Can You Dump RV Tanks at Home?
It’s the end of a long trip, and you’re too tired to deal with a dump station, so you’ll just empty your RV tanks at home tomorrow.
People do it, but we checked to see if dumping your tanks at home is legal. Plus we talk about the various methods.
Let’s dig in!
Is Dumping RV Tanks at Home Legal?
Most people say dumping your RV tanks at home is legal if you own your own septic system. However, if you’re connected to a municipal water supply, you’ll need to check with your local government. Whether you have septic or sewer, you should ensure it’s legal.
This is one of those questions that isn’t easy to Google or find in your online city or county code. We recommend calling your city offices (or county if you’re in an unincorporated area) so there’s no doubt. If you dump where it’s illegal or in the wrong spot, such as a storm drain, you could be heavily fined.
Pros and Cons
The benefits of dumping your tanks at home include convenience and cost savings. However, the process can be tedious, and the potential for contamination is high depending on how you go about it.
Ways to Dump Your RV Tanks at Home
There are a few ways to dump your RV tanks at home once you determine if it’s legal.
Directly into Your Sewer Line or Septic Tank
City sewer pipes and septic tanks usually have what’s called a ‘cleanout.’ This looks a lot like the sewer hookup at the RV parks and is simply a capped pipe poking up at ground level. It’s often hidden under landscaping plants or built-up soil, so you may have to dig around to find yours.
Once you’ve found the cleanout, it should be as simple as connecting your RV sewer hose to it and dumping as you would at a regular dump station or park hookup. You know the drill, black first, then flush with gray.
These are not made for RV’s, though, so be sure to wear protective gear on your hands and over your face. Also, make sure the connection is good, so the hose doesn’t disconnect due to the pressure and spray your waste everywhere.
For septic tanks, be careful not to overflow the system when you’re dumping. Tell everyone inside the house that showers, laundry, and dishwashing are off-limits until a while after you’re done. If you have a larger tank, such as in some Class A motorhomes, you may want to dump it in phases. Know how much your septic system can handle and stay under that volume.
Again, be sure not to dump your RV tanks into the storm drain. These often go to retention ponds, and your waste will contaminate the water, the surrounding soil, and harm the wildlife that uses it. Plus, as we mentioned above, you could face large fines.
Dumping Your RV Tank with a Bucket
This method is all over the Internet, but we don’t recommend it except for small black tanks. Even then, it’s probably better to just use another method. This one is simple, but it exposes you to raw sewage. Plus, the possibility of an accident increases with every trip you make to the bathroom.
As always, wear protection for your face and hands. Fill the bucket about 3/4 full with black water and a little gray water, or some people do all black water. Slowly and cautiously, go to your home’s toilet and carefully pour the waste into it. Flush. Repeat until your black tank is empty. Clean up any spills, no matter how tiny, with a bleach solution.
A macerator connects to your blank tank and essentially mixes your solid waste, so it flows more easily. This allows you to dump more quickly, and you can even run the hose into your toilet. You’ll have to stand there and flush it regularly, though. Good macerators generally cost around $200.
Should You Dump Your RV Tanks at Home?
You can dump your RV tanks at home as long as your city or county says it’s legal. However, none of the methods is easy or clean. You might be better off having a professional install an RV sewer connection if you plan to dump at home often.
Otherwise, plan on the time to do it before you leave the RV park or at a dump station on your way home. Have you ever dumped your RV tanks at home?
Discover the Best Free Camping Across the USA
To be honest with you, we hate paying for camping. There are so many free campsites in America (with complete privacy).
You should give it a try!
As a matter of fact, these free campsites are yours. Every time you pay federal taxes, you’re contributing to these lands.
Become a FREE CAMPING INSIDER and join the 100,000 campers that love to score the best site!
We’ll send you the 50 Best Free Campsites in the USA (one per state). Access the list by submitting your email below:
We built a simple system that we call “The Pooperator.” It consists of a macerator, a long garden hose (dedicated to the system), and a sewer cleanout cap. We drilled a hole in the center of the cap and installed a 90-degree brass hose connector. The septic cleanout is about 50 feet from the driveway. Works well!
Whomever wrote this article knows nothing about how sewer and septic tanks work. Everything works on gravity. Usually your house line is 4″. You’re not going to overload the tank, because the outlet line is lower than the inlet line. And there is no difference in sewer lines.
NEVER, NEVER, NEVER dump your RV tanks into your septic tank! They are not designed to take that amount of solid waste or water all at once. You will end up with solid waste in your drain field and thousands of dollars to unclog or replace it. This article needs to be amended or removed!
@Kenneth Potts, that’s not a nice thing to say, and it’s not true! They obviously know more than you do! Septic tanks are very different from sewer lines. The issue isn’t clogging the 4” pipe, or getting it to flow downhill, it’s putting too much sewage into the tank too fast. If yours is designed too small, there will be major major major problems, in the tank, and possibly even in the leach field.