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Everything You Need To Know About Dumping Your RV Waste Tanks

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Every RVer will have to face the task of dumping their RV waste tanks. It’s an inevitable part of owning a camper. Whether you are parked at a full hook-up site or boondocking on the beach, at some point of your adventure, you will have to dump your waste tanks. For a newbie there may be some sense of anxiety involved, especially when you are at the dump station with a line of fellow RVers behind you.

Don’t worry. We have you covered. In this post we are going to cover everything you need to know to dump your RV waste tanks and answer a few questions along the way. And after dumping your RV waste tanks a few times it will come as second nature. Let’s jump in…

RV Holding Tanks

First, let’s break down the three most common types of holding tanks you are likely to have in your camper, and what each tank is used for.

  • Black Water Tank – If your camper has a toilet, you most likely have a black tank. Keep in mind that some campers use a cassette toilet that doesn’t use a conventional black tank. Black tanks are used for storing, well, poop and anything else that goes into the toilet.
  • Gray Water Tank – Your gray water tank is used for storing the water that goes down the drains of your sinks, showers, washing machine, etc. Pretty much everything besides the toilet.
  • Fresh Water Tank – The fresh water tank holds exactly what it says. It stores your fresh water for you to use when you are camping off-grid or do not have a city water hook-up.

For more information on maintenance of these tanks, you might be interested in RV Holding Tank Maintenance.

Before we get too far into dumping your RV waste tanks, we need to look at some basic equipment you will need.

Rubber Gloves

There are a few basic items you will need to dump your RV waste tanks. The first and most important thing you are going to need are rubber gloves. Trust me on this one. You will be handling raw sewage. I know it doesn’t sound too appealing, but it’s one of those things that just must be done, like paying taxes. It’s not something you really want to be doing, but face it, you have to.

Some fellow RVers will opt for the reusable sanitation gloves. As for me, I choose to use the disposable nitrile rubber gloves. It’s a matter of preference, but the important thing is to make sure you have some.

reusable rubber glove
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Quality Sewer Hose

Not all sewer hoses are created equal. Some are of lower quality than others and you will get what you pay for. The last thing I want to happen is a leak while I’m dumping our RV waste tanks. We have had a leak in the past; however, it was a very small hole and thankfully we caught it before it turned in to a serious mess.

I recommend a sewer hose kit like the Thetford Premium Sewer Hose Kit. This is the hose we use and have had nothing but good experiences with it. We bought it because we needed a quality hose that wouldn’t break the bank. It also comes with an opaque 90-degree fitting. More on that below.

thetford sewer hose kit for dumping rv waste tanks
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Clear Tank Fitting

If your rig is not equipped with a black tank flush, you will need to flush your tank another way. Flushing your black tank is necessary to make sure solids don’t build up in your tank and on the sensors. This can be accomplished by using a clear tank flush fitting or by dragging a hose inside your camper and sticking it down the toilet.

The fitting should be clear or opaque so you can see that the water coming out of your black tank is clean. You can’t tell how clean it is if you can’t see what’s coming out.

HydroFlush Fitting for dumping rv waste tanks
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Sewer Hose Support

A sewer hose support isn’t required to dump your RV waste tanks. It is required, however, at many RV resorts, State Parks, and National Parks that offer full hook-up sites. In addition, these sewer hose supports are designed to keep everything running downhill to prevent any nasty back-ups.

rv sewer hose support
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Diluted Bleach Solution

We carry a small spray bottle with a diluted bleach solution for spraying on hose ends, city water hook-ups, etc. The last thing I want is to hook up our fresh water hose to the water supply that the previous camper might have hooked their sewer water hose to. Things like this are bound to happen and being prepared by spraying a little bit of bleach to sanitize faucets will keep you and your family from getting sick.

Dumping Your RV Waste Tanks

Now that you know the basic essential equipment you will need to dump your RV waste tanks, let’s dive in to the “How” part of it.

There are a few things to keep in mind when it comes to dumping your waste tanks. The dump station at an RV campground can get very busy after a long weekend. When it’s your turn, forget about the line of RVers behind you. We have all been in the same situation. So, the best thing I can suggest is to TAKE YOUR TIME.

Just like when you set-up or tear-down your site, you don’t want to overlook any steps because you’re in a hurry.

Always Dump Black Tank First

You want to make sure that you dump your black tank first every time you dump your waste tanks. Why? Because you can use the gray water to help flush out your sewer hose before storing it.

When you dump your black tank, use the 2/3 method. What this means is, make sure your tank is reading 2/3 full before you dump. The reason for this is so you have plenty of liquid in your tank to help flush out all the solids.

And you never want to leave your black tank valve open when you are at a full hook-up site. Not only does this prevent anything that might climb into your hose from the sewer, but it also prevents the dreaded poop pyramid in your tank. If your valve is always open, the liquids flush and the solids stay. Pretty picture, eh?

Dump Gray Tank

When you are confident that your black tank is empty, and clean, make sure the valve is closed before opening the gray tank valve. You don’t want sewer running back into your gray tank. When the gray tank is empty, close the valve. You have successfully dumped your RV waste tanks.

Now it’s time to rinse everything with your water hose, NOT your drinking water hose. Use a completely different hose for rinsing everything. When you are sure your hose is rinsed out, store it in the bumper of your camper, or separately in your basement storage.

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If you’re not fond of the idea that the sewer hose could even remotely come into contact with anything else, you can mount a sewer hose rack under your rig or make one out of PVC.

Sewer Hose Carrier
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How To Find RV Dump Stations

Most RV campgrounds and RV resorts will either provide full hook-up sites, or will have a dump station on the premises. This isn’t always the case. If you find yourself in a park or campground that doesn’t have a dump station, or if you prefer boondocking, you will likely have to find a dump station to dump your RV waste tanks.

rv dump station sign
dump station traffic sign

Finding a dump station near you isn’t difficult. Simply do a Google search and follow the results. Often, these results are out of date and the last thing you want is to travel miles out of your way only to find the dump station isn’t there any longer. Fortunately, there are several websites and apps that cater to finding this kind of information. Some of the most popular apps and websites are:

These sites and apps make finding a dump station effortless and are just a few Apps That Every RVer Should Have.

Conclusion On Dumping Your RV Waste Tanks

Dumping your RV waste tanks doesn’t have to be a stressful or dreaded event. It’s a small, but important, part of every camping or road trip. With a little bit of preparedness as to what to expect and a little practice, the dump station will soon be a small hiccup in your trip. In fact, it will become second nature after a few times.

What are your thoughts on dumping your RV waste tanks? Is there anything you would like to add? If so, please leave a comment below and let us know.

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