We all know that a camping trip is a perfect way to get away from it all, but there’s more to it than what meets the eye.
For example, if you want to avoid unpleasant odors and a citation for not cleaning up after your pet (not cool), you’ll need to dump your RV’s black tank at least once during your trip.
What does this mean for you? Well, it means that you have to clean out your toilet tank at some point during your trip.
But, how often do you need to dump RV waste? Should you wait until it’s full before dumping it?
We did some digging and found out what works best.
Remember that every RV is different, so these recommendations for dumping waste from RV holding tanks may vary depending on the type of RV you have.
When you’re on the road, it’s hard to know whether your septic system is working properly. Luckily, as an RV-er, you only need to know about these three tanks to keep things running smoothly.
This tank supplies the water that comes out of your taps. When you don’t maintain this tank properly, it can cause problems like leaky faucets and no hot water.
The gray tank holds dirty water from the kitchen sink and shower. Some old and used RVs may not have this tank. In those cases, all the dirty water goes into the black tank.
This is the tank that tends to scare new RV-ers. For RVs without gray tanks, this is where all the dirty water goes.
If you’re a camper, RV-er, or just someone who likes to travel, you’ve probably got quite the system set up for emptying your septic tanks.
But, how do you know how often to dump black tank and gray tank systems? The answer is it depends!
First things first: How full are your tanks?
It can vary depending on how many people are using the RV (and how much they eat), but a general rule of thumb is that if the holding tank is about two-thirds full before dumping, it will flow much better.
This makes dumping much easier and faster than if it’s not as full. So, if you see that your tank is getting close to two-thirds full, it may be time for a dumping session.
It’s the moment of truth: Your RV is ready for dumping, and although you’re not looking forward to doing it, you’re ready to get on with it. Before you get started, there are some essential things to consider.
First, ensure you have a sewer hose and gloves before emptying your tanks. You can find these items at most hardware stores or online.
Next, be sure to identify the valves on the outside of your RV. These will be clearly marked “gray” and “black.”
Hook your sewer hose up to the valve on the RV. Take the opposite end and secure it to the sewer you are using. Ensure to fasten the hose on both ends before you pull the valves.
Dirty water from the toilet dumps directly into the black tank, so it’s important to manage it properly. For this reason, we recommend dumping this tank first.
Remember, always dump your black tank at designated dump stations. These are always clearly marked, and you can look for them on Google maps or in your RV’s navigation system.
To empty your black tank, pull the valve and let the tank drain. Shut the valve when no more liquid comes through the hose.
Ensure that both your black and gray tanks are empty at every dumping session. If you don’t have the time to attend to both tanks before you leave, that’s okay—just make sure to drain them both.
Then, when you come back from your trip and want to store your RV, it’s best to ensure that the black tank is completely empty (or nearly so) before storing it.
First, check that you have closed the valve on the gray tank and the black tank.
Next, pull out the gray tank valve until water stops flowing into your sewer hose. Let go of it when all water has stopped flowing out of the hose—don’t keep holding onto it while standing in front of a running faucet.
Once you have finished the process, close this valve by pushing down on it until you hear a click sound.
Many people leave the gray water tank valve open to allow it to drain completely, but this is a big mistake.
Flushing the gray water tank valve after emptying the black tank also flushes solids stuck in the sewer hose. Leaving the gray water tank valve open will mean that there is no extra water flowing through the toilet after emptying out everything else, making cleaning up much harder.
How often do you dump black water tank and gray water tank systems?
1. Put on gloves and ensure you have a sewer hose on hand.
2. Connect the sewer hose to the black tank drain.
3. Into the wastewater port, attach the opposite end of the hose.
4. Then, open the black water valve.
5. Empty it, ensuring it is completely empty.
6. Next, open the gray water valve and do the same, emptying it until it is completely empty.
7. Flush the hose.
8. Finally, disconnect and stow.
How long can you hold black water in RV holding tanks? The answer is complicated because it depends on several factors.
However, experts we’ve talked to agree on one thing: Empty your black tank within a week of it being full. And, if you’re planning on going camping for several weeks, you might want to empty it more often—just to be safe.
Also, use the appropriate toilet paper to avoid clogging up your black tank. This is because RV or camper-specific paper degrades more easily than usual household toilet paper.
Remember, it is illegal to dump waste from your black tank just anywhere due to sanitary reasons. Only dump your black tank in the following designated areas:
- Interstate rest areas: Locate these stops on Google Maps or by using your RV satellite navigation system. Typically, you’ll have to pay to use these facilities.
- RV parks: RV parks will definitely have spots to dump black water. Again, most charge for these services, but it’s better to pay than incur a hefty illegal dumping fine.
- Truck stops: Most truck stops offer this option to cater to RVs, trucks, and other vehicles with a black tank. You may have to pay for the service.
We hope this blog has given you some useful answers to the question, “How often do you need to dump RV waste?”
At Wilkinson Portable Toilets INC., we strive to make life on the road enjoyable for campers and RV-ers, and that includes dumping your RV correctly. If you want high-quality portable toilet rental services, don’t trust just anyone. Contact the professional team at Wilkinson Portable Toilets INC. in El Dorado, Folsom, Plymouth, and Placerville. We’ll help you find a product that is right for your needs without any of the hassles.