“To the dump, to the dump, to the dump, dump, dump!” I can still hear my dad singing that to the tune of the William Tell Overture, made popular as the theme of the original Lone Ranger show. Dad was talking about taking our trash to the county dump, but I am thinking of taking the T@b to the RV dump station. If you have never done it sounds disgusting and intimidating. It sounds complicated and not worth the effort. However, I have learned it is really not so bad and having indoor plumbing is pretty awesome for the middle of the night bathroom runs as well as for pulling over when you have not seen a rest room in 40 miles and it doesn’t look another one will be in sight for another 60 miles. Let’s take the fright out of dumping your tanks.
What do I need?
Your dealer might tell you that he or she is going to include a sewer hose and they probably will. You probably will not want to use it, however. Those free dealer hoses tend to be short in length and quality. Go ahead and plan to pitch it. I have been using a 15′ Rhino Flex since I bought my T@b and have been pleased with it. It is sturdy, flexible, and if you get the kit, it basically has most of what you will need for dealing with the sewer.
Included in the kit are a hose, a translucent elbow, which allows you to see, but not see too much, the necessary fittings, hose endcaps, and a donut adapter. The donut adapter lets you easily dump to sewer openings of various sizes without losing your hose down that hole. In addition to the kit, you definitely want gloves. You could either get some gloves that are dedicated to sewer use or disposable gloves. I found a good deal at my local Dollar General last week- 8 pair for a dollar. The first batch I ordered, which I am still using came from Amazon.
A couple of other accessories that can make dumping a little easier are a sewer cleanout plug wrench, to help you remove tight plugs (I have used this several times) and some type of hose riser set, to keep things moving. 🙂 I don’t always use the riser set, but it is especially nice when you are camping with full hookups. I like the keep the grey tank open so I can take longer showers since my grey tank is only 11 gallons.
Does it Smell?
People worry about odor, and rightfully so. Who wants to have sewer odor to deal with in such a tiny camper? You won’t have to worry if you take care of business.
First, make sure you use septic safe toilet paper. You can buy RV safe toilet paper, but I have been fine using Scott septic safe toilet paper. You can test it by taking a couple of sheets and seeing how easily it dissolves in a glass of water.
Second, make sure you don’t shortchange the amount of liquid you flush with solid waste. I try to be generous to avoid the phenomenon known as “pyramiding.” I am not talking about the tombs of the ancient Egyptians…or food storage of aliens, I am talking about the buildup of solid waste in your black tank. If you keep the potential of pyramiding in the back of your mind, it will help you keep a clean and odor free black tank.
Third, I recommend rinsing out the black tank as frequently as possible. You can use a “wand” which rinses from inside of the bathroom, down into the black tank from the toilet, or use an elbow attachment that has a fitting for a garden hose. I use the latter, and chose a product called the Flush King. Sounds fancy, doesn’t it? I will describe how I use it a little later. I keep a dedicated garden hose that is used only for the Flush King. You want to make sure that your drinking water hose never comes into contact with anything related to your sewer.
Fourth, I use a product called Happy Campers, which is an organic tank treatment. I use about a half of a scoop about every other time after dumping, especially if I know I will have another chance to dump before boondocking. I try to fill the black tank with 1/4 to 1/2 full of water to make sure there is a lot of water to slosh down the road and dilute the Happy Campers solution. I have located some dump stations that I can use on my journey home from various directions so that I can dump when I leave the campsite (or along the way) and add water and Happy Campers and then dump before I get home so I arrive with a nice clean tank at home.
So, you have arrived at your local dump station. First of all, don’t stress. Even if you are slow, because the tanks of our T@bs are so much smaller than other rigs, most people will not notice you taking a long time. So, the pressure is off. Also, I have never felt pressured by other campers. If there is a line, I probably will dump and not spend a ton of time rinsing the black tank or dealing with Happy Campers.
