Last Updated on December 9, 2021 by Jessica Lauren Vine
Wondering, “How do you dump RV waste?”
One of the most important (and stinky) parts about going camping or living in an RV is dumping your holding tanks. Dumping your tanks isn’t exactly a glamorous undertaking, but it’s definitely one of the most important things to remember. The last thing you want is for your black or gray tank to overflow while you’re taking a shower or flushing the toilet!
In this article, I will go over everything you need to know about dumping your holding tanks. I’ll also include important information about how to keep your tanks sanitary and as clean as possible. Whether you’re a new RV owner dumping for the first time or a seasoned pro looking for additional advice, you’ve come to the right place!
Things to Know Before Getting Started
Before we get started with explaining how to dump your RV holding tanks, there are a few terms you should know and items you should possess. Let’s start with standard terms that you’ll see.
- Black Tank
Your black tank consists of all the waste and water coming from your toilet. Anytime you use the bathroom and flush your toilet, the runoff goes to your black water tank.
- Gray or grey tank
Your gray water holding tank is where all your drain water outside the toilet goes. Your showers, bathroom lavatories, kitchen sink, and water from your washing machine all go to the gray holding tank.
- Tank levers
While you might have multiple holding tanks on your RV, they all get dumped through the same sewage hose. Because you don’t want everything dumping at once and possibly washing backward into your camper, each of the tanks has its own valves or tank levers that control the flow of wastewater.
Additionally, here are some essential pieces of equipment that you’ll need before performing your first RV wastewater dump.
- Sewage hose.
- Water hose.
- 90-degree fitting to attach from your sewage hose to the dumping station
- Disposable gloves
- Transparent adapter for viewing
You can purchase each of these items at most convenience stores or RV outlets.
How to Dump the Black Tank on My RV
Now that you have a better understanding of what we’re talking about let’s get started with the actual process of dumping. Here’s a step-by-step process of how to dump your RV black tank.
Hook up your sewer hose from the holding tank termination to the sewage drain pipe.
To do this, you’ll need your sewage hose, a connector to attach to the termination on your camper, and a connector for the campsite’s sewage drain pipe. If you’re dumping at a dump station, they’ll likely have a large inlet where you insert your hose and have to hold it in place, so it doesn’t pop out. Make sure you wear your latex gloves when you’re handling your sewer hose.
Locate the Black Tank Lever
On most RVs, your black tank lever is next to the black tank termination, where you hook up your sewer hose.
Pull the Lever or Levers to Open the Floodgates
This process is as simple as it sounds. Depending on the camper you own, you will have one or two levers to pull to dump your tank. Ensure that all your gray tank levers are in a closed position before opening the black tank.
Let the Tank Dump Completely
Once you’ve started the dumping process, ensure you don’t close the levers until it’s finished. Make sure that you have a transparent coupler on the termination end of your sewage hose so that you can see when the water stops flowing.
And there you have it, dumping your black tank. It’s not a difficult task, just a smelly one. You’ll also want to make sure that you put the black tank levers in the closed position once you’re finished if you’re dumping at a campsite. Leaving the levers in the open position will allow nasty fumes to rise through your sewage pipes from the campground’s sewage tank.
Make Sure to Account for Extra Bathrooms
Something to keep in mind with your RV is that each bathroom will have its sewage hose and holding tank. This means that while everything gets dumped into the same campground sewage tank or RV dump station, you might have multiple hoses to hook up. This is a simple obstacle to overcome, however. All you need to do is dump each black tank, one at a time.
Extensions for Your Sewage Hose
Another note is that certain campgrounds have very inconveniently located sewage ports to hook your sewage hose up. It might be necessary to purchase extension hoses and couplings for situations where the sewage port is too far from your camper.
How to Dump the Gray Tanks on My RV
To dump your gray tanks, you’ll follow most of the same steps that you did to dump your black tanks, with a few minor differences.
Leave Your Sewage Hose Connected
If you’ve just finished dumping your black tank, leave your sewage hose connected in the same way. If you’re only dumping your gray tank, hook up your sewage hose using the same steps as above.
