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Electronic Black and Gray Dump Valves!

Electronic Dump Valves installed!

Electronic Dump Valves installed!

Ok, yes, you read that right. Electric Gray and Black Dump valves. No I am not kidding. No I have not lost my mind. (Well, then again, that depends on whom you may ask.) We installed electric dump valves and wished we had done it sooner.

I know you are thinking all kinds of things from “This guy has too much time on his hands” or “Who the heck would do that!” to “Ok, now he has really lost it.” Some of you might even have thought it all the way through and said…”I would never! What if the dump tube was knocked out of place?!?!?”

Yup, I was also in that same boat. Or should I say coach? I had thought the same things for sure, even the last one for sure! But then I thought back and asked myself, have I ever found the hose disconnected when I went out to dump? Thinking back, I can think of maybe one time…ok…maybe two.  But that was only after we had work done on the coach like it was being washed. Also, we can look out the window when it comes time to dump to see if anything is amiss. 

So why did we do it? Simple. We keep our gray tank closed all the time so we can get the big “FLUSH” when we open the value and all the suction pulls things out. Because of this, we would be going outside every other day or so to dump the gray tank. We figured, heck, we can see the levels, we can see the hose, why not just dump from the inside and not have to go out in the rain or the cold? Seeing we also have a seasonal site, where no one is ever over by the hose area, we are pretty sure it will always be in place. Even more so as we are using a positive seal of a rubber donut.

Drain Master Pro System

Drain Master Pro System

So in any case, we installed the Drain Master Pro-Series System with two keypads. You may remember the name as we installed the BEST waste hose system we have ever found, the Waster Master Cam Lock Drain Hose that we did a full post on with a video. Like the hose system, it is more expensive than other valve products that you may find. (I found two others in research.) However these have a 5 year warranty which means they are really built well.  

The system could not have been easier to put in. You remove your current valves and insert the new ones. It is just like putting in replacement manual valves. So it is easy, but of course it smells. In our case, for power we tapped into the water hose power reel power supply. It was right there and even had twist caps for the connection, so it was as easy as untwisting the cap, add the wire, and twist the cap back on. Same for the ground wire. So the outside install was really no issue and took me about one hour. The hardest part was cutting the metal to put in the switches. Thank goodness for the Dremel tool. 

Then we needed to run the wires to the inside, after all, that was the entire point. The good news in our part was that the wires for the thermostats, etc that are in the wall, went right down into the wet bay area. So it was just a matter of putting a fish tape down the hole, grabbing it and attaching the wires to it and pulling it back. The switch control wires then just plug into the switch plate and the valves. (Each valve can accept two switches.) We put the inside switches up higher so you could not bump them and they are also right above where we see our tank reading, thus making it very convenient. 

I also took the time to install a power switch. I did this, for I found the switches to be very sensitive to the press and I wanted to be sure that when we travel, I could turn off the power to the system. So when I put away the hose, or put it out, I just turn on or off the switch. 

Also, if/when we sell the coach, we can take the system with us by just swapping out the valves with standard valves again. Sure there will be two holes from the switches, but that is not our issue at that point and we could just cover it with duct tape. This really is one of those things that we wish we had done sooner, as funny as that may sound. And remember, I DID consider the hose being knocked out issue, I concluded it had not been an issue in the past and seeing we look out the window to verify, we feel fine about it.  The only real issue is if the parks sewer tube gets blocked, but that is where the positive seal of the rubber donut can help. Also, I do go out and do a tank rinse from time to time as I do not have a controller for that. ;)

And you know, seeing we have CoachProxy the dumping is now automated! Yup! You read that right. I no longer need to dump the tanks! You see, CoachProxy sends out a text alert when say the gray tank is at 75%. Well seeing that Brenda gets the text also, she then walks over to the switch and dumps the tank.  See, fully automated. After all, I said “I” no longer need to…not that someone did not need to. :) (Love you Babe.)

Click Images for Larger View.

Old dump valves.

Old dump valves.

Wires come from inside coach.

Wires come from inside coach.

Wires run to the inside of the coach

Wires run to the inside of the coach

Cutting out the mount point inside.

Cutting out the mount point inside.

Installed dump valves

Installed dump valves

Electronic Dump Valves installed!

Electronic Dump Valves installed!

Dump Switches with Power Switch

Dump Switches with Power Switch

Inside Finished Install.

Inside Finished Install.

BTW… Here is a short video by RV Travel interviewing Doug Swarts of Drain Master on why it is important to keep the gray tanks closed.

38 thoughts on “Electronic Black and Gray Dump Valves!

  1. Richard Oliveria

    No Thanks. I don’t think you are crazy for installing this thing because you leave your grey tank closed all the time… but I do think you are crazy for keeping the grey tank closed all the time. Different strokes etc etc.
    Thanks for keeping us informed on new products though.

    Rich

    1. Racklefratz

      Limiting grey tank dumps to ensure powerful dump action is good planning. That’s why most of us DON’T leave ’em open continuously.

        1. David.B Post author

          You may not really notice an issue…but if you were to put a camera into the tank, I bet you would change your mind. :) You can even see the issue in the other post I had done.

