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How To Clean RV Tank Sensors: A Complete Guide

Navigating the Nitty-Gritty of RV Tank Sensor Care

Every RV is made from a collection of integrated systems. When one thing goes wrong, it can affect the entire vehicle! That’s why early warning systems and alerts are so important. For example, RV tank sensors can tell you when your holding tanks are full and need to be emptied. But what happens if these sensors break or report faulty readings?

Just like every machine, tank sensors can fail. Although a mechanical failure is always a possibility, these sensors usually just need to be cleaned. If they are blocked or covered by debris, it will be hard for them to deliver an accurate reading. Fortunately, it’s fairly easy to clean these sensors and bring them back to full functionality.

There are a few different methods you can use to clean your RV tank sensors. We’ll mainly focus on the sensors in your black and grey water tanks today because the freshwater sensors rarely require cleaning. Read on to learn some helpful cleaning tactics!

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How To Clean Grey Water Sensors

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.

To begin, you should drain your grey tank and close the valves once it’s empty. Now, you just need to refill the grey tank by activating your faucets and showerheads. This water should be fairly clean because you won’t be using it to wash dishes or shower.

Fill the grey tank up to its full capacity, but leave just a tiny bit of extra room at the top. If your sensors can’t detect when it’s full, measure out the correct amount of water based on the tank size/capacity. Next, add a cleaning agent!

The sensors in grey water tanks are fairly easy to clean, so you don’t need to use powerful or corrosive cleaners. About 20 ounces of regular dish soap will do just fine! You could also drop a couple of dishwasher detergent pods into the mix. It may foam up a bit, but that’s completely normal.

Now, it’s time to let the soap do its job. You can leave the tank for 8 hours while the soap works. If you want to speed things up and agitate the mixture, you could also take your RV for a short drive.

After it has had time to sit, drain the grey tank once again. Pour hot water down your drains or use a spray wand to clear out any remaining debris in the pipes. Refill the tank with faucet water again and check to see if the sensors are working now. If not, you may need to repeat the cleaning process a few more times. You can also call a professional to check for mechanical failures.

How To Clean Black Water Sensors

The RV tank sensors in black water tanks are harder to deal with. Black water tanks contain all the sewage in your RV. If there’s more solid waste than liquid, the tanks can accumulate some disgusting buildup. As a result, black water sensors can easily become coated, which makes it impossible to tell when the tank is filling up.

To begin the cleaning process, follow the initial steps we described above. Park your RV and dump the contents of the black tank into an appropriate RV sewer system. This is nasty work, so make sure you wear gloves and cover your nose!

Once the tank is empty, close it up and refill it with clear water. You can do this by pouring water into the toilet or the inlet port. Again, you should try to fill it all the way up so you can reach the highest sensors.

Now you need to add a cleaning agent. Black tanks require stronger stuff, though. This type of wastewater is hard to break down, so you need to use a powerful cleaner and let it soak for a long time. Unique RV Digest-It+ is a good option for stubborn clogs, but you can also use other products if you prefer. Just be sure to read the directions and dilute it if necessary.

Let the cleaning mixture stew for 72 hours (or as long as the product directions say). It takes a long time to clean black tanks, so don’t try to knock this out in a single day. Once you’re satisfied with the length of time, dump the black tank once again.

At this point, you can also use a hose or a spray wand to blast the tank interior. This should loosen any buildup that’s still clinging to the RV tank sensors. Just make sure that you don’t use a hose that’s connected to potable water! The splashback can contaminate it, and nobody wants to spread germs.

By this point, your sensors should be free of gunk. If not, you can repeat the cleaning process a few more times.

Why Do I Need To Clean the RV Tank Sensors?

This might seem like a lot of hassle for something as small as tank sensors. But they perform an essential function within your RV and require maintenance (just like everything else).

If you regularly clean your sensors, you’ll be able to accurately detect the water levels in your tanks. This will help you stay on top of tank maintenance and create a schedule for dump station visits. If you’re boondocking, this information is especially important because it will help you adjust your water usage accordingly.

Additionally, regular tank/sensor maintenance will help you prevent buildup, clogs, and overflow in your system. These sensors are designed to alert you when the tank is filling up. Listen to the warnings, and don’t try to overfill your grey or black tanks!

Finally, functional RV tank sensors will help you reduce odors in your RV. Full black and grey water tanks can smell pretty foul. If you see the levels creeping upward, you can take preventative action before the stench has a chance to form.

How To Prevent Sensor Issues

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.

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2 thoughts on “How To Clean RV Tank Sensors: A Complete Guide”

  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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