Most of us picked up on life’s little niceties when we were young, say in kindergarten. Sharing. Taking turns. Working at developing patience. For the most part, we see it in our fellow RVers—courtesy seems like a general rule among most.
But still, there are areas where it seems like some need those little ‘gentle reminders’. Some RVers leave a bad reputation behind when they leave the RV dump station. Leaving behind a “Number Two” mess is just plain rude, and completely unnecessary.
Every winter, thousands of RVers invade the little town of Quartzsite, Arizona, many sharing a common, single dump station. You can imagine, the lines at the dump station can be long.
We used to count the number of rigs lined up, multiply that by five, and know just about how many minutes the last guy in line would have to wait for his turn. All in all, most folks acted fairly sanely, but at times there were little altercations where somebody who just couldn’t stand the wait just had to try and cut the line.
Sadly, at times somebody gets the bright idea they not only want to dump their tanks—they want to flush them clean as well. This entails mounting a special device, pulling hoses, and wishy-washing that blank tank for all it’s worth.
Instead of taking the typical ten minutes to clear one of the two dump lines, they could take 20 minutes or even more. You think you’ve heard about road rage? It’s a good thing not all RVers carry guns!
Another trick of some is to either dump with a leaky hose, or heaven forbid, no hose at all. Some make a half-hearted attempt to flush away their fecal followings, but in any event, these characters really leave something behind to remember them by.
One morning, rolling up to a free dump station in Pendleton, Oregon, we found yet another calling-card of folks that need a little education. Free dump stations, as most know, are a vanishing breed.
If you find them, treat them with care and respect—too much of a good thing often gets shut down. But nope, it looks as though for some, free means “disrespect.” Years ago, sanitary concerns and health awareness weren’t what they are today. We “he-man” RVers would roll up, sling hoses, and dump tanks in our bare hands. Eventually, awareness arrived, and more and more RVers are embracing the idea of putting on a little protection when they dump tanks.
We found that clearly in evidence in Pendleton: A big pile of discarded rubber gloves stacking up at this one dump station. Yeah, we know, the dump providers didn’t leave a handy garbage can, but what’s so tough about stuffing your used gloves in a plastic bag and taking them with you?
A little bit of picking up after ourselves makes for a lot fuzzier feeling in those who manage those free dump stations. Not that we’re advocating leaving your trash when you have to pay to dump your tanks.
What’s the takeaway? When you leave the dump station, please, follow the “Camper’s Golden Rule”: Leave the place in as good (or better) condition than when you arrived. Don’t leave foul pools of yuck behind, and pack away your discarded gloves.
What else? If you’re in a busy dump station line, go about your business expediently—clear the station quickly.
If you’re new to dumping your tanks, here’s the quick, clean, and easy way to do it.
- Line up your rig’s ‘dump port’ near the dump station inlet. Use a spotter to help if necessary. Put on your rubber gloves!
- Remove the sewer termination cap (you do have one, don’t you?) from your rig and connect your (non-leaking) sewer hose to your RV.
- Place the free end of the sewer hose in the dump station inlet. Those ubiquitous large rocks found at most stations are left to wedge up against your sewer hose to help prevent it from jumping out of the inlet and gushing where it shouldn’t be.
- Double check to ensure your sewer hose is TIGHTLY CONNECTED to your RV. If the twist-lock fitting is not put on right, it really can pop off. (Sadder-but-wiser RV writer speaks.)
- Pull the lever to dump your BLACK water first. Yes, the Number 2 goes first! Having a clear plastic fitting at the RV-end of the hose makes it easy to see when you’ve got the tank empty.
- When the black water is empty, close the black water valve. Open the gray water valve and dump it last. This gives the hose a good rinse, which is quite helpful if you discover the rinse water at the dump station is turned off.
- Disconnect the hose from your RV, while at the same time, carefully holding the twist-lock fitting underneath your rig’s dump port to catch any liquid that might still lead out of your dump port.
- Rinse the sewer hose out (if water is available), and stow it away. Don’t forget to replace your termination cap. If you spilled anything, use the sewer rinse hose to blast it away into the dump station inlet.
- Pull as far ahead as possible to fill with potable water, if it’s available at the station. Don’t ever use the sewer rinse hose tap to fill your fresh tanks! If the potable water tap isn’t far enough ahead to “clear” the station for the next guy in line, have an assistant fill your fresh tanks while you’re handling the dumping. The folks in line behind you will bless your thoughtfulness.
Thomas Seim says
Also, when you are “on-deck” pull out all of the gear that you will need for the task (sewer line, hoses, gloves, fittings, garbage bag, etc.) and position them near the dump station so they are ready to use. Every second counts, which is why a NASCAR team can change 4 tires, fuel the car and adjust the suspension in 11-12 sec.
John Sproat says
Don’t open the black tank first. Open the gray water to “set” the hose. Then when you open the black tank the rush won’t jump the hose out of the drain.
Berniece Cronquist says
That’s what the rock is for or an assistant watches it.
Phil Castleman says
I always open the Gray water first, just for a second. This wets the line and makes it slick, the solids won’t stick as much. When the black is empty I open the Gray valve and then quickly close the black valve. This will back flush the black valve clean.
