Tag Archives: dump valve obstruction

How many utensils did you dump into the toilet?

Someone I met tonight told us the story of his missing fork, and said I could share it if I didn’t name him. With a little background and explanation by me, here’s what happened:

When RVers attend rallies they might spend several weeks in limited hook-up settings. Drinking and washing water runs in white “potable water” hoses, splitting off in a wye at each trailer down a line as long as fifteen or twenty trailers. The trailers might have full-service electricity, enough to run the lighting, radios, and even microwaves and air conditioners if they have these too.

What is most often missing in large rallies is a sewer hook-up to allow frequent emptying of the trailers’ rinse water and black (sewage) water tanks. The rally organizers typically provide a contract service to pump out the waste tanks (rinse and black) at some interval, like every four days.

Some RVers might optimize their waste tanks capacity by disposing of the used dish water into their toilet, because the black tank seems to last longer than the rinse tank. It seems some people prefer using a lot of water for their showers, and this can fill the rinse tank in only a few days.

Used dish water is likely to become cloudy from soap and from washing plates and pans and utensils. We’re all a bunch of experienced RVers, we’re seasoned travelers and we share many good habits learned from repetitive motions of RVing. Right.

Dishes are washed and rinsed. A certain RVer takes the dish pan from the sink and walks to his trailer’s washroom. He steps on the toilet pedal to open the flush valve and empties the dish pan contents into the toilet bowl. And watches a fork slide cleanly into the waste tank.

What’s the chance of this happening? Every previous time, he poured the contents of the dish pan into the toilet bowl before depressing the toilet flush pedal. And if someone wanted a utensil to pour through the small flush opening (3″ diameter?) you know the utensil would, most times, turn crosswise and refuse to go down the drain.

Not this time. The fork went right down the drain and into the black water tank. Yep, the sewage tank. And no, there’s no easy way to reach in and fish something out. We’ve read horror stories (at least we thought so of them) of children’s toothbrushes, soothers, or toy soldiers going off to do battle in the wasteland under the toilet. And the RVer borrows bore inspection cameras and rigs retrieval wires and recites incantations over the toilet, hoping the extraneous items will all leave the tank without clogging the dump valve.

You see, if you clog the dump valve then you have messed up the whole works. It is roughly analagous to losing the drain valve on your car’s radiator — all the radiator coolant just drains onto the pavement. And the coolant is a dangerous pollutant, not something we should allow to drain uncontrolled from our vehicles.

So, how will it work out if we get a plastic toy figurine or, say, a fork, stuck in the black water waste tank’s dump valve? I’ll just start this and let your imagination color it in for you. Every time anyone uses and flushes the RV’s toilet, the contents will rush downward into the waste tank and then. . .

Okay, back to the story. He ingeniously located a magnet in his toolbox, attached something to it so he could go fishing with it. He lowered this through the toilet’s flush valve and into the waste tank. And he pulled a fork up from the depths of his waste tank! Boy, is he glad it wasn’t a plastic fork?

I asked him if he is sure there was only one fork?