Can You Dump Your RV Waste in a Septic Tank?

Last Updated on March 21, 2023 by Jess

If you use your RV to its full potential, you’ll eventually need to empty the septic tanks. But can you dump your RV waste into a septic tank?

When you empty at a campground dump station, you often have to wait in line for a long time. Plus, emptying your tanks in front of an audience can be stressful. You don’t want to be the one who makes a mistake at the dump station.

If you’re in a hurry to get home, consider all your options. Can you dispose of RV waste in a septic tank? Let’s take a look!

What is a septic tank?

Septic tanks are massive containers used to treat and store wastewater from homes or businesses that are not connected to a sewer system.

They use a natural process in which the tank and soil bacteria break down organic matter. In addition, this process reduces the number of harmful pathogens and pollutants.

These are common solutions for wastewater disposal in rural areas or other places without sewer systems.

How do septic tanks work?

Septic tanks use a natural process for separation, treatment, and discharge. During the first process, separation, the waste is sorted into solids, scum, and liquid.

Naturally, solids sink to the bottom, while lighter materials float to the surface and form a scum layer.

The middle layer, the liquid, is broken down by bacteria in the septic tank. This drastically reduces pathogens and pollutants in the wastewater before it is discharged into a drain field. There, the water is sucked into the ground and cleaned naturally.

Unfortunately, septic tanks require a delicate balance of bacteria and other organisms to function properly. Occasionally, owners must maintain their septic tank by pumping out the sludge and scum to prevent buildup.

Are you legally allowed to empty your RV tanks into your septic tank?

Unfortunately, the rules and regulations for disposing of RV waste in a septic tank are often confusing. Just because you have a tank on your property doesn’t mean you can legally empty it. Laws can vary from state to state and county to county.

Before you dump your tanks at home, be sure to check the laws where you live. You don’t want to be hit with a hefty fine for illegal dumping.

We recommend checking with your local municipality or city government to find out what the regulations are. If they don’t have an answer, they can help you find one.

Or you may be referred to the local health department or law enforcement agency. If you get an answer from there, it may be helpful to get documentation in case someone challenges you for dumping your tanks into your septic tank.

How to empty your RV tanks into a septic tank

After making sure you can legally empty your RV tanks into your septic tank, it’s fairly simple. However, you need to follow a certain procedure to avoid any potential problems. Let’s take a look at it!

Find drain pipe

First, locate the drain pipe. These are usually PVC pipes that stick out of the ground a few inches. This is the place where you connect your RV to drain your tanks.

Your drain pipe is usually located somewhere near your home. If you see a pipe sticking out of the ground near your house, it’s probably the drain pipe.

However, we strongly recommend that you consult a professional if you are in doubt. You don’t want to dump the contents of your black tank into a random pipe.

Using attachments to connect the RV to the septic tank

Once you’ve made sure you’ve located the drainage pipe, you can connect your RV to it. The length of sewer hose you will need will depend greatly on the location of your sewer connection.

First, connect a clear elbow to your sewer hose and then connect it to the drain pipe.

Then run the hose back to your RV’s drain connection and make sure your drain valves are closed.

When you remove the wastewater cap, you should catch any liquids or drips with the wastewater hose. This will help you avoid spilling anything on the floor.

Always empty the black tank first

Make sure your connections are tight, then drain the black tank first. Many RVers open their gray tank for five to 10 seconds to test their connections. If you don’t have something connected properly, it’s better to find out with gray water than with the contents of the black tank.

When you are sure everything is okay, you can open the black tank completely. Take your time and empty the tank completely. If you rush this process, only sludge will remain at the bottom of the tank.

When the black tank is emptied, you can close the valve and repeat the process with the gray tanks.

Flush the black tank regularly

Don’t forget to flush your black tanks regularly. If you can dispose of your RV’s waste into a holding tank at home, it’s much easier. If there are more than two or three weeks between trips, we recommend flushing the tanks at the end of each trip.

Flushing the tanks helps keep them clean and prevents odors from getting into your RV. If you have an RV with a connection for a black tank flush, this is a simple task that requires little effort.

If you don’t have such a connection, you’ll have to run water through the toilet or use a hose to quickly fill the black tank with water.

Close the tank valves when you are done

One important step you must not overlook is closing the fuel tank valves. Unfortunately, we know several RV owners who have overlooked this step at one time or another. You hope you never make this mistake, but if you do, you hope you only make it once.

If you leave your tank valves open, you’ll be in for a surprise the next time you want to drain your tanks.

The liquid fills the drain pipe, and the lid is the only thing holding it back. When you remove the lid, the contents of the tank spill out onto you, the ground, and everything else in the vicinity.

Remember: Is it safe to drive an RV with a full water tank? Let’s find out!

Where else can you drain your RV tanks?

You need to drain your tanks even if you don’t have a sewer connection at home. Luckily, there are a handful of other places you can drain your RV tanks. Learn more here!


Campgrounds are one of the most common places where RV campers empty their tanks. Many do not know that some campgrounds allow non-guests to use the dump station for a small fee.

This is very convenient if you want to avoid expensive camping fees by staying overnight in the area. It may cost $10 or $15, but you can empty your tanks and fill them up with drinking water.

We recommend calling ahead and asking if the campground will let you empty your tanks and fill up with water. Some campgrounds are less hospitable than others and only allow guests to use their facilities. However, most campgrounds are happy to accept your money.


In recent years, many gas stations have begun to cater to RVers. Many of these rest stops have set up special fueling stations for RVs that offer just about everything RVers need, such as a dump station. Some offer discounts if you are a member of a loyalty program or club like Good Sam.

Unfortunately, the truck stops that offer these services are not always the best. We have tremendous luck with reviewing truck stop apps to know what services they offer.

So download the apps for your favorite truck stops to take advantage of all the amenities during your trip.


It’s always a pleasant surprise to pull over at a rest stop and find that there is a waste disposal station. Many of these government facilities can be used free of charge.

We have often stopped at rest stops to empty our tanks and found it very convenient. Since these facilities can accommodate large vehicles, RVs of all sizes can easily get in and out.

RV Dealers

You may think that RV dealers are only good for buying a motorhome and overpriced accessories, but that’s not always the case. Many RV dealers have septic tank dumps that customers can use.

We recommend calling ahead and checking with each store to make sure it is a service they offer. Dealers want you to have a pleasant experience and have a good opinion of them so they can earn your business for your next RV purchase.

Pro Tip: Before you head to a municipal landfill, know these unspoken rules for RV dumps

Urban and rural wastewater treatment plants

Many people overlook urban and rural wastewater treatment plants when they need to empty their tanks. Unfortunately, they are not always the easiest for larger trucks to reach because they are located in the city, which can be problematic for truck drivers.

Call ahead to make sure service is available if you choose this route. If so, find out where you should park or how to get to the landfill.

Do your research, especially if you are in an unfamiliar area, and find out about low clearance or other issues that could pose a risk to you and your vehicle.

Know when and how to empty your tanks

Draining your tanks is an unavoidable part of RV ownership. If you have a septic tank at home, emptying your RV tanks can be a much less stressful experience. But just because you have a septic tank doesn’t mean you can always drain your tanks at home.

Educate yourself on the law and know how to properly drain your tanks. If you damage your septic system, it could be a very costly mistake.

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