Shit Got Real
When it finally came to it, I realized that it wasn't actually all that bad. If any of you are resistant to the idea of RVing or trailering, you can relax. There's an easy and not terribly smelly way.
Taking Care of The Poop in the Trailer
I was already disgusted by the idea of how we'll have to dump the poop tank. I knew Chris would take care of it, but everything's easier and faster with a little help, so I made sure to make myself available the next time we needed to dump the tank. When it finally came to it, I realized that it wasn't actually all that bad. If any of you are resistant to the idea of RVing or trailering, you can relax. There's an easy and not terribly smelly way.
How do you dump without getting poop water everywhere?!
First collect the things that you will need. Nitrile gloves, the hose and attachment to the opening of the tank dump valves, backwash hose to rinse. If you really want a mask, that's entirely up to you. You will occasionally smell the heady aroma of the tank's contents, depending on where the wind blows. Good news is, everyone's shit smells, and it's your own brand! Dump the black water (poop and pee water - ek) tank first and when it's completely empty, close the blackwater valve and dump the grey water (from shower and sinks). This way you're flushing your "stinky slinky" hose which should clear any "chunks". If you do need to rinse your dump hose, use a dedicated spare water hose for rinsing. Do not use the same hose to fill up your potable water tank.
How often do I have to dump?
The frequency of dumping depends on the sizes of your tanks and the number of people using the water facilities. For us, with two adults and two toddlers, we would see our tanks getting full right around day three with 30-gallon holding tanks, one grey water and one black water. If you splurge and find yourself a full hookup spot, you'll dump nearly whenever you need.
Troubleshooting the tanks.
Poop, water, and toilet tissue all go in to the same tank. There are scores of articles and web forums that discuss weather or not toilet tissue should even go in there, but we've decided that the extra maintenance to keep the tank clear is worth it.
So what if a ball of waste or paper blocks the pipes while dumping? We've had to try different approaches to clear it up. This all assumes that you've got a clear fitting attached to your dump valve so you can see all your glorious waste. First, we'll fill up a five-gallon bucket (big box hardware stores have these for just a few dollars) with water and one of us will make one large continuous pour in the toilet while the other watches the dump valve for obstructions that have been dislodged, and eventually clear water. It might take a few buckets, so bring your patience. If we still think there might be some gunk in the tank, we'll toss in 20lbs of ice. Make sure to pour it in a bucket first and fill the bucket with water, otherwise the ice will just get lodged and it won't flow into the tank. Do this just before or while you are driving around. The hard ice grinds on nearly everything and will dislodge quite a lot of gunk.
The other approach is to completely fill the tanks using a hose to directly fill the tanks and then completely draining them. Again, do not use your potable water hose for this. You might have to do this a couple of times but it works relatively well. It depends on where the stoppage is located and works especially well for stoppages in the drain pipes after the tank.
There are lots of places you can dump. They're usually private, but in some states there are public dump stations, which is nice. Nearly all of them will collect a fee or have a minimum purchase. Sometimes they're co-located with a gas station, like the one we use near where we keep our trailer.
Once everything is empty and cleaned up, it's always sad for us because that means our adventure is temporarily over. Feels good though knowing everything in our "home" is clean, including the guts.
Image: User Koeppen~commonswiki CC-BY-SA-3.0, via Wikimedia Commons