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If you plan on traveling in an RV, one of the most important things that you are going to want to familiarize yourself with is how to dump your waste.

Unlike common vehicles that people use for road trips, RVs require a bit more maintenance and upkeep - with dumping waste being a regular chore that all travelers have to deal with. It’s important that you dump your waste responsibly and properly to guarantee that your RV stays fully operational and to ensure that you are not breaking any laws.

To dump your RV waste you must first gather all of the necessary tools for the job. Find an approved RV dump station where you can connect your black and gray water tanks to drain them. Drain the tanks using your hose and then flush the system with potable water to thoroughly dump all waste.

These days, RV travel is as popular as it has ever been - with 2020 and 2021 being record-breaking years for sales and rentals. A lot of folks are choosing to travel via their RV over any other mode of transport, as it enables them to experience the country within the comfort of their home on wheels. However, if you are new to RV travel, you need to be aware of the kind of upkeep that you are going to need to handle while on the road. One of the first things that people tend to overlook is the disposal process of dealing with RV waste. While you are traveling in your RV, you need to keep in mind that your vehicle has an entire fluid and waste system that needs to be dumped routinely. You can expect this to be a task that you will need to fulfill every 5 to 7 days on your trip. To help you understand this further, we are going to take a closer look at how to dump RV waste in more detail.



Where is RV Waste Stored?

Your RV has an entire plumbing and septic system - much like your home. However, unlike your home, your RV’s waste is something you need to personally dispose of on your own, which is why it would be wise to get familiarized with where it’s stored.

Whenever you use your vehicle's sink(s), shower, toilet, or any other type of appliance that is connected to your plumbing and septic system, it is going to flow into either your RV’s gray water or black water storage tanks. These are tanks that are located in the underbelly of your RV. 

The majority of RVs on the road will have both of these tanks equipped, however, some smaller models may combine the two in one - for a single black water tank.

Where Can You Dump RV Waste?

Unlike common waste such as trash, RV waste needs to be disposed of at designated RV dump stations. RV travel is particularly popular in the United States, which is why these dump stations are made widely accessible.

The most common and practical locations where you can dump your vehicle’s waste are campgrounds designated for RV travelers. RV campgrounds are quite easy to find when you are on the road, as there will likely be signs along the highway that you can spot as you are driving. However, if you want to plan ahead so that you are dumping your waste routinely, it would be wise to take a look at the registered RV dump stations that are going to be aligned with your trip’s itinerary.

With that being said, if you are renting an RV, one of the best places to dump your vehicle’s waste is with your rental agency. If you are on a short trip and are returning your RV to the rental agency, they can take care of your waste disposal for you. On the other hand, if you are on a longer trip and are renting from a reputable agency with a lot of locations, you can stop at any one of them along the way to dump your RV waste and then continue your travels.

Legal Vs Illegal Waste Disposal

When you are traveling in your RV, you must dispose of your vehicle’s waste responsibly and legally! This is to ensure that you are observing environmental and government regulations to keep RV travel sanitary.

The best way to guarantee that you are dumping your RV waste legally is to do so at designated and registered dump stations. These are locations that have been approved for waste disposal and they have the proper infrastructure and systems in place to responsibly handle black and gray water.

However, there are some instances where you can dump your gray and even your black water tanks at home. By connecting your RV’s waste system to your home sewage line, you could potentially dump your tanks this way. With that being said, this can be a slippery slope, as not all private residences are granted permission to do this. If you want to legally dispose of your RV waste at home, make sure that you first look up the regulations of your local state, county, and city.

It is always illegal to dump your RV’s black water tank on the ground - regardless of where you do it or where you live. Under no circumstance is black water tank disposal legal in any location that is not designated specifically for black water sewage. On the other hand, gray water disposal can in some locations and circumstances be legal on certain ground surfaces. 

What is Considered RV Waste?

Your RV’s waste is primarily going to come from any of the internal fluid points of your vehicle. 

Whenever you use your vehicle’s sink or toilet, the fluid and solid waste from your RV is going to flow into one of two tanks - your black or gray water tank. Let’s explore these in more detail.

Black Water

The black water tank of an RV is what most new owners tend to be the most skeptical about. This is where all of your vehicle’s sewage waste is going to flow into. Whenever you use your toilet and flush, all of the fluid and solid waste flow into your black water tank.

Gray Water

Your RV’s gray water is a bit more sanitary, as this is where all of your vehicle’s fresh/potable water flows into. This is the wastewater that comes from your sink and shower primarily. However, if your vehicle has other appliances such as a dishwasher or washing machine - it will likely also be connected to your gray water system.

