You can legally dump your RV tanks at home in certain areas. If unsure, it’s good to check with your municipality. While it’s generally best to empty your tank before traveling, you might need to dump it at home.
It’s important to follow best practices and safety tips for getting rid of RV waste. Below are nine essential things to understand how to dump RV waste at home. Plus three places to dump at home, and three methods of disposal.
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Should You Dump RV Waste at Home?
Before we get started, I’m not a fan of dumping RV waste at home.
It has its place, but I like to travel with empty tanks. And dumping at home can be a messy job – especially if you’re using the bucket method.
There are safe ways to do this at home, but my recommendation is to empty your tanks before hitting the highway. Dumping stations have everything you’ll need (large tank, running water) and you can leave the messiness there.
And make no mistake, emptying RV wastewater tanks is a messy job.
Here are your three options for dumping wastewater at home.
Where to Dump RV Waste at Home: 3 Options
There really are just three options for home disposal of RV waste:
- Toilet (Black and Grey Water): Because this is going directly into a septic system (personal or municipal) you can dump both black and grey water into your toilet. Be careful with high volumes of solids as they could clog your toilet.
- Septic Tank Access (Black and Grey Water): Similar to toilet disposal, you can likely add both black and grey water to your septic tank. If you have surface access to your tank (via a tank riser) you can probably just open the access lid and empty your tank with the sewer hose.
- Dry Well (Grey Water Only): If you have a dry well at home, you can empty your grey water into it. Avoid solids of any kind as they’ll clog your dry well. And avoid any black water as it is unsafe to put into a dry well.
So while I don’t recommend this as a first choice, there still might be a need to do this.
But if you need to, here’s how to empty your waste water tanks at home. This becomes a lot easier if you have your own RV hookup.
If you don’t have a home RV hookup, here’s what you need to know.
How to Dump RV Waste at Home: 9 Things
Here’s what you need to know about emptying your wastewater tanks at home.
1. Treat Your Tank
The first and principal thing to do before you empty your tank is to treat the water with a microorganism and sanitizer.
The treatment breaks down solid waste into a slurry substance that passes through the valves, pipes, and hoses. Besides, you avoid sewer odors when you use the proper treatment.
If you fail to treat your tank, fecal matter doesn’t break down well and solidifies. And the treatments help reduce smells which makes the job a little better.
2. Park Carefully and at the Closest Location
Park your RV closer to your sewer cleanout to avoid large quantities of sewer hose and other inefficiencies.
Longer distances call for more resources, time, and energy.
3. Use Gloves and Disinfectant Wipes
Blackwater could contain Salmonella, Vibrio, E.Coli, etc., which cause serious health problems.
Use heavy-duty disposable gloves or reusable rubber gloves every time you dump RV waste.
This is not a time to cheap out and buy those tissue paper-thin gloves. Last summer, used gloves that were fragile and they disintegrated on my hands during the task. I think they might have been damaged by the summer heat in the car.
After you dump the waste, wipe surfaces with disinfectant wipes to keep off germs and bacteria.
After you dispose of gloves and wipe surfaces, wash your hands to get rid of any germs that may have caught your hands.
4. Use a Dedicated Water Hose
Don’t use your drinking water hose for your dump tanks. Instead, use a dedicated garden or water hose.
Then use the hose to wash your sewer line with fresh water, even if you emptied the black water before the gray water tank. That’s because debris that didn’t break down still gets caught up in the line after you flush out gray waste.
When buying a hose, choose a different color from your water hose. Different colors differentiate your waste hose from the water hose to avoid contamination. You could also use another brand or, size to further caution against confusion.
5. Make a Dump Kit
Set up an RV dump kit to save your time as you dump the wastewater.
You’ll contaminate more surfaces if you start the process and then leave to look for other items. And it makes it more complicated than necessary.
An RV Dump Kit means you’ll always have what you need: gloves, wipes, brick, water hose, enzyme packs, etc.
After you dump the waste, dispose of any disposable items and replace them for your subsequent use. I like to have a small garbage bag to put the gloves, wipes, and paper towels in after cleaning up.
Also, if any tool breaks down or malfunctions, get a replacement before the subsequent use.
