If you are not familiar with RV culture and its lingo then you might think that having a dump station in your property may seem a little disgusting. However, if you are an avid RVer, you will truly love having a dump station conveniently located inside your property.
In that case, it helps to learn how to build an RV dump station in your property. You can build one for whatever reason you might have in mind by reading this article.
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What is a Dump Station?
First off, let us elaborate on what a dump station is. Honestly speaking, this whole thing is a bit of a squeamish subject but it is of utmost importance if you are an avid RVer. A dump station is a designated sewer line or septic tank where you can empty the contents of your black and gray wastewater tanks.
The black water tank is the one that is directly connected to the RV’s toilet. This means that it contains human waste and very dirty water. It is kind of like a mini septic tank that is attached to your RV.
On the other hand, the gray water tank is connected to all the water drains, like the one in the kitchen sink, the shower, and the outdoor sink. This means that the gray water tank will contain dirty yet still somewhat soapy water.
Both of these tanks should be emptied before they fill to maximum capacity because a backed-up toilet is the last thing that you want to deal with when you are camping out in the middle of the forest.
Is it Legal to Dump Raw Sewage?
It is very much illegal to just haphazardly dump raw sewage into the street. It is also illegal to dump the contents of your wastewater tanks in the wild. Doing so can probably cause a disease outbreak in the animals of the forest and it can permanently pollute and damage the environment.
You can either hire an official sewage treatment company to empty your tanks for you or drive up to the dump station in your local sewage treatment plant or the dump station at your campsite. When the local park ranger catches you dumping the contents of your wastewater tanks, you will get slapped with stiff fines.
There is even a chance for you to get banned from camping there ever again. You can avoid all of these hassles and legal troubles simply by installing your dump station in your property.
Benefits of Having your Own Dump Station
Building your dump station provides several favorable benefits, including the following:
Helps save money – You save money because you do not have to pay for access to public wastewater dumping stations. If you live in or near big cities, you might already have access to the municipal sewer lines, or at the very least, you have your septic tanks already installed in your property.
Offers convenience – It is because you do not have to drive to the dumping station immediately after your trip to empty your tanks. You can just go straight back home and rest after a long drive because you know that you can just empty your tanks later at your leisure.
Allows you to use your RV as a guest room – If you want to park your RV in your property indefinitely and use it as a guest room for when visitors want to stay over, you can just connect the tanks to the dump station and they can have full use of the amenities.
Aside from that, it is great to have your dumping station because it will be a lot more convenient when you need to clean out your tanks in preparation for storage or winterizing your RV.
What you will Need to Build your RV Dump Station?
Ideally, your home should be connected to the municipal sewerage line or a grid sewer servicing your area. Alternatively, your home should have a sufficiently big septic tank system that can handle both the waste coming from your home and RV.
If you do not have access to either one, get in touch with a contractor and ask how much it will cost to have a small septic tank installed in your property. Also, note that it is pretty easy to construct your dump station at home but if you do not want to get your clothes dirty, you can always hire the services of a plumber.
Connecting a Dump Station into the City Sewer Grid
If your residence is connected to the municipal sewer system, there will usually be at least one “cleanout”. These are short pipes connected perpendicular to your home’s main sewer line. These cleanout pipes usually have a screw cap that plumbers can use to check for or clear sewer pipe blockages.
If you can park your RV close enough that your wastewater hose can reach the cleanout pipe then you do not have to do anything else. Just insert the output hose of your wastewater tanks into the cleanout tank and turn on the macerator pump.
Building a Dump Station into a Septic Tank
Here are a few things that you need to know about using your residential septic tank as a dump station:
- If your septic tank’s cleanout pipe is inaccessible, consider putting your input pipe somewhere between your house and the septic tank. This will ensure that there will be no backflow.
- If the septic tank cleanout is accessible, you can just insert the output hose directly into it.
- It is also possible to directly drop the output hose in the septic tank. Do this ideally before the baffle to ensure that the solid waste matter will sink to the bottom and not float and flow out of the drain pipes with the excess water.
- If you will be directly inserting the drain pipe into the septic tank, make sure that it is a couple of feet under the water to prevent splashing and make sure that the solids settle at the bottom of the septic tank.
There are also some words of warning you have to remember before you continue. If you will be using your septic tank, know that the entire system relies on bacteria and various microorganisms to break down and decompose the solid waste inside.
With this in mind, you should not use soaps and detergents in your RV that contain anti-microbial properties that can kill these helpful tiny little creatures. Consider using environmentally-friendly soaps and detergents so that your gray water tank can be safely emptied into your home septic tank.
Helpful Tips when Emptying your Black and Gray Storage Tanks
Many people might have already told you this but it needs to be said again: drain your black water tank before the gray water. The soapy gray water will help clean out the output hose of any solid waste matter, making rinsing it afterward much easier. Another tip is to avoid leftover food into your RV sink.
If this is your first time using your new RV and the gray and black water valves are not labeled clearly, the black water tank is the bigger among the two. Use your RV’s built-in flush and rinse system whenever you empty your wastewater holding tanks. This little bit of preventive maintenance will save you from a long list of problems later on.
After draining your black tank and if you will not be placing your RV in storage, pre-load it with around two gallons of water. This will keep the solid waste matter from sticking at the bottom of your black water tank and help break the solid matter faster.
If you are in a trailer park, never leave your black water valve open if you are not draining your black water tank. This will only cause the liquid to drain away and leave the solid waste to pile up and create a hard to break down mass lovingly referred to by RVers as a “poop pyramid”.
It is a good idea to wait until the black water tank is at least two-thirds full before you empty it. The reason for this is so there is enough liquid in the tank to get the contents moving along. However, if you are in the final part of your trip and the black tank is not anywhere near the two-thirds mark, flush freshwater into your toilet to ensure that the contents can be easily pumped out.
There are so many benefits that you can get if you know how to build an RV dump station in your property. You do not have to drive miles to the nearest dumping station right after your RV trip. You do not also have to pay just to empty your storage tanks. All of these can now be done in the comfort of your property.
Another nice thing about this is that since you have your dumping station, you can use the RV as a permanent guest room or an extension of your home. There is nothing bad about using your home’s septic/sewer line as a dump station, especially now that you know how to do it properly.
Hi, I am Dane Heldt, a full-time RVer since 2016. I am always passionate about building and joining an RV community where people share their love for RV lives. This blog is a dream of mine, as I can finally share my experiences to help people who want to start living differently. So, feel free to reach out to me!