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Old 10-28-2017, 10:53 PM   #1
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Default Yikes, my '96 Roadtrek's fresh water won't drain

Hi All,
VTPete here. I have a wonderful smelling 1996 Dodge Roadtrek now.
Just in time to winterize it. So, I went to drain the fresh water tank using the grey screw plug over by the black and gray tank drains.

I unscrewed it and *some* water came out. A pint or two.
But, nothing I do gets more water to come out!
If I blow air into that opened hole, sure enough some water will come running back out... as though there's a clog or one-way valve stoping the water.

I have all the sink faucets open; and even the gravity fill plug. It doesn't matter.

For a while I thought the tank might be empty, even though it read 2/3rds full. So I added more water. No, it's quite full.

I have the sink running right now with it draining through the gray line.

Any ideas what's going on? By the way, if I take a throttle cable and push it the 4-5 feet into that drain tube, it DOES seem to hit something at the end.

Is there some magic valve I'm missing? Help!

-Pete
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Old 10-28-2017, 11:52 PM   #2
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Explore the obstruction theory first. Try to run a flexible wire/snake/coil/ up the open pipe.
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Old 10-29-2017, 12:29 AM   #3
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Oh, I forgot to add that I did that. I have some moped brake cables and was able to easily fish them from the drain opening to the tank... at which point the cable hit something.

I read somewhere else that there's some kind of wire mesh between the tank and the exit hose/pipe? If that's the case, I don't want to poke at it too hard.

Another thing I didn't mention is that I recently had sulphur smell from my hot water tank, so I added about a 1/3rd cup of bleach to the fresh water and flushed the hot water tank. I can't help but to wonder if the bleach killed some algae and it settled or fell off the walls of the tank... something like that.

I'm likely going to continue with the back-flushing using 30-40 psi as that seems to be doing something positive.
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Old 10-29-2017, 05:42 PM   #4
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Default Ugh, I hate hidden systems like the water tank

So, I took my compressor and blew back through the drain. Each time it would allow water out, but never more than a pint before it stopped flowing again.

Attached to the fresh water tank is some kind of a plastic fitting that looks like it's a filter or check valve. As it's pouring out and I can't easily fit under the van... and then it's too close for me to see well without my reading glasses (arg, being 52 stinks), I have no idea if it's easily removable. It *looks* like it might be some kind of a twist-on arrangement.

Anyway, I used my Roadtrek's pump to start draining the tank. How long could that take? The answer is "more than an hour." When the tank is full, the water pressure is decent. But, as the tank level goes down, the water pressure decreases to the point where toward the end, it would take 30 seconds for a pint of water to come out the faucet. Why would that be?

Anyway, FINALLY no water came out. I added two gallons of antifreeze to my fresh water tank (all I had) and now the pump won't pull it up except for dribbles and drabs.

Something non-intuitive is happening. I double checked my drain hose to make sure I hadn't left it open, etc. Does anyone know how these pumps work? They seem to be work harder when I open the faucets more. And, where is the pick-up in the fresh water tank?

I guess I'm going to have to go get more antifreeze and hope that by adding a couple more gallons I can get a prime and flush the lines with it. In theory, this isn't necessary according to Roadtrek's pages because as long as I drain the traps, gravity makes sure the system is empty. I won't be happy though until I see pink fluid coming out the drains.

-Pete
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Old 10-30-2017, 03:57 PM   #5
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I am unclear how your 96' Dodge is plumbed. My 2000' Roadtrek RAM has the freshwater tank behind the rear axle.... between the axle and the Generator. My drain is on the bottom of the freshwater tank.... just slip under the van and unscrew the cap. My pump is located under the galley sink, thus I am a bit confused how your system works. Sorry, I know this is not helpful.
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Old 10-30-2017, 05:54 PM   #6
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What model do you have?

I have a '99 200V. The tank is under the rear passenger/door.

I had the same issue where it would not come out at first. We put air pressure in the water inlet in the rear driver compartment (fresh city water entry).

It would empty out the drain pipe (which runs from the tank to the opposite side of the vehicle near the sewer outlets) then air pressure would come out. Once you stopped, it would start leaking at a normal pace. Don't expect much though because it's a 3/8" pipe. After a while, I would put air pressure for a couple of seconds and watch it drain faster for a couple of minutes and then slow down. Then I repeated.