I like to get my gloves on first thing, before handling any of the sewer gear. I hook the hose to the black tank first. Connecting it to the black tank will be pretty intuitive as long as your hose has the bayonet fittings like the Rhinoflex hose. You simply remove the end cap from the tank, slide the hose over the opening and turn until you feel it lock into place. If you are using a clear elbow, or a product like a Flush King, you will want to attach that directly to the black tank and then the hose to the Flush king attachment. Make sure the gate on the Flush King is open. If you don’t, it will back up and start to leak out. (Don’t ask me how I know this.) 🙂
I then take the hose to the dump station cleanout opening. These opening vary, but are often located on a concrete pad, that slopes a bit to the opening. Some have a foot type lever to open them and you will often find a big rock there to keep it open. Some are plastic and you might need your cleanout plug wrench. Either way, it should be pretty apparent how to open the cleanout. Sometimes, the cover is missing and you just stick your hose down into the hole. I nearly always use the donut adapter. It generally allows for a nice snug connection and I don’t have to worry about the hose popping out like a wild snake, spewing waste everywhere. If it does not feel snug, look for rocks to help you make it more snug. You probably are not the first to notice a less than secure connection.
At this point, take a quick look to make sure both connections are still secure. Take a second to notice the slope between the black tank and the cleanout. If your hose does not go at least a little downhill or has to climb over a curb you will either need to lift the hose as it empties or use your risers. If you have used a Flush King, make sure that the gate is open or else when you open the grey tank, the Flush King will act like a dam and your sewage will leak and create a mess. Don’t ask me how I know this. 🙂 You are now ready to open the flood gates.
To open the black tank, simply lift the handle. You will notice that opening the gate will give you a little rush at first and then the flow will dwindle as you near emptying your tank. Believe me. Your tank is not really empty at this point. I then connect the water hose – either my own or the own at the dump station, to the garden hose attachment on the Flush King. Next, close the gate on the Flush King, but leave the black tank gate open. You are ready to turn on the water. You will see water flowing into the Flush King and up into the tank. How do I know when the tank is full? I really don’t. I have never flooded the bathroom, but I usually only let it go for a couple of minutes before I open the gate to the Flush King and you will notice a fresh push of debris and water. Depending on how much time I have, whether there is a line, and how much I have used the black tank, will dictate how many times I repeat this. You will notice that with each rinse, the water gets more clear, until you see no debris. Once I am satisfied, I generally let the water flow through the sewer hose to rinse it out for a minute. I then close the black tank gate, remove the Flush King, and replace the tank cap. When it is time to remove the sewer hose or Flush King, I try to hold the tank cap under the sewer to catch anything that might drip and then
Next, I connect the sewer hose to the grey tank. The Flush King is not needed for this tank because the water coming out is from the sink or shower, only. If you don’t use a tool like the Flush King or Wand, the grey tank will serve to rinse out your hose after emptying the black tank. After connecting the hose, simply lift the gate and let it rip! When you are done emptying the grey tank, close the gate, and put the end cap on the tank and the sewer hose. Then go to the cleanout and remove the hose and place the end cap on that end of the hose.
A Couple of More Tricks
I keep 2 one gallon jugs for flushing with the toilet when I am dry camping or traveling. I also will use this water if there is no water available at the dump station to add to the tank if I am using Happy Campers. As a side note, unless water is marked as “potable”, never use water in your freshwater tank. It is not safe to drink, cook with, or for bathing.
The other trick is that the Rhinoflex can be shrunk to a very compact size. Simply keep pushing it in and it rather amazing.
Where Do You Store it All?
People have different places to keep the sewer hose and the accessories. I keep mine in the propane box. I have removed the battery from this area. I put the Happy Camper, wrench, donut adapter, and Flush King int he old battery box and simply work the hose in the area. Some people do not want their sewer hose to touch anything else. I can appreciate that, but I think it is fine in the propane box. Others use a special sewer hose storage tube to the T@b, either connected to the tongue or underneath he T@b. One creative owner has fabbed a pretty nice storage area in opening in the front of the T@b tongue.
End Caps are Fragile
Your tank end caps will probably break at some point. Not a big deal. Actually, The bayonets on mine have broken and I have still been able to use them until I could secure a replacement. These are standard items and easy to find. I have ordered them from Amazon.
Wrapping it Up
Dealing with the tanks and dumping is so much easier than I thought it would be. Once you do it a few times, you will wonder why you were so intimidated. Don’t avoid using your toilet because you are afraid to deal with your tanks, take the plunge! Let me know what other questions you have in the comments below.