How To Dump Your Dark & Grey Water Tanks In 21 Easy Steps

dump waste tanks

This is something that is taken for granted as you will do this quite frequently, in the time you own your RV. Do it correctly and you will enjoy your ownership of your RV. Do it incorrectly and you will have a smelly frustration and maybe even a plugged system.

How To Dump Your Dark & Grey Water Tanks In 21 Easy Steps 1

Not Fun! This is a step by step process on how you do a dump of your Rv’s Dark and Greywater storage tanks at a sanidump. Follow the steps below and you’ll keep your tanks trouble free.

Here’s The List Of Items Required For This Task:

  1. A hose NOT for drinking long enough to reach to the toilet
  2. A partner or assistant
  3. Rinse wand
  4. A medium bucket for cleaning
  5. Bleach or sanitizer
  6. Rubber gloves
  7. RV drain hose long enough to reach the sani-dump
  8. A rock or firewood log for holding down the sani-dump nozzle
How To Dump Your Dark & Grey Water Tanks In 21 Easy Steps 2

Here Are The Steps To Complete A Proper Dump Like A Pro In (21 Steps):

  1. Park the RV with the dark water drain tanks as close to the sani station as you can. It is always on the driver side.
  2. Open all the exterior doors for your dark and grey water tanks, if you have doors that cover it. Some Rv’s don’t have this and just have the dump on the bottom near the end of the RV.
  3. Put on disposable rubber gloves if you want at this time.
  4. Get your dump hoses out and plug the one end into your RV and the other into the Sani dump. You might want to put something with a little weight like a piece of firewood or rock on the end of the dump hose attached to the sani.
  5. Take out your bottle of bleach or sanitizer and place it next to the RV near the water spigot.
  6. Attach a hose that is NOT used for your drinking water and attach to your dark water tank rinse. You will need another hose aside from the one you use for drinking water. (If you do not have a rinse a hose attachment on the outside of your RV, you can skip this step )
  7. So now everything is attached, pull the dark water tank and wait till it is drained and you can hear that the dark water tank has completely emptied. This usually takes about a minute or two. Now pull the grey water tank stopper and turn on the water to full to the dark water tank, (for those that have the Dark Water Rinse) while the grey water is emptying. (Once the grey water tank is empty, keep the water running for a few moments, if you have the dark water attachment)
  8. When you think the grey water has completely emptied, you will hear that the liquid has stopped. Start to lift the dump hose a little starting from the side attached to the RV and moving towards the sani dump. You don’t want to lift it up much just a little to get the liquid moving down the dump hose.
  9. Once you are satisfied that all the dark water and grey water has emptied, turn off the water to the dark water rinse and remove the hose from the outlet on the RV.
  10. Now attach the Wand to the end of the hose and make sure the water is shut off at the end of the wand. But before that, you wanna make sure the hose is going to be long enough to reach through a window near the bathroom or around and in through the door on the other side and to the toilet.
  11. Now turn on the water and you will feel the hose start to stiffen up from the pressure in the hose. Now go inside or pass it through the window to someone else to hold while you go inside to the toilet. Bring your bucket with you now and place it just outside of the bathroom. You will need it after the rinse.
  12. Once inside and in front of the toilet, step on the flush and keep your foot on the flush for the entire time of this procedure. (You probably do not want to have your head directly over the toilet or you might get a smell of your dark water tank.) Now stick the rinse wand down the tank and make sure you hit bottom. Then turn on the water from the switch at the end of the wand attached to the hose in your other hand. Remember to keep the flush pedal pressed down.
  13. Once the water is on you will hear and feel the water splashing about in the tank below. You want to make sure not splashing out of the toilet. Use a plunging motion going up and down, making sure not to pull the end of the wand out of the toilet. Repeat this step for about 3 to 4 minutes so as to clean the walls of your dark water tank and rinse out any semi-solid material in your tank. You can continue this plunging motion for a bit longer if you would like to make sure you have emptied your waste.
  14. Once you are satisfied that the tank is clear of any solids and the walls of your dark water tank are clean. Have someone close the drain vent outside to your Dark and grey Water tanks. Now you are going to fill the tank with a little with water. You want to make sure you have about 5-10% water in the dark water tank. This keeps any solids from the toilet from sticking to the bottom and creates any kind of build up.
  15. Turn off the water to the wand and remove from the toilet gently being careful not to splash or getting any water or drippings anywhere. Place the end in the bucket and take it outside and back to the sani station. Turn off the rinse water at the spigot and remove the wand from the hose. You might need to turn on the leaver at the wand to release any pressure.
  16. Now fill the bucket with water to about ¾ of the way and add about 1/2 cup of bleach.
  17. Leave the water running at a nice low flow rate as you are now going to flush the dump hose that you remove from the RV. Proceed to remove the Dump hose from the RV with two hands. Do not let go of the hose and lift the hose up to drain any additional liquid down the sani station. Now pick up the rinse hose and proceed to rinse the inside of the dump hose. Do not stick the hose in the sani hose but more of a pouring motion in circles slowly filling the inside of the sani hose. This is wash any other stuff in the hose down.
  18. Once you are satisfied the hose is clean, feel free to remove the hose from the sani station and place it on the ground next to you. Next you will sanitize the wand.
  19. Sanitize the wand by putting the end that went into the toilet in the water swirl around the water with the wand to sanitize it. Your buck might not be deep enough to sanitize the entire hose, so  you will then tip the buck towards the drain of the sani and hold the wand below the bucket so as to have the bleached water pour over the wand. Be sure to wet the entire part of the wand that went in the toilet.
  20. Now you are now complete with the dump and ready to rinse off everything from the outside like the sani hose, empty the bucket and rinse.
  21. If you want you can put an enzyme puck in your toilet and flush. So now you are ready to put things away and ready for the next dump. You might also want to add about ½ gallon.

