Cleaning an RV's sewage tank is important for the life of the tank, personal hygiene, and comfortable camping life. There are not many steps to keeping your RV sewage tank clean, but it is important to be consistent at it. Keeping up to date on proper maintenance is what will save you time and especially money on tank repair. You may be surprised how easy it is to drain the RV's sewage tank and how easy it is.
If you own or rent a mobile home, you probably know that the campgrounds have an area with full hookups. Now, can this maintenance be done at home? Is this legal?
But first of all, let's see the differences between black water and gray water.
What is Black Water?
Black water is basically water contaminated by feces and other body waste. They actually contain some bacteria that can be harmful to people, so they are kept in separate tanks to be specially treated. However, sewage can no longer be safe for human consumption and its reuse is often for fertilizer purposes.
What is Gray Water?
Gray water is water that comes from domestic use of washing clothes and kitchen utensils. This type of water is usually treated in treatment plants and we can reuse it, usually for toilets, car washes and irrigation. Compared to black water, gray water does not have bacteria that are so harmful and dangerous. That is why its treatment is not as intense as that of sewage.
Tools And Accessories You Need
- Disposable gloves (rubber or latex)
- Clean elbow: One element that will allow you to check how the cleaning is working are the transparent plastic elbows at the outlet of your tanks, which allow you to see how the water is flowing through the drain and therefore how well your tanks are working.
- Sewer hose long enough to reach the sewer, or with additional extensions.
- Hose to clean the waste tank. Do not use the drinking water hose.
- Disinfectant spray and antibacterial cleaner
- Disposable whitening wipes
- Disposable gloves
Methods to Use
There are son methods to dump your RV tanks at home. Each of then has its advantages and disadvantages and will vary sdepending on whether you dump your tanks into the main sewer line, a septic tank, or use a bucket or macerator pump. Let’s take a look at how to dump RV tanks at home.
Method 1: Residential Sewer Line and SepticTank
It consist in have access to either a public or private sewage disposal system. The private sewage disposal system works like a septic system, while the municipal sewage disposal system uses a residential sanitary line or main sewer line.
Both sewer systems have a cleanout, a small pipe that sticks out of the ground from the main sewer line or septic tank that’s sealed with an end cap.
Method 2: The Bucket Method
Although the bucket method is the simplest and most cost-effective dumping method, it is also the messiest and most tedious. This method works best for emptying smaller holding tanks, as larger ones make for a lengthy and challenging process.
- Put on protective hand and face gear, and fill the bucket with the grey and black water. Avoid filling the bucket to the brim.
- Carefully empty the bucket into your home toilet and flush it to clear all the waste.
- Take your time when walking and ensure that you do not spill any of the contents from the bucket.
Method 3: The Macerator Method
This dumping method is slightly more complicated, but it makes the job of emptying your holding tanks much more manageable. A macerator pump will not just pump out the waste. It also helps churn the solid waste, making it quicker to dump and allowing you to use just about any size hose. If you choose this method, prepare your pocket to spend a bit of money on a macerator pump kit, which can cost hundreds of dollars.
Step by Step Guide
- Drive your RV to the dump station, placing it as close to the drain as possible.
- Cover your hands with the disposable gloves.
- Unlock and open the access compartments to your tanks.
- Check that the gray and black valves are closed.
- Remove hoses, fittings and elbows from storage.
- Install the hose in the drain hole of the weir.
- Uncover the gray and black water tanks.
- Connect the hose securely to the RV's waste tank drain outlet.
- Check that both ends of the hose are secure and secure.
- Pull the trigger from the black tank.
- Proceed to rinse the black tank of your RV, connecting the tank cleaning hose.
- Pull the release of the gray tank.
- Once the tanks drain all the black water, remove the hose from the RV connection and rinse it.
- Disinfect everything and return items to storage compartments.
- Remove and discard your gloves, wash and disinfect your hands and close the compartments.
- You have finished!
Is It Legal To Dump RV Waste Tanks At Home?
Yes, it is legal to dump RV black and grey water tanks at home, but the wastewater must go into an approved residential sewer system. Different areas may have specific local ordinances, and as a responsible RV owner, you should look into them before dumping your tanks.
If you dump your tanks directly into a sanitary line or municipal sewer line, you shouldn’t have any problems. Under no circumstances should you dump your RV tanks into a storm drain, as these drains often lead to reservoirs.
Draining your tanks into storm drains risks local water contamination, which could earn you a hefty fine from the city, along with some words from angry neighbors.
Is It Legal To Dump Into My Septic System?
If you aren’t using the main municipal sewer line, you do have the option of dumping your RV tanks directly into your septic tank.
However, consider whether you’re using environmentally-friendly detergents and soaps, as harsh chemicals in the wastewater can kill beneficial bacteria in your septic tank. Check out reviews of the best RV black tank treatments for some eco-friendly options.
How Often Should You Drain the RV's Black Water Tank?
The frequency with which you need to dump your tanks varies, depending on how often you use your toilet and the size of your black water tank. If you mostly travel alone, you might be able to last a week or longer without the need to dump. However, if your RV has smaller holding tanks or if you camp with a large family, you may need to empty your black tank every other day.
How Do I Know The Sewage Tanks Level?
Most RVs have a sensor, which shows you how full your grey and black water tanks are. However, some trailers have no sensor, so you need to be mindful of that when buying your RV. Allowing the tank to get too full can cause your black tank to leak and other issues. So, as a rule of thumb, dump your RV black water tank when it’s at least 2/3rds full, and no sooner. This will ensure that any solids have enough time to break down and the weight of the waste will help it empty out easier.
- The most significant benefit of dumping your RV tank at home is that it’s economical, and you won’t have to pay fees to use dumping stations. Not to mention extremely convenient.
- You also can convert your RV into a spare room or permanent home addition for when you have guests sleeping over.
- The main disadvantage of dumping your RV tanks at home comes with the possibility of spilling raw sewage, especially if you use the bucket method.
- Even if you dump directly into your septic tank, you must ensure that you connect the outlet hose to the septic tank’s access port securely to avoid raw sewage spraying out the sides. But, that goes for whether your dumping at home or at a dumping station.
- And of course, it could be illegal in your area to empty your tanks at home. So, be sure you are following all laws on the matter or you could face a hefty fine.
Lastly, suppose your RV's sewage tank is full and desperately needs to be emptied, but at the RV facility where you park for the night you don't have easy access to a sewer connection.
What is the solution? A portable RV waste tank that you can connect to your vehicle's main tank to drain it and then run into a sewer. Here are our product reviews and buyer's guide to make sure you get the best portable RV waste tank.