We Met the Enema and It Is Us

Posted August 25, 2016 – Narrated by Jim
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During our first month in the trailer, things were going so well.

Too well.

Like ominous rumblings from below, the signs were there. Deep, deep down we sensed “it” forming, growing, creeping up our black water tank.

Yes. Once we were innocents – lacking respect and knowledge for the scatalogical results of our daily actions.

Little did we know, that only two days later we would be wizened warriors – victorious conquerors of our insidious monster of a Shitalactite!

So, why discharge this, our humble tale as we galavant among the beautiful lakes and valleys of California? Why can’t we simply shut the lid and walk away?

We certainly don’t intend to make a stink about it, but Poop is a topic all newbies should disseminate.

Ignore poop at your peril!

If you do (and everyone does) you could easily make a mountain out of a molehill in your black water tank. We know, because, we did.

More experienced RVers need not listen to our enthroned declarations regarding how to handle a potentially disastrous tank blockage. And we solicit all experts to pitch your favorite technique in the comment section below.

No, we are simply here to tell you what we did, what we’re currently doing; what we plan to do in the future, and, then give you the full scoop about what we do do.

First, some backstory.

If you live in a bricks and mortar home, how your ‘jobbie‘ journeys from your body, down the plumbing and into the sewer system is truly a marvel of human ingenuity.

In most homes, the toilet is about two square feet of white porcelain with a water tank measuring about another couple of square feet or smaller.

The idea is to keep it clean and tidy, and other than a handle which may occasionally need a jiggle to facilitate a proper flush –  that’s about the end of it.

Just, pull the handle and, “Tada!” one’s marvelous Picasso is surrendered to higher authorities for process and disposal.

But for one who does a Picasso in an RV, the toilet is a mere prop for a 40-gallon tank into which the acquisition drops down to join the rest of the collection, and remains in one’s expert care for days – or even weeks when in a dry-camping situation.

Keeping a toilet and a 40-gallon tank clean and tidy is a demanding responsibility because not only is poop toxic, but it has been known to explode!

One of the saddest sounds an RVer may ever hear is silence when they pull the black water tank valve and nothing happens.

No pleasing “swoosh” sound of excrement and water and TP on it’s way down the stinky-slinky …

… and into the public sewer system where it will become someone else’s problem.

That no-swoosh silence means you have a blockage.

At this point, sewer mouth is in order – it won’t help the blockage but it should instantly wrap your head around the problem.

So, first, swear all you want, then, go into the bathroom, peer down the toilet with a flashlight into your dark, cavernous black tank and behold your creation: a giant, hardened, free-standing poopy papier-mâché and say, “My God… What have I done?” 

Googling will render dozens of explanations and suggestions – ironic how poop draws crowds on the internet.

The most recommended solution involves pulling a hose into your trailer, shoving the hose down the toilet and then yelling to your partner who is outside manning the spigot, “Let’r rip!” as you proceed to water blast the blockage down to size.

Some said it’s even more effective if you attach a special, sharp nozzle onto your hose in order to pierce the blockage and then, let’r rip! … and it might be a good idea to wear a hazmat suit.

Psychologists should study why putting things down the toilet dominates all other solutions to RV blockages on the internet.

Like, for instance, to dump a seven pound bag of ice chips down the toilet and “take ‘er for a drive” … for hours … so the ice will rattle around and bang the crap out of the blockage and splash it with the chemical solvents pooled at the bottom of the tank.

That idea seemed plausible and clean.

Unleash the ice chips!!!

We hitched up Beauty and spent our free Saturday driving our poor, constipated trailer on the jammed-up weekend highways and byways.

We drove over railroad tracks, and cattle guards. “Take that, Shitalactite!” thinking how nice it would be to hear that happy “swoosh” sound later in the evening over a sparkly glass of champagne…

Day wasted. It didn’t work.

Toilet paper shaming is another obsession on the RV sites. The Supreme Masters of Paper Shunners and Conservers never have blockages. Some RV veterans whom we greatly respect, recommend never putting any toilet paper at all in your black water tank. They keep a special trash receptacle exclusively for TP and never experience blockage problems.

We admit to being squeamish about this solution. Our trailer is our home – we love to entertain. For us, TP is an institutional necessity for living In Beauty.

“Sounds like you’re up shit creek without a paddle. Call a pro!” was tempting advice. But, as determined TP users, we needed to learn to solve this ourselves. Nevertheless, we researched a reputable RV tank service, and we’d call Monday morning, should we need it.

With only a few hours of Sunday left, an Airstream friend suggested we drive over an hour away, to Camping World. The experienced staff considered our specific problem and suggested the Flush King Reverse RV Flush Valve.

