How to Fix a Broken Black-Water Valve Handle on My Holiday Rambler

by John Cagney Nash

Fixing valves and holding tanks that handle "black water" can be unsavory tasks for recreational vehicle owners because black water consists of the waste from flushed toilets. Some older-style black-water valves had threaded handles that allowed replacement of the handle without also replacing the valve. But the relatively low cost of valve assemblies means the handles alone are seldom available. To replace a broken handle, you need to replace the entire valve assembly. Holiday Rambler, a manufacturer of high-end motor homes and travel trailers, uses valves in which the plastic handle is wedded to the valve assembly.


Connect the sewer hose from the Holiday Rambler to a dump station and open the dump valve. Flush the tank several times to minimize the risk of unpleasant materials erupting from the drain line while the broken valve is removed. Hard pushing or tugging on a frozen valve is the usual cause of a valve handle breaking.


Remove the sewer hose and ensure the sewer line is free of blockage by feeding a garden hose into the opening and running water until nothing foreign washes out. Wear waterproof gloves, protective goggles and a long-sleeved shirt.


Move the Holiday Rambler away from the dump station onto level ground. Fixing a broken black-water, or dump, valve (also sometimes called a knife or slice valve) is not a difficult process because it is easily accessible when emptying the tank. Place a drip pan beneath the broken valve to prevent any residual material from dripping out and contaminating the work area.


Check to see if the valve assembly has a remote-opening cable similar to the kind that open a car’s hood. If it does, remove the cable from the valve assembly and tuck it safely away from the work area.


Determine how the valve assembly is fastened to the sewer line. The inner flange, furthest under the Holiday Rambler, will be permanently bonded to the line from the black-water holding tank. The plastic body of the valve will be held to this flange by four screws, or four small bolts with nuts and washers.


Buy four stainless-steel replacement fasteners of the same size or thread rating. Buy a new valve assembly. Buy one designed to accept the remote-opening cable if your motor home is fitted for one.


Remove the four fasteners on the valve assembly and discard. Ease the valve assembly away from the permanent (inner) flange and discard. Use a clean rag to thoroughly wipe and dry all surfaces that will come in contact with the new valve assembly.


Apply a thin glaze of petroleum jelly to the cleaned contact surfaces of both the flange and the new valve assembly.


Put the new valve assembly in place, being careful to get good contact across the entire surface. Lock the new valve assembly in place with the new stainless-steel fasteners, tightening them one at a time in a cross-diagonal pattern. Do not overtighten the fasteners.


Replace the remote opening cable.

Items you will need

About the Author

John Cagney Nash began composing press releases and event reviews for British nightclubs in 1982. His material was first published in the "Eastern Daily Press." Nash's work focuses on American life, travel and the music industry. In 1998 he earned an OxBridge doctorate in philosophy and immediately emigrated to America.

Photo Credits

  • photo_camera Streamlined Motor Homes image by K. Geijer from