6. Dump Black Water Before Gray Water
Blackwater contains the waste you dump in the toilet, while gray water contains all other wastewater from your RV.
Water from other parts like showers and sinks is usually soapy. You should dump gray water last, so the extra water flushes any solid stuck in the hose.
As an extra caution, securely lock your waste hose onto your unit’s valve and the drain pipe.
Hoses can move and dislodge from the tank due to the water pressure generated by exiting liquids. So, either hold the hose the whole time or put a brick against the hose to keep it in place as you dump the RV waste.
7. Use a Lot of Water
You can dump your tank at any level. But when emptying the tank, it’s good to use lots of fresh water – to flush the tanks and the sewer hose.
If your RV has a control panel or tank monitor, the sensors on the system notify you of how full your tanks are.
You’ll also need enough water to clean your tank after dumping the waste. And you’ll also have to clean items and tools after dumping RV waste.
8. Clean the Waste Station Area
Use your wash hose to wash the RV dump point. This is even more important at home, compared to a public dumping station. No one wants a puddle of black water in their yard.
If your station is a pit, wash the walls, and all the dirt will fall into the drain. Yet, if your dumpsite is a flat surface, don’t leave waste on the ground.
9. Use the Correct Products
Don’t ever dump caustic chemicals into your RV tank. They can kill bacteria in your system and result in clogs, leaks, and backflows.
You should treat your system before dumping the black water tank at home. Only use safe and non-hazardous additives that are friendly and healthy for your system.
Suitable product types are organic treatments, which are healthy for your RV system. And for your home septic system.
3 Home Methods to Dump Your RV Waste
Now that you understand the vital factors for dumping a black water tank at home, here are different methods.
1. Use a Bucket
Buckets are suitable if you have a small amount of waste. You need to empty your waste into a bucket and then empty the bucket in a nearby toilet.
The bucket method exposes you to the raw sewer. So, put on goggles, overalls, gloves, and other protective clothes to avoid direct contact with the waste.
2. Use a Macerator
A macerator is a special pump that breaks down waste into a smooth consistency.
A pump at the macerator connects to a garden hose which channels the crushed waste to your septic tank. Unlike the bucket method, you don’t experience as much odor with maceration.
Maceration allows bacteria to break down the extra waste faster. Also, the fine consistency reduces the possibility of clogs.
3. Standard Dumps (No Maceration)
If your home has a septic system, you should find a PVC or metal cleanout pipe to clear waste.
To use the lines, hook a hose to the pipes on one end and connect the other end of the hose to your waste tank’s valve. That way, wastewater will flow from the tanks to the sewer.
Park your RV in a raised place to increase efficiency, so the hose faces downwards towards the septic tank.
The waste won’t freely flow if you don’t elevate the RV. Also, take caution to empty waste in stages into your cleanout port if your home is on a septic system. If you add waste all at once, you may overload your tank and force undissolved waste into your lateral pipe.
3 Reasons to Dump RV Waste at Home
- You’re Camping at Home: If you’ve set up your RV for friends to stay in, it would be handy to be able to dump the tank right at home.
- Avoid Waiting Lines: Everyone at the campground wants to dump their rig before hitting the road, and this can mean long wait times.
- Save Money: Avoid dumping fees by emptying your wastewater tanks at home.
If you’re traveling far, it might be a good idea to visit a dumping station before hitting the highway. It isn’t the best idea to travel with full wastewater tanks.
Up your game with our set of RV Guides.
When you choose to dump your RV tank at home, you have different options to go about the process. However, great care is paramount because of the exposure to the waste.
Also, always use the right products, like safe and non-hazardous septic tank additives for your RV tank.
Have a tip to share about dumping RV waste at home? Let me know below.
- About the Author
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Bryan Haines is a co-founder and blogger on GudGear – and is working to make it the best resource for outdoor gear and guides.
He loves the outdoors and has hiked the Andes, kayaked the Galapagos, and biked and camped around Nova Scotia, Canada.
He is a travel blogger at Storyteller Travel and blogs about photography at Storyteller Tech. He is also co-founder of Storyteller Media, a company he started with his wife, Dena.