Emptying the Holding Tank

Losing electricity is especially inconvenient for the floating homes community because of the inability to flush our toilets. Our holding tanks must be emptied by electronic pumps, or they will overflow.

Video: watch the How To Houseboat video for practical information about our waste water systems.

When the power goes out, homeowners should go onto the dock and turn off their water, so we can’t possibly make the mistake of flushing or running any other water until the juice goes back on. As the late Plumber Michael (Pump-A-Turd) Peterson put it, “the inconvenience of turning off your water is far less than the hassle of cleaning up after an overflow.”

When we have some warning that an outage may occur, you can empty your tank in advance. Most holding tanks hold 30+ gallons of waste water, and the average flush of a low-flow toilet is less than 2 gallons. So an empty tank could accommodate a dozen flushes – or more if you’re feeling brave.

Here’s how to do it. Some newer pumps have a remote switch which allows you to turn it on manually. Otherwise, find the power cord for your holding tank’s pump. Notice that there are two cords, attached to a tandem plug (see accompanying photos). The “A” plug goes into the socket and powers the pump, while the “B” plug powers an internal on-off device. Remove the “A” plug, separate them, and insert the “B” plug directly into the socket. That will activate the on-off device.

Let the pump run a few seconds until you hear a “whoosh” when it’s completely empty. Then reverse the procedure and insert the “A” plug back in the socket, then the “B” plug into the “female” portion of the first one. It might be a good idea to practice this procedure so you can do it smoothly in a blackout.

Plug “B” inserted in Plug “A”

Plug “B” about to be inserted directly in socket to empty tank

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