RV trips don’t always include a full-hookup campsite or a convenient dump station, leading to you bring your camper home with full grey and black water tanks.
The dilemma is how to dump RV waste at home. Homeowners rarely have an RV sewer connection for wastewater disposal, and letting full black and grey RV tanks sit for days, weeks, or months on end will end up being a stinky disaster.
The good news is I am here to teach you the correct ways you can empty your RV waste tanks at home safely and legally, whether you’re on a septic field or a public sewer system.
When your camping trips don’t include the time or facilities to dump your RV tanks, you’ll be ready to handle the situation at home, so your RV is fresh and ready for your next adventure!
Legal and Health Dangers of Dumping RV Waste Tanks at Home
According to the EPA factsheet on RV wastewater disposal, allowing chemicals to mix from RV waste tanks and septic systems can cause corrosion, harmful fumes, and other dangers as it disperses into the soil.
Dumping your RV tanks directly onto the ground can spread disease and smell horrible for weeks. For this reason, many cities or counties have regulations in place for proper RV or boat wastewater tank disposal on private property.
Not following the rules can lead to hefty fines or penalties that are totally avoidable when you practice safe RV waste disposal methods. Even if you have an out-of-the-way place on your property to dump your tanks sneakily, raw sewage on the ground causes harm to the environment.
Many people wonder if it’s legal to dump RV waste into a residential sewer drain, and the answer depends on your location and proximity to neighbors.
Some cities forbid this practice to avoid accidental ground contamination. You have to contact local authorities to get a concise answer on the legality of at-home dumping of RV waste tanks.
Some RV owners may choose to empty their tanks at night to avoid nosy neighbors or evade local laws, but that’s a risk only you alone can decide is worth it.
Just remember to never empty your RV sewer tanks into a city storm drain, as this is not attached to a water treatment facility, and your waste will end up in your local waterways.
RV Composting Toilet Waste Disposal
What if your RV has a composting toilet? Can you dump the contents at home?
A composting toilet system’s base uses sawdust, coconut coir, or peat moss to absorb and buffer human waste as microbes work to break down solids and odor.
The best way to deal with the disposal of waste from an RV composting toilet is to bag it in a biodegradable trash bag and add it to your weekly trash pickup.
You can dump the liquid portion of the composting toilet into your home’s toilet for disposal.
If you garden, you can add the material to your compost pile if your locality allows human waste for such purposes. You need to ensure the compost processes fully before using it in your garden to avoid the spread of disease.
RV Waste Tank Treatment Considerations for Home Dumping
Before you fill your RV waste tanks during a trip, you need to think about where you’ll be dumping the fluid when you arrive home.
If you have a septic system, you need to avoid adding chemicals to your RV black tank to reduce odor and break down solid waste. Plain water is best, even if there is a chance odors might build after several days.
You may think natural or organic deodorizing RV tank treatments are the solution. Still, they can cause harm to the septic tank’s delicate microorganism-run system.
Adding tank treatments to RV black or grey tanks that you plan to dump into municipal sewer lines is safer, but avoid using formaldehyde products as it corrodes metal inside pump stations and piping.
How to Dump RV Waste at Home
Best Method for Dumping RV Waste Tanks at Home
Step 1. Locate Your Sewer Line Access Point
For septic or municipal sewer lines, locate a cleanout stub that pokes up from the ground off the main sewer drain line. This port is the best and easiest place to drain out your RV tanks, especially if you can park your camper near enough to use your RV sewer hose for the task.
The stub will have a screw-on cap or flip-top.
The location of your home’s sewer cleanout can be just about anywhere between your house and its termination at the septic tank or roadway where it merges with the city’s drain line.
Sometimes grass or dirt will cover the cleanout cap over time, so carefully look if you don’t spot it at first. Some homes on a septic system won’t have a cleanout, and you’ll need to use the access port.
TIP: If your sewer drain line from your home doesn’t have any access points outside and you plan on dumping your RV tank often, consider installing a PVC cleanout adapter or septic tank riser for quick access.
Purchase any adapters you need to alter the pipe sizing to fit your RV sewer hose end connector if your universal RV Sewer adapter doesn’t work.
Step 2. Attach Sewer Hose to RV Wastewater Outlet Pipe and Cleanout or Access Port
Park your RV in a location higher than the dumping drain if possible to help the sewer hose drain faster.
Attach your sewer hose as usual to your RV for dumping your grey and black tanks and the other end to your home’s sewer drain cleanout or septic riser or access port.
You may need to connect extra RV sewer hoses together to reach the drain, but it’s worth the investment over needing to move the fluid another way manually.
It’s beneficial to have two people working together to avoid any spillage of fluid. One person holds the end of the pipe securely at the drain, while the other remains near the RV.
WARNING: For septic tank access ports, make sure you’re dumping your RV tanks into the solid waste side (inlet) of the baffle, or you’ll cause extensive damage to your system.
Someone should hold the hose in position at the drain end to prevent it from popping out once fluid moves through the line.
Drape a rag over any gaps to reduce stinky fumes rising into your face, but don’t let the material fall into the pipe or septic tank.
