Tips on Disposing Waste from Your RV

By joanne lemna | January 12, 2017

While a less glamourous side of RV ownership disposing waste from your RV properly and regularly is very important. It’s a big part of your general seasonal maintenance too. While most dealerships will show you where your waste systems are located and how waste management is done instructions may be rushed forgotten or even non-existent (especially if you buy used).

Here’s what you need:

  • Thick disposable rubber gloves (make sure to avoid touching the outside of the gloves and when removing them turn them inside out so you can dispose of them safely)
  • Hand sanitizer (for after you remove your gloves)
  • Sewer hose for the black water tank
  • Grey water hose
  • Potable water hose
  • Wand (to attach to a hose to clean out the black water tank this can be made out of cpvc pipe with a valve)
  • Pressure regulator
  • hose adapters if needed
  • Laundry detergent or treatment chemicals to help break down solids and reduce odour in the black water tank
  • A bleach solution for sanitation of valves and connectors
  • Electrical heat tape and insulation for the hoses if operating them in cold or hot temperatures

Potable Water

For your potable water tank always use a certified potable water hose and only use the hose for the purpose of filling your potable water tank. This will ensure your water is not contaminated and you can avoid giving your water a bad taste or odour. You’ll also want a pressure regulator to use when your hose is connected to the RV. You may want to spray the spigots with a clorox bleach solution to ensure there is no contamination.

If your potable water tank does get contaminated or you have a bad odour or bad taste to your water you can disinfect this water system. Using a bleach-water combination (250 mL of bleach to 4 litres of water – but follow the instructions on the bottle) fill the tank and run all the faucets until you can smell the bleach. Let the mixture sit in the tank for 24 hours then drain and refill with plain water. Run all the faucets again until the bleach smell disappears.

Don’t forget to drain your potable water tank if your RV is not being used to prevent stagnant water issues.

Black Water

This tank holds the water from your RV’s toilet. You must drain your tank at an approved RV dump site. You can find a list of US sites here  and a list of Canadian sites here . Some places require you to use an odor tight connection which often doesn’t come with the regular RV kit.

Make sure you keep the dump valve closed unless you are actively draining the tank which you should only do if it is more than two-thirds full. This will allow solid waste to break down and prevent accumulation at the bottom of the tank. The level of your tank may be difficult to estimate at first as monitors are not always accurate. Generally once a week is sufficient although you may need to do it more or less frequently depending on the size of your tank and the number of people using your bathroom.

You can add chemicals or laundry detergent to your black water tank to control odour and help break down solid waste more quickly. If you choose to add chemicals be sure to follow the label. Consider choosing more environmentally friendly options to avoid polluting our rivers.

To clean your black water tank you can pour buckets of water down the toilet to clean residue. The water should run clear out of the hose. For a more thorough clean you can stick the wand attached to a hose down the toilet maneuvering it around to spray into all the crevices. Try to achieve as high water pressure as you can.

Grey Water

This tank holds waste water from the kitchen and bathroom sinks as well as the shower – there’s no human waste to deal with here. This means you can leave the gray water valve open if you’re hooked into a city sewer or garden house otherwise be sure to have it closed.

You can use a regular garden hose to drain this tank and you can use the water to water the lawn or a garden. Alternatively you can drain it alongside the black water tank at the RV dump site. This tank should be flushed after the black tank.

Clogs Leaks and Other Issues

Clogs can be avoided by using special RV toilet paper. If you absolutely must have the nice stuff you can put used toilet paper in a plastic  grocery bag and dispose of it regularly.  If you do get a clog tank products and chemicals can help break it down.

Another frequent problem is leaky valves. Use a bucket to catch the dribbles from the black and grey water tanks. You can also install a twist-on gate valve to prevent these leaks from happening.

Don’t forget to leave the RV dump site as clean or cleaner than you found it. Wear your gloves and sanitize the area and your hands after you’ve finished. While lines can be long at RV dump sites be patient and don’t be the one taking a shower with the unlimited water while others are waiting!