All posts by KC

Setting up Sewer or Septic

Below is general information on sanitation systems. For information on suppliers for public dump stations and on-site pump and dump trucks (CLICK HERE).

If you have suggestions for setting up your RV, we’d love to hear about it.  Please comment below or send a private message.

First let me interrupt you from practical matters, because I HAVE to share a classic scene from RV starring Robin Williams.  If you haven’t seen the movie yet, I highly recommend it!

What you will find on this page:

  • I think I can connect to an existing public sewer. How does that work?
  • I’m using a septic system. How does it work to get a legal connection?
  • How do I drain waste water, if I have a connection without a good slope to drain my RV?
  • Can I leave the waste water gates open for my black and grey water tanks?
  • Can the type of toilet paper I use in my RV result in the need for expensive repairs? How can I avoid that?
  • How do I clean my RV tank?
  • I do not have access to on-site waste disposal. What should I do?

Sanitation services is often the most challenging part of creating convenient utilities for long term RV usage and it is the most important for health and safety.

I think I can connect to an existing public sewer. How does that work?

  • An RV must be connected to the home’s exterior clean-out with a well-secured drain hose that will not allow odor and gas to escape.
  • RV tanks, hoses, and connections may not leak gray or black water onto the ground.
  • I believe that you will need a back flow device for public sewer because flooding is common after wildfires and is also an issue if you are at the base of a hill. Rarely in disaster situations is this thought of until a problem happens. (Basically what I’m saying is that the backflow problem is always from the exterior system to the RV, not the inverse.)
  • Below you will find more information if you find that you don’t have a perfect “rise-over-run” for drainage, which is a common set-up challenge.

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I’m using a septic system. How I get a legal connection?

If you are from Paradise, READ THIS. (Please note that since that useful info was published, rules for returning for damage lots are changing, but the logic offered still applies.)

Below are some general “rules of thumb” after fire storms. Contact your city or county health department for more information.

A septic system approval can be issued if the septic system record on file shows that the septic system has adequate capacity to service the RV. If it is determined not to be sufficient, a bedroom must be taken out of use while the RV is present to reduce sewage flow from the house. In that case a conditional statement on the permit will be required for septic approval.

If there is no record of the septic system or it was damaged, a field clearance is required. The field review must substantiate adequate function and capacity in the septic system for the intended use. Generally, the septic system must be uncovered for evaluation. If the septic system is inadequate or if the house is served by a cesspool, a new septic system may be required.

As for septic systems on property damaged by the wildfire, I’ve seen various policies for inspection and clearance. They generally don’t get damaged unless heavy equipment rolls over the leach field.

How do I drain waste water, if I have a connection without a good slope to drain my RV?

If the physical location of your RV allows for an ideal “rise over run” connection for the efficient transport of waste water to a septic or public sewer connection, then this is the ideal solution. In many situations that isn’t possible.

A device called “Sewer Solution” uses fresh water to push waste water of any type over hills and long distances. It can pump waste up to 100 feet over level ground and up to 3 feet above the level of the holding tank. This is specifically designed for RVs with holding tanks.

Can I leave the waste water gates open for my black and grey water tanks?

IMPORTANT: What most RV users and even building department employees DO NOT KNOW about RVs is that you cannot leave the black water drain valve open. If you do, pyramiding occurs and will eventually cause a terrible blockage in the RV system from dried fecal matter usually requiring professional help to repair.

It is recommended to open the lines periodically to drain black water into the sewer or septic system, if attached. (If using a pump and dump service, this is not an issue to be concerned about.)

Grey water drain valves can be left open, if you follow the advice in the video below.

Can the type of toilet paper I use in my RV result in the need for expensive repairs? How can I avoid that?

This topic is very important to understand for your comfort and avoid unpleasant situations. CAUTION: Just because it says septic safe DOES not mean that it is appropriate for RVs.

Please watch this video (you could skip the testing after 9m30)

Suggested products with Amazon links:

  • Valterra 45 Degree Clearview Sewer Adapter (CLICK HERE)
  • Scott Rapid-Dissolving RV Toilet Paper (CLICK HERE)

How do I clean my RV tank?

Do not EVER use bleach on your tanks to clean them unless you want to risk the seals being rotted by the chemical reaction that happens between bleach and soft plastics.

If you want to get the essential bits, there is an overview of RV tank cleaning up to 4 minutes and then view 10m20 seconds to see the cleaning process which takes 10+ minutes to complete.

Suggested products with Amazon links:

  • Happy Campers 64 treatments (CLICK HERE)
  • Camco RV Flexible Swivel Stick with Shutoff Valve (CLICK HERE)

I do not have access to on-site waste disposal. What should I do?

When neither public sewer or septic is available, you may be allowed to pump and dump if you have a monthly contract. You will not be allowed a “pay-as-you-go” service plan. They will want on-going assurance that the sewage is properly disposed of. Driving to a dump site is only acceptable during the immediate crisis following the disaster. (Confirm with your local building official. Each city or county does things differently.)

