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Step-by-Step Guide to Cleaning Both Black and Grey RV Tank Sensors

This post was updated on April 30th, 2024

In your RV, everything’s connected. So if your tank sensors start acting up, giving you wrong info or no info at all, it can throw off your whole game plan. It’s like your gas gauge being off – you wouldn’t know when to fill up or when you can keep on cruising.

Tank sensors getting dirty is pretty common. We’re not usually talking about a big repair job – it’s usually just gunk or leftovers from your last trip messing with the readings. The good news? Cleaning these sensors isn’t a big deal, and it’s something you can handle on your own.

We’re going to walk through cleaning the sensors in your black and grey water tanks. Why not the fresh water tank? Well, those sensors don’t usually see as much action, so they don’t get dirty as often. But those other tanks – they’re working overtime. Let’s get into how you can get those sensors clean and accurate again.

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How To Clean Grey Water Sensors

This video covers how to clean and maintain your RV’s gray water tank and sensors for accurate readings. Key points include:
Diagnosing Issues: Learn to identify common problems like mis-calibrated panels or clogged sensors.
Calibration Tutorial: Link to a video on recalibrating the monitor panel.
Cleaning Steps: Instructions for using dishwasher detergent and hot water to clean the tank, enhanced by driving.
Timing Tips: Best practices for scheduling the cleaning to align with travel.
Repeating Process: Recommendations for a second cleaning if the first doesn’t resolve the issues.

Grey water tanks are less likely to clog, but it’s always possible! If your tank sensors are acting up, follow these simple steps to get them up and running again.

  1. Drain the Tank: Start with an empty slate: make sure your grey water tank is drained completely. This is where your journey to cleaner sensors begins.
  2. Refill the Tank: Now, refill your tank using your RV’s faucets and showerheads. You’re not doing dishes or taking a shower, so this water will be cleaner than usual. Fill it up close to the top, but leave a bit of space. Not sure if it’s full? Use your tank’s capacity as a guide to measure the water.
  3. Add Your Cleaning Agent: Grey water tank sensors don’t ask for much. No need for harsh chemicals—good old dish soap will do the trick. About 20 ounces should be plenty. Or, toss in a couple of dishwasher pods for good measure. Foam is fine—it means things are working!
  4. Let It Soak: Give the soap time to work its magic. Let it sit for about 8 hours. Got ants in your pants and want to hustle the process? A short drive can slosh around the mixture and help the cleaning along.
  5. Drain and Rinse: Once the tank’s had its spa day, drain it again. Get some hot water down those drains, or better yet, use a spray wand for a thorough cleanse. Make sure to hit all the nooks and crannies where gunk likes to hide.
  6. Test the Sensors: Fill her up one more time with plain water, and check those sensors. If they’re still pulling a fast one on you, it might be time for another round—or a call to a pro if you suspect a bigger issue.

Cleaning Your RV’s Black Water Tank Sensors: Step-by-Step

The video provides tips on cleaning RV tank sensors, particularly focusing on the challenges caused by toilet paper and other solids. It recommends using products like RV Digest-It and Unique RV Tank Cleaner to effectively clean the sensors. Alternative methods like using ice are discussed but noted as unreliable. The video also differentiates between cleaning internal and external sensors and warns against using harsh chemicals that could damage the system.

Understanding the Challenge with Black Water Tank Sensors

Let’s face it, dealing with black water tank sensors is no one’s idea of a good time, but it’s crucial for keeping your RV’s plumbing in check. The black water tank handles all the sewage from your RV, and it’s pretty common for solid waste to cause some less-than-pleasant buildup. This gunk can coat your sensors, leading to false alarms or no readings when you need them most.

Step 1: Empty and Prep Your Tank

Kick off the process by parking your RV and emptying that black water tank into a designated RV sewer system. Gear up with gloves and any other PPE you normally use.

Step 2: Fill and Measure

Once your tank is as clean as a whistle—or as close as it can get—seal it up and fill it back with water. If you’re not sure when it’s full, fill it to a level just shy of the tank’s total capacity, especially if your sensors are on the fritz and can’t alert you when it’s time to stop.

Step 3: Choose Your Cleaner Wisely

Black water tanks are a tough crowd; they need a cleaner that’s up for the challenge. Unique RV Digest-It+ is a popular choice; it’s designed to tackle the stubborn waste that likes to hang out in black tanks. Remember, always follow the instructions on the bottle to the letter—proper dilution is key.

