Mike's RV Tips: Holding and Emptying Your RV Black Water Tank

Posted on October 28, 2019
Mike's RV Tips: Holding and Emptying Your RV Black Water Tank

This definitely isn't the most pleasant of topics, but let's go ahead and get it out of the way. While RVing yields a lot of positive experiences there is one unpleasant reality when it comes to RVing — that’s the holding and removal of human waste from an RV. Like I said not the most fun topic to talk about, but definitely an important one.

If you never want to worry about this, be an RVer who only chooses to camp in places where they have access to public bathroom facilities, so you don’t need to use your RV toilet. If you're not one of those people an like to camp in places that may not have those amenities then you will need to learn how your toilet and RV black tank works. The pros: having your own bathroom facilities right in your RV, the cons: having to empty and clean the tank.

1.) Black Tank vs Grey Tank

The first thing you need to you know is that your RV has two types of waste tanks on board, a gray water tank and a black water tank. A gray water tank collects water that goes down the drain of your RV which includes your showers and sinks. It is the presense of soap residue and dirt that give this waste its name and gray-ish look.

A black water tank collects waste from your RV toilet only. It’s called a black water tank for obvious reasons. It collects both the solid and liquid waste, plus the water and toilet paper that is flushed down.

2.) The Right Base

If you want to keep your RV black tank clean and in working order it’s important to know that your RV septic tank should always start with some water in it as a base. It helps keep the odors from escaping into your living space and water in the bowl first helps make sure any solids that enter the bowl can move along without sticking to it.

chemicals to help clean your rv black tank

3.) Use Proper Chemicals

Now that you have a base of water in your black water tank, it’s important to add some chemicals to it. It’s easy — you just dump it down the toilet.

There are two different types of chemicals that can be used in the holding tank, first is a liquid form and the other comes in a packet form — both come in a variety of styles and scents. These chemicals are used to help break down waste and tissue, as well as to help control odors that may build up in the tank.

emptying your rv black tank

4.) Emptying You Rv Black Tank

You trip is over, now what? Now comes the part of actually emptying the tank. You will need to find an approved place to dumo your tanks, most campgrounds and parks have a spot you can do this before leaving.

Pro tip: Looking for a free or inexpensive dumping station outside your campground? Check out Sanidumps, the most comprehensive RV dump station database.

You will then hook the waste hose to your RV, and secure the other end to the dump station (you should wear protective gear when doing this).

You are going to need to empty both the gray and black water tanks but you always empty the black tank first. Once the hose is secure open the valve for the black tank and it will start draining. Be sure to hold the hose as the pressure could cause a mess if it wiggles off. Once it is done, close the valve and then open the valve for the gray tank.

We empty the gray tank last because it’s somewhat cleaner water can help flush away any extra waste or debris that was left behind in the hose.


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