Traditional home dwellers will have some initial challenges to adjust to the limited holding capacity. The black water is generally not a problem, but the grey water holding capacity problem is due to leaving the kitchen faucet on alot or taking long showers.

RV living is going to teach you how much resources you consume to maintain your daily life. You can rent an additional grey water waste tank to increase holding capacity between service visits.

Almost all content on this website is ORIGINAL research based on thousands of hours of work over the past 4 years post disaster… for FREE! Please credit accordingly, by referring back to this website, and tips or words of kindness are greatly appreciated.


~*~ Updated Feb. 2, 2019 ~*~
~ Liability Disclaimer and Community Statement ~
The links provided do not constitute an endorsement or liability for any external website or service.

Setting up Propane

Below is general information on setting up portable propane tanks, on-site delivery, and propane safety and RV usage tips. For information about propane suppliers (CLICK HERE).

If you have suggestions for setting up your RV, we’d love to hear about it.  Please comment below or send a private message.

Portable Propane Tanks

BBQ style, portable propane tanks are the most common scenario. Here’s some tips for usage and handling:

  • Moving an RV for servicing is a huge hassle and can result in potential damage by driving a large vehicle that you may not have a lot of experience with. We recommend you plan to service the propane tanks without moving the RV.
  • There’s a propane kit called “Extend-a-Stay” which allows you to swap propane tanks when they are empty without needing to move the RV.
  • You can find locations to swap your propane tank at participating grocery stores, hardware stores, Walmart or U-Haul. Or you can have them refilled at participating gas stations and large propane distributors.
  • No more than 2 spare tanks should be stored within 25’ of the RV. The largest size you will probably want is 7 gallon tanks. They will weigh about 50-60 lbs.
  • Portable and RV tanks must be DOT-approved or otherwise meet current state law.
  • Tanks must ALWAYS be secured in your vehicle during transport.

Here’s an illustration of an “Extend-a-Stay” installed on an RV.

On-Site Propane Delivery

  • Larger tanks are required for on-site delivery service. If you are willing to get a permit and invest in the larger tanks, the suppliers can guide you thru the process to get that set-up. It’s a great option for optimal comfort cause running out of propane in freezing temps is no fun, nor is throwing away a fridge full of food.
  • Alternatively, if you are in a group encampment, you might be able to negotiate a truck to fill all the RV tanks, but it is the most expensive alternative.

Some Important Words About Propane Safety and RV Usage Tips

Here’s an educational video. I seriously suggest you watch this, she has more tips than what is above.

When transporting these tanks in your car, don’t be a dumb hippie like this guy below in Coachella! Use a seatbelt and/or a crate and rope to secure your tanks for transport.
As the cycle’s between venting gets shorter you are in imminent danger of an explosion. That’s what happened here at 1:58.


Almost all content on this website is ORIGINAL research based on thousands of hours of work over the past 4 years post disaster… for FREE! Please credit accordingly, by referring back to this website, and tips or words of kindness are greatly appreciated.


~*~ Updated Feb. 2, 2019 ~*~
~ Liability Disclaimer and Community Statement ~
The links provided do not constitute an endorsement or liability for any external website or service.

Temp Dwelling Set-Up

Each situation for setting up a temporary dwelling has circumstances unique to the location and proposed use. The following are the common issues for set-up:

Be sure to read about related topics on Temporary Dwelling Permit Policies, Finding Service Providers, or RV Hosting and Living Tips (includes RV maintenance tips!)

Information was assembled and confirmed to be operating via direct communication in January 2019.  Information and business situations will change.

If you have suggestions for setting up your RV, we’d love to hear about it.  Please comment below or send a private message.


Almost all content on this website is ORIGINAL research based on thousands of hours of work over the past 4 years post disaster… for FREE! Please credit accordingly, by referring back to this website.  Tips welcome, but not required and words of kindness are ALWAYS appreciated.


~*~ Updated Jan. 17, 2019 ~*~
~ Liability Disclaimer and Community Statement ~
The links provided do not constitute an endorsement or liability for any external website or service.

Climate change and fire storms ARE connected (#ClimateStrike in Paradise, California)

Update:  It’s been months and you all still keep coming back.  Sorry I didn’t edit a shorter video for you, but I’m glad you are enjoying this page!


I live near Paradise, California which was deeply affected by one of the biggest fires in California history.  It’s a beautiful region, but frightening to live with the threat of another fire.

There’s no simple answer to how much energy and material resources we can consume without undermining the ecosystems on which our own lives depend, but I’m confident in saying that it’s DRAMATICALLY less that we consume today.  We need seek answers and begin with our own individual choices.

OUR #CLIMATESTRIKE EVENT ON 9/21

(Central message at 2 minutes. Suggestions for action at the end of the video. First half is the rally and the second half of video is the march.  Would like suggestions to improve video please.)

The positive energy radiating here was QUITE tangible.  There was a lot of love and care for each other which was very empowering.

