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Public dump stations are a great place to go to empty your RV’s tanks. They can be found all over the country, and they provide an easy, convenient way of disposing off your grey and black water tanks.
Knowing how to find public dump stations is crucial if you’re planning on traveling with your RV, so you know where to go when you need them.
BACKGROUND ON RV WASTE TANKS (BLACK AND GREY TANKS)
Before getting into the meat of this post, I will briefly discuss what RV waste is (grey/black tank), why it needs disposal, and more about dump stations themselves.
WHAT IS A GREY TANK?
A grey tank is a wastewater holding tank. Wastewater enters the system from the various sinks located in the RV into this tank which can be emptied when full at dump stations (most RVers call them “public dumps”).
Grey tanks have an average capacity of 40-100 gallons, depending on how often you use your sinks and other water points like the shower. The capacity also depends on the individual RV model.
WHAT IS A BLACK TANK?
The black tank is the sewage holding tank for your RV. This means that anything you do in the bathroom goes into this tank, including toilet paper and human waste.
When it gets full, you have to dump it at a public dumping station like those listed in this article.
Due to the hazardous nature of human waste, the black tanks have to be emptied very carefully to avoid any contamination. This is why dumping your black tank at a public dump station is the best option.
On the other hand, a grey tank is not considered hazardous and can be dumped in dispersed camp areas.
Grey tanks are all about what is going in them, not where they come from or go to. They can be used for anything that you would usually dump down the drain at home: dish soap, cooking oil, hair dye… It doesn’t matter!
HOW TO DISPOSE OF A GREY TANK IN RV
How to dispose of a grey tank in RV? It is very important that you empty your grey tanks at dump stations.
Grey tanks are for wastewater only and should not be used if you have been using the toilet (or having guests use it). Here’s how:
- Find a public dump station near you by visiting this website.
- Once the dump station is found, take your travel trailer to it.
- Open up your sewage hoses that connect from the toilet to the sewer to be ready.
- Unlock your grey tank’s lid by turning it counterclockwise.
- Once you are finished emptying your grey tanks, close the valve, lock up your RV as usual, and drive away with a clean conscience.
HOW TO DISPOSE OFF A BLACK TANK IN RV
To dispose of the black tank, you will need to locate a designated dump station for your RV.
Dump stations can be found all over North America in various locations such as rest areas, truck stops, and any facility providing RVs services.
You may have to drive out of town or even cross state lines if there is no nearby dump station because the black tanks must always be emptied in the proper dump stations.
- You may be required to pay at the dump station if it doesn’t provide a free service.
- Head to the designated facility with a hose connection hook your black tank into theirs.
- They may also offer other services like washing your RV, for which they’ll charge you.
- After you have paid and received a receipt, unhook the hose, roll it up, and drive your RV off the facility.
WHAT ARE RV DUMP STATIONS?
Dump stations are public or semi-public facilities where people can dispose of their RV waste.
These dump stations are usually located on a property such as an RV park, campground, truck stop, gas station, or rest area.
ARE RV DUMP STATIONS FREE
RV dump stations come in two varieties: fee and free.
FREE DUMP STATIONS will usually require that the user provides proof they are an RVer and has a working black/grey tank before disposing of RV waste at no cost.
The free service is mainly accompanied by having to rent some camping space in that particular campground.
FEE FOR SERVICE DUMP STATIONS will charge the user a small fee to dispose of their waste.
These fees are usually around $10 to $25 per use, which can quickly add up for larger vehicles and those that need to dispose of a lot of waste
For membership services, the annual charge can range between $200 and $1500.
ARE THERE PUBLIC DUMP STATIONS AROUND THE US?
There are public dump stations in most US states.
You actually have to pay for the most popular sites, but there are some states where you don’t need to pay for the stations.
