VIDEO: The Dump Station Experience

Posted In: RV Lifestyle, Video

They say there’s camaraderie in campgrounds. No matter how large or small the RV, it’s pretty much a class free society. Perhaps this is because it’s tough to be a snob while you’re holding a sewer hose.

In RV parlance, sewage (that which goes into the toilet) is referred to as “black water.”

Water that accumulates in the shower and sinks is called “grey water.”

We fill up our grey water tanks much faster than black water. But every few days, both our Airstream’s water tanks have to be emptied. This is one of those jobs that newcomers approach with healthy amounts of fear. After all, it seems like it would be utterly disgusting, right?

Believe it or not, after a few times, emptying the water tanks is no big deal. In fact, I’ve even found myself enjoying the experience and taking pride in doing it well. It’s really not that bad, and should not be a “dirty job” if you do it right. So please, for everyone’s sake… do it right!

The secret is approaching the task well-armed with rubber gloves, hand sanitizer, and a sense of humor. Also, it doesn’t hurt to stand upwind. 🙂

And now, without further blather, we offer…


When we hurry, we make mistakes. I recall one time in North Carolina when I got in a hurry. I rapidly attached the sewer hose to our RV, but forgot to secure the other end to the sewer entry! I pulled the valve handle without even looking at the business end of the hose. This resulted in what we might call The “Oh Shhhh….ucks” Moment when I realized what I had done. Fortunately, I caught my mistake in time. I immediately shut the valve and minimized the ensuing carnage. The resulting scene was only “slightly disgusting,” when it could have been “utterly appalling.”

Okay, so this one is obvious. But HOW does one avoid spills?
Make certain the dump valve is shut before removing the end cap.
Make ABSOLUTELY CERTAIN the sewer hose is securely connected to the RV before pulling the dump valve.
Then MAKE ABSOLUTELY CERTAIN the other end of the hose is secured to the sewer entry.
Finally, you need to make absolutely certain the hose is well connected to the end fitting on the RV. How can you do so? Read on…

Quite often RV’ers buy sewer hoses and end fittings separately, then join them together. I mean, a new hose may not include the end fitting, and you may want to reuse your old fitting. The point here is to make certain the hose and fitting are tightly bonded together and cannot come loose. I’ve heard of more than one instance of the hose coming detached from the RV during the dumping process. This can result in mind-and-nose-searing spillage which may require years of psychological counseling. My time honored scientific solution? Duct tape, of course! After tightly putting the hose and end coupling together, I wrapped some heavy duty “gorilla tape” around each end of hose. Hey, it helps me sleep at night. Of course, you only have to do this once.

It’s just common sense, but if you have two water tanks, empty the nasty stuff first. By emptying your grey water tank last, you are effectively washing your sewer hose with all that soapy sink and shower water.

We buy two-pack boxes of rubber gloves at Costco in the Pharmacy section. (Full disclosure: I am a proud Costco shareholder; if we need it and they sell it, that’s where I’m buying it!). For about $20 you get enough rubber gloves to last you many seasons of camping. Heck, you get enough to supply a small surgical hospital. The rubber gloves are useful for other work purposes, like oil changes and so forth. We keep one box in the truck and another in the RV. You can probably buy similar gloves in drugstores and other pharmacy sections.

We keep Purell hand sanitizer in our RV and in our truck. Even when using rubber gloves, I just feel better after a thorough dose of Purell. We really like the foam pump version of Purell, although sometimes it can be hard to find. We bought a couple of six-packs of the foam at (where else?) Costco! But they rarely have it in stock.

At the moment we carry a sewer hose that’s as long as possible given our RV’s storage capacity. (We have one of those hose storage bins beneath our Airstream.) There’s no rhyme or reason to campsite layout. Sometimes the sewer connection is in the front, sometimes in the back. It’s totally unpredictable, so you’ll want plenty of hose to minimize hassle. There’s nothing more annoying than paying for a full hookup campsite and being unable to connect your sewer hose.

If you check the RV section of Wal-Mart or similar stores, you’ll find a $3 or $4 rubber device commonly called a “donut.” It’s just a little rubber seal that should fit the sewer end of your hose. Some campgrounds require a donut, so you might as well go ahead and pick one up.

This tip is optional, but we have a “Sidewinder” brand sewer hose support. For reasons I cannot fathom, as plastic contraptions go they are fairly expensive — ours cost over $30. (Maybe it’s because they do a thankless job?) Granted, it’s probably not the most exciting purchase you’ll make in your life, but these things are fairly rugged and they do a decent job of supporting the sewer hose when doing their duty. And when not doing their duty, they make your campsite look a little more civilized, don’t ya think? Note that even with a sewer hose support, it’s probably a good idea to manually lift the hose just a bit when emptying the tanks to help, um, move things along. No worries, because you’re wearing your rubber gloves, right?


I’ll close our little list where we began: THIS SHOULD NOT BE A DIRTY JOB. Take your time, make certain that all connections are secure, and soon the dump station will become a highlight of your day. (Okay, maybe that last statement was a little much.)

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