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RV Rules: Is It OK to Dump Your Black Tank at Your House?

RV Rules: Is It OK to Dump Your Black Tank at Your House?

It may seem intuitive to dump your RV’s freshwater and gray tanks at your house, but what about the black tank?

Rules and regulations exist for dumping any of your tanks at home. And in some places, emptying your black tank there might not be legal.

We’re talking about RV tanks and what to do with your black tank outside of the campground.

Let’s jump in!

What Are the Different Types of RV Tanks?

Motorhomes with toilets are built with three holding tanks to manage the water and waste needed to camp. Each needs to be cleaned, dumped, and cleaned again regularly. How often depends on how many people are traveling and for how long.

Freshwater Tank

The freshwater tank is for your drinking, cooking, and bathing water. Most freshwater tanks hold 20-100 gallons. Two to four gallons per day typically covers most travelers.

Freshwater tanks can be filled at campgrounds, highway travel centers, or by using bottled water.

Gray Tank

The gray tank holds the fresh water after it has run in your sinks, shower, or bath. Some vintage rigs may not have a gray tank. 

The gray tank is simple to maintain but is often ignored by newbies. Best practices involve adding a touch of dishwashing soap and water to the tank after emptying. Be sure to keep the tank closed when parked. This will keep scum and other unwanted things from building up in there. 

Black Tank

The black tank is what no one wants to talk about, but everyone frets over it. The black tank holds all fluids from your toilet. It’s the potty for your potty, the poop bucket, the great grossness! It’s kept many people from trying RV life.

But without a black tank, we’d have no flush toilets. Just use RV toilet paper and environmentally friendly black tank treatment, and you’ll be fine!

RV parked in a lawn at a home
You’ll need to dump your black tank eventually, so you should know whether or not you can safely empty it at your home.

The short answer is that it depends. Rules and regulations vary depending on where you live. Consequently, it’s best to call your city office and ask about dumping your black tank at home.

Although the odds are that it’s legal if you own your septic system, we still recommend calling.

We highly advise skipping the google search. If you dump where it’s illegal, you could be harming humans and nature. And you could get a huge fine!

Pro Tip: Don’t know How to Dump an RV Black Water Tank? We uncovered how you can do it with ease!

Why Would I Want to Dump My Black Tank at My House?

Nowadays, it’s easy to find dump stations by using an app or dump station websites. However, you’re more likely to find yourself waiting in line at the station than just driving in and out quickly. Rv dump stations can be time-consuming. Dumping your black tank at home is more convenient, and you can take all the time you need.

Home disposal also saves time by skipping the extra stop from the campsite, to a dumpsite, to home. 

Dumping your black tank at home can also save you money. Dump stations typically charge $10-$25 per dump. Some gas stations offer annual dump station memberships, which are great for full-time RVers. But most people will find dumping at home an excellent way to lower their RV costs.

On the other hand, there are a couple of cons when dumping at home. First, you run the risk of spilling raw sewage all over your home or lawn. If you’re not careful, your hose could twist and snake out of control, spraying poo everywhere. There’s a high risk of contamination.

To avoid this risk, you must take time and many precautions. Dumping your black tank at home takes patience. It can be tedious, let alone stinky!

Woman sweeping in front of of motorhome parked at a house.
Always wear rubber gloves and a face mask when emptying your dump tank.

What Are the Best Ways to Dump Your Tanks at Your House?

There are three ways to dump your black tank at home. No matter which you choose, wear rubber gloves and a face mask. Try sticking with bacteria and enzyme treatments over chemical treatments while camping for all of your tanks. 

Bucket

As popular as this one is on social media, we recommend avoiding it. But if you have a small black tank and a very steady hand, you could give it a shot.

Place a five-gallon bucket under the discharge line, filling the bucket only as full as you can steadily carry. This is usually about ½ to ¾ full. Add a little gray water. Slowly and carefully walk to your toilet, and pour the waste in. Shut the toilet lid and flush. Repeat until your black tank is empty.

Be sure to have bleach and cleaning cloths handy. 

Macerator

The macerator method is the most costly but is quick, safer, and probably the best way to avoid nasty spills. You can purchase RV macerator kits for around $200, and you’ll need a garden hose if you don’t already own one. 

Attach the macerator to your discharge pipe. The garden hose attaches to the other side of the macerator with a CDFJ adaptor. Run the hose into your cleanout pipe or your toilet.

The macerator functions like a blender, liquefying your waste, so it easily flows through the hose. If you’re running it to your toilet, monitor it and flush it often. If you don’t know what a cleanout pipe is, hang tight- we’re about to get to it.

Direct

You can dump your black tank directly into the closest cleanout to your house. The cleanout is a pipe that runs vertically from the ground down to the pipe that connects your home to your sewage system. This could be your own septic tank or your local public sewer line.

Carefully unscrew the cleanout cap, and place your septic hose into the pipe. Ensure your hose fits snuggly, so the process does not stink up the entire block. Use sewer hose weights or sandbags to help keep your hose in place during the process. Then simply empty as you would at a dump station.

If you have a septic tank, tell everyone at home not to run any water while you’re dumping the tanks.

Pro Tip: Need to clean your black tank? We took a closer look at Is It Safe to Put Bleach in Your RV Black Tank?

RV parked amongst the trees at a home.
Do not dump your RV black water tank on the ground or in a sewer!

Can You Dump RV Black Tank Water on the Ground?

Absolutely not! Do not dump black tank water on the ground, storm drain, or sewer drain. Try any of these actions, and you’ll immediately stink up the surrounding area. Neighbors will most likely call the cops, and you’ll get a huge fine.

Remember that dumping black tank water into the ground or storm drain is illegal. You could contaminate drinking water sources. Black water contaminates ponds and streams and is poisonous to nearby plants. Please be mindful of your fellow humans and wildlife by dumping properly.

Is Dumping Your RV Black Tank at Home Worth It? 

The answer is, it depends. Dumping the black tank at home may be worth it for most RVers. But each case is different, and so are our comfort levels with handling black tank waste. So assess your living situation before assuming you’re good to go. Whatever you decide to do, you’ve got this! 

Have you dumped your black tank at home? Tell us about your experience!

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