how to dump RV tanks

How To Dump RV Tanks: A Step-By-Step Guide

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RV enthusiasts and owners alike know that maintaining such a large vehicle may not always be pleasant. One essential part of maintenance is emptying the RVs septic system. The thought of draining all the waste from your RV may seem a long and tough process. Don't worry! In this article, we will guide you on how to dump RV tanks properly. You'll be surprised by how easy it can be.

Types of RV Tanks

Before we move to the step by step process, let's first understand the three types of RV tanks. Usually located on the underside of your recreational vehicles, these three water tanks come with each distinct purpose.

  • Black water tank - This tank holds the waste and sewage from the RV toilet.  
  • Grey water tank - Dirty water coming from the RV shower and kitchen sick go directly to this tank. However, some RV may not have this available.
  • Freshwater tank - This holds your clean water that comes out of the taps.

What You'll Need to Prepare

Dumping sewage and waste may seem grueling, but having these things in handy will save you and will make the process less messy as you imagined it to be.

  • Disposable gloves 
  • Black water flush rinse hose 
  • Clear sewer adapter 
  • Sewer extension hose 

Emptying Your RV Tanks

After understanding the different types of RV tanks and gathering all necessary equipment and supplies, it’s time to learn the steps on how to dump RV tanks.

To avoid contamination, make sure to put on latex or rubber gloves before you start draining the tanks. Next, prepare your sewer hose and locate your black and grey valves. Usually, the valves are marked "grey" and "black."

Hook your sewer hose up to the black tank valve. Firmly clamp one end to the sewer line or dumping station. You may use an elbow and a hose ring if available. They can hold the hose well in place and to avoid any spills and splatter.

Once secured, pull open the valve to empty the tank. Always dump the black tank first and wait until drained completely. Depending on your RV tanks’ setup, you may have the option to flush the black tanks with the water from your grey tank. After draining completely, close the valve tightly. Repeat the same process for the grey tank valve.

After closing the valve, carefully remove the hose from your RV tank. Run water through the sewer hose before disconnecting from the dumping station. Then, remove the sewer hose altogether and store properly.

Maintenance of RV Holding Tanks

Since the water tanks perform different functionalities in the RV, we have to ensure that they are well-maintained and in pristine condition before every trip. RV tanks naturally wear and tear. But having a good maintenance routine can prolong the life of your septic tanks, which can save you a lot of money. Here are some ways to show TLC to your water tanks:

  • Freshwater tank - Make sure to use potable water hose only. Depending on weather conditions, you may need to drain the water often to avoid stagnation. Once the tank starts to smell, you can use your regular household bleach to clean it. 
  • Grey water tank - Some RVs do not have a grey tank. However, if you do, make sure to avoid clogs since the drain into this tank is small. Even small food particles going down the drain can be a problem.
  • Black water tank - To minimize troubles in using this tank, always remember to flush regularly and always add water to the toilet bowl after use. Also, do not forget to sanitize your black tank after dumping. Doing so will minimize bacteria build up and help keep the system in good condition. 

Honey Wagon RV Service

After learning the ways of how to dump RV tanks and still don’t feel like getting your hands dirty, you may opt for a honey wagon RV service instead. Although relatively new in RVing, some campgrounds offer to dump your tanks for you, usually for a fee.

Many RV rental facilities also offer the same service if you’re willing to spend a few extra dollars. This saves you a ton of trouble, and you need not deal with the mess of dumping RV tanks.


As long as you have everything you need and a few help here and there, the process on how to dump RV tanks may not be as daunting as it may seem. Just keep in mind the step by step process, and in no time, you'll be ready to hit the road once again. Safe travels!

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