Dumping waste from your RV is no fun, but it’s an inevitable part of the experience, especially if you plan to travel far from a permanent residence. Fortunately, there are some options out there that will let you get rid of all your waste without breaking the law or go to great lengths to find a dump station in the middle of nowhere.
How to Dump RV Waste Safely and Legally
In this article, we’ll go over how to dump your RV waste legally and safely so you can enjoy yourself on your trip and not have to worry about finding an RV dump station that fits your needs.
Don’t Do It Yourself!
There are many laws governing how you dispose of your waste in every state, so it’s important to do your research before starting. While dump stations can be found at most campgrounds and marinas, a better option is to contact a garbage hauling company or have it picked up by a trash removal service.
The best way? Have someone else deal with disposing of your garbage altogether—they can often dispose of it legally, as well as at a cheaper price than if you were to drop it off yourself. If you are dumping your waste yourself, it is always important to check local regulations.
In some areas, for example, there may be restrictions on what types of items can be disposed of.
For example, in California, tires cannot be dumped into landfills because they take too long to decompose and could cause damage to landfills. In other areas, there may also be restrictions on when you can dump your waste.
In New York City, for example, certain items must not be put out for collection between 10 p.m. and 6 a.m., while others cannot even leave their containers until after 6 a.m., such as paint cans and oil containers that need time to cool down first! It is therefore vital that anyone looking to dispose of their waste checks their local regulations before doing so; otherwise, they risk breaking the law without even knowing it!
RVs Don’t Require Sewer Hookups
Many people assume that all recreational vehicles require sewer hookups. That’s not true. For example, if you own a Class B camper with a holding tank, it can be emptied at dump stations near campgrounds or rest areas, and some marinas have portable pump-out facilities available.
A sewage hose is provided in all Class A RVs, which means you can dump out any waste tanks right onto city streets using special hoses attached to a nearby sewer grate. You may have seen other people doing it; just make sure you don’t block traffic!
No matter what kind of RV you own, though, most state laws limit where on public land RV dumping is legal—usually in designated parking areas or rest areas. The Department of Transportation has detailed information about how to legally dispose of your waste on its website.
Remember: If you’re parked illegally, an officer could give you a ticket for illegal dumping. It’s better to ask for help than end up paying fines!
Where to Dump RV Waste
If you’re like most RV owners, you don’t want your trash ending up anywhere other than a dump station. And that’s where many people make their first mistake.
Think you can just pull into an open gate? Not so fast… As with any land, there are rules when it comes to dumping your waste on public or private property. And while these rules vary depending on location, they all have one thing in common: they should be followed at all times.
In short, public lands have established dump stations that are accessed via an assigned parking spot only. Anything outside of these established spots is illegal, so please don’t do it!
Private property owners also have rules for their land, which you should always follow. If you want to be on good terms with your neighbors, make sure you know where they prefer their trash disposed of.
If you find yourself in a situation where there are no designated dumping locations around you, and no one nearby who will let you use theirs, there’s always Plan B: Your tank(s).
But before any waste can be dumped into your tanks, they must first be properly prepped for disposal. This means removing all liquids from your tank(s), as well as anything else that might cause them to overflow when filled with wastewater and sewage.
Carry & Dispose of Excess Water Carefully
Most dump stations have limitations on how much water they can accommodate, so be sure to know how much waste your rig generates. If you bring in too much water, dump station attendants will not let you dispose of it until you’ve emptied a portion of it elsewhere.
For example, if you want to dispose of 10 gallons of gray water but there’s a 5-gallon limit at that location, take that excess 5 gallons and find another dump station where no such restriction exists.
There may be limits on chemicals or other contaminants in wastewater disposal; check with local facilities for details. Also, make sure you never discharge any contaminant into a sewer system without first checking with facility staff to make sure that’s allowed.
Tie Down & Secure Weighty Items
First, get everything as safe and secure as possible. Most dump stations do not have weight restrictions but you must be considerate of your neighbors when securing your load.
Use straps or a hitch-mounted cargo carrier so you can quickly release your hoses if someone needs access. If you use leveling blocks, secure them with sandbags or concrete so they won’t move during dumping. You don’t want to be that guy who leaves hazardous materials where people can step on them!
If something does fall off while you are dumping, always let your neighbor know what happened before leaving. Keep in mind that there may be safety guards/fencing around some dump sites so keep an eye out for those when backing in!
Clean Up Right Before Arriving at Destination
If you have a lot of trash or other waste when you arrive at your campsite, don’t try to dump it in a nearby garbage can. In most places, doing so is illegal; instead, find a legal place to throw away your waste—like an RV dump station—or pack it with you until you can get to one.
You’ll also want to store any food scraps or cooking grease safely until you get back home. These things can attract bears, skunks, raccoons, and other animals to campgrounds.
And while they might not mean ill will toward humans, they’re likely attracted by food smells that could lead them right into your campsite where they may cause damage or harm themselves on something inside (like a canoe).
Emptying The Black Tank On a Travel Trailer
Before you do anything, make sure your black tank is full enough to get rid of all its contents. Double-check that everything that went into it can come out—that no paper towels or tampons ended up in there by mistake.
When you’re ready, open your black tank valves and start pumping out. You’ll want a hose connected on both ends; one going inside your rig, and one outside so you can drain into a holding tank or portable container (if there isn’t a dump station nearby).
If possible, park so there’s a downhill slope in front of your trailer. This will help move waste down towards your hose and make sure it flows from Black Tank One quickly without having to empty it several times over.
Installing An RV Sewer Dump At Home
A lot of RV owners simply dump their tanks on public land. However, you should avoid doing so because it’s a violation of environmental protection laws as well as anti-littering laws.
You can get in trouble with fines up to $1,000. And if you’re caught dumping your waste near sewer lines or water sources, your fine could be even higher! In addition, others who camp around you might not like it because it can make for unsanitary conditions in certain areas.
The bottom line: Dumping illegally just isn’t worth it, both for your bank account and for your conscience. So, it’s better to be cautious when doing so.
Luckily, it is legal to dump your black water tank. You’ll need to plan your dumping carefully. Be aware of local regulations and make sure you aren’t breaking any laws when you dump.
Also, be aware that these tanks can fill up pretty quickly so plan for more frequent dumping than you may have done in a typical house or apartment. If you’re planning a longer trip, look into renting additional tanks from outfitters along your route.
Having a properly maintained black water tank isn’t just about keeping yourself out of jail. It’s also a great way to avoid needless headaches when you’re out on an extended trip.