How Do I Dump Our RVs Holding Tanks Without Making A Mess?

by Bill

How to Dump Your RV Holding Tanks Without Making a Mess

How to Dump Your RV Holding Tanks Without Making a Mess

Hi, I hope you can help us.

We just bought a new (new to us) fifth-wheel trailer 3 weeks ago. The day we bought it, the guy that was selling it to us, walked me through all of the stuff I should know, like, how to hook up to electricity, water, etc.

He also talked us through how to dump the holding tanks. We could not actually dump the tanks because we were at his house and there was no sewer to hook up too. I did take notes on everything he told us to do.

This past weekend, my wife and our two boys took our trailer on our first camping trip. It was only for the weekend, so we went to a campground that was 70 miles from us.

Tell Us About Your Favorite RVing or Camping Destination

Everything went well until we were preparing to leave. My wife reminded me that we needed to dump the tanks. So, I went to my notes and hooked up the sewer hose to the trailer and put the other end into the sewer hole at our campsite. I was sure that I hooked everything up right (at least I thought I did).

I pulled both levers in the sewer compartment. When I pulled the levers, I heard a big gushing sound as the sewer hose disconnected from the RV. I was standing right in front of it when the hose came off.

Needless to say, I got soaked by the stuff that was coming out of the trailer. I tried to grab the levers and turn them off, but I slipped and fell down in all the muck.

My wife and kids heard all the commotion and came out of the trailer to see what happened. Instead of helping me, they just stood there staring at me. Then one of my sons started laughing at me, then my wife and other son joined in. I said something to them that I can't write here.

I finally got the valves closed and some other campers that had seen what happened to me came over to help me clean up the mess I had made. They also sprayed me with water to clean me up the best they could. My wife and kids refused to help.

My family would not
let me in the trailer until I took a shower and changed at the campground restrooms. I have taken three showers since this happened and I still cannot get the smell off.

I can tell you that I am not a happy camper right now, I don't want to go through this again. Can you tell me what I did wrong?

Sorry for the length of this, but I hope other people can learn from whatever mistakes I made. That is why I only put my first name here, I am too embarrassed to give my full name.

ANSWER: Hi Bill, let me assure you that you are not the first person to have this happen to them. I know that does not make what happened to you any better, but at least you know that you are not alone.

RVing can be a lot of fun, but dumping the holding tanks is not one of the fun RVing activities. Dumping the tanks properly will not make this chore more fun, but it will make it more sanitary.

You might want to watch the video below by RV Geeks to get an idea of how to properly dump your RV's holding tanks.

If you still have questions RV Expert Mark Polk from RV Education 101 has written a great article about how to properly dump the holding tanks. The article is called RV Tips For Holding Tanks. This should help you the next time you dump the tanks.

I hope this experience has not turned you off from enjoying the RV Lifestyle. Here is my personal suggestion for the future. I don't know how old your boys are, but if you think they are old enough, you might want to also train them how to dump the tanks and make it their responsibility during your next camping trip. I would also suggest that you let your wife give it a shot :-)

Now I have a question for our visitors, have any of you had a similar experience while dumping the holding tanks? Are you brave enough to share it with us? Do you have some tips that you would like to share with other RVers on the proper holding tank dumping procedures? If so, just click on the comment link below and share your stories and knowledge with other RVers.

Happy RVing

RVing Al

Comments for How Do I Dump Our RVs Holding Tanks Without Making A Mess?

Average Rating starstarstarstarstar

Click here to add your own comments

Gray water tank
by: Mark

The day before our maiden voyage with our new travel trailer the wife and I took to Surprisingly enough, there were many how to videos on their about emptying your gray water tank.

Some videos were helpful and some were not, but we were able to watch enough of them so that we looked like experts when it came time to leave our campsite.

When you buy an RV from a dealer they provide you with an overwhelming plethora of information at one time. They show you the do's and dont's of your RV as well as how to operate everything. If you are new to RV'ing you will surely forget much of this information. I strongly encourage folks to turn to for how to videos of RV'ing. It has helped us a lot.

I learned the helpful tip about dish soap and ice chips placed into the gray water tank AFTER dumping your tank at the campground. This helps break away anything that is "stuck" to the walls of the holding tank.

Good Luck.

tank dumping
by: Kevin

I have had the connection at the RV leak and make a mess and also have has the hose blow off site hookup. My suggestion is always dump black tank first then grey tank to flush. Stay with a brand name hose and connections like Rhino as the old saying goes you get what you pay for.

Happy Rving
we love it.

Dumping RV Waste Tanks
by: Bob Morley

Your story was great and trust you will enjoy RV' with your family.

I have been RV'ing for the past 35 years. Our six children (now with their combined six children) fondly share stories about my missteps' including getting soaked with waste water.

Just two weeks ago I just missed a soaking. This and past similar events had one common cause. I had not completely twisted on the sewer hose to the drain line. The fitting looked completely engaged however only the upper bayonet pin was holding the sewer hose.

When the value gate is opened the force of the liquid forced the hose loose. My 2013 Redwood 36RL fifth wheel waste tanks have some distance between the hose connection and the valve causing a small delay between opening the valve and when the waste flow arrives which gives me more time to get in the way of a loose hose!!!

Double checking the hose connection and then standing as far as possible from the hose connection is what I do. One other of my experiences with waste water soaking events is that the waste water hose cracks/splits during full flow spraying waste everywhere. I purchase good waste hoses, such as Rhino brand then inspect the hose before every use. I always wear latex gloves and have a spare set of clothes and a bar of soap just in case.

Wishing you many happy years of RV,Ing.

by: Tom In MD

Sorry, I had to laugh as I was reading your story.

Here is a great website to read for the beginner RV'er.

Lots of really good info. Good luck and happy camping.

Dumping.....and unfunny results
by: KYN Campper

Your experience is similar to most of us who have been at camping for a while. In our case about 50 years! The most common snafu is for the hose to jump out of the ground drain and though not as dangerous is still a mess. The attachment of the hose to the RV is the critical step. Hooking up with a good clockwise turn is usually needed to engage the hose to the RV. Check it several times before pulling ANY handle! Black water first then gray water to help clean the hose for residue from the black water holding tank. It is wise to have the black water tank at least three fourths full in order to get a good flush. Yeah, ewwww.

Some RV's have a hose attachment to rinse the black water tank after it is emptied. This is a very cool option and helps keep the sensors clean so you will know how full your tank might be.

After emptying both tanks, close them and rinse hthe hose from water faucet and a short hose. Put it away for the next time.

IMPORTANT: Buy a box of plastic throwaway gloves to use when doing the sewer work. For your own sanitation and to protect you from bacteria should you have a small cut on one of your hands.

It's not a hard or time cosuming job but takes a routine that you follow so you avoid those accidents that seem like calamities at the time.

Waste Comment
by: Anonymous

Just to let you know it wasn't MUCK that came out. This happened to me the first time too. Its funny as I look back. Always dump black first then gray. Not both same time. Open values slowly too. Wish I was there to witness!

Hang on tight.
by: SanFranBoondocker


That is an experience I never want to experience with my 40' RV.

I make sure to pull one lever at a time.

I also make sure, because I NEVER WANT TO HAVE THE EXPERIENCE YOU JUST DESCRIBED, to keep my hand on the connection as I pull the lever, to add support and stability.

Plus, the (in my case) grey flexible hose can slip off the red connector piece thingy.

Make sure the connector is latched correctly, and hang on tight.

Then once it gets going, run away to avoid the smell.

Have fun!

Click here to add your own comments

Return to Ask an RV Question.