The Best Way to Prep Your RV Tanks for Storage

Using effective tank storage methods is one of the best ways to protect a recreational vehicle.

Properly cleaned and sanitized RV black, grey and fresh water tanks are more important for safe and comfortable RV travel than many people realize. People generally know to maintain them during vacations, but few realize that this should also be done prior to storing coaches.

Far too many learn the hard way that when they do not clean and disinfect their tanks when putting them into storage, they have problems later.

This article gives specific directions that owners can use to make sure their coaches will smell good and their water will be safe to use when it is time for their next vacation.

It's important to properly prep your RV's tanks before putting your coach in storage.
It's important to properly prep your RV's tanks before putting your coach in storage. | Source

Protect Your RV Tanks

Protecting your tanks when it comes time to park your coach for long periods of time prevents problems and extends their lives. This is one of the lesser considered issues with regards to maintenance, but ignoring it is a mistake.

Many people simply do nothing either because they give little thought to it or they do not understand that meaningful preparation can save them money, time and upset. These are the same people who soon find that their toilets smell or are stopped up, and their water is contaminated. Some may even discover damage, such as cracked and broken tanks, that can cause expensive repair or replacement.

When you perform this chore, you will need to have access to a sewer outlet, so the best time to do it is usually the very last day of your vacation. Otherwise, you will have to make a special trip to a campground after you return home so that you can use their facilities. This, of course, will entail paying an extra fee for camping, because a dump station will not work in this situation.

It makes no sense to clean and sanitize tanks and then use them!

My articles "How to Maintain and Clean Your RV's Black Water Tank" and " RV Fresh Water Tank Care" are worth reading because they discuss more about this topic. This article provides a concise overview that tells owners what they need to do.

If you want to have better RV vacations, take good care of your tanks by using effective storage methods.
If you want to have better RV vacations, take good care of your tanks by using effective storage methods. | Source

Fresh Water Tank Prep

When you vacation, especially if you travel for weeks at a time or longer, your fresh water tank is subjected to numerous types of chemicals, some of which may not be the healthiest for you. My article, "How to Keep Your RV's Drinking Water Safe" will help you to understand why you need to clean and sanitize prior to storage. If you do so, you will be protecting your health and that of anybody else who travels with you.

The procedure is simple:

  1. Empty the tank completely.
  2. Fill it 3/4 full of water you know is good.
  3. Pour one cup of bleach in and let it sit for about 20 minutes.
  4. Empty the vessel again.
  5. Refill again as before and let the liquids sit for about 10 minutes.
  6. Empty again, and continue to empty and refill until you no longer smell the bleach.
  7. Once the bleach has been cleaned out, and you no longer smell it, you are finished.

Following this procedure cleans, sanitizes and protects against freezing during cold weather.

Just remember to fill 1/4 to 1/2 full with good water when you are getting ready for a trip. If you do not do this, you will have no water available until you get to your first camping spot.

Do not overfill because water is heavy, will increase the amount of gas or diesel you will need for travel and the extra weight could cause damage.

Camco 41507 TST Blue Enzyme Holding Tank Treatment - 1 gallon
Camco 41507 TST Blue Enzyme Holding Tank Treatment - 1 gallon

This product removes 99% of harmful bacteria from your RV sewer tank.


Black Water Tank Prep

The procedure for preparing your RV's black water unit is exactly the same as it is for the gray , except for the fact that you should always do this before you work with the grey. Also, it takes more time to do because fecal matter hardens and sticks to the sides of the tank.

You never want to leave waste in this tank because it can dry up and eventually cause clogs. It will also create nasty odors that will be difficult to get rid of later.

Always follow the cleaning and emptying procedure with an enzyme type product along with a gallon of water. These products are specifically made for eating hard deposits and sludge away from the tank's walls.

The type I show here comes in liquid form, but you can also use packets that will do the same job.

You want your coach to smell good when you step into it after it has been sitting in storage. This type of product will do that job for you.

Grey Water Tank Prep

You prepare the gray water reservoir much the same way as your other tanks, but you need to pay attention to the sequence you use when emptying and cleaning it.

You should always empty it after you have emptied and cleaned the black tank because you use the same sewer hose to empty both. Since gray water usually has detergent and soap residue in it, flushing the hose with it after cleaning out the other tank helps to keep the hose clean and sweet smelling.

Once you have prepped your black water tank, follow the same cleaning and sanitizing directions as above.

Fresh Water Tank Prep

Since Fresh Water Tanks are sealed, there is very little storage preparation necessary.

However, it is always a good idea to drain and sanitize them if they will be sitting for log periods of time.

If you store one in very cold weather, definitely drain it before putting it away.

You can find directions for doing all of this in RV Fresh Water Tank Care. Taking the time to read it will undoubtedly save you some problems.

Properly stored RV tanks lower the risks of having problems during vacations.
Properly stored RV tanks lower the risks of having problems during vacations. | Source

Eliminate Problems With Good Maintenance

After you have emptied and cleaned your tanks, leave as little liquid in them as possible. This way, if you will never have to worry about damage due to freezing.

Some people use antifreeze for this protection, but if you leave the tanks mostly empty, this should not be necessary.

As you have seen here, doing a good job of preparing your RV tanks for storage may take a few hours, but it is easy to do and is relatively inexpensive. The effort involved is worthwhile because you are protecting your health, your finances and your coach.

You also are guaranteeing that your vacations will be much more pleasant because your coach will smell better.

Happy trails!

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Comments 2 comments

TIMETRAVELER2 profile image

TIMETRAVELER2 2 years ago Author

Theresa: So good to hear from you again. Yes, we are trying to travel...short trips mostly...and are even contemplating a trip to the Black Hills in the fall. Not sure about that one yet.

I recently started being able to walk in stores, etc. again, which is a big jump forward, and the wrist is doing OK most of the time.

As you can see, I've been writing a lot lately...don't know what it is, but I just cannot seem to stop!

I hope you and yours enjoy your camping spot a lot this summer and that you just take it easy when you can. Life is so darn short!

Big, big hugs.

phdast7 profile image

phdast7 2 years ago from Atlanta, Georgia

Something I simply would never have thought of....and it makes sense that when not in use you need to clean and empty the tanks.

I am doing fairly well. Teaching two days a week this summer which allows me plenty of time to battle the ICY and other weeds which threaten to overgrow my house and storage shed. It is a never ending battle and I think the greenery is winning.

So glad to see that you wrote above that you had just gotten back from a three week trip. I am so glad, after your accident and hospitalization last year I wondered if you would ever be able to travel as you used to. So very glad that you can. :)

I haven't been on HP much for most of a year, I have missed it and I need to start using my time more efficiently. Take care.

Blessings. :) Theresa

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