Cheaper versions of this device were offered, but we decided to go with the best.

We attached the Flush King directly to the Airstream’s sewer pipe. Then, attached the sewer hose to the Flush King.

Next, we attached one end of a gray water input hose to the Flush King and the other end to the outdoor water faucet.

Before turning on the outside water source and utilizing the Flush King, we once again opened the black water tank … held our breath.

No luck. Blockage still there.

So, leaving the blocked black water valve on the trailer open, we closed the valve on the Flush King to create a closed system between the Flush King and the blocked black water tank.

That way, there would be no escape for the introduction of new water except against the blockage inside the black water tank.

IMPORTANT NOTE: Unless you have a sacrificial virgin handy, place a beautiful woman whom you dearly love inside the trailer. Stand her over the open toilet with a flash light in her hand so she can see movement deep within in the black water tank.

Instruct her to yell  “STOP!!!” if the water (or, anything) from the toilet rises enough to reach the inside of the bowl due to the introduction of the outside water to the Flush King. (We used walkie-talkies so we didn’t have to yell.)

Open the Flush King water inlet (blue knob that directs water into the black water tank) and then turn on the water at the outside spigot. At first, it will fill the clear plastic coupler and then start building pressure as it forces its way on the blockage and into the black water tank.

Quickly the blockage will be forced back into the black water tank.

Using the walkie talkie, stay in communication with the person inside.

When you think the blockage is gone, turn off the fresh water inlet and open the valve on the Flush King to let water and the contents of the black water tank drain into the sewer hose.

If anything has happened to the blockage, you will see something other than clear water coming out.

If yes, then you have successfully given your trailer an enema and broken the blockage.  Repeat over and over until nothing but clear water comes out.

And that is how we defeated the Shitalactite, cleaned up our tank (and our potty-mouth) and got back to normal, living in Beauty.

Flush King is also great for blockage prevention. We now use it every time we empty the black water tank to keep it clean, fresh and blockage free.

A few important Flush King tips

  • We never leave the water running to the Flush King and step away.
    • Chances are we will forget about it and might cause an overflow from the toilet.
  • We attach a dedicated sewer clean out water hose to the Flush King and fill up the BWT four or five times to clean it out after every dump. We never use our potable water hose to flush out the black tank.
  • We never turn on the water to the Flush King if both the BWT valve and the Flush King valve is closed. The water pressure will damage the seals.
  • If our BWT monitor is accurate, we wait inside the trailer for the tank to show around 80% full and then shut off the water source.
  • If our BWT tank monitor is inaccurate or not functioning, we make it a two person job and have one of us inside with a flashlight to watch when it gets almost full to let the other person know to turn off the water.
  • If we are going to be at a campsite for a few days, we set up the Flush King when we first make camp, so it is ready when needed.
  • Ideally, we perform as many flushes using the Flush King as is needed for the water coming out of the BWT to be clear and no toilet paper seen escaping. The Flush King has a clear elbow which allows you to see what is coming out of our BWT.
  • If the valve on the Flush King is sticky and hard to close or open, we spray the valve door with a lubricant before attaching to the RV.
  • If we are at a dump station, we only use the Flush King if there isn’t another RV waiting. It would be impolite to take the time required to thoroughly flush the tank and hold up the line.

Our blog post “Business is Business” offers more tips and suggestions on black water tank maintenance.

If you want to see our exact route, click here.

*photos in this post (unless otherwise noted) were taken and copyrighted by Living In Beauty.

33 thoughts on “We Met the Enema and It Is Us

    1. With three kids, you and Reed must have learned more about this subject than anyone we know. We should have called you first!

  1. When you dump do you add a couple of toilet bowls of water to the tank when finished?

    Have you checked your toilet paper for break down? Put a couple of sheets in a container of water and shake it for 10 seconds. Ifthe paper disintegrates then you are good to go. If not find another paper like Angel Soft.

    I sometimes put a little powdered detergent down the toilet before towing. It slicks up the inside of the tank.

    When on full hookups don’t leave the black tank dump handle open. Wait until the tank is over 1/2 full before dumping. Use your black tank flush if you have one.

    1. Hey Kelvin!. Yes, we do add a couple of gallons of water to the tank after dumping and we follow your lead by dumping when the tank is partially full (so important!) and we use Happy Camper which we get on Amazon. Great idea about the detergent which has been suggested by several other wonderful followers. We will definitely try the detergent idea. Also, we never considered testing the paper first. Awesome idea!!! Thanks so much and Happy Travels!

  2. When on full hookups don’t leave your black tank valve open. Dump when it’s 1/2 full or more. Use the black tank flush.

