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jbeletti
01-09-2017, 01:28 PM
Below is a reprint of an article I wrote today on the Heartland Owners Club blog (link (https://heartlandowners.org/club/2017/01/09/how-long-can-you-go-on-your-holding-tanks/)).

What do you do to stretch the time between having to dump your holding tanks when you are not on a sewer site?

After a season of camping with several long trips, most RVers get a good sense of how long they can go with their holding tanks.

For us, with the black tank, we can go 10 to 14 days. Our range is likely a function of how much touring we're doing. If we're out and about more, our black tank will last closer to 14 days. Question might be, do you want to hold it that long?! Depending on the weather, you may not want to hold your black tank contents for 2 weeks as the odor when you flush may be more than you want to bear :)

For our upper-deck gray tank (2 sinks and the shower), we can go several days, with showers using the most tankage.

For our lower-deck gray tank (kitchen sink, dishwasher and clothes washing machine), we can go several days, with clothes washing, followed by the dishwasher using the most tankage.

When does all this become important? When you are boondock camping (no hookups at all) or are camping without a sewer connection.

Are there things you can do, steps you can take to increase the length of time your holding tanks will "hold out"? Yes there are. I have a short and far from comprehensive list.

Below are my ideas.


Water Conservation
Water Usage Location Shifting
Tank Transfer

Here's what I mean by those ideas:

Water Conservation
Simply stated, use less water.

My wife will wash dishes in a dish tub, wash them all, then rinse them all at the end, using water sparingly. Even though RV dishwashers use a small amount of water, with a careful hand dishwashing strategy, you can use even less water.

When showering, washing hands, shaving, brushing teeth etc., don't leave the water running - turn it off between steps.

Wear outer clothing more than once. Bring more clothing than normal. Do laundry at a campground or city laundromat. Wait and do laundry when you get home.

Wash up at night instead of showering daily.

Water Usage Location Shifting
As the title implies, when practical, use water at other places.

Similar to what was suggested above for washing clothes, use the restroom at a restaurant or store before you come home.

Use the restrooms and bathhouses at the campground for showering etc.

Some campgrounds offer a space for dishwashing - use that when available.

Tank Transfer
A couple of thoughts come to mind here.

Transfer the contents of your holding tanks to a portable tote tank made for such purposes. Tote the tank to the sewer dump in the campground and dump the contents. Rinse and repeat :)
https://heartlandowners.org/club/wp-content/uploads/2017/01/Portable-Sewer-Tote-Tank-300x211.jpg
Transfer some of your gray water to your black tank. For us, since we can go a LOT longer on our black tank, if we can shift some of our gray tank water to the black tank, we can increase our time between tank dumps.

While one could use a bucket to empty gray contents into it, then dump it into the toilet and flush, there are other ways.

Wash your dishes in a dish tub, place the soapy, clean dishes in the sink and dump the wash tub into the toilet and flush. Place the dishes back in the dish tub, quickly rinse the dishes one at a time, in the air, over the dish tub (to collect the water) and place them in a drying rack or drying towel/mat. Then dump the dish tub into the toilet and flush.

This one's a bit out there but I've done it successfully - take a shower standing in a large plastic tub and dump the tub into the toilet and flush. Sounds crazy but it's really doable. I carry what I would call a bus tub used in restaurants for table dishes clearing. I carry it to use for soaking and washing my grill grates. For showering purposes, I place this large tub in the center of the shower, point the showerhead into the tub, turn on the water, adjust the water temperature, then turn the water off at the showerhead. I then step into the tub, place the showerhead on my head and wet my body from the top down, then turn the water off at the showerhead. I then soap up / wash from the bottom up, finishing with my head/face. I then turn the water on at the showerhead and hold it against my head, rinsing and moving the head around and down my body to rinse and to promote the water to drip down my body and into the tub. In this manner, I allow very little water to spray around the shower and 99% of the water used to be captured. Then I carry what amounts to about 3 gallons of water to the toilet, dump it in and flush. I ended up with a little more than 1 toilet bowl of gray shower water. But that's around 3 gallons of water that didn't go into my upper-deck gray tank :)
https://heartlandowners.org/club/wp-content/uploads/2017/01/Bus-Tub-used-to-Shower-In-300x194.jpg


So do any of these ideas creep you out? Do you have some ideas / techniques that you'd like to share?

porthole
01-09-2017, 01:52 PM
Bored?

wrgrs50s
01-09-2017, 01:53 PM
We camp a lot at state parks with no sewer at the site and have used a lot of these same methods to conserve water usage using the park restrooms, not the showers so much, but would if needed to.

The wife always uses a container she found that fits perfectly in the sink to do dishes and then dumps the water outside around the campsite. Some may frown on it but hey it's only dishwater and all the tent campers do it so it's no problem with the rangers.

For showers we just do the water on, off, as briefly as possible and can easily make do for 5 days. The pan in the shower is a new one for me but I think it's an excellent idea. Especially in the event where I would like to spend an extra few days and the black tank still has space available.

Thanks for sharing !

porthole
01-09-2017, 01:55 PM
110 gallons fresh
40 - 40 - 40 gray gray black

We can go 7 days if being judicious, maybe longer, but haven't tried.
No washer dryer, rinsing outside when we can, which is mostly just the dog bowls.
I will bring an extra 28 gallon tank in the truck if we are going to be boon docking for 7 days. Don't always need it, but like to have it.

Seldom do use we park showers.

