Disclaimer: Before you begin, make sure to check all local laws and regulations to make sure you can legally dispose of waste at home! If you can't dump your tanks at home, please see this article that details other locations where you can dump your tanks.
RVers commonly ask the question: can you dump your RV waste at home? Well, the short answer is, yes! You can dump your RV’s waste at home, and there are several ways to do it. In all honesty, many RVers have pretty good reasons not to empty their tanks at dump stations. Maybe you have one of those reasons, or maybe you’d just rather do it yourself. Either way, we’re here to tell you how it’s done!
Now, before we get started, we want to be clear that dumping your tanks at home certainly takes some time, effort, care, and responsibility! Even more important than that, it’s crucial that you learn the correct way to empty your tanks.
If you're new to RVing, and/or you don’t feel completely comfortable dumping your tanks at home, we recommend that you empty your tanks at a dump station. Dumping your holding tanks at home can be messy, and if you aren’t on a septic system, it’s often not worth the time and effort. Touch or click here for information about finding a dump station near you. The only time we recommend you dump your holding tanks at home is when you have a professionally installed cleanout. Whether you’re on a septic system or city sewer, a cleanout is required to safely dispose of waste.
But for the purposes of this article, let’s assume you are either on a septic system or on city sewer with a cleanout.
There are 3 basic ways to dump your holding tanks at home:
Important: it’s critical that you not simply empty your gray or black water tanks into your toilet. Toilets aren’t built for the volume of waste that can come from RV holding tanks. You will almost certainly experience nasty clogs if you try to dump your holding tanks into your toilet!
The bucket method for emptying your tanks works best when you have only a small amount of waste in your RV holding tanks. With that in mind, it’s probably not smart to attempt this method if you’re dealing with a larger amount of waste! We strongly recommend that you use this technique if you have only a few gallons of waste in your tanks. Since many RVers won’t want to make a trip to the dump station to dispose of just a few gallons of waste, we suspect that this is the home dumping option that most RVers will end up using at some point.
Here’s how to do it:
*If your septic tank does not have a cleanout, you can also use an access port. Use caution if you decide to go with this option. There are extremely dangerous gases inside your septic tank that can be fatal if inhaled. Be sure to use the access port that is closest to your home.
In the middle of your septic tank there is a baffle that keeps sludge (solid waste) from clogging your outlet. So if you pour on the wrong side of the baffle (the one farthest from your home), you risk clogging your tank. Beyond all this, make sure not to leave the lid off your access port for too long. Doing so can kill the bacteria that help to break down waste in your tank. While some sources recommend dumping into your toilet, we highly discourage this! It can very easily cause nasty clogs in your plumbing system that will ultimately lead to expensive and stressful repairs. If you do not have a septic system at your home, we recommend that you go ahead and dump your RV’s tanks at a dump station!
If the bucket method is just a bit too gross for you, there’s another option, although admittedly, a pretty complicated one!
The Macerating Method involves macerating (just a fancy word for crushing!) your waste using a special macerator pump that chops the waste up into a smoothie-like consistency (yum yum!). The macerator pump then connects directly to a garden hose, and the macerated waste can be channeled to your home’s septic tank or cleanout port.
Again, a lot of sources recommend funneling the macerated waste into your toilet and flushing it. However, there’s obviously a huge margin for error here, and you could end up with a huge mess! Instead, we recommend that you dump your macerated waste into your cleanout port to avoid the hassle.
If you want to macerate your waste before you dump it into your septic tank (doing so will aid in the waste breakdown process, although it’s not absolutely necessary), then here’s how to do it.
Follow these steps to empty your tank using the macerator pump technique:
Of course, this method is a little more time consuming, and it will cost you a bit of money to obtain everything you need, but if you’re willing to put in some work, this method is highly effective for dumping at home.
The last option for dumping your tanks at home is to dump your gray or black water tanks without macerating. As with the other options, you will be dumping into your home’s cleanout or access port (on septic systems or city sewers). This is perhaps the simplest method so far, as it only requires that you connect your RV’s black or gray water tanks to your cleanout port using your sewer hose and flush the waste out.
If you decide to use this option, you should empty waste into your home’s cleanout port slowly. If waste is added too quickly, the tank can become overloaded and push undissolved waste into your lateral line system! Also, if you are accessing your septic tank via the access lid, be careful to disturb the scum layer as little as possible. Dumping directly into your septic tank has the potential to be very damaging to your septic, so great care must be taken!
As a caveat to all the methods outlined above, we must stress that you should not dump caustic chemicals into your septic tank. If you have been using caustic chemical products to clean your RV’s toilet bowl or to mask smells in your holding tanks (which is, let’s be honest, not a great option!), you should not empty your RV’s tanks into your home’s septic system. Your septic system functions by using bacteria to break down waste. Caustic chemicals and antibacterial products effectively bring this process to a halt by killing off bacteria, which can cause clogs in your septic tank, backflow into your home, and leakage out into the surrounding environment. These caustic chemical products are extremely detrimental to septic systems and can cause major problems down the road!
Avoid putting chemicals into your septic tank at all costs! We recommend using non-hazardous and safe holding tank treatments if you plan to dump into a septic system.
Using septic-safe holding tank treatments in your RV is crucial to lasting success not only when dumping your tanks into your septic system, but while RVing in general! Our comprehensive treatment process, The Unique Method, outlines the right wastewater treatment procedures to follow as well as the right products to use in your tanks!
We hope this article has helped you learn what you need to know about dumping your RV holding tanks at home! Once again, if you feel at all uncomfortable with any of the processes outlined above, we recommend that you simply dump your RV at a dump station. Touch or click here for information about finding a dump station near you.
Again, be sure to follow all local ordinances while dumping your tanks, and if you should happen to have any further questions or concerns, please feel free to reach out to us. We want to walk with you every step of the way on your RVing journey!