How Often Should I Empty My RV Tanks?

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Memories are made on the road when you’re RVing. It inspires you to live your best life by visiting as many places as possible. You have some of the comforts of home. But not everything is great. There’s the septic tank that needs to be emptied regularly. This is probably a challenging and disruptive task for most RVers. This article will guide you to know what you need to know about your RV septic system and how often to dump the black tank.

What Does an RV Septic System Look Like?

All RVs have at least two different tanks, but most of them will have three tanks, all located underneath the RV. These tanks are essential to keep things clean and fresh while on your road trip. 

Fresh Water Tank. This is where fresh water is stored. Water from your taps comes from here.

Also Read: Best Electric Tankless Water Heater for RV in 2021

Grey Water Tank. Grey tanks hold the dirty water from your shower and kitchen. Older models may not have this tank.

Black Water Tank. The black water tank holds the wastewater from the toilet. If your RV does not have a grey water tank, the dirty water from the shower and kitchen comes out here. This tank is the scariest and most gruesome to deal with, and for some people, it takes the joy out of RVing.

How Often Should I Empty My RV Tanks?

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How often you empty the black water tank is based on how often you use it and the number of people using it. For example, if you have a lot of people in the RV, it may need to be emptied every other day. But if it’s just two or three people, once a week may due. For the best outcome to ensure your tank is being dumped regularly, dump it every three to five days while on the road. Dumping your black water tank every 3 to 5 days:

  • Prevents waste build-up – Waster water will build up over time. Dumping regularly prevents residue from building within your tank. This can cause sensor issues and cause misreadings because toilet paper is stuck to the sensor probes. 
  • Controls odors – Not dumping the black water tank regularly can cause odors. The smell can become overpowering and unpleasant. This can happen when there’s not enough water in your tank. Having enough water in the holding tank is critical to keeping odors to a minimum. When you don’t have enough water, the bacteria in the tank won’t properly hydrate and will cause a less effective waste breakdown and elimination of odor. Water helps get rid of odor as it breaks down the waste and provides a barrier to keep odors out of your RV. Dumping your tank regularly ensures you have enough water to hydrate the bacteria and keep odors down. 

Also Read: How To Remove an RV Toilet?

Where Do You Dump Your Black Tank Waste?

Black tank waste should only be dumped in designated stations clearly marked for this. What’s also important is knowing how to dump the waste.

How Do I Dump the Black Water Tank Waste?

How often should i empty my rv tanks?
Source: RVGeeks

Sometimes the equipment you need to properly dump the black water tank comes with the RV; sometimes, it doesn’t. It’s important to know the equipment involved in the process. That includes a sewage hose, water hose, elbow adapter, and dump adapter. 

To dump waste from your black water tank: 

  1. Pull the blank tank valve as close to the RV dump station as possible. This won’t prevent a mess but minimizes the range of the mess.
  2. Be as sanitary as you can. Put on silicone cleaning gloves or latex disposable gloves. This protects your hands from grease, germs and anything else disgusting you can think of. 
  3. Attach the hose to the dump station drain. You may need a little help in avoiding splashes here. Use an elbow and hose ring or push the hose in a little further if necessary.
  4. Attach the other end of the hose to the black water tank. This can be a huge mess if it becomes undone, so ensure everything is tightened securely and check for any dripping.
  5. Release the black tank valve and allow it to empty completely out. You’ll know when it’s done because you won’t hear anything else coming out.
  6. You want to flush out the tank and there are a few options for doing this: You can use the RVs rinse system that may have come with it and let it rinse about 2 to 3 minutes, fill the toilet with water and flush it out 2 to 3 times, or release the grey water tank and allow it to flush it out. Either way gets you to where your tank is not clogged with solid waste.
  7. Lastly, close the valves, unhook the hose and allow anything remaining to go into the dump station. 

That’s it. Your most disgusting deed for the day is complete. 

Also Read: How To Dump RV Waste at Home?


RVing can be fun and an overall great experience. Keep it a great experience by not having to deal with the unpleasantries that come from not maintaining your black water tank. You can do this by emptying every 3 to 5 days and following the steps above to ensure an uneventful mess during release.

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