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Thursday, February 2, 2012

Frozen RV Holding Tank

How do I unfreeze a black holding tank on my RV? I'm not sure if it's full or not. The dump valve is froze shut also. I only need options for a stationary RV as I can't get the 5th wheel to a shop. Emergency!!!!!  Help!!!! Mike A., (Squamish, BC)

I hear your desperation Mike! Sorry to hear about your holding tank issues; so exasperating, I know! If you’re careful, you can use a hair dryer or heat gun to help thaw the tank. Don’t stay in one focused area for any length of time. ABS and polyethylene tanks can be melted quite quickly if the heat is too hot or you linger too long in one spot. Start at the uppermost level of the tank and work your way down all exposed sides of the tank until you reach the termination valve. Keep the gun in motion at all times. Repeat as necessary until you can open the termination valve and you hear contents evacuating.

Once evacuated, flushed and the valve closed, add a gallon or two of RV anti-freeze or even windshield washer fluid to the tank through the toilet. Be sure the strength is applicable for the expected temperatures though. And be sure it is RV anti-freeze and that the windshield fluid is permitted to be dumped into your septic system. If possible, see if you can add insulation around all sides of the holding tank. In sub-freezing temps, it is difficult, but doable is most cases to continue to use the on-board waste systems.

Unfortunately, the only other alternative I can think of contain the words “wait,” “spring” and “thaw” in it.
If you have enclosed holding tanks, you can place a 100-watt trouble light inside the compartment to help keep it warm after you finally get it evacuated completely. Also consider purchasing an aftermarket holding tank heating pad prior to, say, next September.
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