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How to Dump RV Waste and Holding Tanks At Home

How to Dump RV Waste and Holding Tanks At Home

If you’re using water in your RV, you’ll eventually need to dump your RV tanks. While campgrounds often have dump stations, knowing how to dump RV waste at home can be much more convenient. However, while it may be more convenient, it’s not always possible.

Today, we’ll examine what you need to know to dump your RV tanks at home. Let’s get started!

How Often Do You Need to Dump RV Waste?

How often you need to dump RV waste will depend on how often you’re flushing toilets, taking showers, or running water in your RV. Depending on the RV, the waste tanks can vary considerably in size. Some rigs can only store 30-gallon tanks, while others will have massive 100-gallon waste tanks.

If you use your RV occasionally, you’ll want to dump your tanks after every trip. You do not want waste sitting in your RV tanks for weeks. If they do, don’t be surprised when your RV smells like an outhouse.

Bye Bye Black Tank! - Installing an Airhead Composting Toilet and removing our RV's black Tank

Can You Legally Dump An RV Tank At Home?

Rules and regulations regarding dumping waste from an RV tank at home will vary by your location and the type of sewer system. Check the local ordinances to ensure you can legally dump your RV tank at home.

In many instances, if you follow the proper procedures, you can legally dump your RV waste at home without any issues.

RV Waste Tanks, Explained

There are a few things you need to know about your RV water system and waste tanks. RVs typically have a few unique tanks with particular purposes. Let’s look at the different tanks RVs usually have and what they do.

RV Fresh Water Tank:

 An RV fresh water tank is a tank you fill with clean water, generally from a water spigot. The location of the water inlet valve will vary by the rig. Many campsites, but not all, will have water available at the site. If a camp doesn’t have a water connection, there will likely be a water source somewhere in the campground. However, some remote or dry camping locations won’t have any access to water. If that’s the case, you’ll need to find a potable water source near your campsite.

While any old garden hose will connect your RV to a water spigot, you should only use a drinkwater-safe hose. These are free of potentially hazardous chemicals, so ensure you spend a few extra bucks on a drinking water-specific hose.

Pro Tip: Need a new hose to fill your fresh water tank with? We found the 7 Best Drinking-Safe RV Water Hoses for Fresh Water.

RV Black Water Tank: 

An RV black water tank is a holding tank that stores anything you flush down your RV toilet. This is the tank that many RVers fear dumping the most, as there’s a chance of coming in contact with raw sewage. However, if you do it right, you can minimize many risks.

You’ll need to use a sewer hose to connect your RV’s sewer drain to a sewer connection. This could be at a campground’s dump station, or you can dump your RV tank at home.

Once you’ve connected your RV to the sewer drain, pull the valve release on your black tank. You should always dump your black tank first and gray water second. This helps flush out your sewer hose and attachments.

We recommend thoroughly flushing your black tank regularly. Depending on how often you use your RV, you should do this at least once a month. Use a separate water hose from your drinking water hose to connect a water source to your RV’s black tank flush connection.

Let the water run for several minutes to fill your black tank with clean water. Keep an eye on the tank level to avoid overfilling your black tank, then open the pull valve to release the water. This will help eliminate any gunk or debris inside your tank.

RV Gray Water Tank: 

The gray water tank will store any water that goes down a shower or faucet drain in your RV. This is primarily soapy water from doing dishes, washing your hands, and taking showers.

We recommend dumping this tank second to help rinse your sewer hoses and any attachments you use to connect your RV to a dump station or sewer connection. Close the black tank valve and pull the gray water tank valve to start emptying this tank. Do not rush it and let it drain completely.

Don’t underestimate the gray tank’s ability to be stinky and highly gross. Oils and pieces of food sitting in your gray tank for extended periods can become putrid. Some gray tanks can give black tanks a run for their money regarding odor and overall gross factor.

