We’re going to talk about the dreaded black tank and black tank buildup today. It’s just a fact of RV life that can’t be avoided. The black tank is where human waste is held until it is emptied. My black tank’s capacity is 38 gallons. That’s fairly average-sized in the RV world. Those big rigs you see on the road and in the campgrounds can have upwards of 80 gallons capacity. Take a moment to visualize that!
Problem – black tank buildup
Living in my Airstream full-time means sometimes I’m stationary for extended periods of time. Last December, when I was moochdocking in my daughter’s driveway I use a macerator and two dedicated, hunter orange, garden hose-sized hoses to pump out the holding tanks. I was there for several weeks and over that time my black tank began to develop a layer of waste on the bottom that I couldn’t get out no matter how hard I tried.
This post is my test and review of Unique Camping and Marine Holding Tank Cleaner. Unique is formulated to treat the problems in the image below.
For more in-depth information about your RV holding tanks, see All About RV Holding Tanks below.
The black tank sits directly beneath my toilet and you can actually push down the flush pedal and see right into the tank. Gross, I know but sometimes you need to know what’s going on in there. If you just flushed the tank and you can’t see the bottom, you have some black tank buildup. Buildup can also occur on the sides of the tank and that causes your tank sensors to read incorrectly.
Normally, flushing your black tank is done through a three-inch hose and there is a lot of force because the tank is nearly full. When I use the macerator, I don’t have the assistance of the force of the full tank or the large sewer hose.
Why is Black Tank Buildup a Problem?
Black tank buildup is not terrible in itself but it can cause additional odor and tank level sensor malfunctions. If left unchecked, it can also eventually completely block your tank’s outlet causing it not to drain at all.
What didn’t work
When I left my daughter’s driveway for my winter trip added a cup of Dawn dishwashing liquid and some hot water then sloshed my way down the highway in an attempt to break up the layer that had formed in the tank. It helped some, but I could never get that black tank buildup out, even after driving several thousand miles.
The solution – Unique RV Black Tank Cleaner
I saw an advertisement for a professional-grade black tank cleaner with really good reviews and decided to give it a try.
Yesterday I flushed my black tank out really well and following the directions, I added several gallons of warm water and the entire 32 oz. bottle of Unique Camping and Marine Tank Cleaner through the toilet, directly into the black tank. The directions said to wait at least 12 hours before flushing the tank again. I waited 20 hours.
After my 20 hour wait, I filled the remainder of the black tank with water and opened the valve to let the waste flush out. I have to say, I was a bit disappointed at first. I wasn’t seeing the amount of buildup moving through that I expected. After the first flush, I closed the tank again and filled it again. This time, when I opened the tank, I noticed a lot more debris flowing through. I went inside and looked down into the tank to see if the bottom looked clean. It was nearly clear so I flushed it out one more time and was completely satisfied with the results.
I’m impressed with the product and plan to use it every few months to keep the tank in good shape. I’m also planning on trying their holding tank treatment after I use the other brand I have on hand. I’d recommend this product for a stubborn clog or tank maintenance.
It’s been almost a month since I deep cleaned my black tank with Unique and I’m very happy with the results. Of course, there is always going to be an odor in the black tank but it’s at least 75% better since I cleaned it. I plan to repeat this process every six months to keep my tank from forming buildup.
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