A unique solution to a FROZEN clog in the grey water system

(I’d bet this also works for the black water system!)

Be sure to read on below my video for an update and some additional knowledge I accumulated…

The first freeze-up occurred as I stated in the video in January…but the problem re-occurred in early February – frustrating

What’s causing it? 

As I stated in my video, I turned down the thermostat this year. Last year, I was paying 1.65/gallon for propane; this year after my “promo” fill of 1.86, my next fill was 2.89, and when I called in around Feb 10, they wanted 4.69! I know one poor soul who ran out earlier in February and got dinged for 6.99 PER GALLON! 

In real terms, that means a 100 gallon tank that cost $186. to fill in November now cost about $700! Since electric out here is 0.08/kwh, guess what I’ve been using more of instead of propane! The risk of course when you use less propane is your underbelly will freeze up. This winter, the only problem I really had was the freezing of the grey water system from the shower basin to the grey tank (or from the grey tank to the 4″ tube that handles all black and grey water. 

It happened AGAIN! 

When it happened again in February, I figured, hey, I’m going to follow my own advice and use the non-toxic antifreeze and plunger “regimen.” However, this time, it didn’t work! Or did it? After a few days of patience (and showering in the campground’s facilities), I concluded that this blockage was going to require some additional effort… I tried the clorox product that guarantees “clear in 7 minutes” – but it failed as the “ice jam” is likely beyond the grey tank, so the “goop” (gel) had to travel all the way through the grey tank before acting on the clog. AND… since it was ice, it probably would have not worked anyway! (Fortunately, they offer a return guarantee on their product!)

I next tried caustic soda (lye, NaOH) – I have a background in chemistry so I knew how to handle it. I started with solid pellets figuring they would sink through the standing water and as they dissolved, they would generate heat (the dissolving of caustic soda in water is HIGHLY exothermic  – hence the warnings about protecting your eyes – they’re NOT kidding!!) Again – no resolution. Upon my next visit to Walmart (the RV’ers best friend!), I found a lye solution that also guaranteed to work… so, there went a gallon of caustic soda down the drain and… still NO resolution! 

clearing a frozen clog in an RV
Still Winter, but for How Much Longer?

Now I knew I had a toxic brew in my holding tank, and did not want to leave it there indefinitely, so I poured down a couple of gallons of vinegar (to neutralize the lye.) After several “rinsings” of this, and adding fresh water (I kept bucketing out the shower basin and dumping that toxic brew), I once again returned to the use of non-toxic antifreeze and (combined with a SLIGHT warmup outside), it WORKED! 

Bottom line

Next winter when the temperatures head well south of 0F, I will pour a cup or so of antifreeze down following showers to keep that entire system protected during the 4-8 coldest weeks of winter. At that time of year, I only shower about 3x per week anyway, so, I am anticipating that $20. or so in antifreeze will keep things flowing! 

Now that spring is virtually here. I’m writing this on March 1 and it will likely hit 50+ today! I know my icing problems are behind me. In fact, my posts will turn to some new topics – relevant to all who plan to start OR continue their RV life as the “last frost” is in sight! 

Some new topics include: 

Does your RV Insurer really matter? (I wrote this article on RV Insurance last year – since then my confidence in having made the right choice has only INCREASED.)

Can a quality bed actually SAVE you money in the long run? (Short answer: YES. I will explain, and yes, I’m very happy with the purchase of THIS BED about 11 months ago.

I’m going to be traveling to Wyoming and then Idaho in May – stay tuned for “on the road” updates and experiences! If there are additional topics you’d like to explore, let me know and I will see about preparing an article. I AM still looking for contributors to a solar power article I’m working on. Feel free to review the article and add your “2 cents” of feedback OR advice.

Lastly, I “discovered” a product that has shown great promise to reduce the risk of heart disease – please scroll to the top of the page and click the Arginine Infusion banner to learn more.


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