Some local groups on the Internet (Please help me with this list):

SOME ART TO CONSIDER

It is really interesting how the youth respond to climate change versus the adults.  That’s why this video below got 56 million hits in 2 weeks, yet adults typically won’t view it nearly as much.

I think that’s because adults have learned to live in denial.  Probably because we fear the problem is bigger than we are.

IRONICALLY —- Denial is the VERY issue that one of the featured speakers spoke specifically about at the #ClimateStrike rally.

ARTIST’S VIDEO
This artist represents the next generation. Lyrics and discussion here. 

If I was ever to artistically describe what denial looks like, this artist NAILED IT.

FAN VIDEO

It’s one thing to unify.  It’s another to act.

I’m part of the problem. I’m part of the solution.

I blame corporations, as much as I blame myself.

I promise you that the only thing that will liberate you from denial is to ACT!

This is a good resource too from the documentary Living in the Future’s Past, (CLICK HERE)  This film is not about scaring people into action or invoking empathy, but rather presenting the facts about the interconnected nature of ALL things.

Humans need energy to live. Everything is energy from our food, economy and our currency, to penguins. Everything can be broken down to surpluses and deficits of energy.

This movie also delves into our basic instincts as animals, including the way we think, and why those processes contribute to the ongoing crisis related to climate change.  (Thanks Trim Tab!)

I’m looking for people offering solutions big and small.

Teach me and let me learn with you, by sharing in comments below.

‘Cause Peter’s on vacation…

Greta wants us to credit and recognize others as well.  Labeling her as the one who created this movement is doing a disservice to all who have also put their lives on the line for this.

RV Tips to Lower Power Bills & Be More Comfortable

RVs are a vital tool for emergency housing.  They also provide a great experience to learn how to fix different home systems and learn how much natural resources you use for daily living.  As a result you can become more skilled and resourceful.

Unlike traditional homes, RVs have built-in utility management options and lightweight construction.  Lightweight construction is required for the units to be able to travel on highways and be reasonably easy to tow.  As a consequence, RVs are not well insulated which poses some unique challenges.

For example, power bills of $400-700 for living in an RV can happen and it is preventable.  Additionally extreme temperatures affects productivity and well being. 

OUR GOAL is to help you live more comfortably during your recovery journey.  To receive detailed tips on how to modify your RV for comfort, please subscribe.

After applying these tips, you can see a 30 degree temperature differential WITHOUT using A/C:

  1. Cover your roof. 80% of your heat gain comes from your roof. The most economical option is to use 15-20 foot metal poles and a 12 x 24 shade cloth. In the winter when you want solar gain you can take the sail down. (How to directions coming soon.)
  2. Cover your windows. Your RV gains and loses enormous heat thru it’s windows. Using double mylar Reflectix reduces most of the heat gain. Using foam board in addition or a towel will stop the rest of the heat gain.  This will also be valuable in the winter. (How to directions will be the first topic I elaborate on in the next blog post.)
  3. Manage your electrical appliances, like your A/C. Keep your condenser fins clean on your A/C. (Careful they are fragile) If your unit freezes on you, turn your fan on for 30 minutes to thaw the fins and try again. (There’s a list of mobile repair services on this website, if that happens to you.) (You can overload your electrical and/or cause a fire, we will be sharing information on this in the near future.)
  4. Keep your fridge cool. Your fridge works hard to keep the food cold and you are highly likely to have spoiled food if mis-managed. (Unlike traditional fridges, the RV fridge is exposed to alot of heat and has to work much harder to operate in an RV.)  Keep your fridge shaded or oriented toward the north or east. Keep your freezer full. Put water bottles in the freezer to help it maintain the correct temperature.
  5. Eliminate all heat sources inside the RV. Cooking outside is a big one. Use a sun oven, bbq or a crock pot. Please note the sun oven is clean energy and never burns your food, while the BBQ puts carcinogens in your food, pollutes and sometimes causes fires. …Even better for your body, eat cool, light meals with low protein, high carbs and veggies. This will keep your metabolism cooler.

Heat illness affects your mood, your productivity and causes more stress in your recovery journey. (Tips to manage your core temperature and prevent this are coming soon.)

By teaching people how to be more energy savvy, not just with RVs, I hope we can reduce our carbon footprint. And we have to do it FAST because climate change is occurring faster than the scientists predicted. (This just happened.)

See this video clip of the ActionNews emission on 08/17/19:


(Thank you to the “Lions Host Paradise” club for partnering with me on this issue.)

It takes lots of effort to create this website. Please feel free to offer ideas to improve the content offered in the comments below or via private email. I hope that we can learn from each other.

Please SUBSCRIBE by CLICKING HERE and I will send you details on the tips for setting up your shade structure, managing your power and so much more as it becomes available.

If you found this website helpful, please share.


Almost all content on this website is ORIGINAL research based on thousands of hours of work over the past 4 years post disaster… for FREE! Please credit accordingly, by referring back to this website.  Tips welcome, but not required and words of kindness are ALWAYS appreciated.


~*~ Updated Jan. 1, 2019 ~*~
~ Liability Disclaimer and Community Statement ~