HOW TO FIND PUBLIC DUMP STATIONS NEAR YOU
- The easiest way to find dump stations is by searching on google maps. You can search for “dump station,” and the map will show all the locations near you that are showing up in their database of known public dump stations (which typically includes restaurants, gas stations, convenience stores, etc.). Find a close one that fits your schedule and needs.
- Another way to find a dump station is by contacting your RV dealer. Your dealership may have a rig that they’re willing to rent out to you.
- Marinas could also be a good option because boaters typically have similar waste management systems to RVers. You’ll need to call around because many of them don’t advertise the dump station availability on their website. Still, you can verify it by asking over the phone or visiting in person.
- Checking on websites such as:
Sunidumps.com lists not only public but also private and municipal dump stations. They have listings spanning across the works.
This website shows you dump stations in the US only. One fancy thing, however, is the ability to search by state or zip code. You could also search by inputting your location to list those stations that are near you.
This website lists all of the dump stations that are available for RVers. This is a very helpful website if you’re looking to find dumps since they list every place in one easy-to-navigate page and make it easier to search by state or zip code.
This website shows you search the RV Dump Stations category and displays the results in a map so you can locate those closest to you.
CAN YOU DUMP RV BLACK TANKS AT HOME
In some places, you can dump your RV black tank at home. You need to have a sewer system that is approved for residences in order to do so.
Dumping at home into a sanitary line should be fine, but you’ll need to ensure it’s not a storm drain, which could, in turn, land you in trouble.
Blackwater tank content is usually the same as the contents from your toilet into the sewer line.
If you are unsure, the best practice is to avoid this risk and empty RV black tanks in public dump stations.
CAN YOU DUMP RV GREY TANKS ON THE GROUND?
It depends on what the greywater was used for and the regulations around that particular area.
Greywater used for cleaning can be dumped on the ground, but only in certain areas designated as BLM public lands.
These areas already have water seepage or related vegetation, and dumping RV grey tanks in these places will not affect the environment. Dispersed camping is also practiced in these areas.
Dumping grey tanks is illegal on all other grounds, particularly on lands maintained by the U.S. Forest Service, Bureau of Reclamation, Army Corps of Engineers, and the National Park Service.
HOW OFTEN DO YOU NEED TO EMPTY YOUR RV GREY/BLACK TANKS?
It depends on how often you use your RV. If you use it every day, the tanks will fill up faster than if you only use it once a month.
Your RV needs to be serviced at least once a year for both grey and black tanks.
The ideal frequency of emptying the grey and black tanks is after every three to five days.
This practice helps prevent foul odors that can come from the tank as it fills up. If the tanks are nowhere near full after five days, ensure to use a lot of water for flushing.
Water helps lock odors out of your RV and helps the anaerobic bacteria to break down the waste faster. This way, the smells will be minimal.
Also, emptying the tanks frequently prevents residue build-up, which can clog your hose and the sensor probes. The result would be the sensor indicating that the tank is full even when empty!
HOW TO KNOW IF YOUR RV BLACK/GREY TANKS ARE FULL
RV black and grey tanks are often equipped with sensors that will notify you when they are full. However, these sensors don’t always work, especially when clogged or damaged in the event of a collision.
As such, it’s essential to know what to look for so that you can find out if your tanks need to be emptied soon.
Here are a few pointers:
- When the tanks are nearly full, the foul smell intensifies even if you flush with more water.
- You should hear the sound of water spraying when you run your faucet. This indicates that there’s plenty of empty space in your tanks, and it won’t need to be drained soon.
- If you hear the sound of compressed air bubbling back when running your faucet or flushing the toilet, that is a sign that the tank is almost full and needs to be drained soon.
When using these methods as signs for tank levels, remember: just because your black or grey tanks are full doesn’t mean they have an overflow valve.
If you’re in an RV that doesn’t have a valve, your tanks will overflow and leak when they are full.
At this point, you know where to find dump stations, how to dump, and when to dump. However, it is important to watch your filling RV black/grey tanks to avoid the worst mess you can ever have in your mobile home.