Tom from Mortons on the Move dumping RV tanks at RV dump station
While many RV parks have dump stations to make emptying your tanks easy, dumping your RV tanks at home can be a bit trickier.

Why Do People Dump Their RV Waste At Home?

People want to dump their RV waste at home instead of at a dump station for many reasons. First of all, not all dump stations are free to use. We’ve seen dump stations cost from $10 to $25.

Not all campgrounds include the use of the dump station with camping reservations. Many RVers want to avoid these added fees because camping reservations are already expensive in some locations.

Secondly, dumping your RV tanks at home is often more convenient. You can avoid long lines at the dump station, especially on Sundays when all the weekenders are checking out of their campsites.

You can take your time and thoroughly flush out your tanks to ensure they’re as clean as possible. This can help reduce the chances of any gunk sticking inside your tanks and creating an odor in your RV.

Close up of RV dump station hoses
When dumping your RV tanks at home, make sure you have all the proper hoses and connectors you need to stay mess-free.

Ways to Dump RV Waste and Holding Tanks At Home

There are several effective ways to dump RV waste and holding tanks at home. Let’s examine your options and which might be best for you.

Portable Waste Tote

A portable waste tote is a tank on wheels. You can empty your waste tanks into it and then transport them to your nearest septic or cleanout. This can be especially helpful if your sewer connection is not in an ideal place for your RV. Some sewer connections may be on the opposite side of your house or property, inaccessible with your RV. This allows you to take the waste to the sewer connection with ease.

Pro Tip: Use these tips on How to Properly Use an RV Portable Waste Tote to make dumping your tanks quick and easy.

There is another option if you don’t have a portable waste tote. A bucket will do the trick in a pinch. However, using a bucket increases the chances of spillage, odors, and coming face-to-face with the contents of your tanks. It is not ideal. However, it’ll get the job done.

Use a Macerator Pump

A macerator pump will break up waste and other contents in your RV tanks and pump them through a standard garden hose to wherever you want to dump your tanks. These pumps make moved the waste uphill and long distances much more doable than using a standard sewer hose.

To use this method, you’ll need the macerator pump, a power source, and a garden-sized hose. 

You want a designated hose for this task long enough to run from your RV to your waste site. This could be into a storage tank that you’ll hire a company to empty or a nearby toilet where you can flush the waste.

Dump Directly Into Private Septic Or Cleanout

You can dump your RV into your private septic or plumbing cleanout if you’re lucky. You’ll need to look around your property to find the connections for your plumbing system, but they can allow you to quickly and easily empty your RV tanks.

However, not all homes have easily accessible connections, requiring you to make modifications to install an RV sewer dump at your home.

Portable waste tank attached to RV
Empty your tanks into a portable waste tote first to decrease potential spillage.

How Do You Install An RV Sewer Dump At Home?

You can install a sewer connection to dump your RV tanks at your home. However, whenever you mess with your septic or plumbing system, you must know what you’re doing. You’ll also likely need a permit to make a modification like this, and perhaps even an inspection by a plumber.

You’ll need to access your main sewer line. A house with a crawlspace may have easy access to this line. Measure the distance between the dump station connection and where it will tie into the main sewer line. Buy ABS piping to cover the distance. Before installing the piping, ensure everything fits correctly and confirm the length. 

Next, have everyone use the restroom and flush a couple of extra times. Do not flush the toilet while working on this project. Use a bucket or other container to catch water when you cut.

Use plentiful ABS glue to connect the new sewer lines. You’ll have approximately 20 seconds to situate everything before the glue begins to dry. Use a coupling to secure the pieces and tighten them to prevent leaks. Continue to apply ABS glue as you connect pieces toward the new RV sewer connection.

Once complete, we recommend having someone flush the toilets. Look for signs of leaks in the system. You may need to flush a few times. No one wants to discover a leak later, so inspect your work well.

Ensure there’s a decent slope in your line so there are no issues with it flowing into your sewer system. You may need to purchase attachments to adjust the incline. It’s best to climb under your home when dumping your RV tanks to inspect any leaks on the new RV sewer line.

