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7 Deadly Sins of RV Dump Stations

You may not know it, but there are some expectations regarding using an RV dump station. While there’s often signage to walk you through dumping your tanks, the signs may not list what many see as proper etiquette at a dump station.

Some RVers will have a moral understanding, but we’ve witnessed several dump station disasters.

You can reduce your chances of a conflict by avoiding these seven deadly sins. Let’s get started!

What Is a Dump Station?

Dump stations provide a connection for RVers to empty their wastewater tanks. They can handle black and gray water and are familiar sights at campgrounds, truck stops, and even some rest stops.

Some dump stations are nothing more than a sewer drain, but others may offer non-potable and potable water sources. RVers use the non-potable water to flush out their black tanks and sewer hoses and potable water for filling their freshwater tanks.

How Do You Use a Camper Dump Station?

Before pulling up to a dump station, you should make sure you have a few things on hand. You’ll need your sewer hose and sewer connections. Depending on the location of your RV’s wastewater valve and the dump station, you may need 15+ feet of sewer hose. A sewer hose kit will typically provide plenty of hose length and the appropriate attachments.

The side of your RV with your wastewater valve should be on the same side as the dump station.

Because you’re dealing with raw sewage, you should put on a pair of disposable rubber gloves. After putting on your gloves, grab your sewer hose and the appropriate attachments. You can generally get away with using a 4-in-1 adapter to connect your hose to the sewer connection.

Connect the 4-in-1 attachment to your sewer hose and place the attachment into the sewer drain. There’s often a rock or brick nearby to keep the hose attachment connected.

Take the other end of the hose to your wastewater drain valve. Before twisting off the cap to your drain, you’ll want to confirm your valve handles are in the closed position. You don’t want to remove the lid with them open.

Place the sewer hose below the wastewater drain connection with your valves closed. This will help you catch any stray liquids and prevent them from going onto the ground.

Twist the sewer hose onto the drain connection and confirm you have solid connections to all hoses and attachments. Always open the black tank first and gray water second. After emptying your black tanks, the soapy gray water will help rinse out your hoses and attachments.

Give your tanks time to empty before closing each valve. Rinse your hoses and attachments and put them in the appropriate storage compartment.

Pro Tip: Are you looking for a place to dump your tank and wondering Can You Dump RV Tanks at Home? Find out!

RV parked at RV campsite.
You’ll need to dump your RV tanks, but make sure you do it correctly!

The 7 Deadly Sins of Dump Stations

Practically every RVer has committed at least one of these seven deadly sins of dump stations. However, we strongly suggest avoiding them if you want a smooth dump station experience.

Don’t Wear Gloves

There’s a good chance that no matter how careful you are when dumping your tanks, a drop or two will find its way onto your hands. Raw sewage contains bacteria, which can cause health issues for you. Having a pair of disposable gloves in an easily accessible location can allow you to put them on before you start the process of dumping your tanks.

Most dump stations have a trash can or dumpster nearby that makes it incredibly easy to dispose of your gloves when you finish dumping your tanks.

Leave A Mess

There’s not much worse than pulling up to a messy dump station. No matter how big or small of a mess you make, it’s your responsibility to clean up after yourself when using a dump station. Ensure all your trash finds its way into a trash can or dumpster, including your disposable gloves.

Most RVers have had an accidental spill or two at a dump station. While they’re never ideal, they happen and can leave quite a mess. It would help if you did everything in your power to make sure you left the dump station better than you found it.

If necessary, hose down any spillage into the drain. As much as you don’t want to hose down someone else’s spillage, the next RVer doesn’t want to do it for you either.

Not Checking Your Hose Connections

One of the easiest ways to create a mess at a dump station is not to check your hose connections. It’s easy to get in a hurry, especially if there’s a line of RVs behind you, and not notice that your sewer hose isn’t fully connected. 

The force of the liquids coming out of your tank may knock an insecure connection loose, and you can create quite a mess. If you thought those RVers behind you were frustrated with a long wait, they’d be even more frustrated having to deal with the smell you just created.