Tools Required to Dump RV Waste

Before you can begin the process of dumping your RV’s waste, you first need to gather all of the right tools and equipment. You will find that most RVs come with these tools when you buy them - especially if you are renting.

However, you may want to upgrade some of the equipment that you have to make the process as quick, clean, and efficient as possible. Here is what you should have ready:

  • Sewage Hose
  • Elbow Adapter
  • Dump Adapter
  • Water Hose

When buying an elbow adapter or dump adapter, we would highly recommend that you get yourself one that is transparent like this one. Having a transparent adapter enables you to monitor the flow process much more efficiently and you can make adjustments as needed.

You may also want to consider getting yourself an RV sewer hose extension. It’s often the case that some campgrounds and dump stations have their disposal points further than what a standard hose can reach, which is when having an extension is particularly useful. To keep things as sanitary as possible, it is always a good idea to have gloves handy to avoid any unpleasant experiences with the dumping process.

Cost to Drain RV Waste Tanks

The cost to drain your RV’s waste tanks can vary depending on the location that you do it at. For the most part, you can expect to pay at least $20 to drain your tanks at most private dump stations and campgrounds. However, this price can get to be as much as $35 in some cases.

What you will want to keep an eye out for are public RV campgrounds. These are an excellent resource to keep in mind, as they often not only provide a free campground for RV travelers but also let you dispose of your black and gray water at no cost.

How to Dump RV Waste Tanks

The process of dumping your RV waste tanks is not complicated and once you establish a system for your specific vehicle, you will find that the process should only take you about 20 minutes or so.

1. Gather the Tools

Before you begin, make sure that you have all of your necessary tools ready to dump your RV’s black and gray water tanks.

2. Find a Legal RV Waste Dumping Station

You must dump your waste at an official dump station. If you are on the road, then one of the easiest and most practical places that you can do this is at an RV campground. Just about every RV campground is equipped with sewage lines for RV hookups and you can dump your waste there for a fee.

Alternatively, RV rental agencies are also an excellent, legal way to dump your RV waste and there are plenty of them on the road. If you are renting your RV, these can be particularly useful to take advantage of while you are on your trip.

3. Connect Hose to Ground Receptacle

Once you have found a legal RV dump station, you can begin the process by taking out your sewage hose. RV dump stations often have different measurement sizes for connection valves.

To avoid complications, it is always best to have an adapter that can fit into the primary valves that are commonly used for RV hose connections. You can then connect your RV sewage hose to your elbow adapter. Then, connect the end of the elbow adapter to the ground receptacle.

4. Connect Hose to Black Water Tank

Before you begin connecting your hose to your black water tank valve, it would be advisable to put on a pair of rubber gloves first. With your gloves on, you can take the opposite end of your sewage hose and then connect it to your black water tank valve.

Make sure that you have connected the sewage hose properly to the valve and that it is fastened tight - lefty loosey righty tighty.

5. Open Black Water Valve

With both ends of your sewage hose fastened tight, you can now open up your black water tank valve. As you open the valve, all of your RV’s sewage waste from your black water tank will begin to flow out.

6. Observe the Flow

As the sewage from your black water tank flows out, you want to observe this flow to ensure that everything is passing through properly. This is where having a transparent elbow adapter really comes in handy, as otherwise, you are doing the job blindly.

If you observe that waste is not moving through properly, you can add a couple of gallons of water into your black water tank by pouring them into your toilet - followed by a flush.

7. Flush the System

Once you have done the initial dump of your RV’s black water tank, you are going to want to ensure that all of the waste in there has been thoroughly removed. 

To do this, you want to fill up your RV’s black water tanks with fresh potable water to flush the system again. You can do this with a freshwater hose or you can utilize a bucket to fill it up - not all the way - half should do it.

Once your black water tank has got enough water in it, repeat the above-mentioned steps and drain your system again. You will be surprised by how much can stay in your black water tank, which is why many owners find that this is a step that needs to be repeated at least 2 or 3 times - especially before winterizing,

8. Close Black Water Valve and Connect to Gray Water Tank

Once your black water tank has been drained and thoroughly flushed, you can then begin the process of draining your gray water. Connect the sewage hose to your gray water channel.

9. Open Gray Water Valve

With your sewage hose fastened tight, open up the gray water valve to let the tank drain. This part of your waste disposal is considerably less messy and it should drain just fine without needing to be flushed - unless, of course, you are winterizing.

10. Close Valve, Disconnect, and Stow Hose

Once your gray water has fully drained from your tank, you can then close the valve. Disconnect the hose by unscrewing it from the channel so that you can stow it away in a designated location.