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Monday, October 26, 2009

Illuminated Holding Tank

I dropped a plastic flashlight into the toilet and it went straight down the pipe to where I could not see it. The reason I was using a flashlight was to determine what might be causing a backup in my black water holding tank. Now I apparently have two problems. I can back flush the tank with the attachment on the drain and also force water down the toilet from that end to eventually get things cleaned out. The pipes are all glued and therefore not easily removed to get to the possible plug. Do you have any ideas how I might be able to extricate a plastic flashlight which is probably lodged in a 45 degree turn going into the black water tank?
Sherman, (Logan, UT)

Sherman, I'm guessing the drop of the flashlight resulted in it going straight into the tank itself. Most configurations have the toilet positioned directly over the tank with a straight pipe into it. There are a few floor plans which mandate an elbow turn, but unless that was one big, honkin' flashlight, it probably entered the tank. 

The good news is that all holding tanks must be removable. Though tank drain pipes connections are usually cemented, the assembly can easily be cut apart if necessary. The termination valves are bolted between two adapters so it may be possible to simply unbolt the valve assembly, remove the toilet and flange from above, then remove the attaching brackets to drop the tank. Obviously it's best to flush the tank as good as possible first. Once the tank is down, you should be able to manipulate the flashlight to the three-inch outlet opening and retrieve it. Though a hassle and not very pleasant a task, it is doable and not that bad a situation. Once dropped (the tank that is), you can then, more easily, inspect the tank to determine the cause of the first blockage. Oh, and be sure to change those batteries in the flashlight!


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