Woman sitting in front of RV parked at campsite.
Always keep things clean and efficient when emptying your tanks.

Take Longer Than Necessary

It’s vital that you thoroughly dump and empty your tanks, especially if you plan to put your RV in storage. If you don’t wholly dump your tanks, you may return to a smelly RV. 

However, while you should take your time and do a thorough job, don’t take longer than necessary. Please don’t hold up the line by chit-chatting or distracting others while they’re using a neighboring dump station. Dump your tanks and move on so others can empty their tanks too. 

Dump Tanks in the Wrong Order

You may think it’s no big deal, but the order in which you dump your tanks is essential. You should always dump your black tanks first and gray tanks second. If you have multiple gray tanks, you should first dump your gray kitchen tank, then dump your gray shower tank second. This allows you to use soapy shower water to rinse the inside of your hoses and attachments. 

Dumping your black tanks last means you’ll need to thoroughly rinse out your hoses and attachments with the non-potable water at the dump station. If not, you’ll be storing stinky hoses that could contain raw sewage. 

Block Traffic

You may find yourself questioning the logic behind the placement of some dump stations. However, many dump stations are older than the massive RVs we see in campgrounds. Be mindful of where you’re parking when dumping your tanks. You don’t want to block an exit or stick out in traffic unnecessarily.

If you find yourself at an awkwardly placed dump station, take a walk around your RV to make sure you’re not in the way. You don’t want to start the process of dumping your tanks and discover you’re in the way of others.

Pro Tip: On the road and ready to dump your RV tank? We uncovered Do Truck Stops Have RV Dump Stations?

Putting Anything Other Than Black and Gray Water Down the Drain

The only thing that should go into a sewer drain at a dump station is black and gray water. We’ve heard from campground owners that one of the most common reasons they have to call to have their dump station repaired is because of people putting pieces of trash into the sewer drain.

Just because it fits into the sewer drain doesn’t mean it’s safe for the sewer system. 

RVers often depend on these dump stations, and there may not be many available in the area. Put your trash in the dumpster or nearby trash can, not the sewer drain.

Use the Dump Station Responsibly

When you break these seven deadly sins of dump stations, you risk ruining not only your day but other RVers. Dumping your tanks is a necessary part of RVing, and you’ll likely find very few RVers who say it’s one of their favorite parts of their adventures.

However, by dumping your tanks responsibly and cleaning up after yourself, you’ll help ensure the station remains available in the future.

What is a deadly dump station sin you would add to this list? Tell us in the comments!

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  1. Ken says:

    Also one other thing I always do is when I open my black or gray tanks valve I pull it slowly I never open it up fast cause that could cause a real problem if something isn’t connected securely.

  2. Jeffrey says:

    For those buying used(&some new) RV’s,Not making sure you have all of the needed connections and a long enough hose that is in good condition and doesn’t leak around the connections. You don’t want to pull up after waiting in line and find out you don’t have everything, or worse equipment that leaks or makes a mess.

  3. LU86Guppy says:

    Waste of time article
    All common sense stuff

  4. Tom Barnett says:

    We have a 2008 holiday Rambler Ambassador
    We have had the windshield pop out. It always starts on the upper corner on the drivers side. It comes loose halfway across and most all the way down. This has happened 3 times so far. Has none else ever had this problem with a full windshield? I’ve asked a couple rv mechanics and they say they’ve not had problems with this come in.
    Can anyone give me some feedback please? I think the problem has something to do with the jacks. There are two in the back, but only one in the front. So anytime we’re parked, coming in and out of the Mh, it’s twisting the front part of cab. Maybe a design flaw? Any ideas how to stop this????

  5. Jeff says:

    I know now, but when I was a Newbie a year ago, I wasn’t sure if I should close the black tank valve first after it drained or leave it open while draining the grey tank. This article doesn’t specify to close the black valve before opening the grey.