Last Updated on April 14, 2023 by Jessica Lauren Vine
Are you wondering, “How do RV dump stations work?”
The dreaded tank flush is one of the nastiest and most smelly parts of being an RVer. Dumping your tanks isn’t a big deal if you stay at a campsite offering full-hookup. However, if you don’t have a full hookup or you’re boondocking, you’ll have to find an RV dump station to dispose of your black and grey water waste.
Using an RV dump station is more daunting than it is difficult. The overall process only takes around 10 minutes if you know what you’re doing. However, if you don’t know what you’re doing, maneuvering an RV dump station can be quite intimidating.
Luckily, there are plenty of seasoned RV pros who have gone to and conquered RV dump stations. To help you avoid any dump station disasters, this article contains a step-by-step guide on everything you need to prepare you for your first encounter with a dump station. Like I said before, the process isn’t difficult as long as you take your time and follow the instructions in this article.
What an Rv Dump Station Is
Before we get too carried away, let’s look at what exactly an RV dump station is. RV dump stations are designated areas where you can dump the wastewater and contents of the grey and black tanks of your RV. They usually include a massive sewage system, easy access for your RV, a water hookup for tank flushing, and a short hose to clean your sewer hose. However, they will not have the actual sewer hose or connectors you need to properly dump your tanks.
How to Find an RV Dump Station
The easiest place to look for an RV dump station is at a campground. Campgrounds that don’t offer full sewer hookups almost always have dump stations so you can dump your waste before you hit the road. Dump stations are also located at select gas stations, truck stops, and outdoor stores like Cabelas or Outdoor World.
You can also visit websites, such as RVDumps.com. They often list locations of random RV dump stations around the country.
How to Use an RV Dump Station
Now that you have a better idea of what a dump station is and where they’re located, let’s get to the actual dumping!
Gather the Necessary Supplies
The first thing you’ll have to do is gather the supplies you’ll need for a quick and efficient dump. Here’s a list of what you’ll need and why you’ll need it.
During the dumping process, it’s almost impossible to keep yourself completely clean. You should always wear gloves throughout the process to keep your hands sanitized and poo-free.
You’re also going to need wipes to clean your equipment and yourself if you should happen to have a little accident. Sanitation and cleanliness are essential!
- Black Tanks Flush Hose
A big part of keeping your RV clean and free of stink is flushing your black tank after dumping it. We’ll go into detail about how this works later, but all you for flushing is a 15′ to 20′ garden hose.
- Sewer Hose
Obviously, the most important component you’ll need is the sewer hose. The sewer hose will connect from your RV to the dump station outlet and ensure that everything goes where it’s supposed to.
Align Your RV With the Dump Station
Once you have the equipment you need, it’s time to head to the dump station. Once you arrive, you will want to align your RV so that the dumping ports are lined up with the dump station pump or sewer port. Most dump stations set up their dump stations in a drive-thru style where you don’t need to do any backing or maneuvering. However, by knowing beforehand where your dump port is located, you can save yourself some time.
Put Your Gloves On
With your RV or travel trailer aligned and ready to dump, it’s time to put your gloves on. Disposable gloves work best so that you can throw them away after every use. You should wear your gloves anytime you handle your hoses or touch anything at the dump station. They’re notoriously dirty, stinky, and unsanitary.
Connect Your Sewer Hose
Next, take your sewer hose from wherever you store it and connect it first to your RV and then to the dump station port. Connecting it to the dump station first will temporarily release the sewer gases and smells inside the sewer tank.
Empty Your Black Tank
With the hose connected to either end, open the valve that releases the contents of the black tanks and start emptying it. Depending on its size, a full black tank could take around five minutes to drain completely.
Flush Your Black Tank
While your black tank is draining, you should start flushing it. Don’t do this immediately, but rather give the tank a minute or two to start draining. Connect one end of your special flushing garden hose to the water spigot at the dump station to flush the black tank. Connect the other end of the hose to your black tank flushing port on your RV.
On most RVs, the black tank flush port is on the side of the RV at waist or eye level, next to the freshwater inlet port. However, on certain models, the flushing port is on the opposite side of the RV, so make sure you know where it is before buying your hose, so you get one that’s long enough.
After the black tank has drained for a minute or two and with the flushing hose connected, turn the water spigot on and start flushing the black tank. You can flush it as you’re dumping the tank or wait until the tank is empty to start flushing. Either way, flush the tank until you see clear water coming out through the sewer port, indicating that the tank is clean.
Flushing the tank isn’t always necessary, but you should do it every week or two to keep your camper from stinking.
Turn the Flush Water Off
Once you’re satisfied with your flushed black tank, turn the water off. For time’s sake, wait to disconnect and remove your hose until you start flushing the grey tanks.
Close Your Valve
You must wait to close the valve to the black tank until you have turned the flushing water off and no longer see water draining out of your sewer hose. Going down the road with water in your black tank can add extra, unwanted weight to your rig.
Empty Your Grey Tanks
With the flushing water turned off, your black tanks empty, and the valve to the black tank closed, it’s time to empty your grey tanks. Simply open the grey tank valve the same way that you did your black tank. Depending on your camper setup, you will have between one and three grey tank valves that you need to open. However, to avoid backflow issues, it’s important to open and drain them one at a time.
Close the Valves
As you finish with each grey tank, close the valve before opening the next one. There should be one tank for all your bathroom and kitchen water, a tank if you have a washing machine, and possibly a third tank that serves as a backup to your kitchen and bathroom tank.
Put Your Flush Hose Away
As you’re draining the grey tanks, you can disconnect your flush hose and put it away so you don’t forget about it. Because of the type of water used at dump stations, you mustn’t use your flush hose for anything besides flushing the black tank.
Disconnect Your Sewer Hose and Rinse It
Once everything is drained, and your drain valves on the RV are closed, you can disconnect your sewer hose. Disconnect the connector from the RV first so that you can rinse your hose and have the runoff go into the dump station tank.
Put Your Sewer Hose Away
With the hose rinsed and as clean as possible, disconnect it from the dump station and put it away. Make sure to keep your hose separate from the rest of your camping supplies. No matter how clean it is or how well you rinse it, your sewer hose will still smell like a sewer.
Throw Your Gloves Away
Once everything is put away, you can finally take your gloves off and dispose of them.
Sanitize Your Hands
Even though you were wearing gloves, you should still sanitize your hands and even the ends of your flush hose once you’re finished dumping. Remember to put the cap back on your RV dumping port to keep it sealed so nothing can get in or out without your say-so.
RV Dump Station Frequently Asked Questions
Does it cost to use RV dump stations?
Yes. You either have to pay to use it, or it is included in the cost of your campground stay.
Are there places that will dump your RV tanks for you?
Yes. If parks don’t have full hookups, they often have a team that will come out to dump your tanks for you.
How much does it cost to dump your RV tanks?
Many places charge $10 and up to dump your RV tanks.
How Do RV Dump Stations Work? – Conclusion
Well, there you have it. Everything you need to know about using an RV dump station. While that seemed like a lot of steps to remember, the entire process should only take around 10 minutes or less, depending on how proficient you are and how long you flush your black tank. It’s important to flush the tank thoroughly, but you should also be considerate if there’s a long line of people behind you waiting to flush their RVs. Be thorough, but don’t be the person that holds everyone up.