The Dirty Truth About Holding Tanks When Buying a Used RV

The Dirty Truth About Holding Tanks When Buying a Used RV

Posted by Happy Campers Store on Jan 18th 2024

The Dirty Truth: What to Know About Holding Tanks When Buying a Used RV

Photo by Roadpass on Unsplash

All About What's Inside a Used RV Holding Tank:

Ah, the great American road trip! 

Is there anything better than hitting the open road, wind in your hair, and a sense of adventure at your fingertips?

Whether you're a seasoned RV enthusiast or a newbie looking to join the ranks of the road warriors, there's one thing you need to know about when buying a used RV: the dreaded holding tank

Like Forrest Gump, Says; "Life is like a box of chocolates — you never know which one you're going to get". Well, holding tanks in used RVs are kinda the same, but the surprise can be pretty darn bad.

So, we're going to dive deep into the world of those not-so-fragrant tanks and give you the lowdown on what to look out for. Buckle up, because we're about to explore the stinky side of RV ownership!

First off, Size Matters (No, We're Not Talking About That):

When it comes to holding tanks, size definitely matters. You don't want to find yourself in the middle of nowhere, caught between a rock and a full tank. Check the capacity of the tank before buying your used RV. Think about the number of people traveling with you, how often you plan to camp without hookups, and just how many bathroom breaks you anticipate taking (hey, we're not here to judge). It's better to have a little extra room for a little extra water in your tank than to be caught with your pants down, so to speak.

Inspect That Tank Like a Detective:

Now here's where things get a little gross, folks. When you're checking out a used RV, make sure to give the holding tanks a thorough inspection. Look for signs of leakage, cracks, or any funky smells that could indicate a problem. Nobody wants to deal with a ruptured tank on their first camping trip—talk about a buzzkill! Unfortunately, rv holding tanks are kinda hard to see inside. So, If the tank passes your sniff test, you're one step closer to odor-free adventures.

Flush It Like You Mean It:

We've all had that moment when we pull the lever on the toilet, hoping that everything disappears with a swift whoosh—and sometimes, it doesn't. When inspecting the holding tanks, don't forget to check the flushing system. Is it working properly? Are there any blockages or clogs? You don't want any surprises when it comes to the disposal process. A clog is a clear sign that you're taking on a tank that needs to be cleaned.

Don't Forget About Ventilation:

Let's be real here: holding tanks aren't exactly known for their pleasant aromas. That's why proper ventilation is absolutely crucial. Check for ventilation fans or vents near the tanks. Are they functioning properly? You want to make sure those odorous fumes are getting sucked out of your RV, not lingering around like an unwelcome guest.

What To Do When You Want the RV, but Know the Tanks Need a Good Cleaning?

Choosing the right RV holding tank cleaner is essential for maintaining a clean and odor-free system. There are various products available on the market, and the effectiveness may vary. Here are some popular RV holding tank cleaners that many RV owners find effective:

There are many different RV holding tank treatments on the market, when you don't know what kind of tank situation you're buying into — use a professional quality tank cleaner like the Extreme Cleaner. Thanks to Changing Lanes, you can see it in action!

Did you like this video?

  • Are you buying a used or new to you RV? 
  • Are you interested in seeing what the Extreme Cleaner can do for you?
  • Are you willing to take a video?

If you answered yes to these 3 questions, let's see if we can help each other out...hit us up in messenger at:

Hitting the Road: Tank Maintenance

Regularly clean and maintain the holding tank. Use RV-friendly tank cleaning products to break down waste and prevent buildup. Avoid putting non-biodegradable items, such as wet wipes or sanitary products, into the toilet.

Keeping Odors at Bay:

Speaking of odors, let's talk about preventive measures. Even with the best-kept holding tank, RV odors can still rear their smelly heads. Invest in some high-quality holding tank treatments that are designed to tackle those funky odors head-on. Trust us, your nose (and your travel companions) will thank you. Plus, it'll make your RV feel like a breath of fresh air, quite literally.

Dealing with a clogging holding tank in a used RV can be frustrating, but there are several steps you can take to address and prevent this issue:

Proper Toilet Paper:

Use RV-specific or biodegradable toilet paper to prevent it from clumping and causing clogs. Water Usage:

Ensure there is enough water in the tank when flushing. Water helps break down waste and prevents clogs.

Tank Treatments:

Consider using tank treatments or additives designed to break down waste and control odors. Follow the recommended usage instructions. 

Emptying the Tank:

Regularly empty the holding tank before it becomes too full. This can help prevent clogs and ensure efficient waste disposal.

Tank Rinse System:

Some RVs come equipped with tank rinse systems. If your RV has one, use it to flush out the tank after emptying.

Inspect for Blockages:

If the tank is clogged, inspect for any visible blockages. You may need to use a specialized tool or hose to break up and remove the clog.


Ensure proper ventilation in the RV's plumbing system. Blocked vents can lead to slow draining and contribute to clogs.

Professional Inspection:

If the issue persists, consider having a professional RV technician inspect the plumbing system for any underlying problems. Remember that prevention is key when it comes to RV holding tank maintenance. Following these tips should help keep your holding tank in good condition and reduce the likelihood of clogs.


So, there you have it—the lowdown on what to know about holding tanks when buying a used RV. 

Unfortunately, there is so much more to know about buying a used RV, please check out this post on Escapees RV Club;

Tips For Buying A Used RV

The road to a fresh-smelling adventure might not always be glamorous, but with a little knowledge and some preventive measures, you can keep those unpleasant odors at bay. Remember, RVing is all about enjoying the journey, not battling the smells along the way. Happy travels, my odor-conscious friends!