The final option, and the one we consider the most extreme, mostly because of the nature of the chemicals used, is to use a drain cleaner. In some cases your RV manufacturer may even recommend this method over others we’ve listed here.
Typical drain cleaners, such as Liquid Plumr or Drano contain many strong ingredients like Lye (sodium hydroxide), Bleach (sodium hypochlorite), or Potassium Hydroxide to physically burn away the debris that is stuck on the probes. All of these ingredients (and most of the brands that contain them) are very dangerous to people, pets, and septic systems. This is why we only recommend these types in the most extreme cases.
Before considering using a drain opener you should talk to the owner or manager of the park you are staying and ask them if it’s OK to run drain cleaner into their system. You may find that many RV parks will say no, especially if they are on septic systems, as the drain cleaner kills helpful bacteria in the septic tanks or fields.
Sometimes, however, there is no other choice as they are the only thing strong enough to get the job done on EXTREMELY bad sensors – especially in Gray Tanks where grease (which is VERY tough to breakdown) is the main problem.
PROS OF DRAIN OPENERS AND CAUSTIC CHEMICALS
- Usually less expensive than bacteria or surfactant cleaning
- Usually works more quickly than other options
- Highly effective for removing grease that may be stuck on sensors
- Commonly carried in more places than the other methods
CONS OF DRAIN OPENERS AND CAUSTIC CHEMICALS
- Very dangerous – some warn about burning if chemical touches your skin
- Can damage valves and seals
- Can cause damage to septic systems and tanks
- Toxic and damaging to the environment
- They may react with other chemicals inside your holding tank and cause harm or damage
- Drain cleaners WILL kill all of the good bacteria inside your tanks so tanks must be very thoroughly rinsed before using a bacterial toilet treatment
Though drain cleaners and other caustic chemicals can be a very effective treatment for misreading tank sensors, you will have to decide whether it is worth the risk (or if its even possible) to use these types of chemicals to help fix your RVs holding tank sensors. Not only could this type of treatment cause danger to you and your family and the environment. It can also cause significant damage to your RV and the sewer system you are hooked up to.
That’s why this method is third on our list, and not recommended by us. We recommend trying different variations of the first 2 methods before attempting this.