How to Repair and Maintain Holding Tanks in RVs, Travel Trailers, and Motorhomes

Updated on January 18, 2019
Randy Godwin profile image

Randy is a lifelong lover of the outdoors and especially camping. His articles are intended to help the RVer save money and time on repairs.


RV Waste Water Tanks

There are very few problems that can spoil a camping excursion worse than a leaking gray or black water holding tank. But knowing how to repair a black or gray water RV holding tank quickly and securely is not a very difficult task if you have the right materials at hand.

This article is meant to show you how to repair and maintain your RV holding tanks, as well as furnish information should you have to replace the tanks because of extreme damage or age. Also, there is a fad now to renovate and modernize the old classic models of the Airstream and Avion travel trailers, as has been done with old classic cars for years.

RV's Old And New
RV's Old And New

Metal and Plastic Holding Tanks

At one time, holding tanks were almost always made of galvanized steel or aluminum. Over the years these tanks have transitioned to modern plastics which are lighter and, in some cases, more durable and longer lasting than their metal forerunners.

These plastic holding tanks are much more chemical resistant than the metal ones but they are often harder to repair because of this very resistance to chemical bonding glues and epoxies. The newer plastics need special bonding properties to efficiently seal the cracks and leaks in today’s holding tanks.

Fortunately for us, there are some very fine new products made just for patching the newer plastic holding tanks. But there are also patching kits for aluminum RV holding tanks too, if you prefer to use these older models.

Using A Flushing Valve and Chemical Treatment to Maintain Your Holding Tank

It is important to flush the entire holding tank occasionally to prevent waste from hardening and potentially clogging the entrance and drain pipes. A special flushing valve is well worth the cost to ensure proper draining and working of the valves used for emptying the RV black and gray water tanks.

This valve will allow you to back flush the entire sewage system including the sewage lines in the RV or camper trailer itself. This helps remove potential clogs in the lines and aids proper drainage to the particular black or gray water holding tank.

This back fill and flushing device has an anti-siphon valve and uses a standard gate valve in its operation. You will find this valve advertised on this page at a price much lower than at many RV dealers and RV parts suppliers.

Using a good chemical RV holding tank treatment will prevent many clogs from ever forming. These liquid or solid additives not only help protect the seals in the gate valves, but neutralize the odors in the process. Most have enzymes which help the solid waste breakdown easier and drain more efficiently.

Replacing Seals or Valves

No matter how well you maintain your holding tanks, there will come a time when the waste valves do not seal properly. The rubber seals have been exposed to many years of chemicals, both organic and man-made. These waste valve seals eventually become soft, causing leaks and making the valves harder to operate.

In some cases, it is possible to simply replace the seals with new ones, a simple but effective cure. But if the old valves seem much the worse for wear, it is advisable to replace them with newer and better functioning waste valves. This is the usual method recommended because the cost difference between purchasing new seals and new valves is minimal in most cases.

A 3” valve is the most common size for most holding tank systems. Valterra makes a waste valve which may be twisted onto the end of the drain hose connection and requires no other removal of parts or seals. This valve is great for emergency RV holding tank repairs. Keep one as a spare, just in case. Check your particular valve for replacement seals.

RV Holding Tank Patching and Repair

When the holding tanks themselves develop punctures or cracks, there are patching kits made specially to reseal and render them usable again. Often these cracks and holes in the holding tanks are caused by freezing temperatures and the movement of the liquids in the holding tanks while the RV is on the road. Road debris can also puncture or break the plastic tanks if they are scraped or impacted.

For quick emergency repairs, a can of Flex Seal, a rubber based aerosol sealer, is great to keep on board your motorhome or camper trailer. It sprays on quickly and will mend minor holes and cracks in your waste holding tanks. Use this until you get a chance for a more permanent patching job on the holding tank.

When you are ready to do a permanent repair on the tank, it is time to use the SYON Holding Tank Repair Kit. The epoxy pouches and sanding materials ensure you of a professional permanent holding tank repair job which will actually be stronger than the original tank material. Everything needed for a repair job is included along with easy to follow instructions.

