How to avoid a black tank mess

Dumping the black tank can be a source of extreme anxiety for new RVers. I know it was for us, so much so that even though we were full-time RVers, I forbade anyone from using the black tank except in the most dire of situations. That was until we learned a simple and easy way to avoid a black tank mess.

Black Tank Fears

Blog posts, YouTube videos and that scene from “RV” (the hilarious Robin Williams movie) fed and legitimized this fear.  

Iconic scene from the movie ‘RV’ with Robin Williams

After awhile, I learned that the fear and anxiety I felt about having a catastrophic black tank disaster was mostly unwarranted. Mostly…I would be lying to you if I told you I never had an issue dumping my black tank. However, the issues I experienced while dumping RV tanks were relatively minor and never, ever at the level Robin Williams experienced in “RV”. 

Escapees events are a wealth of information

Escapees is an RV club that supports, educates and entertains RVers. While attending an Escapees rally a few years back, Kerry and I attended an RV Tanks How To class and in it, I learned the one tip that cured me of my black tank phobia.  

Typical causes of a black tank mess

First, I need to explain how a black tank mess usually happens. Many RV tank dumping disasters occur because of the lack of a good seal at the points where the sewer hose connects to your RV tanks or where it connects to the dump station. 

This actually happened to me because I wasn’t aware that the o-ring/gasket inside the sewer hose at the point where the hose connector marries up with your tanks and or dump station port had fallen out.

The other incident occurred when my sewer donut (odor proof sewer hose seal) was not seated and therefore I had no seal. 

To dump tanks, the RVer typically has their sewer hose connected to the rig as well as the dump site and then empties the black tank then the gray tank to help rinse any remaining black tank deposits. We are going to add one small variation to our normal RV tank dumping process. 

Quickly release the gray for 2 seconds

Before releasing the contents of the black tank and hoping for the best, try releasing a small amount (2 seconds or so) from the gray tank first. This will reveal any leak points with water that was used for bathing, dishes and hand washing instead of revealing it with human waste.  

Once you have confirmed there are no leaks, continue with the normal process of dumping your tanks. The entire process as I’ve described is as follows: 

  1. Release a small amount from the gray tank (2 seconds should work) 
    – If no leaks continue with the normal process 
  2. Release contents of the black tank (don’t forget to close this valve after) 
  3. Rinse with the contents of the gray tank 
  4. Rinse your sewer hose with a dedicated tank rinsing water hose (separate from your drinking water hose).  
Avoid black tank spills with this simple tip

I hope this simple but effective tip helps you as much as it has helped us. Watch our video for more info and feel free to leave a comment below if you have any other questions.

Disney World and Fort Wilderness Campground during the pandemic

This week we take a look at what it is like to travel during the pandemic. A Disney World and Fort Wilderness regular, our friend Niki shares her recent experience visiting the vacation hotspot.

Guest Author Niki Meza regularly shares her love of Disney, gardening and camping on her YouTube channel NixPix

A year of firsts

This trip was very different from our normal trips to Disney for many reasons. It was our first time back since the shutdown of Disney on March 16, 2020 and it was also the inaugural test trip for our 20 ft. Horton Hauler that my husband Rick spent the last two years converting into a camper.

This was also the first time my now adult daughter did not join us. One of the biggest firsts; the first time our 17 year old son, Ricky (who is autistic and still mostly nonverbal) did not sleep under the same roof as his father.

Rick Sr. went up to Fort Wilderness the night before our arrival to test out the new trailer. Ricky stayed home that evening with me. I had about six hours of Ricky running to the window and door looking for his father before he finally understood that we would be joining him the next day and all would be well.

Make sure to reconfirm reservations before arrival to Fort Wilderness Campground

Fort Wilderness Campground

Fort Wilderness Cabin

We typically rented a cabin and with not knowing quite what reaction Ricky would have to being in the new camper, we went ahead a rented a cabin as well as a campsite for our trailer. This worked out well for us, however I will warn you, if you book more than one reservation on the same date with the same guests on each reservation, the Disney Reservation system may automatically cancel one of them so be sure to reconfirm all is well before your arrival.  

No buffets, but plenty of options available

The next day Ricky and I joined Rick Sr and the first thing on the schedule was P & J’s Southern Takeout at the Settlement. When entering you will go into Crockett’s Tavern, and though the buffet is closed, the walk-up bar is still open and you are able to sit at the tables. We did notice most guests just got their meals to go. I ordered my pizza and we walked to the Marina where, unfortunately, the pontoon boats are still not available, but we were able to watch the boats running to and from the Magic Kingdom.

Not having access to the playgrounds and the pontoon boats was a negative for us. The stores had shorter hours than usual and we definitely missed the main restaurant. 

Disney World’s Tri-Circle D Ranch Barns – limited hours

Our campsite was on the 700 loop and it was a great location to be; the loop sits right across from the Settlement and the Tri-Circle D Ranch barns. The barns are open for limited hours during the day, so make sure to check their times daily. Not as close to the Marina as the 100, 200, and 300 loops, but there is the added bonus of it being a bit quieter and private. I would definitely stay in this spot again. 

This trip was during the last week of October, so we were lucky to have all of the fabulous Halloween decorations to admire. As one of Ricky’s favorite things to do is ride around in the golf cart, this was a nice experience.

The Magic Kingdom and social distancing

The next morning while Rick Sr. and Ricky snored in their beds I took a ride over to Magic Kingdom. The bus to the boats has a numbered seating system to aid in social distancing. I was excited to catch a peek of Cinderella’s Castle and her new paint job. I would say I felt safer entering Magic Kingdom than my local grocery store.

Assigned seating and dividers on bus aids in social distancing

Long lines, fewer rides open and entertainment changes

As for the parks, there are many rides and experiences that are not open which can make it hard when parents have to explain to their children “not this time,” and the lines for food are long because there are limited places open. The longest line I saw was for the shop at the Haunted Mansion. The lack of extra entertainment that makes the parks feel so magical is also felt. Characters are up on balconies or placed in such a way that maintain social distancing. If you are looking for a photo with Mickey or Minnie, you’ll have to wait for another time. In other words, Walt Disney World during COVID is a popped bubble for me. 

Final thoughts on Disney World in 2020

Finally, my personal thoughts on returning to Disney during the pandemic. We have spent the past 12 years frequenting the parks on a regular basis, it was the one place we could go as a family together. It was our bubble. We went through the initial changes to the disability system that were hard and unfair for those on the Autism Spectrum so many years ago. Through some trial and error, we were able to adapt as well as we could. I am optimistic that I will feel that magic again and I look forward to seeing my favorite performers return. And I hope— as I’m sure we all do— that it will be sooner rather than later.

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