This added step that we have included here is the wand, we found that by using a wand we were able to get things down in the dark water tank extra clean and keep the smells down. I did a little research and found that if you improved the ventilation to the dark water tank the odors were kept down considerably, even without adding enzyme pucks and dark water tank solutions.

Upgrade To Better Ventilation For The Dark And Grey Tanks?

Don’t I just open the vent in my bathroom and turn on the fan? Well not exactly, your dark tank and grey tank have a separate ventilation on the roof of your RV, that goes right into the tanks,  this allows all the gases from your tanks out.

There is a cap that covers this pipe that prevents things from falling into it and allows the gasses to escape. Now if there is not proper ventilation to get the gasses out of the tank, it will the smells and gases will back up and out your toilet and into your bathroom and give it that all too familiar toilet smell.

The standard cover on most RV’s out there is not sufficient to get the proper suction to get as much of the gasses out. I would recommend installing the 360 siphon that helps get as much of the gasses out of your septic tanks even with the slightest breeze. Here is a picture of mine. 

How To Dump Your Dark & Grey Water Tanks In 21 Easy Steps 3

It retails for $25 to $35 dollar ad is well worth it. It is an easy install that takes not more than half an hr. The 360 siphon even has a bug screen built into it to prevent bugs from going down. The manufacturer even says that there is no need for chemicals to keep the odors down and out of the bathroom. With proper ventilation, I would agree.

Won’t Toilet Treatment Get Rid Of The Smell?

Well, it can’t hurt to use something to speed things up, but why would you spend money if you don’t need to. A toilet treatment is about $1 to $2 per treatment each time you have made a dump, it does not take long before the 360 Siphon without toilet treatment to recoup your money spent.

But if you find that you still have odors in your bathroom after you have used a wand to flush and installed a 360 siphon and do ahead and use the treatment. However, not all toilet treatments are equal!

Probiotic Enzymes Are Your friends!

Yes, that is right! Your Dark tank and your grey tank is full of bacteria, that is why it has a smell. There is a battleground of different types of bacteria in there. Their are nasty ones and friendly ones. We call those friendly ones Probiotics, kind of like the ones in your body and everywhere else.

Those probiotics/bacteria break down your stuff that goes in the toilet and make it usable by the earth and completes the nutrient life cycle. There is a nutrient conversion going on that turns the waste into things like nitrogen for the planet.

So picking the right stuff to put in the dark tank either masks and slows the process of conversion or speeds things up and helps mother nature complete the nutrient cycle. Our favorite brand for that is Unique and happy campers.

How To Dump Your Dark & Grey Water Tanks In 21 Easy Steps 4
How To Dump Your Dark & Grey Water Tanks In 21 Easy Steps 4

Do I Leave My Dark Water And Grey Water Dump Left Open The Entire Time I Am Hooked Up?

Both dark water and grey water should be closed when using full hook up until your tanks have reached at least 2/3rd full. Then you dump just as you would when you are driving up to a sani dump station.

There are three reasons why we do this. First, the camps septic system is vented a particular way to take the gasses away from the sani dumps, and if the system is left open all the time the gasses will go into and through up into your bathroom.

Second, you will getting a build up of solids in your dark and grey water tanks on the bottom and they could become stuck and build up causing other issues. Third, there are rodents that live in the septic system that can get into your dark water or grey water system and decide to stay there.

What Do I Do At The End Of The Season For Winter Storage?

Follow the steps outlined above with the wand method of cleaning above, but rather than adding extra water at the end just completely empty, as you will be pouring antifreeze in the dark tank and down the drains into your grey tank after you completed cleaning the tanks.

My Bathroom Still Smells And I Did All The Steps!

Most everything here should eliminate the smells in your bathroom. If you have flushed with a wand a few times, used the enzyme and installed the 360 Siphon, and put water in the tank after each sani dump. Then I would say that it is time to bring in the big guns and get an expert to have a look at your septic system.

It might be that you have crud build-up or some blockage of some sort in the ventilation systems. Etc. So time to get some expert help. Let me know if you thought this article was helpful or missing anything. I hope this helps!


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