How to Dump Waste Tanks

RV waste tank
(photo by Tim Butterfield via FlickrCC)

We’ll come right out and say it — of course no one likes being the one responsible for emptying the RV waste tank. But just like paying taxes or doing the dishes, it’s one of those things you’re stuck with as the adult in the room. It’s no fun, but instead of whining, sometimes you’ve got to suck it up and get it done as quickly and efficiently as possible so you can get on with your day.

If you’re a new owner or you’ve never rented a camper before, dumping the RV holding tanks can seem like a pretty daunting task. But in reality, it’s not as bad as it seems. If you’re doing everything properly, you can get the job done in less than 15 minutes without even making a mess.

Ready to get started? As our British friends say, let’s crack on.

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Types of RV Tanks

Before we get started, a quick lesson on the different types of RV water tanks. Generally speaking, there are three different kinds of tanks, each with a distinct purpose:

  • The RV black water tank contains wastewater and sewage from your RV toilet.
  • The gray water tank holds the dirty water from your shower and sinks.
  • The freshwater tank holds your clean water. This is the RV water tank that supplies water to your RV sink and shower.

How to Empty the Tanks and What to Buy at the RV Parts Store

Now that you understand the function of each RV waste tank, it’s time to learn about the process of emptying them.

  1. First, put on a pair of rubber gloves. Better safe than sorry!
  2. Hook up one end of your sewage drain hose to the black tank valve on your RV. Secure the other end of the hose to the valve at the sewer line or dumping station.
  3. Pull the valve to empty the black tank, allowing it to drain completely.
  4. Flush the black tank with water to clean it. Depending on your setup, you may be able to do this using the water from your gray water tank.
  5. Drain all of the water from the tank.
  6. Repeat steps 2-4 with the gray water tank.
  7. Close the valve and remove the hose from your RV water tank.
  8. Rinse off the inside of the hose before disconnecting from the sewer connection or dumping station.
  9. Remove the sewer hose and properly store.

If you like to keep things extra clean (and who wouldn’t?), you may consider investing in a flush valve such as the Flush King. These gadgets are great for removing solidified waste from the bottom of your black water tank. If it seems like you’re filling your RV waste tank but still having trouble dumping it, this is the product for you.

RV waste tank
(photo by Virginia State Parks via FlickrCC)

Cleaning Your Tanks and Other RV Maintenance

If you own your RV, it’s not enough to just dump your tanks out at the end of each trip. You’ll also want to do regular maintenance on your RV waste tank to keep it in tip-top condition.

Every so often, after dumping your tanks, pour a tank treatment such as RV Digest-It into your toilet to help eliminate odors and digest waste quickly. Using a treatment product on a semi-regular basis helps you to avoid clogs and build-up.

You can also purchase a cleaning wand such as the Camco Swivel Stik tank rinser, which mounts to a garden hose and helps dislodge any leftover waste from your empty RV waste tank.

Finding Honey Wagon RV Service

Maybe after reading this, you don’t feel like messing around with the RV waste tank at all. If the idea of buying and going camping in an RV is sounding less and less appealing, don’t abandon your road tripping dreams just yet.

Although it’s still considered a relatively new service, an increasing number of campgrounds are now offering “honey wagon service,” where someone comes around to dump your tanks for you, typically for a fee. Many KOA campgrounds now offer this service to guests as another perk.

If you’re renting a camper for vacation, you have even less to worry about. For a few hundred extra dollars, many RV rental facilities will clean the waste tanks for you, saving you the trouble of having to deal with the mess of an RV dump upon your return.

We hope this guide was helpful! Safe travels and happy camping!

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