Step 4: Time to Soak

Patience is a virtue here. Give the cleaner a solid 72 hours to work its magic. This isn’t a rush job; it’s about being thorough.

Step 5: Rinse and Inspect

After the wait, release the contents again. Now’s a good time to grab a hose or a spray wand for an interior scrub. This step is all about dislodging any stubborn bits still sticking around. Just make sure the hose is not the one you use for your potable water supply to avoid contamination.

Final Check: Are We Clear?

With any luck, your sensors are now giving you the green light. If they’re still out of tune, it might be time for another cleaning session or for a professional to check for potential mechanical issues.

Why It Matters

Keeping your RV’s black water tank sensors clean isn’t just about avoiding surprises; it’s about maintaining the overall health of your RV’s systems. Regular cleaning can save you time, money, and hassle down the road. Plus, if you ever hit a bump in the process, the RV LIFE Maintenance Tracker can be an invaluable resource for keeping track of your maintenance history.

The Importance of Cleaning Your RV Tank Sensors

You might wonder why you need to bother with cleaning those little sensors in your RV. Sure, it sounds like a chore, especially when you just want to relax and enjoy your trip. Many long-time RVers don’t worry about the sensors and just kinda know when their tanks are full from experience. That method will work a lot of the time. But here’s the thing—these sensors are key players in your RV’s maintenance routine. Let’s break down why they’re worth the attention.

Stay in the Know about Water Levels

First off, those sensors help you keep tabs on how full your tanks are. Especialy if you are newer to RVing or you don’t take your rig out all that often. This is crucial for planning your next dump station stop and managing your water use, especially when you’re off the grid (boondocking). Knowing exactly what’s going on down there helps you avoid any surprises.

Avoid Unpleasant Situations

Regular cleaning prevents all sorts of nasty issues, like clogs and overflows. Imagine dealing with a sewage mess in the middle of a trip—no thank you! Those sensors are your first line of defense; they can inform you if there are leftover bits or buildup in your tanks. By keeping the sensors nice and clean, you are, by extension, keeping your tanks clean.

How To Prevent Sensor Issues

This video provides an instructional guide on using and maintaining an RV toilet, emphasizing differences from standard household toilets. It covers the mechanics of RV toilets, including the use of a flush pedal instead of a tank and handle, and details on how to use water efficiently while boondocking. The video also advises on priming the black tank with RV toilet treatment to prevent waste buildup and recommends using septic-safe toilet paper to avoid clogs. Lastly, it discusses the importance of proper black tank cleaning methods and precautions to avoid overflow and damage.

In most cases, your sensors will be cleaned off whenever you dump/rinse out your tanks. But if you want to prevent issues from developing, you could try some of the following tips.

  • Buy dissolving toilet paper. The less solid material you flush, the better your sensors will work. Scott Rapid-Dissolving Toilet Paper is great for RVers.
  • Add enzyme cleaners to your black tank. These substances will “eat” or break down the waste so it doesn’t form clogs or solidify on the walls.
  • Regularly clean and empty your water tanks. This habit will improve your plumbing, as well as keep the sensors clean. Preventative action is ideal because it keeps the buildup at bay.
  • Use extra water when you flush. Dry black tanks are a serious issue. If there’s not enough liquid, the waste can congeal into “poop pyramids” or clogs. These have the power to block your sensors, and they also make your system overflow. To prevent this, try pouring extra water down your toilet every time you flush.

These simple tips should help you maintain a clean and fully functional RV! Don’t be afraid to reach out to RV specialists if your sensors are still acting up, though. It can be hard to reach/fix them without the proper tools and training.

2 thoughts on “Step-by-Step Guide to Cleaning Both Black and Grey RV Tank Sensors”

  1. This article does not address the challenges that full timers face. Let your black tank sit for 72 hours? What are we to do in the meantime? We ignore our sensors and dump when we assume our tanks need it. And we give our black tank a good rinsing, whenever possible, after each dump.

    • Howdy,

      I’ve been full-timing for over 9 years. Most of the time I go with your method. However once in a while I’ll fill the tanks up, add some dish soap and let them sit for 12 to 24 hours-ish, then give them a good rinse. I’ll use the campgrounds bathroom within that time. It’s inconvenient but it ensures the tank gets a good soak every now and again.

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