your overall health. So, it’s best to avoid this by giving your potable water tank a good scrub after each use and avoiding keeping water in it for too long.
Managing a Greywater Tank
The main concern with greywater campervan tanks is the odour that develops if you don’t do day to day maintenance. On top of this, there is the concern about the quality of the water when you release it into the environment. Do you want to pollute any water source that will come across your greywater?
These issues can be both avoided by applying some common sense and investing some thought into the process. Odours are greatly reduced, if not altogether absent when you don’t allow food scraps to pass through the sink and into the tank. You can use a filter to accomplish this.
You can also separate organic waste before you put the dish under a kitchen faucet. Or you can make mouthwatering meals so everyone savours every last piece of them without leaving scraps behind. In the end, you can just wipe the dish clean with a wet towel or something along those lines. Just don’t let food enter the water tank. And apply sodium bicarbonate (baking soda) once in a while. It will definitely stop the spread of ugly smells and is absolutely safe for the whole ecosystem.
Another aspect of greywater, aka the shower runoff, seems quite harmless at first sight. Your body is mostly clean, isn’t is? And even if you stretched that last shower more days than your roommates would tolerate, the nasty things you are washing away are organic and biologically safe. But what about the washing products you use You can actually produce a real chemical soup if you are using the wrong type of personal care products. Using environmentally friendly shampoo and toothpaste makes the water reusable for watering plants. If this sounds like too much work, greywater can also be only reused to fill up the black water tank.
Emptying the Contents of Your Black Water Tank
Having a black water tank means only one thing – all the waste will be stored in a reservoir and will be disposed of at the nearest predetermined dumping point. You will be tempted to leave the black tank valve open when you are hooked up to a sewage connection at a camping site. Do not do it, because it is likely that your water will run off, but the solid waste will remain (or a good portion of it). You don’t want that kind of situation on your hands.
Temptation number two is emptying the water tank before it is completely full. The end result is similar to temptation number one. Make sure you keep track of the point to which the RV water tank is filled. Now, there are a lot of chemicals you can use to eliminate the odours that come with keeping excrement in a tank. But, that is not the end of your options.A simple, clean and environmentally friendly solution to this issue would be to install a composting toilet. You separate fluids from solids and that is a great relief to your senses. Urine mixed with the right amount of water, if it comes from a healthy individual, is a totally safe and natural fertilizer.