One of the biggest conveniences of owning an RV is having many elements of your home available just about wherever you want them. This includes having access to a bathroom without having to worry about locked doors or potentially gross stalls.
While RVs are convenient, they also usually have a unique plumbing system that requires emptying. Emptying the waste water tanks on an RV is not difficult. It’s only a matter of where you do it and how often.
Dumping RV waste at a dump station needs a hose and a few other elements to make the job more pleasant and faster. We provide some more details below to help you get through the process of emptying waste quick and easy.
Finding a dump station
In the RV world, a dump station can mean that they offer a sewer connections for you to drain your RV tanks. Your RV has multiple tanks for different kinds of water, but for this purpose we will discuss a couple of tanks. These are the grey water tank with shower and sink runoff, and the black tank, which has human waste from your toilet.
The first thing to do is find a dump station. The best bet for this is to look on the Internet for a dump station near your location. Consider calling ahead for an RV park to ensure they actually have dump stations available.
The idea of going with full tanks to an RV park without waste receptacles is not something you really want to chance.
Things you’ll need to dump RV waste at a dump station
- A sewer hose. You can generally acquire these at a Rv supply or hardware store
- Disposable gloves. Buy a bulk box. This keeps waste off your hands.
- Potentially a mask. It won’t smell great right away, considering you are offloading human waste.
What do I do at the dump station?
Before you go, check to see where your tanks are physically located. They are most often underneath the RV, but not far from the edges. You’ll generally see three tanks with safety caps.
In the context of waste, the gray cap is for the gray tank. The black cap is for the black tank.
The actual dump station generally looks like a concrete patio with three caps sticking out of the ground. The RV station will also most likely physically label their dump station for your convenience.
Pull up to the dump station with the tanks within a few feet of the station.
How to drain the waste from your RV
- Get your sewer drain hose out. It should be located in a compartment
- Connect one end of the sewer hose to the receptacles at the dump station. The caps should be the same color as your waste tanks. If you are starting with your black tank, as you should, open the black cap first.
- Push the end of the sewer hose into the open receptacle.
- Take the other end of the hose to the side of the RV where the tanks are located.
- Locate the black tank again. This should have a black safety cap.
- Put on your disposable gloves!
- With the hose prepared as close to the opening as possible, remove the black safety cap and slip the house into place. You may need to rotate the hose to “lock” it.
- There should be a valve sticking out of the black tank. This can either look like a stem or be circular. Pull the stem valve once the hose is secured. Turn a circular valve.
- Once the waste starts to flow, you can also go inside to the RV and flush the toilet to ensure that everything is out of the system.
- Sensors within your RV should tell you that the level in your tank is decreasing.
- Still using disposable gloves, remove the hose from the RV tank first.
- There may be water available at the dump station. If so, spray out the inside of your hose. You can skip this if you are planning to empty the gray tank too.
- Remove the other end of your hose from the receptacle.
- Put the hose back in the external compartment. We don’t suggest keeping this inside because it can still smell.
- Put the cap back on your black water tank.
- Throw away those disposable gloves.
That was pretty easy! If this is your first time, it won’t be your last. We suggest you drain the tank at least every 3-5 days while on the road with multiple people. You can empty it out less if you have fewer people, like one or two with you. Otherwise, your sensors within your tank should do a good job of telling you when it’s full.
Can I empty anywhere else?
Part of the reason why this article refers to dump stations is that you really should empty your waste tank at a dump station. Especially the black tank contains human waste that should be dumped out into a sewer. Dumping elsewhere can cause environmental hazards for humans and others.
Dumping anywhere but a waste station is also illegal in many states. Instead of contacting local authorities to see if it is, we suggest you just use a dump station.
Draining your waste tanks is a simple matter of making a couple of easy hose connections. Your sensors within your RV should tell you when to empty and when the tank itself has been emptied. Our biggest suggestions are to ensure your RV park has a dump station and to wear gloves. A mask is a good idea too as the smell could be quite strong.
Using the above tips will give you a good head start on figuring out how to drain your waste tanks. Once you do it a couple of times, you’ll get very used to it. It will become a routine in the adventures of owning an RV.