Dump Station Tips

Here are some tips to follow when emptying your RV’s holding tanks. (See below for a suggestion on how to empty your RV’s holding tanks.)

  • When emptying both the black and gray tanks, dump the black-water tank before the gray-water tank so the “soapy water” from the gray tank can clean the residue from the hose.
  • Don’t dump the black-water tank until it is at least two-thirds full. Don’t leave the black-water tank valve open when hooked up at a campsite. This will cause liquids to drain, leaving solid waste behind to harden on the bottom of the tank.
  • Use a heavy-duty sewer hose about 6 to 8 feet long to make handling easier.
  • Carry an extra garden hose for rinsing in case the dump station doesn’t have one.
  • Store this in an area where it won’t come into contact with your drinking water hose.
  • Never use your fresh water hose for rinsing sewer hoses or the dump station area.
  • Wear protective rubber gloves and avoid touching the outside of the gloves.
  • If others are waiting to use the dump station, skip the tank flushing and hose rinsing steps. Pull away from the dump station and then add some water and chemicals to the holding tanks.
  • Never put anything other than the contents of your holding tanks into the dump station.
  • Leave the dump station area cleaner than you found it.

How to Empty Holding Tanks

Here’s a suggestion on how to empty your RV’s holding tanks.

First of all, don’t open any valves until the proper time! Doing so will be met with rather unpleasant results. You may consider wearing a pair of rubber gloves in the event some effluent gets on your hands. Some folks will also wear rubber boots. As long as you’re careful, any splashing is minimal.

Remove the holding tank outlet cap and connect your three-inch sewer hose to the outlet of your holding tank. Extend the hose to the opening of the dump station, which is usually a hole in the ground that is slightly larger than the three-inch hose.

Insert your sewer hose into the dump station’s hole about four to six inches. Use the hole’s cover, a brick, or something heavy enough to hold the sewer hose in place so it doesn’t come out of the hole.

Once you’re sure that all is connected and held down, open your black tank valve. You’ll hear the effluent flow and eventually it’ll slow, then stop. Close the black tank valve.

Now open the gray tank valve. Again, you’ll hear water flow, then slow, and stop. Close the gray tank valve.

At this point, you’re almost done. If you want to flush and rinse your tanks once more, you can do so by filling your tanks to two-thirds full and repeat the emptying process. If others are waiting to use the dump station, skip this step.

Recheck that both your black and gray water tank valves are closed and disconnect the sewer hose from your tank outlet. Replace the tank outlet cover. Lift the end of the sewer hose (the end you just disconnected) to completely drain the hose into the dump station. If a non-potable water hose is available, run water through the sewer hose to rinse it out. Remove the sewer hose from the dump station hole and rinse the outside of the hose. Rinse the area around the hole to ensure that any spillage has been cleaned up and cover the dump station hole.

Go in to your RV and add about five gallons of water (about three flushes) to your black tank and then add the appropriate amount of holding tank treatment. If you use a treatment for your gray tank, do that as well.

The task of emptying your RV’s holding tanks is finished! Now it’s time to move on to your next destination.

Dump Station Abuse

For years RVers have been pulling into Interstate rest areas and other areas with free dump stations to empty their holding tanks. But because of abuse, many states are removing dump stations from their rest areas and campground owners and others view their dump stations as an expensive maintenance headache. Dump station abuse amounts to folks leaving a mess or putting things into the dump drain that just don’t belong there. Remember, somebody has to clean up the mess or clean out the drain. Dump station abuse causes aggravation, creates a health hazard, and costs money. You can do your part to ensure RVers will continue to have free and clean dump stations by following the simple tips mentioned above.

20 thoughts on “Dump Station Tips

  1. What is the proportion (ml) of treatment fluid:sewer tank (liters) do I use to ensure that the tank is properly disinfected?

  2. Black tank chemicals have different amounts depending on the brand. Go to any RV store and you will find a wide variety of chemicals designed to keep the black tank odor down and dissolve the solids.

