Why do my holding tank sensors always misread?

That has to be the number one frustration of all RV owners! In fact, we kid in our rally presentations that correctly-reading tank sensors were an option from the factory that few RVers care to include when purchasing their RVs. Hah hah.

Well, there are a couple of simple reasons why your tank sensors stopped working or never read correctly:

Using tank additives. If you use an enzyme, biological, or harsh chemical tank treatment, your tank’s sensors will soon stop working and read inaccurately. Why? That tank treatment is designed to break down or digest whatever is in your tanks. It’s doing just that, but what it creates is a thick, pancake batter-like slurry that sticks to everything (including your sensors!) and is next to impossible to completely get out without a professional tank cleaning. For black tanks it’s worse as what’s in there is pretty bad to begin with, but it can also happen in gray tanks.

Not following best tank care processes. We know that you try to take the best care of your tanks. But we also know that there is a lot of false or misleading information out in the RV community that may be confusing the issue. Here are some points to follow:

  • Empty tanks when they’re 75% to 100% full. You want the swirl or vortex to help clean out your tanks.
  • Know how to empty your tanks: gray/black/gray
  • Don’t equalize the gray(s) back into the black tank
  • Turn black tank rinser on while emptying black tank(s)
  • If you have one, use the Valterra Flush King Reverse Flush Valve to give ALL tanks a rinse or two
  • Use more water, especially in your toilet
  • Prime the system after emptying your tanks
  • Travel with 3 to 5 gallons of fresh, clean water in each tank
  • Get regular professional cleanings

Not using enough water. The water here is key. As RVers, we measure everything in capacities or limits. How much PSI air in our tires? How many pounds can our tow vehicle handle? How much capacity our holding tanks have? Using more water than you think you need is a smart strategy for keeping your holding tanks clean, working properly, and minimizing problems. Use more water.

Jim & Debbie Tome, Owners

Hi, we're Jim and Debbie Tome and we're the owners of Kleen Tank LLC, the nationally-recognized and largest professional network of RV tank cleaning service provider.

We've been RVers like you since 2004 and have traveled all over the U.S. in our Airstream travel trailer. We started the business about twelve years ago and have cleaned tens of thousands holding tanks in thousands of RVs. From tiny weekend travel trailers to monstrous fifth wheels to luxurious motorhomes, we've seen just about every situation there is with RV holding tanks and waste systems.

We hope you enjoy our question-and-answer articles; we try to post at least a couple per week and we've got a great library of them to cover just about every problem.

And if you like these short question-and-answer posts, be sure to check out our main Kleen Tank website which contains years of longer-format articles that go more in-depth on many topics. Enjoy!

Keep in mind that we may receive commissions when you click our links and make purchases. However, this does not impact our reviews and comparisons. We try our best to keep things fair and balanced, in order to help you make the best choice for yourself and your RV.