How to Clean Sensors on a Black Water Tank

by Eric Cedric
Black water tanks hold sewage waste from the RV toilets.

Black water tanks hold sewage waste from the RV toilets.

The black water tank in an RV or travel trailer holds the sewage water and waste from the rig's toilets. The tank level is monitored via a sensor. The sensor relays the information on tank levels to a series of lights in the RV. If the sensors are not clean, the proper level will not be read and this leads to spills and splashback. Cleaning the sensor is a distasteful job, but the gross factor can be reduced.

Take the RV to a certified dump station at a campground or highway rest area. Dump the entire contents of the black water tank. Fill the black water tank 2/3s full of water and 1 cup of bleach. Add this through the toilet. Drive for five to 10 minutes, preferably on twisty roads where the water sloshes around in the tank. Drive back to the dump station and empty the tank again.

Drive to your home or parking area. Go to the black water tank housing -- typically in the rear right-hand side of the RV exterior. Open the panel and look inside to the tank itself. Wear your safety gear, including apron and gloves.

Fill a bucket with warm water and 1/4 cup of bleach. Dip a sponge or rag into the bucket and wipe around the top of the tank and unscrew the hose clamp on the intake hose. Pull the hose off the tank. You'll get some ooze from the hose, so be prepared. Slide the funnel into the tank and pour the remaining bleach water into the tank. Wipe down the hose and intake valve.

Fill the tank once more to 2/3s full and drive around again, letting the water slosh in the tank. Take the RV back to the dump station and drain the tank. The two washings with bleach typically clean the sensors.

Items you will need

  • Bleach
  • Bucket with water
  • Funnel
  • Mask
  • Eye goggles
  • Rubber gloves
  • Rubber apron
  • Rags or sponges

About the Author

A former Alaskan of 20 years, Eric Cedric now resides in California. He's published in "Outside" and "Backpacker" and has written a book on life in small-town Alaska, "North by Southeast." Cedric was a professional mountain guide and backcountry expedition leader for 18 years. He worked in Russia, Iceland, Greece, Turkey and Belize. Cedric attended Syracuse University and is a private pilot.

Photo Credits