You got that right John it’s better to have a mishap with grey water than black, just a few second dump will let you know you got it right
Very important information for Newbies like me. Thanks a lot.
So you are thinking we shouldn’t rinse the black tank and just let the turkles dry on the inside to save time? I don’t think so!
Master Gadgets says
I agree with you. If you don’t clean it then, and let it harden, you will never be able to clean it out later.
Yup yup !!! Clean now
HT Morgan says
Nope, that’s why I always add back a gallon of water and put my treatment in the tank as soon as possible. I only drain and clean my black water tank when I’m at a full hookup site.
Let the black water out first, but put a bucket or plastic dish pan under the fitting just in case it leaks a little bit. Then you can rinse with the grey water. In my experience it is too hard to close the valves to so it twice on the black water.
Oh, and one more hint… The waste valves seem to become harder and harder to open & close over time. After emptying your tanks, spray some silicon into the valves through the 3″ outlet, and cycle the valves with their pull handles. This makes a huge difference on mine… easy to open now, just like new.
I think the practice of rinsing the black water tank at dump stations needs to be a matter of using good judgement depending on need and how many others are waiting. It takes me only 3 to 4 minutes to rinse and if I am not going to use the coach again for 30 or more days, my black water tank is going to get rinsed.
So you are ok with being “that guy”. I’ve been RVing over 40 years and I have NEVER rinsed a black tank. Not needed except by the anal.
I do it a little different. I first have a third valve on the end that closes off the outlet. Once the hose is attached I pull the third valve just in case I have forgotten to close one of the other valves. Yes it has happened. I know I’m dumb. Next I pull the gray water just for a few seconds to check that I don’t have hose leaks or worse a poorly connected part that could leak or come off. Gray water spill is much preferable to Black. Then I drain the black and follow with the gray.
Just a thought
I am new to this but after reading to let a little gray out first I started doing that. Makes a whole lot of sense. While it is dumping I connect my clean hose. I can turn it on while it is dumping or wait until I close the black and open the gray then reopen the black.
I have two gray tanks so I have to dump from the front also. While that is happening I can disconnect the hose from the clean out and start cleaning up the area.
Just a matter of multitasking that moms are very good at.
Lorraine A Gehring says
Are you changing your gloves when you use the fresh water hose? If not, you should wait until you are done dumping, take your gloves off, use a little Purell, then handle your fresh water hose.
Ronald Hendricks says
I like the idea of dumping the black tank first, and that’s what I do BECAUSE I like dumping the gray water to rinse the hose. Let’s face it, even after the gray water runs through there it STILL isn’t an enticing smell. Just my 2 cents.
Stewart Leach says
We have a cassette toilet in the A-frame. Any special hints on emptying the cassette? Present drill is to empty carefully into the vault or flushable toilet, then use paper towels for any cleanup. Hand sanitizer goes along for the trip.
Lyle Huff says
It’s much easier to empty a cassette into a toilet vault. Splattering all over your shoes is usually the result at the dump station. Dumping into a flush toilet can be hit or miss too i.e. splattering the wall.
There’s a better idea.
We dealt with poop sloshing around in gallons of water in our holding tanks for years….Who thought up this idea, anyway?
We love our composting Nature’s Head toilet…and we get to avoid the unpleasantness of the dump station. Gloves, hoses, chemicals, and bad smells, not required!
If someone is behind me when I’m headed home and want to rinse my tanks, I only make them wait a maximum of 10 minutes. I then pull out and get back in line.
I was once the next one at a two-rig dump station. I had to wait half an hour and they were both there before I arrived! One of the rigs was still there when I left! Apparently he was filling his black tank completely full to rinse it out.
Wayne quick says
Drain black tank, drain grey. If worried about black crusties, put more water and treatment in black tank prior to driving home, but after leaving dump station.
Steve Colibaba says
Excellent article! I can’t count how many times I’ve seen people dumping with bare hands at La Posa South BLM in Quartzsite, then move to the potable watering stations with those same filthy hands…Yuk! I alway spray bleach on the entire tap before using them. I do the same in campgrounds, especially if the tap is low to the ground…Fido may have left pee mail. 😉
I also test with the grey water first for a few seconds before emptying my black tank. One mishap was all it took to learn that one!
5A. After you’ve drained the black tank flush the toilet that you had filled with water to help clean out the tank and hose.
Jonathan Busch says
I fill a 5 gallon pail with fresh water before going to the dump. I dump black and then dump the 5 gallon pail down the toilet. The rush of water flushes out the bottom of the black tank. Then I dump the gray tank. Never has a clog or pyramid bore a stinky hose. RVing since 1992. First chance I get I dump 2 gallons water with chemicals down the toilet. Easy peasy.
I fill a 5 gallon pail with fresh water before going to the dump. I dump black and then dump the 5 gallon pail down the toilet. The rush of water flushes out the bottom of the black tank. Then I dump the gray tank. Never had a clog or pyramid nor a stinky hose. RVing since 1992. First chance I get I dump 2 gallons water with chemicals down the toilet. Easy peasy.
Trouble waters says
I like the 5 gallon pail idea and the empty small amount of grey tank first to trouble shoot….wish I would have known that last year 😏😒 . But hey, now I do…