Nabo
01-09-2017, 02:08 PM
Nice info. Thanks Jim.

jbeletti
01-09-2017, 04:53 PM
Bored?
Good guess! Actually, I am on a W/E site for a week and we came up with some ways to extend our tank time. We're scheduled for pump-out service on Thursday but I wanted to take showers in my RV - hence the bus tub. I HAD to take a picture of it. Then I got inspired to write an article.

jbeletti
01-09-2017, 04:56 PM
...The pan in the shower is a new one for me but I think it's an excellent idea. Especially in the event where I would like to spend an extra few days and the black tank still has space available. Thanks for sharing !

Thanks - many years ago, I'd read about even more drastic water saving measures where the solo-female RVer captured 100% of the shower water and repurposed it. Can't remember what she used it for. Could have been for flushing the toilet. And why not - if you had only the tank of water you brought in? :)

happykraut
01-10-2017, 07:59 AM
Use the outside shower on the RV. Might get a few stares from the neighbors, but you save a lot of space in your tanks and you stay nice and clean.

MCTalley
01-10-2017, 09:36 AM
Paper plates and plastic utensils save a lot on dishwashing. Not to mention having a ready supply of recipes that can be cooked in aluminum foil packets on the grill.

We've found the 10 to 14 day black tank routine to be normal for the two of us, as well. Heartland was nice enough to let the vent tube slip down into the tank a bit, so our toilet will start to burp when the tank has about 32-33 gallons in it. That works out fine, as we have a 35 gallon sewer tote. We can generally go a week on our lower deck gray tank, since only the kitchen sink is on it.

Our "home" campground is water/electric. We have a sewer tote and a golf cart that we use to empty tanks as needed (fortunately, we are allowed to store both there while we are away). We usually stay in one of the two sites closest to the dump station. Rather than taking laundry out to the laundromat all the time, I just make it a routine to dump the upper deck gray tank every couple of days (depending on laundry load). Two loads of laundry and a shower pretty much fill the tank (the Splendide combo w/d is not the most frugal with water usage).

jbeletti
01-10-2017, 10:28 AM
Paper plates, plastic utensils and cooking over a fire with foil packet food are all great ideas to stretch the use of holding tanks. Thanks for sharing!

jbeletti
01-10-2017, 10:29 AM
Use the outside shower on the RV. Might get a few stares from the neighbors, but you save a lot of space in your tanks and you stay nice and clean.

Bernie - you can do a Lifestyle Presentation / Demo of this at the Goshen Rally :)

Sarge
01-10-2017, 01:53 PM
The outside hose works great as a shower / dishes as long as biodegradable soap is used.....

happykraut
01-10-2017, 07:24 PM
bernie - you can do a lifestyle presentation / demo of this at the goshen rally :)lol lol

Bogie
01-11-2017, 01:20 AM
When we are boon docking we use several measures to reduce the use of our tanks.

1. We use paper plates.
2. All cooking utensils that need washing are done outside in a plastic tub at a wash table.
3. We use the campground bathrooms as much as possible.
4. We shower outside in a shower tent (not in winter of course). We heat water on a stove pour it into one or THESE (http://www.campingcomfortably.com/big-kahuna-4-7-gallon-portable-shower.html?utm_source=googlepepla&utm_medium=adwords&id=121353807384&gclid=CJfcua22udECFQ13fgodXxgPoA). We use the battery power from the trailer to power it. Pretty much everyone is able to get a hot shower with less than 3 gallons of water each.

We have gone 10 days like this with six family members and have yet to fill the tanks. :)

uncledon
01-21-2017, 08:00 AM
Bernie - you can do a Lifestyle Presentation / Demo of this at the Goshen Rally :)

;););)

asherwin
01-21-2017, 09:32 AM
When staying in our Provincial Parks (similar to your State Parks) we apply many of the same measures. Usually these parks only have electric. We arrive with a full tank of fresh water and augment this with trips to Park water faucets located around the campground to fill and refill a five gallon container. Showers are taken at the park washrooms and our toilet only gets used at night. Dishes are washed outside using water from the 5gal container. After two weeks we still have water in the fresh water tank and room in the waste tanks.

Dennyha
07-17-2017, 08:56 AM
We've implemented a tip that we haven't had a chance to use yet. Our Gray #1, where we shower, tends to fill first. Gray #2, which is the kitchen sink, typically does not fill very fast. By adding a valve gate to the hose hook-up, we can close the gate at the hose hookup, and open the two gates for the gray tanks. This should allow volume from Gray #1 to transfer to Gray #2 to keep the levels equal. This way, we have 82 gallons of total gray water capacity instead of a 41 gallon tank for showers, and a 41 gallon tanks for washing dishes.

travelin2
07-17-2017, 10:11 AM
We've implemented a tip that we haven't had a chance to use yet. Our Gray #1, where we shower, tends to fill first. Gray #2, which is the kitchen sink, typically does not fill very fast. By adding a valve gate to the hose hook-up, we can close the gate at the hose hookup, and open the two gates for the gray tanks. This should allow volume from Gray #1 to transfer to Gray #2 to keep the levels equal. This way, we have 82 gallons of total gray water capacity instead of a 41 gallon tank for showers, and a 41 gallon tanks for washing dishes.

We do that and while it does give you more "capacity in GT #1" so to speak, the math doesn't quite add up. GT #1 is the first to "burp" indicating it's full and time to dump!!!


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farside291
07-17-2017, 03:31 PM
Heck, instead of the whole wash tub drain in the toilet thing, just wash, brush your teeth and do dishes right in the toilet.

Just kidding.

JohnD
07-17-2017, 11:28 PM
Gotta learn how to take 'Navy' showers . . .