I left the cap off and will leave it like that. Not saying I have the right method... Just re-assuring you that it seems to be "normal" that it takes a long time.
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Old 10-30-2017, 07:19 PM   #7
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VTPete, you mention the sulfur smell, could be your anode rod needs replacing. Ron
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Old 10-30-2017, 08:36 PM   #8
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If you have a clogged drain line, you would want to put the compressed air, lightly, on the drainline to blow back anything caught in the line into the tank. If it flows well after, you found the problem, although the crud could go back into the line later. You would need to remove the fitting and drain to allow the crud to get out, in many cases.
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Old 10-31-2017, 12:53 AM   #9
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Problem identified, but not solved.

The problem was simple... another forum member had posted a thread several years ago.

The problem was the Shurflo MOD170 filter that screws into the fresh water tank. It was completely clogged with black "tank gunk".

On my 1996 Popular 190, the fresh water tank sits under the passenger door entrance. Connected to the bottom is the filter. The filter is a two part plastic filter with a rubber o-ring and a wire mesh. That filter is attached to the bottom of the tank (I hope it's screwed it, because it rotated a bit when I got the filter apart.)

The filter was completely clogged and was simple to clean, but the tank clearly is filled with bad, bad stuff. I read somewhere you never want to look in your fresh water tank.

Anyway, I attached a couple of wire attachments (including a speedometer cable) to my drill and let it spin around in there, paying attention to the exit. Flushing with fresh water shoved a lot of black gunk out. If it was summer, I'd do a lot more, but I basically spent two hours under an RV when it was 44 degrees and soaking wet, dark and windy.

Putting the filter back together should be easy, but it's not. I think the o-ring isn't as snug as it used to be and it took me an hour to get it back together, just to put water in and have it clog up again.

More flushing and I tried putting it back together, but just couldn't push it together straight and hard enough to twist together. I gave up when I was shivering and soaking wet. (It's been raining a LOT here.)

Ron, my anode is large, round and solid. But, it took very little time for "fuzzy clots" to form on it. I mean, maybe two weeks?

Clearly the entire system needs to be cleaned, flushed and probably even have a new fresh water tank. Wish it was spring!

Tomorrow I'm going to see if my local hardware store has an original sized o-ring. And, Shurflo recommends a bit of petroleum jelly to help it go together, so I'll do that as well. Hopefully I'll get it together without snapping it and I'll be able to get some antifreeze.

What I didn't realize is that it seems as though the exit at the bottom of the tank leads to not only the drain, but also to the water pump.

And oh, one of my windows up top showed a drip of water after these heavy rains. Not happy about that. Before I'm done, this RoadTrek is going to be completely gone over. Or maybe I'll sell it? I LOVE working on it, but with a full time job and kids, this is a pretty huge time sink.

-Pete
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Old 10-31-2017, 01:01 AM   #10
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.

Go to any pool supplies company and get the "pool shock".

It will take out anything and everything.
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Old 10-31-2017, 02:37 AM   #11
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I have pool shock, and it will certainly kill what's in there. But, it won't dissolve the black stuff magically... right?
-Pete
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Old 10-31-2017, 03:54 AM   #12
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If you have access to a pressure washer you could get this type of rotating spray nozzle to clean the tank. https://www.ebay.com/itm/Suttner-ST-...-/220932605437

I used to use an adapter for the water hose which was a ”OD tubing, about 6 feet long with a small brass nozzle at the end with multiple holes.

Another way would be fill the tank with ice and drive around.

Good luck,
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Old 11-04-2017, 12:19 AM   #13
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To summarize:

It's amazing how much of a '96 Roadtrek is mysterious until you understand it! The fresh water tank is just a big old plastic jug with a outlet in the bottom. The outlet passes through a Shurflo brand wire mesh screen and then to a tube that is both your drain tube and your take up for the water pump. Somehow I was under the impression that the single outlet on the bottom was simply for draining and filling from city water. (I hate hidden plumbing!)

That wire mesh screen will quickly clog if your tank has "black madness" growing in it and, like me, you recently treated it with bleach and then flushed it.

You won't get it all out, but you'll certainly loosen enough "evil undead" from the sides of the tank to quickly glump up that wire mesh.

