Tuesday, March 1, 2016

The Nasty Side of RV’ing–Waste Water Etiquette…


One thing every RV’er has to do which no one wants to talk about is the nasty side of RV’ing – disposing of waste water. Since we have seen many inquiries on forums and Facebook recently, I will talk about what I call waste water etiquette or better, how we set things up for the ultimate removal of our RV waste water products.

First things first! Every RV needs to have the proper equipment to attach to your RV for the ultimate removal of waste water. Below are items we use and recommend after five years of traveling the roads of the USA.

  • RhinoFLEX 15' RV Sewer Hose Kit – We actually have this one and an extension sewer hose as we have been to several parks where the sewer hook-ups are too far for just one length of sewer hose. We have never needed more than one extra length.
  • Sewer Hose Support – These keep everything flowing smoothly Product Detailsfrom the RV to the dump station. Simply extend it to the desired length after positioning it between your RV and the sewer inlet with the highest end at the RV and the lowest end at the sewer inlet. This allows gravity to do its job and get rid of all waste. We have found some parks with very high sewer outlets where having one of these was nearly mandatory.
  • An RV Sanitation Gray Water Drain Hose – This is for later use for flushing the Product Detailsblack tank (if your RV has a flushing hookup) and for rinsing the sewer hose after dumping all waste. These are usually grey so as not to be confused with your white drinking water hose. NEVER ever use your drinking water hose to rinse your sewer hose!
  • Quick Hose Connect – Make dumping easy by using quick connects/disconnects for hooking up  hoses quickly and easily.

Product DetailsProduct Details1 X 1000 Disposable Gloves (500 ct. x 2 boxes) - FDA Approved

  • Garden Hose Splitter or Y-valve – We like these ergonomic hose splitters since they are so much easier to use than most cheaper splitters. For faucets simply attach this and you can hook up more than one hose.
  • Disposable Gloves – In order to keep all the “yuck” off your hands and to beProduct Details germ-free, these are some disposable gloves (these are latex free ones).
  • RhinoFLEX Clear 90 Degree Sewer Hose Swivel Fitting – While not mandatory having one of these sure helps to see when you have properly drained all the waste out of the black and grey water tanks.
  • Product DetailsSewer Doughnut - Connects directly on RV sewer hose for an odor proof and leak resistant connection to the non-threaded sewer hook-ups at RV parks.

So now that we have all the supplies lets go through what to do upon arrival to a campground:

  • First unscrew the sewer cap so you will be able to attach your sewer hose to it (make sure you put your sewer hose through the hole in the bottom of the sewer bin if it has one).
  • Lay out the sewer hose support and place the sewer hose on it making sure there is a gentle slope downward from your RV to the sewer hook-up at the campground.
  • Now attach your sewer hose to the RV park sewer hook-up. Make sure that you have a secure attachment. If you have an elbow attachment on the end of your hose you will be able to screw the elbow into the the threaded sewer hookup (if it is threaded). If it is unthreaded then you will place your “doughnut” between the sewer hookup and the sewer hose.

sewer pics 003sewer pics 001

Double check that every connection is secure and tight! This is a time not to be in a rush as a mistake here will result in having one very crappy day!

Now that the RV is hooked up to the RV park’s sewer system what"s next? Well here is what we do and recommend:

  • We open our grey tank valve (if staying for longer than a few days days) and keep our black tank valve closed.
  • Your tank gauge/panel will tell you when your black and grey tanks are full and need to be dumped. Or if your gauges work like ours (meaning they don’t work) then you have to know how many days you can use your grey and black tanks before they fill. For us (in our 37 foot Class A motorhome) we can go 3 days before our grey tank is full (with normal every day use) and 11-12 for our black tank.
  • When full always dump the black one first and make sure the grey water valve is closed. After dumping all the black water then dump the gray water. Doing it in this order helps to clean your sewer hose after dumping the black water (a night or two before dumping the black tank we close the gray water valve in order to have a big reserve of gray water for flushing the sewer hose).

Some important points here are:

  • Do not leave your black tank discharge valve open! Doing so means only the liquid wastes will drain out leaving the solid behind. This will result in the solids creating a large pile up sometimes known as the dreaded "poop pyramid!" You certainly don’t want this to occur.
  • When parked at a site for a long time (usually a week or more) leave he black tank valve closed and the gray valve open. This allows the gray tank to drain into the park’s sewer system until your almost ready to leave.
  • Make sure to leave the grey valve open and only close the valve a few days before you plan to leave. This will nearly fill the grey tank allowing the grey water to be used to clean the black water waste from the sewer hose after you dump your black water.
  • With regard to toilet paper you can use any toilet paper that passes the toilet paper test. Place a sheet or two of your toilet paper in a glass of water and let it sit overnight. Stir the water the next day and if it very nearly disintegrates it will work great and dissolve in your grey tank thus, avoiding clogging the drain.

I would have done a video but there are some good ones already out there. RV Geeks did a good one for Class A motorhomes which can be found at this link http://youtu.be/I6sv4d3PsTo. If you have a fifth wheel or travel trailer then this link appears to cover what you need to know http://youtu.be/qLkdsCmZ3O8.

Follow these steps along with what the videos show and you will be better off for it. I can’t tell you how many stories we have heard about sewer mishaps and no one wants a sewer mishap!!! Our goal is to have fun while we RV but we all still have to eventually get rid of the waste. Make sure all connections are tight and if your sewer hose shows any sign of a small leak replace it immediately. After all, none of want to have crappy day on the Road of Retirement…


  1. You are right. This is definitely the nasty side of RVing.

  2. Holy cow. In eight years of RV'ing, I never realized it was all that complicated!

    All we have ever used is a Rhinoflex hose. Best hose going. We have never needed all that other stuff you mention.

    And we have never left our sewer hose hooked up while at a campground. I've never been able to figure out why people do. We let our holding tanks fill up until they need emptying. Usually once a week, or when we leave the campground. Then, I hook up the hose and dump the tanks. This way, your neighbor doesn't need to stare at your unsightly sewer hose, or have any risk of a smell coming from your hose.

    Also, we don't put toilet paper in our tank. This allows us to use any paper we wish without worrying about clogging the drains.

    But each to their own, as they say.


    1. Kevin this is how we do it and from my experience how most others do it as well. By not screwing in your sewer hose (or using a doughnut) when connecting to the park's sewer you might be breaking some county laws. But as you said to each their own...

  3. This is a great post for newbies ... we were all there at some point in our RVing lives. Our neighbors at a recent campground could have benefited from it.

  4. the only thing I would add is this: before you remove the cap off of your sewer connection, verify that the dump valves are closed. or you'll make a mess.

  5. We never leave the gray open. We dump black, then gray. Gunk can build up in an open gray too, or the connection can get bumped out. That has never happened, but if it did the gray water would spill on the ground. Gray water can contain E. coli too.