RV Dump station etiquette

“No one told us about dump stations!” We hear it all the time when we’re giving our RV rally seminars. It’s something that doesn’t come naturally to newbie RVers.

Unless you’re a sanitation engineer, getting comfortable with sewer water and bodily waste is a bit of an acquired habit. Sure, at your campsite, you just connect the sewer hose and yank on the tank pulls when your sensors say your holding tanks are full. Knowing what to do at a dump station; that’s a bit different (yes, it is!). These RV dump station tips make emptying your holding tanks easier.

Keep waste in its place.

At your campsite, you might be a little cavalier with your hook-up habits. A bit of water or waste draining on the ground? No worries, it’s grass, it’ll absorb (don’t do that, please). And when you pack up to leave, you may think it’s okay to let any liquid in the sewer hose to just drain out. Well, stop that too.

When you’re at a dump station, you need to pay extra attention to what you are doing. People and pets could be walking through the area. Dump stations usually have concrete or asphalt pads that don’t allow easy or fast drainage.

So be sure to go slow and methodically:

  • Keep tank pulls closed until everything is hooked up
  • Make sure your sewer hose doesn’t drain anything on the ground
  • Double-check that all fittings and connections are tight
  • Drain each tank thoroughly
  • Rinse all pipes, hoses, and fittings, allowing water to go down the dump station drain

We recommend that you install a gate valve between your RV’s sewer pipe and the flexible sewer hose. Adding in a 3- or 4-inch piece of clear plastic pipe before this gate valve is a good idea too — you can see what’s waiting for you before you start opening pipe covers or pulling holding tank pulls. The Valterra Twist-On Waste Valve is our pick and add the Camco 3.5″ Sewer Hose Adapter for the complete package.

Don’t spread germs.

Use tight-fitting, undamaged hoses, fittings, and other sewer tools. Disposable gloves (we recommend using two types at once) and anti-bacterial hand sanitizer or wipes are always a safe plan. It’s a good idea to wipe down any contaminated surfaces before you pull away.

If you do spill anything on the ground, use the dump station’s water supply hose to spray down the area and drive any waste or water into the drain hole.

Dump in the right order.

You dump black first and then gray, right? Wrong! Follow this Pro Tip:

  • Briefly open your gray tank pull. Just a second or two. This will coat the interior of the sewer hose with (fairly) clean water. Close it after a few seconds.
  • Then, open the black tank pull. Allow the tank to drain completely. Close the tank pull.
  • Open the gray tank pull(s). This will clean out your RV’s waste pipes and sewer hose.
  • Be sure to use the dump station’s non-potable water supply hose to rinse out your sewer hose, being careful to get all liquid into the station’s drain.

Make a clean, fast getaway.

The best thing you can do at the dump station? Get done quickly.

Others may be waiting for you to finish, even if they aren’t lined up behind you. If you’re weekending in a state or national park that doesn’t have full hook-ups, believe us, people are watching the dump station for an opportunity before heading home.

Dumping doesn’t have to be a hassle.

Remember, waste is a part of RVing. Follow these easy tips to make your experience better for you — and everyone else! If you have any other questions about RV holding tanks, waste systems, or proper care of your RV’s holding tanks, let us know!

Jim Tome, Owner

Jim Tome, Owner

Hi, I'm Jim Tome and, along with my wife, Debbie, the owners of Kleen Tank LLC, the national leader in RV holding tank cleaning service. We've been RVers like you since 2004 and have traveled all over the U.S. in our Airstream travel trailer. We started the business about twelve years ago and have cleaned tens of thousands holding tanks in thousands of RVs. From tiny weekend travel trailers to monstrous fifth wheels to luxurious motorhomes, I've seen just about every situation there is with RV holding tanks and waste systems. I hope you enjoy our articles; I try to post at least one per week and we've got a great library of them to cover just about every problem. Enjoy!


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