When I was camping at Assateague last month, a man walked up to me and said “Can I pay you a compliment?”. “Sure,” I replied. He said he had watched me come into camp the night before and was just amazed that I could drive my own motorhome and unhitch my toad so easily. He then was amazed to see me the next day as I paddled in to shore, deflated and packed up my Sea Eagle FastTrack kayak into the back of my Tracker. He finished by saying “you’re one gutsy lady!”
While I know the gentleman meant well, and I politely thanked him for his compliments, I felt like saying “What alternative do I have? Sit at home waiting for some man to come along? And miss out at being able to camp on the ocean shore and paddle this beautiful bay?!!!” But I kept my mouth shut, smiled, and walked away.
My brother and I were raised to be independent and self-sufficient (perhaps to a fault!), but I was never told I couldn’t/shouldn’t do something just because of my gender. While I envy my RVing friends who have husbands to travel with and help them with the more unpleasant and dirty tasks of RVing, I’ve never had that luxury.
So, what’s a girl to do….stay at home? Never! I’d just have to learn to do those “manly” tasks myself. Now that I’ve been RVing a few years and doing them, they honestly aren’t hard or unpleasant. Even if you have a nice spouse who’s doing them now for you, it’s always good to learn these skills yourself in case of an emergency.
So on to the 1st and perhaps most feared of all female RVer phobias—dumping the tanks!
There are a variety of products available and methods to tank-dumping, so my way outlined below might not be the way you (or your spouse) prefer. But, so far in 3 years, it’s a method that has worked well for me, and the supplies all fit nicely in my RV’s water/sewer compartment. So, let’s get started:
The brown hose with orange fittings is a RhinoFLEX kit. Clicking the link will take you to a great little video on how to use this product. The kit is very reasonably priced at less than $30 on Amazon. What I like about it most besides the ruggedness and durability of the hose, are the end caps and robust fittings. While some old timers might recoil in horror, I store my sewer hose next to my fresh water fill hoses inside my RV’s utility compartment (because there are no other good external places to store these).
A few important things to note, though—the RhinoFLEX is always rinsed off and capped with caps facing away from the hoses. The fresh water hoses are always connected end to end and stored with their connectors up away from the Rhino hose. I additionally use an external water filter that is stored with caps on both ends of it to provide secondary filtering to all drinking water for the RV (the other filter is inside in the RV’s plumbing line).
The black contraption to the left of the RhinoFLEX in the first photo above is called a Flush King. It allows me to back-flush my tanks with either gray water or water from a hose to ensure anything inside the tank still stuck on the walls or bottom are flushed out (and thus eliminating potential problems with faulty tank level readings later on). Here’s a link to a copy-cat product by Camco that has a short video of how this process works. I like the Flush King better because it has an angled connector that’s easier for the limited clearance I have with the View’s sewer pipe.
The final item in the first photo above is a pack of disposable gloves to use while handling all sewer-related items. These aren’t required, but do help keep germs minimized before washing hands later.
My RV Dump Process Step-by-Step:
Because I back-flush with every dump, my process involves a few extra steps that you would not need to do if just using the RhinoFLEX directly. But here’s how I do it:
1. Ensure both Black and Gray valves on your RV are pushed fully closed (in). You don’t want any surprises greeting you when you open your RV sewer drain cap!
2. Unscrew the RV’s sewer drain pipe cap. The seal might be a bit “gritty” and hard to turn, so give it a good strong grip and turn it clockwise. Note that mine seems to release a few cups of gray water when I do this (so be sure your gloves are on!). I likely have a small gap or particle in my gray tank release valve seal right now that’s causing it to leak slightly. Ah, the joys of RV ownership…always some small thing to get fixed!
3. Attach the Flush King to the Drain Pipe Bayonet. (Skip this step if not back-flushing). Twist the Flush King counter-clockwise until the 4 little plastic prongs on the RV’s Drain Pipe click into the 4 little C-shaped tabs on the Flush King’s connector. Make VERY SURE that all sides are secure and fully “clicked” into place. The Flush King’s clear pipe should feel like a solid extension of your RV’s drain and should not wobble at all on the bayonet.