Removing the screen is easy. A short twist of the plastic housing and a firm tug and it comes off. Only rotate it 5 degrees or so so the plastic tabs line up with the gaps in the housing. If yours is gummed up like mine was, you'll need to wiggle it a lot first.

I cleaned it up and (here's the trick), added petroleum jelly to the gasket and housing. Then it goes back together easily. But, mine quickly reclogged back up despite flushing it fully with fresh water from a hose. I had to do this about four times before I had flushed out the water and was able to get antifreeze to pump through the system.

My fresh water tank is a cesspool. The sulfur smell from the hot water tank is almost certainly a result of bacterial growth from the fresh water tank. And it doesn't take long... a week and it's smelling of rotten eggs.

The system has been flushed with RV antifreeze, drained and closed up for the winter. But, come spring I will need to address the biological hazard looming under the passenger seats.

So, my next question will be: Does anyone know of an online tutorial for dropping and replacing a freshwater tank in a '96 Dodge based Road Trek?

Could I get it pressured cleaned? Maybe, but without a camera, I'd feel like I'd never know what was left behind.

-Pete
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Old 11-04-2017, 01:48 AM   #14
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.

Have you checked the hot water heater anode ?
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Old 11-04-2017, 02:14 AM   #15
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This is a very useful tool for an RV, I have a Wi-Fi one and use it enough times to justify its purchase. https://www.amazon.com/Endoscope-Dep...e+camera&psc=1 If not in rush ordering from AliExpress should be a little less expensive.
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Old 11-04-2017, 02:40 AM   #16
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I think I would remove the tank so I could get it totally full, full inverted, etc so all the parts of it could soak well in bleach water. The gravity fill is likely the biggest opening you will have, then the drain, and maybe a vent. Hot water rinses and bleach soaking will likely clean it up well, but it is nearly impossible to get all the tank soaked with it in the van do to air pockets. Thing growing in your fresh water is not a safe thing to mess around with. Once done, you can have the water tested after being in the tank for a few days to see if it is non hazardous at a company that tests water well samples.
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Old 11-04-2017, 03:22 AM   #17
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can you post a few pics? I find this post very informative and interesting.
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Old 11-04-2017, 12:13 PM   #18
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Quote:
Originally Posted by BBQ View Post
.

Have you checked the hot water heater anode ?
Sure. You have to remove it to drain the hot water tank. It's nice and round. A few weeks back I drained it, cleaned it off and reinstalled it when it first stunk. When I removed it this past week to winterize, it had globs of white stuff on it. The metal of the rod seems fine, but it had growth of some kind on it. And that was after bleaching the water with a relatively strong solution of about a half-cup to a full water tank.
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Old 11-04-2017, 12:19 PM   #19
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Quote:
Originally Posted by gklugie View Post
can you post a few pics? I find this post very informative and interesting.
I now have a lot of video of completely refurbishing my Roadtrek. My brother, John, shares similar interests, so I've recorded most of my progress. I don't usually share with the public, but here's a link that shows the filter.

This part twists onto a second half that is either screwed or glued into the fresh water tank. The drain connects to this piece. You might need a bucket nearby to watch this:

(P.S. I HATE vertical video. Please accept my apologies!)

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Old 11-04-2017, 12:23 PM   #20
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Quote:
Originally Posted by gklugie View Post
can you post a few pics? I find this post very informative and interesting.
Quote:
Originally Posted by booster View Post
I think I would remove the tank so I could get it totally full, full inverted, etc so all the parts of it could soak well in bleach water. The gravity fill is likely the biggest opening you will have, then the drain, and maybe a vent. Hot water rinses and bleach soaking will likely clean it up well, but it is nearly impossible to get all the tank soaked with it in the van do to air pockets. Thing growing in your fresh water is not a safe thing to mess around with. Once done, you can have the water tested after being in the tank for a few days to see if it is non hazardous at a company that tests water well samples.
Clearly removing the tank is a good idea for several reasons. I totally agre! My question is "how?" Obviously there are two metal braces holding it in place, but the fill tube has to be connected as well and the water level sensors have to be disconnected. My real question is this: Does anyone know of a tutorial, video or instructions for going about dropping and/or replacing the tank?

-Pete
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