    I would recommend using a chemical that does not contain formaldehyde. Formaldehyde free chemicals are safe for the environment. The purpose of the chemicals is to dissolve solids and toilet paper so it will flow down the drain pipe easier. It will also control the odor. The formaldehyde type chemicals are designed to kill the bacteria in the tank to control odor. The problem is when you drain your black water tank, the formaldehyde goes down the drain and kill the good bacteria in the septic systems. Most campgrounds band the use of formaldehyde type chemicals.

  3. 1st time using an RV ..not sure about the dumping system..Got alot of good info from this spot..trying to figure out the cost of renting an RV versus a truck and a hotel bill..and the rental car once there and need info on dumping..lol..not sure on the whole black/grey/fresh/potable water issue..now u folks r sayin I need chemical..

    My question is..on a 30 ft RV..when do I dump 3 daze? 2 daze? got 3 adults…can I wait till I leave the area?
    Newb at RVing..lol

  4. Need to empty black water tank and electronic valve won’t function. Gray water valve worked fine. How do I empty the bw tank if I can’t get the electric valve to work?

  5. I’m having a big problem with black sewage prematurely dumping as soon as I remove the sewer cap on the RV. (before I open the valve) It’s a big, nasty mess and I’d like to find a solution. Anyone have an idea?


    • I’m having the same exact problem I pull up to the dump site remove the lid and the black is already coming out !!!… I’m so irritated have u found any solutions yet and it’s a brand new 2014 model

      • I’m no expert, Only taken my RV out 4 times. But it sounds like the valve is stuck open. or it wasn’t closed before the cap was put on and then more drained on the back side of the cap?

      • I just got my motorhome (older one) and the same thing happened. Basically, the last user had jammed so much toilet paper in without emptying the tank that it destroyed the valves. They were replaced and no problem. You could see the old tp all over them.

    • I had the same problem on an older RV. I purchased an auxiliary valve that attached to the outlet where the cap goes, then the cap attaches to the other side of the valve. So, take the cap off, hook up the hose, open the valve at the hose and then the tank valve. Reverse the procedure when done. Cheapest way to solve the problem. Search Camping World site for Twist-on Valve. http://www.campingworld.com/shopping/item/twist-on-valve/27868

  6. Are there mobile service companies who will come to my parked 5th wheel and empty the waste tank? It needs to be emptied, and the nearest sewer line at the house where I am parked is at least 30 feet away. It’s a 29 foot trailer and I hate to move it every couple weeks to empty the tank.

    • I have the same issue. Did you ever find anyone to empty out the holding tank? I have called around and cannot find anyone to service the tank at my residence.

      • Our macerator pump went out and we had to find the same solution. Call a “Porta John” vendor (regional variations apply). The same system they use to empty portable toilets at construction sites made quick work of our holding tank. They just inserted the vacuum hose through the open toilet and WHOOSH, five seconds’ work. We gladly paid $25 at their place, probably more if they have to bring the tank truck to you.

  7. 30 feet is no problem, go to an r/v store & get some more sewer hose & connections. You can make your own, or pre made- works like a charm, just hook them together like an extension cord. I have connected them up to 50 feet( 5. , 10 feet sections) to reach a dump. I keep 3 sets in my M/H at all times just in case. Hope this helps.

  8. Great article! Great Site Jason! Good info! We are just looking and thinking about an RV-any suggestions on a model would be appreciated!
    By the way-I am pretty sure ‘Daze’ is slang for ‘days’ Peg

  9. Thank you so much for providing this in valuable site. I am new to rv ING and want to take care of my fifth wheel. It helps to know I’m not alone in learning how to manage and care for my investment.

  10. I’m parked behind my house. Can I just use the house sewage clean-out opening as a dump site? It’s about the right diameter and already outside near my camper.
    Thanx for all your great advice!

    • Yes that’s exactly what we do. Just make sure that the end of the hose stays in the sewer clean-out pipe in the ground by either putting your foot or a brick, etc on it.

    • Yes that’s exactly what we do. Just make sure that the end of your hose stays in the sewer clean-out pipe in the ground by either putting your foot or a brick, etc on it.

  11. We are new to the RV world as well. Just bought a travel trailer and have it parked in our driveway until we find somewhere to store it (any suggestions??) we slept in it all weekend and only allowed kids (and ourselves) to go “number 1” in the toilet but now have no clue where to dump the urine water. Can anyone advise us beginners!!?
    Thank you.

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