Regarding septic tanks, consider where your drainage field sits. You don’t want to drive over this area as it can crush the piping that disperses the liquids in your septic tank. 

Tom from Mortons on the Move emptying RV tank
Take your time when dumping your RV tanks at home to not make a mess and stay sweet-smelling.

Tips for Dumping Your RV Tanks At Home

It would be best to remember a few things when dumping your RV tanks at home. Let’s find out!

Black Water Flush At Home

While you should never be in a hurry when dumping your tanks, you have no one waiting behind you in line when dumping your RV tanks at home. This gives you ample time to flush your tanks and keep them clean. It would help if you regularly flushed your black tanks to avoid any potential odors inside your RV.

If you have a black tank flush connection on your RV, keep an eye on how much water you’re putting into your black tank. Avoid getting distracted during this process, as overfilling your black tank can cause some issues for your RV.

Fill the tank three-quarters and open the black tank valve. Repeat this process until you no longer see gunk and pieces of debris when emptying your black tank.

Don’t Leave the Black Tank Valve Open

Even if your RV stays linked to a sewer connection, you should never leave the black tank valve open. Your RV’s black tank needs liquids to help move solids out of your tank. If you leave the black tank valve open, the liquids will drain, and the solids will pile up in the bottom of your tank. This causes what many RVers refer to as a “poo pyramid.”

A poo pyramid can be very challenging to remove, especially if it sits and hardens. It can clog your waste valve and make it impossible to empty your tanks. In severe cases, you may need to call a professional to help clear the blockage in your RV’s sewer system.

Dumping Gray Water At Home

While you should never dump black water onto the ground, gray water can be different. Rules and regulations vary depending on where you live. However, if your gray water tanks are full, you’ll want to consider the impact of dumping a tremendous amount of water onto the ground.

Some RVs have gray water tanks that are 50+ gallons, which would likely flood the surrounding area and create a mess.

You also want to consider that just because your gray water isn’t raw sewage, it will still not be clean. Water from doing dishes will contain soaps, oils, and bits of food particles that have been sitting in your tank.

These can smell rather terrible, and dumping them onto the ground can attract animals.

RV hooked up to dump tanks.
If you aren’t able to dump your tanks at home, use RV apps to find a safe space to lighten your load.

Where to Dump Your Tanks If You Can’t At Home

You’ll want to use public dump stations if you can’t dump your RV at home. You can typically find these at campgrounds, RV parks, truck stops, and some interstate rest stops. Check out our favorite places to dump our RV waste tanks.

Call your local RV dealer if you’re struggling to find a place to dump your tanks. They may be willing to let you dump your tanks at their dealership on your way home from your latest RV adventure. You can also use apps like Campendium and iOverlander to search for dump stations near you.

Simple Trick for Filling your Freshwater tank when Boondocking - Tips from Tom

Now You Know How to Dump RV Waste at Home

When your tanks are full, you will need to dump them. If you can dump your RV waste at home, consider yourself lucky. Not every RVer has this luxury. However, even if you can’t dump your tanks at home, many options are still available.

Take your time and ensure you always wear protective gloves to avoid getting any waste onto your hands. It may be a scary task at first, but the more you dump your tanks, the easier it becomes.

Would you dump your RV tanks at home? Tell us your thoughts in the comments!

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About Mortons on the Move

Tom & Caitlin Morton of Mortons on the Move gave up the stationary life for one where they are constantly on the move. They are full-time travelers, television hosts, and digital media producers.
They left their jobs, sold their house and possessions, and hit the road in September 2015 in their full-time “home on wheels”. Since then they have traveled the US, Canada, and even internationally by RV.
Now, they are Discovery Channel & PBS TV Co-stars of The RVers, producers of “Go North” on Amazon Prime, co-founders and instructors of RV Masterclass, and contributing authors for Hwy.co and an Arizona travel guide.

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