RV Holding Tank Repair Products

AP Products SR-213/90213 Professional Holding Tank Repair Kit
AP Products SR-213/90213 Professional Holding Tank Repair Kit
As featured in this article, recommended for the best RV holding tank repair results. Easy to use and comes complete with everything needed to do the job

RV Holding Tank Emergency Repair Products

There is no need for expensive emergency repairs to your RV’s holding tanks if you regularly maintain them and keep them clean. If you camp often, or Snowbird down in Florida, it is important to keep your sewage system working at its very best. Doing the repairs and maintenance yourself is the only reliable method to use to insure the holding tanks are in tip-top shape.

The products shown on this page are the very best for holding tank cleaning, maintaining, and repairing. They are shipped quickly and are easy to use. I highly recommend their use on your RV, whether it is a motorhome or camper trailer. Some are for emergency repairs and should be stowed aboard your RV for easy access.

This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. Content is for informational or entertainment purposes only and does not substitute for personal counsel or professional advice in business, financial, legal, or technical matters.


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    • Randy Godwin profile imageAUTHOR

      Randy Godwin 

      19 months ago from Southern Georgia

      Bob, I'm not familiar with the tank mounts in your camper. Sorry!


    • profile image

      Bob simpson 

      19 months ago

      I have a 2005 Trailsmen Travil

      Trailer leaking water somewhere above the large tank. I need to drop tank to find leak. How would i lower tank? They seem to slide,

      And just set on bracket ,that are the frame .HELP?

    • profile image


      5 years ago

      I've been a plumber for a lot of years now, in Britain, and I've never yet found a glass float, I think these might have been U.S. only, it would be inenrestitg to hear if other countries used them. Old floats here in britain were usually made of two copper hemispheres, soldered together. I've found some from the 1890s, they polish up pretty well. Old flush cisterns were usually made of wood, with the manufacturer's name branded on with hot iron, they were lined with zinc, with often a cast-iron siphon.Rescued ones are popular repurposed as planters.

    • Randy Godwin profile imageAUTHOR

      Randy Godwin 

      9 years ago from Southern Georgia

      Hope you get your motorhome in tip top shape, RunAbstract! It is worth it for the enjoyment it will give you in the future! Thanks for stopping by and for the comments!

    • RunAbstract profile image


      9 years ago from USA

      Great article. I have a '79 Dodge Class C motorhome, (with some issues), that I'm s-l-o-w-l-y working on as a project, so this advise is wonderful! Thanks.

    • Randy Godwin profile imageAUTHOR

      Randy Godwin 

      9 years ago from Southern Georgia

      I'm no fool, Holle! You've been dyin' to get my secret recipe for "coon casserole" for years! I though you were slier than that!

    • habee profile image

      Holle Abee 

      9 years ago from Georgia

      What about the onions?? You left out the onions. Or was it carrots??

    • Randy Godwin profile imageAUTHOR

      Randy Godwin 

      9 years ago from Southern Georgia

      Put em in a pot with some taters and they become "sweet little animals." LOL!

      Thanks, Holle!

    • habee profile image

      Holle Abee 

      9 years ago from Georgia

      What about those dangerous wild animals like the giant "boah" coons at Ft. Clinch?? Thumbs up!

    • Randy Godwin profile imageAUTHOR

      Randy Godwin 

      9 years ago from Southern Georgia

      The odds of you getting attacked by wild animals are very much less than your being involved in a car accident, Rookie!

      If you learn a little about bears and other creatures, plus how to avoid them, you will be safe! Thanks for commenting!

    • profile image


      9 years ago

      Can hiking and camping be dangerous, i.e, wild and loose animals? I've heard about hikers and bear encounters. It discourages me from camping.

    • Randy Godwin profile imageAUTHOR

      Randy Godwin 

      9 years ago from Southern Georgia

      Thanks for reading and the comments, Isabellas!

    • Isabellas profile image


      9 years ago from Ohio

      Very good and useful information! Now if I could only afford one of these items it would be even better!


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