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How to Dump RV Tanks at Home (Options & Answers)

| Updated Jan 8, 2024

There are ways to dump RV tanks at home or to even make your own RV dump station at home. Here's how…

Many campgrounds have RV dump stations, but they're not always the cleanest and most well-maintained option. Plus, there's often a line of RVers waiting to hook up to them.

That's why many RVers prefer to dump their RV tanks at home, and it is possible! Sometimes it's as simple as connecting to an access port, while other times you'll need to do some modifications.

We're going to answer some of the basic questions and then jump into the options for dumping RV tanks at home.

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What Is an RV Dump Station?

rest stops with rv dumps ro Dump RV Tanks at Home

An RV dump station is a place where recreational vehicle (RV) owners can empty the waste tanks of their vehicles. These tanks store the waste from the toilet, shower, and sink in the RV. 

Dump stations typically have a sewer connection that the RV owner can connect their sewer hose to in order to empty the waste into the local sewer system. Some RV parks and campgrounds have dump stations on site, while others may require the use of a public dump station. 

Building a dump station at home (as we’ll cover) is also an option for RV owners who want the convenience and flexibility of being able to empty their waste tanks whenever they need to.

Benefits of an RV Dump Station at Home

An RV dump station at home can provide a convenient, efficient, and cost-effective solution for RV owners who want to make the most of their trips and enjoy the full benefits of owning a recreational vehicle.

There are several benefits to having an RV dump station at home, including:

Convenience: With an RV dump station at home, you won't have to travel to a public dump station or wait in line at a busy RV park to empty your waste tanks. You'll be able to do it whenever you need to, from the comfort of your own property.

Time savings: Not having to drive to a public dump station can save you time and increase the efficiency of your travels. You'll be able to spend more time enjoying your trip and less time making trips to the dump station.

Cost savings: Public dump stations can often charge a fee to use their facilities. By having an RV dump station at home, you'll be able to save money over time by not having to pay these fees.

Increased privacy: Emptying your waste tanks at home can provide a greater degree of privacy than doing so at a public dump station. You'll be able to empty your tanks without having to worry about other people watching and waiting for you to make common RV camping mistake.

Increased control: With an RV dump station at home, you'll be in control of the maintenance and upkeep of the facilities. This will ensure that the station remains clean and functional for years to come.

There are, of course, some disadvantages, too. For instance, it can cost a couple thousand dollars to build an RV dump station at home, depending how much work and hired labor is required for your situation.

Also, you’ll be taxing your home’s septic system more than it’s used to, and possibly more than it was designed to withstand. So, be sure to consult an expert.

Is Building an RV Dump Station at Home Legal?

In most cases, yes. However, you should check the local regulations and building codes in your area to make sure that you are complying with any rules or restrictions.

If you improperly dispose of human waste, you can face some really steep fines and penalties. So, it really is best to check regulations before you start!

Options to Dump Your RV Tanks at Home

There are a few ways RVers dump their RV tanks at home. The method depends on whether they are on a public or private sewer system.

Plus, there’s another option that doesn’t require you to connect to a septic system directly. It’s not the most appealing method, but it is effective. 

1. Find a Commercial Dump Station

RV Terminology - commercial dump station or Dump RV Tanks at Home

Before you commit or invest in building an RV dump station at home, consider if it’s better to find a local spot. 

Sure, you might not want to wait in line at the campground before you return home. But you might have a local alternative nearby that you can stop at on your way home. 

Dump stations usually only charge a small fee, and you don’t have to worry about anything beyond connecting, dumping, and disconnecting.

Here’s How to Easily Find RV Dump Stations.

2. Connect to a Public Sewer Connection

If your home is on a public sewer system, the easiest and best way to dump is to connect directly to the house sewer clean out line. 

Most residential sewer lines have an access pipe that rises above the ground, along the sewage line that exits the home. This access point is usually a PVC pipe used to clean out the line if a blockage occurs. 

The cap on the access pipe should be easy to remove, and you can discharge the black and grey water tanks directly into it. 

Hopefully, this sewer cleanout port is near where you park your RV. And, since you need gravity to drain the tank, it needs to be at a lower elevation than the RV. If not, check out the Pro Tip below.

How to Find This House Sewer Clean-Out Line

In houses with connections to a municipal sewage treatment system, the sewer line comes out from under the house and usually makes a bee-line for the street where the sewer lines are.

If you're in the middle of the block, this is easy – corner lots could go either way.  Water meters are another utility, usually on the side of the lot where the sewer hookup is, so that will help give you a clue to the location.

Get a little shovel and gently poke around in the flowerbeds and other stuff along the base of the house's foundation. The line is usually just below ground level, and is typically a 4 inch PVC pipe in the South (probably cast iron up north where the ground freezes).

How to Dump RV Tanks at Home (Options & Answers) 1
Here's where we found our family member's sewer clean out line!

It's the only huge pipe coming out from underneath the house – supply lines are much smaller.

There will be a four-inch white plastic screw-in cap with a square protrusion in the middle. 

