Dumping waste from your RV’s holding tanks isn’t the most glamorous gig. But as you’re well aware, it’s a job that needs to be done.
Emptying your RV or motor coach’s tanks is fairly simple, but there are a few things you should note—all of which are conveniently included in this guide. We’ll go over the types of tanks in your vehicle, along with how and where to empty them.
Let’s do it.
RVs have three water storage tanks—one for fresh water, gray water, and black water. These tanks make camping in your RV sanitary and convenient, allowing you to cook, clean, and shower, rather than roughing it in a tent.
Understanding how they relate to one another is step one. Essentially, your fresh water tank is what you fill up with potable, safe water. All your appliances including sinks, showers, and toilets draw water from the fresh water tank. From there, water that’s been used in your sink and shower flow into your gray water tank, while water that’s used in your toilet goes into a black water tank.
Before you even think about dumping RV waste, know where you’re allowed to empty each holding tank. Although your mind might go straight to the gray and black water tanks, you should also regularly dump your fresh water tank, too. Neglecting it could cause lots of bacteria to grow—not ideal, to say the least. The good news is that most campgrounds allow you to dump fresh water tanks freely.
As for your gray water and black water tanks, you’ll need to find an RV dump station. Dumping gray and black water just anywhere is a big no no, so make sure to plan accordingly.
As mentioned above, it’s good practice to regularly dump your fresh water tank. Simply open the fresh water tank valve and you’re good to go.
Assuming that you brought your RV or motor coach to an RV dumping station, you’re ready to empty your grey and black water tanks. Before you start, make sure you have the following items:
● Disposable gloves—you don’t really want to be touching that sewer hose with your bare hands
● Clear sewer adapter to help determine when the tank is empty.
● Sanitizing wipes—just in case.
● Sewer extension hose
● Hand sanitizer for after the dump
● Dedicated garden hose
To start emptying the tanks, put on your gloves and remove the drain cap. Your grey and black water tanks should have the same outlet, but different valves. This is important, as you’ll always drain the black water first. That way, you can use the soapy gray water to flush out the hose from any black water remnants.
Once you’ve opened the cap, attach the hose to the dump station, connect your clear hose adapter to the outlet, then attach the sewer hose. This allows you to see what’s coming out of the tanks. Obviously, this isn’t always pleasant, but it does help you determine when the tank is empty. Finally, secure the hose in place—you don’t want that thing moving!
Now comes the dirty work. Open the black water tank valve first and wait until the tank is empty. With the black water valve still open, flush the system by opening the grey water tank valve. You can continue to flush the system or run water through it again if you have access to water.
Finally, take that garden hose and connect it to your black tank rinse system to prevent any buildup in the tank. For sanitary reasons, we recommend having a dedicated garden hose for this job.
Once you’ve followed these steps, close the valves, pack everything up, and give yourself a nice pat of the back. Again, not a glamorous job—but definitely necessary.
Needless to say, RV waste dumping can get…messy. But there are a few tips to smoothen out the process.
1. Always Use RV Toilet Paper
You want all solids in your black water tank to break down as much as possible. RV toilet paper is designed to do so. Regular toilet paper…not so much. Do yourself a favor and remember to check the label and get the good stuff. Finally, if you’re not sure if your toilet paper is RV friendly, there’s an RV toilet paper test you can try.
2. Don’t Dump Empty Tanks
e’re talking about grey and black water tanks (fresh water tanks can be dumped whenever!) While it may seem gross, a tank that’s more full means that there’s a better chance the solids will flow out of the tank during the dumping process.
3. Flush with Lots of Water
Adding to the advice above, make sure you flush the toilet with plenty of water. Error on the side of using too much water—you’ll be happy when you have to empty the tanks.
4. Heading to Another Site? Fill Up Your Tank
If you’re heading to another location, it’s a good idea to drain your black water tank and fill the tank up to about ⅔ of its capacity. That way water can move around on the drive and help clean your black water tank on the road.
A little dirty work is well worth the adventure that awaits on the open road. Follow our guide to keep things clean and in working order so you can focus on what really matters—exploring the great outdoors in your motor coach!