Locate the Gray Tank Lever
Your gray tank lever or levers should be in the same location as your black tank levers. Most RV manufacturers make sure to have everything in the same general vicinity.
Open Each of Your Gray Tank Levers One at a Time
On campers with multiple bathrooms or a washer and dryer, you might have more than one gray water holding tank. Select one of the tanks and open the levers to let your wastewater flow. Once that tank is empty, close the valves and open the levers to the other holding tank.
Tips to Keep your Gray Tank Clean
It’s important to remember that your kitchen sink probably doesn’t have a garbage disposal. As a result, you shouldn’t let grease, food particles, and other nasties go down your drain. These things are likely to build up and get lodged in your drain pipes, resulting in serious issues.
An excellent way to keep this from happening is to dump a cleaning agent down your sinks occasionally. Additionally, using bleach and water frequently to clean your kitchen and bathroom sinks is also a good idea.
How to Do a Black Tank Flush
As time goes on and you use your bathroom more and more, you’ll likely notice that it starts to stink. Not to worry, this is a common problem with RV bathrooms because of how they’re structured. When you flush your toilet, and the waste gets directed to your holding tank, it often sits there for several days. Essentially, your RV bathroom ends up being a glorified porta-potty, and that’s what it will end up smelling like if you don’t take care of it.
Flushing your black
Connect a Hose from the Water Supply to the Black Tank Flush Port
Most newer campers come equipped with a “black tank flush” port next to the “city water connection” port. These connections are usually on the side of the camper near the black tank flush termination. Connect one end of a garden hose to the “black tank flush” port and the other end to a water supply.
Open Your Black Tank Lever
Before turning the water on to start the flushing process, make sure that your black tank lever or levers are open. If you start running water into your black tank without having the lever open, it will eventually overflow into your bathroom.
Turn the Water On
With the black tank open to allow water to flow freely, turn the water supply on. Ensure to keep an eye on the clear part of the sewage hose at the termination end. If you see the water start to pour out of that end, the flushing process has begun.
Keep Flushing until You See Clear Water
It’s crucial that you wait to stop flushing your black tank until you see clear water coming out of the end. Once you see clear water, the flushing process has done all that it can to clean your black tank.
Turn Off the Water and Disconnect the Hose
Make sure that you also move your black tank levers to the closed position once you’re done flushing.
Add a Toilet Treatment Agent
After you have closed your black tank, disconnected the flush tank hose, and turned off the water supply, it’s time for the finishing touch. Go inside your camper and start flushing your toilet. Let about a gallon or two of water flush back into the tank. While you’re flushing, dump a toilet treatment agent directly down the toilet. This will help with the smell and keep your tank feeling fresh.
Don’t Forget About a Treatment for Your Gray Tank.
Treating your gray tank is just as important as treating your black tank. You don’t have to do it quite as often as you do with your black tank, however, because your gray tank shouldn’t stink. The best way to treat your gray tank is to purchase a gray tank treatment agent and dump it down one of your sinks. After dumping it down, add the amount of water specified on the treatment agent label.
Let the treatment agent sit in your holding tank for a few hours or as specified. Once it’s sat for a sufficient amount of time, go outside and perform a gray tank dump. If you don’t want to use a special treatment agent, you can also use bleach and water. Anytime you start smelling foul odors emanating from your black or gray tanks, it’s probably time to add a treatment agent.
Well, there you have it, the glamorous job of dumping your RV waste. Whether it’s human waste from your black tank, shower water, or dirty sink water, you now know how to dump your holding tanks. It’s not the most fun thing about owning an RV, but it is crucial. The last thing you want to worry about is your holding tanks overflowing and giving you a weekend to remember for all the wrong reasons.
Always make sure to perform regular flushes and treatments of your holding tanks, namely your black tank. Flushing your black tank and adding treatment agents to all of your tanks will help keep the stench at bay. No one wants to live in or spend a weekend in a smelly camper. You can make the most out of your RVing experiences by correctly flushing and caring for your holding tanks.