Step 3. Drain the RV Tanks
Once you have the sewer hose ready at each end, have the person at the RV pull open the valve for the black water tank first and let it drain out completely.
After that tank is dry, shut the valve and open the grey water tank.
Once the grey tank is empty, close the valve and unhook the hose from the discharge pipe’s end.
If you are on even ground with the sewer drain or even below it a bit, be very careful to hold the sewer hose end up as high as possible to prevent backflow of fluid out the end and onto you or the ground.
Slowly walk toward the end connection in the sewer line keeping the hose lifted to push any fluid inside toward the drain. Try to collapse the hose as you work to make it more manageable.
Once you get close to the drain and the fluid is out of the hose, keep holding it up and give it a final rinse with a bucket of clean water. After the rinse, disconnect the other end of the RV sewer hose from the home’s drain line and replace the cap or lid.
Rinse off any adapters with a mild water and bleach solution before storage and wash your hands thoroughly.
Alternative Methods for Dumping RV Waste Tanks at Home
Using a Macerator Pump
A macerator pump in conjunction with dumping your RV black waste tank contents is the next best way to empty your camper’s sewer tanks at home. The Flojet RV Waste Pump Kit gets high marks with users for ease of use.
The macerator pump is an attachment you add to your RV’s sewer drain pipe. The unit will shred up any solids from the tank into an easily flushable fluid and pump it under pressure through a standard garden hose and into your home’s sewer drainage system.
Using a garden hose for this purpose (don’t reuse the hose for watering your garden or other routine home chores) eliminates the need to use your RVs sewer hose.
You’ll also be able to empty your grey water through the pump without the need to disconnect the unit.
The best reason to use a macerator pump is to move the waste from your RV long-distance or uphill, as the pump’s pressure can push the water without much effort.
Here are the steps to using a macerator to empty your RV waste tanks at home:
Step 1. Connect the Macerator to the RV
The macerator’s input connection needs to attach to your RV waste output pipe by twisting it on.
Step 2. Connect the Garden Hoses to the Macerator
On the FloJet, there’ll be a hose connection at the output end of the unit. Screw on your garden hose to this port.
You also attach a second hose to the rinse water inlet port, which is typically on the unit’s side. You use this port to flush out the macerator and hose during and after you drain your tanks.
Step 3. Attach Garden Hose End to Your Sewer Drain
Take the garden hose output end and either push it into your sewer cleanout line or carefully down into your toilet a foot or so.
Step 4. Power the Macerator On, Start the Flush Water, and Open Tanks
Plug your macerator in and start the flush water. Once the water is flowing, turn the pump on and open your RV black tank valve.
Have the patience to allow the pump to do its job and push the wastewater to the sewer drain. The smaller diameter of the garden hose will not drain the tanks as fast as the large RV sewer hose.
Once the black tank is empty, shut the valve and drain the grey tank and close that valve.
Allow the flushing water to clear any residual debris from the pump and drain hose for another few minutes, then power off the pump and water hose.
TIP: If you’re pushing the wastewater uphill, the pump may shut off if the strain overheats the pump. This issue is a standard safety feature, and you’ll need to let the unit cool off several minutes before you start it up again.
Step 5. Unhook your power cord, hoses, and pump from the RV
Once you complete the process of dumping your RV tanks, unplug the pump and disconnect all the hoses from the unit.
Take the unit off the RV and store all the components until next time.
Watching this video of how to use an RV macerator pump can help first-time users.
How to Use an RV Macerator Pump Can Help First-Time Users (Video)
Use a Honey Wagon
If the location of your drain cleanout is too far for a direct RV sewer hose hookup, you can opt for manually transporting the waste fluid to the drain and emptying it as shown in this how to use a honey wagon video.
You’ll still need to connect the short sewer hose to your RV to drain the tanks into the honey wagon, and expect to make several trips if both grey and black tanks are full.
Use a Bucket
The last resort for emptying your RV waste at home is carefully filling a bucket and dumping it directly into the drain’s cleanout.
If you can’t find or don’t have an outdoor cleanout available, you can empty the bucket into your home’s toilet.
This method is time-consuming and can be very messy outside of the odor you’ll have to put up with during the task. Always wear gloves and have disinfecting cleaner and rags handy to wipe up any spills quickly.
Partially filling a five-gallon bucket that has a lid will make spills less of an issue during transport, but moving RV wastewater a few gallons at a time can be heavy and taxing on your back and arms.
You should have room underneath your RV sewer pipe to place a bucket and avoid using the hose. Make sure you open the valve very, very slowly, so wastewater doesn’t gush out and splash on you or the ground.
Owning a recreational vehicle isn’t all sunshine and rainbows. Emptying your black and grey RV tanks isn’t very pleasant but is a small price to pay for traveling freedom.
Now that you know all the tricks on how to dump RV waste at home, you can boondock camp and not worry about finding a dump station before returning to your property and parking your camper.
The more you know and master proper RV maintenance chores, like dumping waste tanks at home, the more flexible and fun your RVing lifestyle becomes!