Once you have found it, clear enough dirt so none goes down into the pipe when you open it, and get a big wrench or pliers and unscrew the cap. 

Pull your RV up so that your emptying hose will reach the clean-out, and dump away to your heart's content.  

Replace the cap and the dirt, remove any evidence of trampled flowers before the homeowner sees them, and you're done.

3. Connect to Private Septic Tank

If you have a private septic system, you can usually connect straight to it. Assuming, of course, the connection port is within reach of your RV and septic hose. 

There is a good chance that it is accessible since septic companies must be able to access your tank to empty it every several years. If a septic truck can reach it, your RV can likely reach it. (If you can't reach it, check out the Pro Tip below.)

Most residential septic tanks have a cleanout or access pipe that you can open and connect to. Just beware of the fumes! In addition to being stinky, the fumes can be dangerous or even deadly if you breathe too much of it.

It’s possible your septic tank will need modifications to attach to. If that’s the case, consult your local septic company for advice.

4. Connect to an Above Ground Septic Tank

You can actually purchase an above ground septic tank regardless of what septic system your home is on. So, if for whatever reason, you can’t or don’t want to connect to your home’s septic system, you can have a designated septic tank for your RV.

You can order above-ground septic tanks online. Then, you can place it wherever you park your RV and connect to it accordingly. 

When it’s full, you can contact your local septic company to come and drain it. Note, that’s it’s a good idea to contact this company BEFORE YOU BUY to confirm that you can get this small-job service at your home.

Warning for Connecting to Home Septic (Municipal or Tank)

Septic systems can't handle giant loads of water, so 30 gallons from a smaller Class B or Class C RV should be no problem, but make sure they aren't all taking showers and washing clothes inside when you do it.

Make sure you use the clean-out upstream from the septic tank, as close to the house as possible. If you dump into the septic tank itself, do it upstream of the baffle. Dump into the drainfield, and you'll probably be invited to stick around for the dig-up-the-drainfield party – as the guest of honor. You don't want this distinction.

When in doubt, drive across town and use the RV dump.

PRO TIP: Use an RV Macerator Pump

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An RV macerator pump makes dumping your tanks much easier and cleaner. At its most simple level, a macerator pump is an automatic grinder. Like your garbage disposal grinds up the solid you put down the sink, an RV macerator pump grinds up the solid and liquid waste you flush down your black water tank, turning it into a slurry.

Furthermore, because it not only grind but pumps, it can drain that waste longer distances through a much smaller sewer hose. This comes in handy if you can't park your RV close enough to your septic connection!

You can even use it with the next (least appealing) home RV dumping option…

5. The Bucket Method

This is the less appealing yet effective method I mentioned earlier. You’ll likely want to avoid this method, but it will work in a pinch.

Now that I’ve given that disclaimer, let me explain the method. It’s called the bucket method because you use a bucket to transport waste from your tank to your home’s toilet. Yep, it can get messy.

It works by emptying the black tank little by little, bucket by bucket, and flushing the contents down your home toilet. 

Like I said… Yucky yet effective.

How to Dump RV Tanks at Home (Options & Answers) 2

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Mike Wendland

Published on 2023-02-14

Mike Wendland is a multiple Emmy-award-winning Journalist, Podcaster, YouTuber, and Blogger, who has traveled with his wife, Jennifer, all over North America in an RV, sharing adventures and reviewing RV, Camping, Outdoor, Travel and Tech Gear for the past 12 years. They are leading industry experts in RV living and have written 18 travel books.

7 Responses to “How to Dump RV Tanks at Home (Options & Answers)”

March 10, 2023at7:34 pm, Chet Hiner said:

We have a macerator built into our motorhome. We hook up a black 25′ garden hose and pump it into our toilet. Works great. Pump out grey water to clean hose.


March 11, 2023at9:14 am, Team RV Lifestyle said:

Macerators are a great thing— Thanks for sharing this, Chet! Team RV Lifestyle


February 20, 2023at11:12 am, Steve Baldwin said:

Our travel trailer becomes a spare bedroom in the summer months and I have a local septic dumping business come by and drain the tanks as we don’t have a cleanout option and the cost of connecting to the sewer line would be prohibitive. the cost is $50.00 but much easier than the bucket method or moving to a campground and paying to dump at $15.00. Our guests who use the camper are usually more than willing to pay the cost.


August 13, 2023at9:38 pm, Steve Baldwin said:

That’s what we use, so much easier than pulling to a campground or public dump station.


February 14, 2023at1:46 pm, Bob Griggs said:

I built a macerator system (we call it “The Pooperator”) for the occasional time I need to dump at home. Waste is pumped about 40 feet to the cleanout access at the septic tank. So far, it has worked well (with no poopsies!).


February 17, 2023at3:44 pm, Team RV Lifestyle said:

Sounds like a great plan! Thanks for sharing, Bob – Team RV Lifestyle


October 29, 2023at9:05 am, Tim Wilson said:

What did you use to make it?


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