How to Empty the Black Water Tank in Your RV

Are you emptying your black water tank for the first time and want to learn how it's done without getting your hands dirty (literally)? Well, here's what you need to know.

It’s no secret that hitting the road in an RV is a phenomenal – especially if your RV has solar panels and huge water tanks since it allows for longer periods of off-grid camping!

While there are a ton of benefits to owning an RV, there’s also some crap you have to deal with… literally. Yes, I’m talking about emptying your black water tank. No one wants to talk about their toilet habits, but when you’re on the road when you have to go, you have to go.

Let’s not beat around the bush, pooping is completely natural. But unfortunately, the lovely lavatory fairies don’t take away your mess with the flush of the loo in an RV… the cleaning up is left to you. All jokes aside, emptying a black water tank is surprisingly simple.

Even though its an easy job, there are a number of things you need to be aware of when you are emptying your black water tank. This includes emptying it in a safe place, and keeping the task as sanitary as possible.

In this article, we’re going through everything you need to know about black water tanks and how to empty them in the most efficient way possible. Let’s dive in!

What is a black water tank?

Image credits: Kempoo

As mentioned before, the black water tank as seen on the photo above is an RV’ers idea of hell – which is fairly understandable. It’s not fun to empty if you don’t have a proper sewer hose!

That begs the question: why do I even need a black water tank if it’s such a mess?!

Well, the black water tank stores all of your feces and the water you use when you flush the toilet. Without it, you’d be pooping and peeing on the surface beneath your RV which is nowhere near sanitary.

The black water tank can typically be found right beneath the toilet in your RV and usually also next to your gray water tank. If the sewage were to be collected in the gray water tank instead, then you probably shouldn’t take a shower anytime soon.

If you want to know more about the black water tank, RVShare wrote an article on 6 Things You Need to Know about your RV Black Water Tank.

Where am I allowed to empty my black water tank?

Image credits: USDA Forest Service

Given that the black water tanks are filled with sewage, it’s very important to ensure that they are being emptied at the nearest RV dump station. You can find a map of all the dump stations in the US over at RVDumps.

You can’t empty your black water tank on the side of the road or anywhere that isn’t a designated emptying zone. It’s not good for the environment, and it’s super gross.

Almost all campsites and RV parks that usually receive a ton of RV campers will have an area where you can empty your black water tank so you don’t have to drive for hours to find a dump station. Handy, eh?

If you find yourself nowhere near an RV dump station, then try to visit a nearby gas station, RV dealership, or a rest stop and check if they have a designated emptying zone. In some cases, they will and you’ll save a trip (and like $10) to the dump station.

How do I empty my black water tank at a dump station?

Image credits: Amazon

Emptying your black water tank is fairly straightforward once you get the hang of it. All you have to do is connect the hose to your black water tank and connect it to the sewer line.

From one RVer to another, remember those darn gloves. You really should wear gloves every time you empty your black water tank. If your hose leaks or you didn’t connect it to your RV properly, you’ll get poop on your hands and you won’t be do the driving anytime soon.

Here’s how you empty your black water tank:

  • Connect your sewer hose to the black water tank
  • Connect your sewer hose to the sewer line at the dump station
  • Make sure they’re attached properly
  • Pull in the handle near the black water tank
  • Wait until it’s empty and use the sewer tank rinser (if you have one)
  • You’re done!

If you want to know what this process looks like in person, give this video a view:

YouTube video

In some RV parks and emptying stations, they’ll have a clear waste hose that can be connected to your black water tank. While this allows you to become more acquainted with the contents of your digestive system, it also allows you to see when the tank is fully emptied rather than trying to guesstimate when it’s empty.

The most important thing to remember is that you want to take your time and not rush the emptying process. This will help to ensure that the job is carried out correctly, and it will avoid accidents from happening. Trust me, I’ve been there a few times!

Final thoughts

I hope you have found this article useful and insightful. As you can see, it is fairly easy to empty a black water tank when you know how to. The most important thing you will need to remember is that they can only be emptied in designated areas.

You cannot empty a black water tank on the side of the road or where you please.

When emptying the tank, you will always need to ensure that you are doing this correctly, and that you are using the correct PPE, especially gloves. This is because you are handling waste, and this needs to be done with care. 

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Jakob Staudal

I love to spend time outside and reconnect with nature every now and then and cut-off all the noise from social media and everyday life.