          1. Richard Oliveria

            Okay lets think this through. When you leave the valve open all the time the waste flows down the drains and then through the bottom of the tank and out the valve etc.. Any build up is right there on the bottom of the tank. When I dump the black tank I let the grey fill mostly up with nice fresh, warm shower water. After dumping the Black etc I dump the grey which flushes out most if not all of any build up on the BOTTOM of the grey tank.

            Now if you leave the Grey closed all the time as the tank is filling up the kitchen sink waste, with grease, rice etc, is leaving lines of residue up the sides of the tank and when you do finally empty those lines are not getting the powerful swoosh that you think is cleaning out your tank. all that swoosh is at the bottom of the tank.

            I do like the swoosh factor for cleaning out the bottom of the Black tank where solids settle – to the bottom.

            Rich

            1. Racklefratz

              Well, nothing serious will happen if the gray valve remains open, but doing so forces one to pre-plan black dumps to ensure there will be wash water for the hose afterward. Leaving the gray valve closed obviates that concern.

              Through 4 RVs and almost 25 years experience, gray tank residue has never been a problem.

              1. Richard Oliveria

                We are full timers with a washer./ dryer on board. Black tank only needs dumped ever 2 weeks or so. Not a problem. If we closed the grey we would almost have to open daily.

            2. Bill

              Actually, you have grease, oil, scum, and other “floaters” in the black tank leaving a residue on the black tank walls also. That’s why they sell the spray wands, and some rigs have a spray system, and that’s one reason it’s recommended to let the tanks get pretty full before dumping.

              Having said that, in full hook ups I leave my grey valve open except when dumping the black tank, and use the spray system often when dumping the black tank.

    2. rwzagami

      It is standard practice to keep the grey tank closed, whether you have cable pulls or this electronic system. You always want as much grey water as possible to flush after emptying the black water tank.

      1. Racklefratz

        Yes, you’re right, of course But there are always be some who ignore standard practice, always believing they have a “better way”. I call them “often wrong, but never in doubt”. ;)

  2. Davd Earmest

    VanLeigh/Tiffin is putting the electric valves on the Vilano fifth wheels. I asked them when they would be putting them on the Zephyr/Bus and they said they cost too much for Tiffin to use the Class A’s.

  3. JON Scott

    Dave, Could these valves be actuated by your CoachProxy system ? Not only wouldn’t you have to get off the couch, but you could be on the throne as well.

    1. David.B Post author

      They sure can if we build the interface for it. We are actually considering full automation where the CoachProxy would monitor the tanks and using logic, open and close the valves. IE…Black tank is at 75, is gray tank at at least 30? Yes – Open black value…wait…Close black and open Gray…wait…close gray. No – Wait until gray is 30% or higher then run logic. (If Black gets above 95, run dump sequence regardless.)

      1. Tommy Molnar

        This “CoachProxy” has me stumped. Most all RV’ers will attest to the worthlessness of tank monitors. They aren’t even good for ‘guesstimations’. We’ve just learned to estimate when we need to dump, especially when it comes to the grey tank if we’re boondocking where we can’t just run it out into a rabbit hole (or whatever). How does the “CoachProxy” do such a better job of reporting on tank levels?

        1. David.B Post author

          It does not. It just reads the levels that are being sent all the time across the data CAN bus. If your tanks are not on digital reading system, then it will not do anything for you and your tank readings. CoachProxy just allows your to see or control anything on the CAN system.

          1. Tommy Molnar

            Since I’m not even sure what you’re referring to with the “data CAN bus”, I’m going to assume our Arctic Fox travel trailer doesn’t have this . . . We’ll continue to just ‘know’ when to dump.

            1. David.B Post author

              Sorry, it is also referred to as a matrix switch. It is used for lighting control, data readings, etc, etc. Usually not found in travel trailers based on the costs. But are found in most coaches and now a days 5th wheels.

  4. Roy Brody

    I have a 2005 5th wheel, which I purchased in 2009, that came with electric valves. After replacing or rebuilding the valves multiple times. I called Drain Master and they went through the installation procedure, which I followed. About a year ago I had the valves replaced with manual valves. The electric valves work for several months. Then they start to stick and you have to use the Allen key to open the valve. It will work for several days and start to jam again. I did all of the trouble shooting the company told me to do. The motor is just not powerful enough. Maybe they have redesigned the motor since. I am not sorry I replace the electric valve.
    Also the manufacturer of the 5th wheel had stopped using the electric valve several years ago.

  5. 2brew

    Possible upgrade for us… any suggestions on where to purchase the kit? Our coach has a 1.5″ valve on the gray water side, so that creates an extra issue. BTW we have experienced the gray tank gunk build up that you describe, I believe because we have the macerator pump with the gray bypass, and that slows the flow considerably even when left open. Thinking we’ll put the pump on back-up duty, and switch to the Waste Master system. Question of the day for me is how do I clear our all the crud that has accumulated in the gray tank? It drains reasonably well for about half the tank, then trickles out forever after that. I’ve ordered some of the Swan Flush tablets, so we’ll see how that works.

    1. Racklefratz

      To clean the gray tank, I’d go to Home Depot and buy a 1lb box of TSP (Trisodium Phosphate). Then I’d fill the gray tank with plain old water, pour in the box of TSP, and drive, drive drive. You might discover that the rocking motion of the vehicle will promote enough agitation to clean the tank pretty well. Dump the tank as soon as possible after driving, of course. Good luck.

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