How to Dump RV Tanks at Home
Wouldn’t it be nice if you could dump your RV’s holding tanks at home? That would often be much more convenient. Well, guess what. You are in luck! You can dump your RV tanks at home!
You certainly can dump your RV’s black and gray water holding tanks at home. And it is not that difficult to do. There are several standard methods employed to handle this task, and this post will cover three of them.
One note before we get started, never empty your gray or black water tanks onto the ground. Doing so will contaminate the environment and can also result in some pretty hefty fines, as well. Always use a safe disposal system, like a sewer or septic system, for dumping your RV waste.
Is it Legal to Dump My RV Tanks into a Residential Sewer System?
In most cases, it is legal to dump both our RV black and gray water tanks into an approved sewer system. There may be local ordinances and restrictions, and you should check them. However, the black and gray water from your RV is essentially the same as what comes from your toilets and sinks at home. If you are dumping into an actual municipal sewer line, often called a “sanitary line,” you should have no problems. However, you do need to be sure you are not dumping into a storm drain. These often go to reservoirs, and this could get you into real trouble.
Can I Dump My RV Tanks Into My Septic System?
If your home has a septic system, you can also dump your RV waste holding tanks into your septic tank! Both your gray and black tank are perfectly safe to empty into your septic system. Just know there are some critical issues you will want to keep in mind to ensure that both you and your septic system’s bacterial environment, stay healthy.
How to Dump Your RV Tanks at Home
Here are the four most common methods you can use to accomplish the task of emptying your RV’s wastewater tanks. Two of them may require the purchase of specialized tools. For another, you will only need a bucket. Well, perhaps a clothespin or a dab of Vicks Vapor Rub for your nose.
Here are the four most common methods for dumping your RV’s holding tanks at home:
1. Dump You RV Tanks into the Cleanout Pipe
Most folks have a sewage disposal system that is private or public. A private sewage system is typically called a septic system and a public sewage disposal system is called a residential sanitary sewer or residential sewer system. Both types almost always have what is called a cleanout. You can see a cleanout in the picture to the right.
It might look like a sewer cleanout you have seen when at a campground and the idea is exactly the same. just run your sewer hose from your RV to the cleanout and dump your black and then your gray water tanks.
If you have a septic system you are allowed to dump without making sure it is allowed in your jurisdiction. But if you have a public sewer system you need to check before dumping. I also suggest being a good neighbor and letting your neighbor know you have checked and you will be dumping your sewer tank once in a while.
We typically don’t dump at home. But every now and then we go away for a weekend and there are no hookups so we end up dumping at home. Or, when we clean the RV tank system we will dump at home too.
I also highly recommend getting a RhinoFLEX Rhino Blaster with a gate valve to make cleaning your black water tank easier. We used to dump our black water tank and then if we wanted to rinse it thoroughly we would need to refill it by running a hose with a septic cleaning wand through the RV window and down the toilet, or we would have to hold the toilet handle and run water for 15 minutes until the tank was full.
Then we bought a RhinoFLEX Rhino Blaster. See the picture to the right. The great thing about the Rhino Blaster is that we can attach a garden hose right to it and fill the black tank very quickly. The key is to buy the Rhino Blaster with the gate valve. With the gate valve closed it holds water in so you can open the black tank valve and fill the black tank to flush it out with clean water. It is a time saver and it’s very convenient.
2. The Bucket Method
The bucket method is the simplest. And chances are you would only use this method if you have a minimal amount of wastewater in your tanks. For example, suppose you previously dumped your tanks, and now you have just a few gallons of waste you need to drop. In a situation such as this, you might prefer not to fool around with the RV dump station, but to get home and take care of it there.
If this is the case, then the bucket method would be the best option to use.
It is quite simple:
- Get a bucket
- Carefully release your RV’s tank into the bucket until it is full
- Pour the contents of the bucket into your toilet and flush
- Repeat until the tank is empty
- Clean the bucket out
As you can see, this is a straightforward solution to emptying your tanks at home. While it may not be enjoyable when it comes to the black tank, if you only have is a little gray water to get rid of, it’s not bad. And, as with all dumping techniques, wearing gloves during the process is recommended. The best gloves I have found are Heavy Duty Orange Nitrile 8 Mil Disposable Gloves with Diamond Texture. Most disposable gloves are only 4 to 6 mil and sometimes they rip or tear. Mil refers to the thickness of the rubber. But the 8 mil rubber gloves hold up much better and the diamond grip is fantastic.
