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Dumping your RV waste tanks is not as bad as it sounds. In fact, it’s actually easy to do.
How do RV holding tanks work?
Let’s start with a quick overview of RV tanks. Most RVs have three separate holding tanks. Fresh, gray and black. In a nutshell, they hold all the liquid you use on a daily basis so that you can run water and use the toilet even when you are not connected to campground hookups.
Fresh Tank: The RV fresh tank holds clean “fresh” water. It uses a water pump to supply water to your RV faucets and shower when you are off grid. When your RV is connected to a campground water connection (aka city water) the fresh water tank is bypassed and the water runs directly from the campground spigot, through your RV water pipes to your faucets.
Grey Tank: The RV grey tank holds the water that drains from your RV sinks and shower.
Black Tank: The RV black tank holds everything that is flushed down your RV toilet.
So, you fill your fresh tank with clean water to use in your RV. And the black and grey tanks hold the liquid waste until you empty (aka dump) it. The waste tanks (black and grey) have a 3 inch outlet at the bottom that can be opened with a gate valve. When the outlet gate valve is opened, the contents flow downward, through the sewer hose and into the sewer. That’s it, a simple gravity based system.
Of course, your RV black and grey tanks need to be emptied once they are full. So, let’s get this show on the road and learn how to dump RV waste.
How To Dump Your RV waste Tanks
Your black and grey tanks need to be at least 2/3 full before you dump your RV waste.
Always wear disposable gloves when hooking up your sewer connection and emptying your RV waste tanks.
Time Required :
What You Need:
Steps to empty your RV black and grey tanks:
That’s it! Now you know how to dump your RV waste tanks! Now wash your hands:)
RV Sewer Hose Kit
This sewer hose kit will work well for dump stations and most campgrounds. It includes:
- A 20 foot sewer hose (in two 10 foot sections) with a clear elbow, a 4 in 1 adapter and 4 storage caps.
- Black tank flush hose. Do not use your fresh water hose.
- Sewer supports to ensure your sewer run is angled downhill at a campground.
Check out the 5 Best RV Sewer Hoses – 2023 Buying Guide for our top sewer hose and accessory picks.
Tips and tricks to make emptying your RV waste tanks easier (and avoid a mess!)
- Nervous about dumping your tanks? Try a practice run with grey water. Once your sewer hose is connected, empty some grey water to make sure that everything is working.
- Never leave your black tank open at a campground. It will become hopelessly clogged. Only open it when you empty your black tank.
- At a dump station, keep your sewer run short – it makes it easier to empty your RV tanks. Position your sewer outlet valve close to the dump station hookup.
- Use RV toilet paper – it’s designed to break down quickly and prevent clogs in your black tank. Our top choice (and what we use) is Scott Rapid-Dissolving Toilet Paper for RVs. It’s available in the RV section at Walmart stores too.
- A clear sewer extender attachment lets you see exactly what is going on when you empty and flush your tanks.
- Black tank treatment pods like Walex Porta-Pak Drop-Ins help eliminate odors, dissolve solids and prevent clogs. After you empty your tanks, simply drop one into your black tank and add a little bit of water.
- When you use your RV toilet, always add a little extra water. (Unless you’re boondocking and conserving water.)
- Use a dedicated water hose for flushing your black tank. Not your fresh water hose!
- If a sewer run is long, empty any standing water from the hose before disconnecting it. Start at the RV end of the sewer hose and lift it so that any liquid flows towards the sewer hookup. Move towards the campground or dump station hookup while raising a section of the hose at a time until all of the liquid has flowed into the sewer.
While the idea of dumping your RV waste with a hose at a campground or dump station can sound intimidating and gross, it’s easier (and cleaner) than it sounds. Take your time and make sure to double check all of your connections. And, if in doubt, test your sewer run with grey water first.
That’s a wrap! Thanks for stopping by. We hope you enjoyed this article. See you somewhere down the road!
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We’ve been full-time RVers since 2012. Over 127,000 miles and 47 states later, we are still towing our home around the United States.
On TowingHome we share what we have learned along the way; what we love (and what we don’t) about the RV lifestyle, tips and tricks, our favorite campgrounds, places and gear.
We hope that it makes your journey a little bit easier.