Last week I was late, this week I’m early. Welcome to another week of RV life! I’m your harried host, Mandy. 🙂
This was a rough week and I need to admit that I was blind to my own blessings. I also didn’t handle most situations as well as I could have. A lot happened in short bursts of time and I did not make time to take care of myself. The ugly side of me came out and I spent quite a bit of time repenting and praying for a heart change.
This week I learned an important lesson: keep your black water tank closed until it’s full. You can pour all the chemicals you like into your tank, but if it’s not closed, there’s not enough water built up in there to do anything and you’ll have a very bad clog. Our clog occurred the day my husband went back to work after two days off. I was alone with Jackson. He had finally fallen asleep so I went potty, then got started on the dishes. Halfway into washing dishes, I heard this strange sloshing sound. Upon investigating, I discovered the lever on the toilet was stuck, water was running and the tank was full, flooding the bathroom. Unfortunately, the lever for “sewage disposal” was also stuck open. It was a very smelly, very disgusting mess. Needless to say, I panicked. Jackson was asleep on our bed, not even three feet away from this mess. I was concerned that he’d become ill if it wasn’t taken care of immediately.
First, I forced the levers up, used an empty plastic food tub from the trash and bailed water from the tank to the sink . From there I was able to grab a couple ratty old towels and clean the water up off the floor. I threw those out, turned off the water outside because the lever became loose and the bathroom started flooding again. I quickly ran across the street, washed my hands, prayed Jackson was asleep and called Anthony while crying. He wasn’t sure what to do, but Jackson (mercifully) remained sleeping. I did what any panicked woman would do – I searched the internet for solutions.
The very first thing I tried didn’t work. The second thing I tried made it worse! I called Anthony crying again. He was granted an hour to come home and help. At this point, I had clean hands and Jackson had just woken up, so we rushed off to pick up Anthony.
While Anthony was at the RV doing what he could, I rushed over to my trusty lumber store and bought a thick wooden dowel, some septic safe Drano and a fire extinguisher (because it was on sale and at that point, I wasn’t about to take any chances not owning one).
The stick worked wonders! The Drano worked quickly. Hoorah! Originally, I’d tried boiling water, but because the clog had gotten so bad that sewage was backing up into our toilet, it didn’t work. It sat there, stagnant, staring at me as if mocking me. I flipped it “the bird” and then turned on our air purifier and opened every window in the RV. (Note: flipping off stagnant water does nothing to make it to move. Do not get so infuriated you then escalate to cursing at it. That also is counterproductive, especially when children are present. (Mine thankfully were at school, with baby Jackson home but sleeping.))
Just to back track a bit here, when you first notice a clog, it’ll be down in the pipes quite a ways. You’ll see it if you open the “chute” that flushes your waste. This is the point where you’ll want to make sure your tank is not full. If it is, you need to dump immediately. If that doesn’t fix the issue, or your tank simply isn’t full, then you’ll need to close your black water tank, boil some hot water, pour it down the waste chute and follow up with RV safe chemicals. (I do *not* recommend Drano. We used it out of desperation, but I’ll not be doing that again. We have some better stuff I purchased at a local RV supply store. There are many options out there, including organic options. You’ll need to look around and see what works for you.)
Once the hot water and chemicals have had some time to work (about fifteen to thirty minutes), check to see if that solved the clog. If not, repeat with just another pot of boiling water. It’s not an exact science. We have a pot that’s roughly 3/4 gallon. You can certainly use bigger or smaller. Use what you have on hand.
If your clog is still there, follow up with a sturdy, thin stick. That should push everything down into the tank, allowing the chemicals to do their job. Keep your black water tank closed until it reads full. I can’t stress that enough. The chemicals require water build up to work in, otherwise even the best RV toilet paper will clog your pipes. Also, make sure you’re allowing your toilet bowl to fill about 1/4 to 1/3 of the way prior to eliminating human waste solids. This will also help avoid clogs. You can even come up with a clever jingle to remind your kids to “fill the potty with lots of watty before you poo or you’ll end up with one sick loo!” Ok. Slightly inappropriate, but very effective for a 6 and 8 year old. 😉
I also discovered that in a home with three children, one must always assume that every “solids” diaper is so messy it needs to be changed in the shower and that it’s never ok to close the gray water tank with this many kids. We had water back up into the shower after Jackson and Chelsea’s shower. Of course by that point I was breastfeeding Jackson and running late for a women’s Bible study and Theresa hadn’t washed her hair in three days. I quickly discovered I’d closed it the day prior and it was full. In three minutes time, the tank emptied. Hoorah! I helped Theresa shower, dressed everyone and we bought breakfast at the grocery store and rushed to Bible study.
These were only two of the obnoxious trials we faced this week. If I mentioned them all, your head (and mine!) might start spinning, so I’ll just leave you with these for now. The bottom line is that we’re alive and we learned valuable lessons. The grey water tank always stays open and the black water tank is daily evaluated, but stays shut until it becomes full.
How was your week? What lessons did you learn? How many were learned the hard way? What do you do in a crisis? Let me know in the comments below!