    After dumping drain a coule of bowls of water into the tank. I sometimes use powdered detergent, makes the inside slick as I tow.

    Use. a sewer hose support so the contents don’t have to go uphill in the hose. I use a slinky type support.


  3. Welcome to the RVing world of reality! Jacquie and I have owned and traveled with various RVs for the past 45 years……Black water tank management is a subject that has been cussed and discussed for all of those years…..it’s also been a source of humor (albeit “dark” humor), ever since the first holding tank was installed…
    We’ve got to write a book on this subject….when we meet this fall, I can see some interesting discussion on this subject, while enjoying a great single malt scotch….

    Have a wonderful day!

    Larry and Jacquie

    1. When it comes to poop, literary opportunities abound. Carmen’s really liking Doug’s Greek tragic comedy idea. Yes, soon we will solve these dark problems over Scotch! See you soon!

  4. Happy Camper black tank additive that I get from Amazon is very good. I also use Scott toilet tissue that is safe for Septic tanks that I get from Amazon or Walmart etc. Welcome to the world of black tanks!!

  5. I am convinced that there is not one scatilogical reference left in the universe. You have exerted your vocabulary and passed them all! H I L A R I O U S!

  6. Great storytelling!! Thanks for sharing. I have heard good things from others about Flush King. Dropping a couple of dishwasher packets with the anti-spotting agent in is also supposed to help keep things squeaky clean. Safe travels!

  7. Ah, intrepid travelers, you are problem solvers extraordinaire. Airstream and one other high end RV brand use a black water sensor gage that sits right below where we sit to relieve ourselves. A Mount Whitney of stuff builds up on the sensor so that it no longer registers. After two recent weeks of dry camping usage, ours says empty. If you haven’t had that issue, you will. After a number of failed attempted remedies, we have an appointment with THE Airstream expert repair shop in Bellflower. Of course a flashlight and the naked eye works too.

    1. Hey Linda! We had that “empty” read when the tank was full when we were dry-camping in Borrego. Let us know if the Bellflower shop finds a solution to that. BTW, we drove through your favorite campground when we were in Mammoth! We must have a meet-up there. Beautiful!

  8. There is a developing story in all of these blogs …. In fact, I’m sure there will be a future full length play. A little comedy. A little drama …. or, for the ancient Greeks — a Greek tragedy

    (in ancient Greek theatre) a play in which the protagonist, usually a man of importance and outstanding personal qualities, falls to disaster through the combination of a personal failing and circumstances with which he cannot deal

    Although it could really be a Greek comedy in which the writer…

    poked fun at politicians, philosophers, and fellow artists. In addition to maintaining their comic touch, the plays also give an indirect but invaluable insight into [Greek] society in general and provide details on the workings of political institutions, legal systems, religious practices, education, and warfare in the [Hellenic] world

    This latest warfare against the Shitalactite seems to have elements of both an make a perfect ‘Act 1, scene II’

    I hope to see this journey performed on stage someplace.

    all the best and much love. Doug

    1. Great idea about the play, Doug! I will need your measurements to build the costume, you have the title role!

      1. hmm, me thinks that you think I am a shit disturber 🙂 well, be it as it may, I’ll certainly play the titular part of the sacrificial virgin. I hear that men got all the roles at that time.

  9. OMG. This is great. You sound like frantic parents trying to help your constipated child. Well, old pros now with much good advice. Fascinating even if you are not an RVer. Living in Beauty is certainly a journey. On to the next adventure❣

  10. Dumping once a week will generally help you spot difficulties before they ‘arise’…I refer to my routine as “the week in review”…
    I have had to make the ultimate sacrifice of a shower curtain rod to stir the pot…8#)

    1. Michael, thanks for the tip. We empty the black water tank at least once a week now, most of the times, twice a week. I also use the Flush King everytime I have a water source with a hose that still has the threads so I can attach it to the Flush King and do a complete clean out of the tank.

  11. Hahahahahaha! Oh my gosh you had me in tears!!!! I had never heard of a reverse flow but I will never forget your cautionary tale and should I experience this level of constipation I will know exactly what to do. lol You guys are a riot! Happy Trails

  12. Shitalactite would be hanging down.

    The proper term is Shitalacmite .

    Easy to remember ” as the mites go up the tites come down”

      1. I thought it should be that “You sit corrected” since RV turdletts allow for sitting while using them.

  13. As I like Happy Camper as well, My engineering mind has been in overdrive about the horror stories of this subject.
    I’ve been experimenting with 1/4 cup Dawn dish soap and 1/2 cup of Borax powder soap mixture in a gallon jug.
    Wait for the Borax to dissolve fully. Put into black tank after emptying add one more gallon of water.
    So far so good. Resting well on my throne…

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