While one of the perks to having an RV is to the ability to go anywhere and do anything, all while having some private facilities available to shower and go to the bathroom. Many RV owners just plug their black tank into a sewer line at an RV park or waste station, which works just fine in most cases.
But what if you are close to home or haven’t traveled that far – do you still need to pay to dump your waste every time? The answer is roughly “no” as it’s possible to build an RV dump station at your home.
Building an RV dump station is relatively easy, and often doesn’t actually require that much work. There are a few things to know about how to use the dump station.
Building an RV dump station: Check with your city
One usually small, but sometimes important aspect of building a dump station is asking your city government about any rules or codes in place. for building. Some cities might ask for a specific size, depth, or location for the concrete pad that often starts a dump station.
Rather than getting caught by a nosy neighbor or actually creating a potential problem, you are better off asking first. You might also remember a particular scene from National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation, in which Clark Griswold’s brother brings an RV to their home. Lacking a dump station, his brother takes the RV sewer hose and places it over the street sewage grate, and empties the RV in full view of the whole neighborhood. We would like to clarify that you aren’t supposed to do that.
The pad might need to extend at least two feet in every direction from the drain, or be built at a slight slope. Some states also require a self closing cap that can be forced open the hose, but closes automatically to avoid having sewer gases enter the air.
Concrete pad for a RV dump station
The first step to making a concrete pad is to locate a sewer inlet in your yard. Many homes have a sewer cap somewhere in the yard to allow access to the sewer for service people or septic tanks.
The biggest issue is making this particular sewer inlet accessible. You’ll have to either pull your RV up to the inlet, or have a long hose – neither of which tend to be very convenient.
Pouring the concrete pad around the sewage site is relatively easy, though we won’t go into much detail besides saying that you can build a box around the area to ensure you contain the wet concrete and be sure to follow local laws.
After the concrete pad for a RV dump station
You either might also have a concrete pad or built one. This is called a cleanout and already connects right to the sewer or a septic tank. The next most important thing is finding a proper cap. The initial caps are likely meant to be taken off infrequently.
Replace the cap with a city regulation cap. As suggested before, this could be a matter of a self closing cap or a specific dimension for the purpose of the city.
A complete system
This would be an especially easy setup with a cleanout already available in your yard – all you’ve really done is make it legit with a concrete pad, in part so spills go onto the cleanable concrete instead of the grass and gradually the fresh water system.
Dumping into a septic system
A septic system also should already have an outlet to make it easy for someone or a company to come empty the septic tank.
One of the biggest differences in building a dump station into your septic tank is that the septic tank might be harder to access. You could either put an output hose into the septic tank system to extend the reach to your RV, or the other way around.
Any pipe you place between the two needs to be designed to prevent backflow, too. You won’t want your RV blackwater tank accidentally taking in more sewage from your septic tank.
The pipe headed to your septic tank should be “underwater” in your septic tank, so to speak. This literally means that the pipe should not be visible to your eyes, which helps to prevent the splashing or sewage back out of the septic tank.
It’s convenient – though tricky
A dump station at home can be convenient. Note that the two ways we presented are the easier method. If you don’t have a clear, obvious sewer inlet then the next method would be to add one.
Adding an inlet for your sewer system is more expensive and complicated, but can certainly be worth it if you would rather dump your waste at home than pay for a spot at an RV park.
Adding an inlet usually involves a shovel or excavator and contacting the city to get a permit to add a new inlet to the sewer itself, since in most cases the city owns the sewer.
Notes on septic tanks
Your septic tank has a certain capacity. If you do choose to add your RV black water tank to your septic tank on a regular basis, be sure to prepare to have it emptied more often. Home septic tanks are generally larger and have months’ worth of capacity, but adding additional waste will make it reach capacity a bit faster.
Ideally, you can empty the sewage directly into the sewer to avoid issues.
Adding a dump station at home is easy if you already have a sewer outlet. The first thing you’ll want to do is contact your city to see if they have rules about usage.
The most common hurdle is to build a concrete pad, which can be done by yourself or with a contractor. Other options include piping your sewage directly into your septic tank, which doesn’t require much construction!