3. The Macerator Method
The macerator method is the most challenging option, but it is also a good option for those who either do not have a septic system and still want to be able to dump out the whole tank at home.
This method involves grinding everything in your tank up with a tool called a macerator and converting it into a sludge. You will then use a garden hose to funnel the sludge into your toilet.
This method does require the purchase of some special equipment. Typically, it will cost about $150 to $200 for everything you need.
- RV waste macerator Pump
- Hose adapter
- CDFJ adapter
- Garden Hose (It is recommended that you use a separate hose for this, and not the garden hose you use for your lawn and garden)
1. First, connect the macerator to your waste outlet (You can attach the hose adapter to your RV’s waste outlet to get a better angle and to allow for better monitoring of the contents of the tank).
2. Plug your pump in (These can often be connected to your RV batteries).
3. Using the CDFJ adapter, connect the garden hose to the macerator.
4. Run the garden hose into your toilet at home. For long distances, a larger-diameter hose and a more powerful pump are recommended.
5. Open your RV’s waste release valve and then turn on the macerator.
6. Be prepared to flush the toilet as often as required.
7. Run clean water through the system to make sure everything is cleaned out. It is at this stage the transparent adapter helps.
8. Once clear water is running from your RV, you are done. This method does take a while, so you will need to be patient.
9. When finished, turn off the pump and disconnect everything.
4. The Septic Tank Method
Emptying your holding tanks into a septic system is perhaps the best method, and if you have a cleanout, the easiest way as well. The cleanout is a PVC pipe that is above ground with a screw cap. The cleanout is found between the house and the septic tank.
Using the Cleanout
The best way to access the septic system is by using your septic system’s cleanout. Remove the screw-on cap and securely attach your RV hose to the cleanout. Make sure it is well secured. You do not want the connection breaking loose while you empty your wastewater tanks! Once you have hooked everything up, you may choose to leave it hooked up as you would at any RV park. You can also remove it once you are done.
Using the Septic Tank’s Access Port
If using the cleanout isn’t an option, you can also use your septic tank’s access port. However, this method is not nearly as attractive.
Carefully remove the lid. Lifting the cover may take two people. Make sure to avoid any of the fumes that are released. They can be deadly.
When using the access port, be sure that you are dumping on the side of the baffle that accepts solids. This will be the side of the access port closest to the house.
Note that you should not leave your RV hooked up when using the Access Port because of the fumes as well as the possibility of killing the helpful bacteria in your septic tank.
You need to be especially careful when using the access port. It is vital to avoid the deadly fumes that emanate from your septic tank, and always use the side of the tank that collects solids (the side nearest to the house). Be careful not to use any chemicals in your RV black tank that can kill the beneficial bacteria that break down the waste in your septic tank.
What About Dumping Gray Water at Home?
The great thing about using your septic system is that you can also dump your gray water. If you use biodegradable, septic system friendly products that quickly break down, you can drop both tanks with no issue.
When using dish soaps, shampoo, cleaning products, and toilet paper in a conventional sewer system, the composition of those products isn’t a concern. However, with a septic system, it’s essential to be conscious of the kinds of products you’re using. Not all products interact well with a septic system. By using products that do not interfere with the septic system’s naturally occurring waste break-down process, you can ensure your septic system lasts for a very long time.
Most folks don’t even realize that using antibacterial soaps at home is not recommended if they have a septic system. A septic system uses bacteria to help break down the waste and anti-bacterial hand soaps can kill helpful bacteria.
As you can see, dumping your RV’s waste tanks at home is not a problem, and there are several methods to get the job done. It is also clear that if your home has a septic system with a cleanout access point, you are way ahead in the game. Remember that there are some considerations as well as some real hazards that need to be taken into serious account to ensure the dumping process goes smoothly and safely. Dumping your RV’s tanks at home is certainly doable and a great option for many RV owners out there.
Do you have any additional tips or advice for dumping RV tanks at home? Please leave your comments below.
Here are some other helpful articles to check out too!
- RV Black Water Tank Cleaning Tips
- How to Install RV Hookups at Home
- Can I Live in an RV on My Own Property?
- Can I Park an RV in My Driveway?
- 21 Must Have RV Accessories for a New Camper or Travel Trailer