Small House Big World


Carrying a Heavy Load

Anna Edgren • April 15, 2015

If you are like us, you probably figured the worst of our plumbing issues were over. No such luck. This afternoon Kelly and I were a little surprised to find that our black tank was totally full. Now – each of the tanks has a sensor that tells you how full it is. Our black tank had said it was still full, even after we dumped it 2 days ago, but common RVer knowledge clued us into the revolting fact that the sensors on the black tank will often be inaccurate due to build up. Meaning they get crusted over with…. Yeah. 


So even though it said it was full, we knew it was empty, as we had just emptied it 2 days prior, and the tank should last us about a week or so before we need to empty it. And yet… When we tried to flush the toilet, sure enough, I could see with my own two eyes that it was full. Well that’s odd. 

Smells like defeat.

We decided to head to the dump station that evening to dump it again. Is it possible we didn’t completely empty it last time? 

Brave, wonderful Kelly took it upon himself to get out there and empty the black tank again. When it was “done” I went to go check the toilet inside. Well THAT’s odd, still looks full to me! That’s when it dawned upon us, of course – A clog. A clog could do that. Lo and behold, a clog we did find.  Kelly tried his best to splash some water up in there to loosen things up, but we just couldn’t get enough water pressure to succeed. So, we decided to try the age-old trick of dumping some water down the drain to get things moving.

Kelly and I took our positions. 

Perhaps you recall the clear connector bit that attaches to the big draining hose I spoke of in my previous plumbing post? The one that, much like the sun, I recommend you do not look directly into? It is the only place on the RV where you can safely view the poop flowing out of the the RV and into the hose (and down the drain to neverneverland). I will include a picture here for everyone’s edification (don’t worry, it’s during a non-flow moment).

2015-04-14 18.41.01

(Right above the orange bit)

My time finally came. I was on poop nozzle duty. I had to be the lookout to see if the clog had resolved. 

I was discouraged by my predicament, but didn’t think much of Kelly’s situation. His first order of business was to locate a large stick and poke the wad of unspeakable evil further down the drain. Seems simple enough, except for the backlash of HORRENDOUS fumes that flooded back up from the now open toilet-hole. Kelly describes this as: “literally and with no exaggeration the worst thing I have ever smelled in my entire life, by far.”

After about 10 seconds in the bathroom he came out and almost threw up. Not in the overly-dramatic sense like “ew that was so gross I almost puked” but more like actual gagging noises and came very close to losing it all over the carpet. Which thankfully he did not. He plugged his nose and continued on to the next task; filling the toilet bowl to the spilling brim using a 2.5 gallon water bucket.

“the goggles do nothing”

2015-04-14 18.43.50

Fill ‘er up!

After the first giant bucket of water was poured down, we thankfully (?) were able to see the result on the other side. The mess was dislodging, piece by piece (so to speak). As Kelly would pour bucket after bucket of water down the toilet, I would yell words of encouragement. “More turds! More turds!” I would cry as they came racing by me through the hose. And they JUST. KEPT. COMING. Kelly would pour ever increasingly large buckets of water down the toilet, each time with a greater yield of turds. It was like one of those rides at the amusement park: LOG. LOG. LOG. That thing was really backed up. 
About the 4th or 5th pour, the culprit finally revealed itself – a giant blob of conglomerated feces, that had apparently broken up just enough to make its way down. Now we know why the nozzle is 3 inches across… The poop rock that came down that chute wouldn’t have tolerated anything less. 
Although the blob had dislodged, there was a heck of a lot of nonsense behind it, and we poured probably 15-20 gallons of water down the tank to flush everything out.  And it just WOULD NOT STOP COMING. 
CP gif 
Eventually we gave up. Some of the sensors were apparently cleaned off a bit in the process (yay!) and the tank is now showing less than half full. We decided to dump another bucket of water down there along with a deodorizing chemical solution we bought that is supposed to help dissolve that mess, and we will wait a couple days and flush it out again before we leave this site. 
In the grand scheme of things, we are pretty thankful that the clog came out right away! We will definitely be super careful about always having enough water down there and continuing to use the chemical to dissolve things. I am also thankful that although I did see actual poop with my eyes today, it was behind the safety glass! Small miracles.  
black tank clogblack tank sensorsfixing rv toilet clogplumbingtoilet clog

Anna Edgren • April 15, 2015

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  1. grins April 15, 2015 - 2:36 pm Reply

    …they say when your a fulltimer your supposed to stop carrying all your sh%t around with you….


    thanks for sharing …I guess.

  2. Kathy Edgren April 15, 2015 - 6:06 pm Reply

    Hilarious! Glad you survived.

  3. Bill April 15, 2015 - 8:47 pm Reply

    Thanks for the chuckle…we had the same phenomenon this past summer and it’s no fun, I know!

  4. John April 21, 2015 - 8:22 am Reply

    We full-timed for 18 months a few years ago. Welcome to the poo issues, we’ve seen a variety, hopefully your path will be a smooth one. LPT: Take no shortcuts in the black tank jungle πŸ™‚

    Best wishes to both of you. Hope your have a wonderful journey.

    • Kelly Reid April 21, 2015 - 11:15 am Reply

      Thanks John! We are going to replace the blade valve soon, as it gets stuck and I am having nightmares about it snapping off one day. No shortcuts!

    • Anna Edgren April 21, 2015 - 11:55 am Reply

      Thank you John! Lots of interesting “learning experiences” so far πŸ™‚

  5. Marie Parks May 1, 2015 - 11:42 pm Reply

    Hehehe! Awesome retelling of a probably not-so-awesome day. We all have our horrible poop stories from the first few months. It will get better. I promise. πŸ˜€

  6. Wade May 3, 2015 - 10:51 pm Reply

    hahaha. I enjoyed this post. Laughing about poop never gets old. I know. I’m 12…

    • Anna Edgren May 4, 2015 - 2:05 pm Reply

      @ Wade, it made us laugh, so I’m glad it made you laugh as well.

  7. Daniel May 7, 2015 - 9:35 am Reply

    I think we have all been there. No fun. We bought an adaptor a lot like yours that has a powerful spray nozzle on it that shoots up in there to loosen stuff up. It has been a life saver. Also with your little adaptor you guys have you can put the cap on instead of the sewer hose and use that garden hose to back fill the tank then drain it. We do that every time we are about to move to make sure it is as clean as we can get it.

    • Anna Edgren May 7, 2015 - 4:18 pm Reply

      @ Daniel, I think we get better at this every time we have to do it. Hopefully we will soon be pros. It has been a funny learning experience so far.

  8. Daniel May 7, 2015 - 9:41 am Reply

    Btw very nice post. All your images and gifs were appropriate and pretty darn funny.

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