Don’t Break These Rules When Dumping Your RV Tanks

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A sign pointing to an RV dump station

Some people believe rules get created so people can break them. However, there are a few rules for dumping the tanks on your RV that you should never break. 

Disobeying these rules can cause some severe issues, including legal consequences. Want to avoid finding yourself in a stinky situation? Keep reading. 

Today, we’re sharing the rules for dumping RV tanks that you shouldn’t break. Let’s get started!

What Are RV Tanks?

RV tanks are storage reservoirs mounted to the frame of the camper. Most modern recreational vehicles come with black, gray, and freshwater storage. 

The black tank typically contains anything flushed down a toilet, including solid and liquid waste and toilet paper. This is the tank that most RVers fear emptying the most. Trust us; it stinks when you make a mistake dumping this tank.

On the other hand, gray tanks contain water that’s gone down a sink or shower drain. It’s primarily soapy water with some oils and food remnants. However, don’t underestimate the stinkiness of this tank. Depending on how long it’s been since you last dumped it, it can smell rather putrid.

These tanks allow adventurers to transport water and safely store waste. Without them, it wouldn’t be easy to enjoy boondocking or camping in remote areas without amenities. 

How Often Should You Empty Your Tanks?

How often you should dump your RV holding containers will depend on your situation.

The most significant factors to consider are the size of your tanks and how many people use them. For some, this may mean dumping every couple of days. However, others can get by with only emptying every week or two.

If you’re actively using your camper, you don’t need to worry about dumping them until they’re nearly full. However, if you enjoy weekend adventures sporadically throughout the camping season, empty them at the end of each trip. 

You don’t want waste sitting and smelling up your camper. Trust us, that’s the last thing you want to discover at the start of a trip.

A person using an RV dump station

Should You Leave Your Black Tank Open or Closed?

One mistake that many RVers make is leaving their black tank open. You should leave it closed even if parked in a full hookup site.

If not, you can run into severe issues over time. When it comes to issues you want to avoid, anything to do with sewage is at the top of the list.

When you leave your black tank open, it allows the liquids to drain. However, solids that enter the container rely on fluids to push them out and into the sewer drain. Without fluids, solids sit in the bottom of the tank and create the dreaded “poop pyramid.”

This is exactly as it sounds, a pyramid-shaped pile of poop in the bottom of your black tank. It doesn’t take long, but this pile can harden and lead to a massive clog in the plumbing.

While you have some ways to remedy the situation, it could require hiring a professional.

Follow These Rules When Dumping Your Tanks

There are some written and unwritten rules for dumping your tanks. You’re doing yourself a favor if you follow them. If not, you’re only asking for trouble.

Dump in Approved Locations

You can’t just dump your tanks anywhere. You must find an approved location, such as a dump station. These are often readily available at campgrounds, but you can also find them at truck and rest stops.

Bring a sewer hose and the appropriate connections and pay any necessary fees. While using these campground stations is usually free for guests, that’s not always the case.

Some will charge a small fee regardless of whether or not you stay with them.

One of the worst things you can do is open your dump valves and let the contents flow onto the ground. This is not sanitary and can create severe health and safety issues for future campers. In addition, it destroys the environment and ruins the habitat for the plants and wildlife that call it home.

Pro Tip: Have you used an RV dump station before? If not, read how to properly use them!

Always Dump the Black Tank First

The second rule is always to dump your black tank first. Doing so allows the gray water to eliminate solid waste inside your hose. This can help you avoid packing up dirty or stinky equipment.

To avoid any issues, dump your black tank first and gray tank second. If you have multiple gray tanks, it’s best to empty the one for your kitchen sink after the black tank.

When you have a significant amount of food particles or oils mixed with the liquids, it can get gross.

Then dump your gray tank for showers or faucets last. This one typically contains soapy water and can help clean out the sewer drain, your hose, and any connections. 

Don’t Use Fresh Water Spigot for Rinsing

One of the grossest things we see in campgrounds is RVers using a freshwater spigot for rinsing. These fixtures are for potable water, which people will drink. 

Anytime you use them to clean hoses, attachments, or flush tanks, you risk cross-contamination. This is the last thing you want in your drinking water.

Many dump stations have a water connection for users to rinse their equipment or flush tanks. This water is not potable and should not go into your freshwater tank. Its only purpose is to flush the system and clean gear. A contaminated spigot could cause serious health issues.

A sign pointing to an RV dump station

Use a Separate Black Tank Flush Hose

Just like dumping your tanks, how often you flush the system will depend on how you use your rig. If you’re a weekender, you’ll want to rinse it after every trip. However, full-timers can get by every few weeks or once a month.

When flushing, always use a separate hose from your drinking water. While black flush connections have a check valve prohibiting backflow, they can fail. If they do, you could end up with raw sewage flowing into your drinking water hose. For us, it’s not worth the risk.

Camco makes the Rhino RV Clean-Out hose for this very purpose. You won’t have trouble distinguishing it and its bright orange color from your drinking water hose.

We suggest getting a plastic bin to store it and other sewer supplies to avoid any contamination issues.

Keep in Mind: Can You Dump Your RV Waste in a Septic Tank? Let’s find out!

Camco Rhino 25-Ft Clean-Out Camper/RV Black Water Hose | Features a Heavy-Duty PVC Design & Bright Orange Color | Clean-Out Camper Black Water, Grey Water or Tote Tanks | 5/8” Inside Diameter (22990)
  • DESIGNED FOR RV SANITATION: Keep your RV waste system clean & odor-free with Camco's reliable clean-out water hose. It...
  • HEAVY-DUTY CONSTRUCTION: Built to last, this Camco RhinoFLEX 5/8″ internal diameter RV hose is constructed of durable...

Don’t Leave a Mess

When using a dump station, you should always leave it as clean, if not cleaner, than you found it.

No matter how hard you try, there’s a chance a drop or two will get onto the ground during the process. Stay calm if this occurs. However, you should grab the hose and spray any remnants into the sewer drain.

Make sure you pick up trash like rubber gloves or anything lying on the ground. Unfortunately, not everyone is willing to pick up after others. As a result, some dump stations can get cluttered and dirty very quickly. Do everyone a favor and pick up after yourself and others when necessary.

An RV attached to a dump station

Don’t Be a Rule Breaker

Unfortunately, not everyone follows the rules. When this happens, dump stations can get shut down.

These services are expensive to build and maintain. As travelers, we need to do the owners a favor and take care of them when dumping.

When you spot someone breaking one of these rules, report it to the management. If not, it may not be available the next time you need to dump your tanks.

Last update on 2024-06-21 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

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  1. Please carry bleach with you in a spray bottle of some disinfectant for cleaning before you use and after you use the dump station and spigot before you leave…

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