How Do RVers Dump Their Waste?

Dumping an RV’s waste can sometimes be an unfortunately exciting experience. Hopefully, most of the time, it’ll merely be a mundane chore. Let’s look at what it takes to dump an RV’s waste.

How Do RVers Dump Their Waste?

Dumping waste from an RV isn’t complicated. The process requires a few items: an RV sewer hose, a sewer hose to dump station attachment, and an appropriate place to dump the waste. RV sewer kits are available on Amazon or your local big-box retailer that will include everything needed to dump an RV’s waste.

First, connect the sewer hose to the dump station attachment. Place the dump station attachment into the hole at the dump station. With the attachment secured to the dump station, remove the cap on the RV’s waste valve.

Be sure to keep the sewer hose under the waste valve to catch any liquids that drip. Connect the sewer hose to the waste valve and pull on the valve handle to open the valve. The rush of waste leaving the RV’s sewer tank will cause the sewer hose to detach from the dump station if not securely attached. Once the tank has finished emptying, running clean water through the black tank will clean the tank, hoses, and hose attachments.

If a dump station isn’t easily accessible, RVers have a couple of options. Professionals can come to an RV to empty its waste tank. They’ll then haul away the waste for proper disposal. These services can be rather expensive but a practical option for those with no other choice.

Another option is to use a portable waste tote. These totes vary in size, style, and price. RVers empty their tanks into the portable tote and attach the full tote to a vehicle with a hitch. Some even come with four wheels and a sturdy handle for RVers to pull them down to the dump station.

How Waste is Stored in an RV

RVs come with waste-holding tanks. These are usually positioned directly below the toilets and rely on gravity to push waste into the tanks. RV toilets are often equipped with special seals to help minimize smells from entering the RV from the black tank.

These tanks store the waste until you reach a dump station. These holding tanks often need to be maintained by cleaning and adding tank treatments to break down waste. Not maintaining an RV’s waste tanks increases the likelihood of a clog.

Does Every RV Have Holding Tanks? 

No, not every RV has waste-holding tanks. Some RVers opt to replace their waste-holding tanks with composting toilets. These toilets use the natural process of decomposition to break down waste. These toilets require more maintenance and upkeep compared to standard RV holding tanks.

How Often Does an RV Need to be Dumped?

That depends on the size of the RV’s tanks. The waste tanks vary from one line of RVs to the next. 

Also, consider the frequency of use and amount of water used. A family of five will fill their tanks faster than a couple just because of the frequency of use. If you’re staying in a campground with restroom facilities, using the campground’s facilities can help limit the chance of your waste tanks filling up. 

What Is an RV Dump Station?

An RV dump station is a specifically designed station for RVs to dump their waste tanks. Dump stations provide a sewer drain. Attach an RV sewer hose and transport the waste from the RV’s tanks to the sewer system drain.

These stations also will provide non-potable water to help rinse hoses and attachments and clean up any spills. If you find yourself using an RV dump station, be sure to leave the dump station cleaner than you found it.

Full Hook-Up vs. Partial Hook-Up Campsites

Campgrounds will often list their sites as having full hook-ups or partial hook-ups. Avoiding disappointment at your campsite means knowing the difference. 

A full hook-up campsite will provide everything you need to fill and empty your RV’s tanks. Full hook-up campsites have a water and sewer drain connection. Having water on-site will allow you to connect your RV using the city connection. Having a sewer drain connection means being able to empty your RV tanks and thoroughly clean them without inconveniencing other campers at the dump station. If your tanks get full while camping, simply open the valve. Be sure to keep the valve closed otherwise to help maintain a balance of solids and liquids in your black tank.

Partial hook-up campsites will have water but no sewer connection. A campground with mostly partial hook-up sites will often have a dump station available as RVs exit the campground. Their placement makes it easy to dump your RV tanks on your way home.

How Do RVers Dump Their Waste After Boondocking?

Many RVers are embracing boondocking as their preferred camping style. Boondocking means camping outside of an established campground. Because there won’t be amenities available, RVers need a plan to dump their waste when they’ve finished their trip. 

With the increase in popularity of RVs, many truck and rest stops have begun installing RV dump stations. These stations make it more convenient for RVers to get fuel and empty their tanks all in one stop.

Some RVers can dump their tanks once they return home. If there’s a convenient sewer drain connection to access the septic or sewer system, it’s often possible to drain an RV’s tanks from home. It’s important to check with the proper local authorities to ensure you’re not violating a health code by improperly disposing of sewage.

How to Find RV Dump Stations

Finding an RV dump station is much easier today, thanks to technology. There are apps and websites available to assist RVers with tracking down the nearest RV dump station. Websites like and are two of the most popular. Campendium is a website and app that makes it incredibly easy to find RV dump stations. If you’re going out of your way to dump your RV’s tanks, it’s wise to call ahead, if possible, to avoid a wasted trip.

Can RV Black Water Be Dumped at Home?

Yes, if you have a residential septic tank system, there’s a good chance you can dump your tanks at home. Some have a sewer system connection installed in a convenient location to dump into a city sewer system.

You must check with your local health department and proper authorities to ensure you’re not violating any health codes or ordinances regarding dumping. You don’t want to find yourself in legal trouble over dumping your RV’s waste tanks.

If you’re using your RV for an extended amount of time, you’re likely going to need to empty your waste tanks eventually. It’s not something that should intimidate you. When done correctly, it can be quick and sanitary. Where do you find yourself emptying your RV’s tanks the most?

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