5. Connect the RhinoFLEX to the Flush King. This is the exact same bayonet fitting as in Step 3, so follow the same process to connect it, again being sure that all 4 prongs are securely clicked all the way into the C-shaped grippers (if not back-flushing, you’d simply connect the Rhino directly to the RV drain connector).
6. Remove the black end cap from the Sewer-side of RhinoFLEX and attach the orange threaded fitting. This is a bayonet-type fitting as well. There are 4 small tabs on the hose end that fit corresponding notches on the inside of the end cap or threaded fitting to twist and lock these onto the hose. Whenever possible, it’s better to actually screw the orange threaded fitting into the dump station’s drian pipe and THEN connect the RhinoFLEX to the fitting. But at some dump stations, the drain pipe is unthreaded and just has a metal flapper cover (like this example), so in this situation, I attach the threaded fitting to the hose first.
7. Open the Dump Station’s Sewer Drain Cover. At a dump station, you’ll usually see a metal cap with a little foot lever to open it. At a full hookup RV site, the sewer pipe will usually be a white PVC screw-off cap with a sqaure grip on top.
8. Extend the RhinoFLEX hose and secure it into the Dump Station sewer drain. Again, if the sewer pipe has threads, screw your orange fitting into that first. If the pipe is unthreaded, be sure something heavy rests on top of the Rhino’s white elbow to keep it securely in the sewer drain.
NEWBIE TIP: I once thought that if the sewer pipe didn’t have threads, there’d be no need to connect the orange fitting to the Rhino, and I simply had the white elbow placed directly into the sewer drain. As soon as I release the black tank I realized my error as the hose jumped out of the sewer and spewed my black tank waste all over the dump station. What a mess that was to clean up!
9. Bombs Away! Release the Black Tank contents into the sewer. This is the moment of truth that will confirm whether or not your connections were all securely fastened! I first pull the Black tank valve handle all the way open (out). When I see the tank contents fill up the clear pipe of the Flush King, I then pull open the FK’s valve to let them proceed on to the sewer.
NEWBIE TIP: Keep your hand on the valve and watch the hose/sewer when you first release. If any sign of problems, immediately push the valve closed again. I made the mistake once of opening the valve and walking over to the sewer to watch progress there (remember the tip above about the orange fitting?). Well yep, when the hose jumped out of the drain, my shoes got splashed and trashed, and it seemed like an eternity to get back over to the valve to close it again! Take your time, stay close to the valves and away from the sewer, and don’t let anyone or anything distract you while the valves are open!!!
10. Once the Black Tank is done, Drain the Gray Tank (and back-flush if you are using a Flush King). Now if I didn’t have my Flush King in place, all I’d be doing is rinsing the Rhino hose with the gray water when it drains into the sewer. I’d not have any easy way to rinse the black tank. But with a Flush King, I can back-flush gray water into my Black tank first before sending it down the sewer hose. This cleans out the “leftovers” on the bottom of the black tank before they have time to harden and cause blockages inside the tank later on.
I do the following “dance of the tank valves” sequence to back-flush the black tank. It reads much more complicated than it actually is…trust me!
1. Keeping the black tank valve open, I close the Flush King (FK) valve.
2. I then open the Gray tank valve which fills the FK clear pipe then begins backing up into the open black tank.
3. Once I hear it stop moving, I close the Gray tank valve.
4. I then open the Flush King valve sending the backflushed black tank contents on to the sewer.
5. Once drained, I repeat these 4 steps again to push more gray water over to flush the black tank until I see clear water draining from the black tank (via the Flush King’s clear pipe).
6. I finally close the black tank valve, open the Flush King valve, and then open the gray tank valve to send it’s final contents on their merry way.
7. Once the gray tank is empty, I close the gray tank valve and keep the Flush King valve open another minute or two to ensure everything has drained from the RV drain pipe. I then close the Flush King valve and tank dumping is complete.
NEWBIE TIP: A few times a year, if I want to get my black tank really good and flushed, rather than do the dance of the tank valves with gray water flushing, I hook up a garden hose (NEVER a white fresh water fill hose!) to the hose fitting on the back of the Flush King, and rather than back flush the black tank with gray water, I back fill the tank with water from the garden hose and get the tank filled as much as possible. I repeat this process a couple of times to ensure that the side walls of the black tank are good and clean. This process is easiest performed while at a full hookup campsite where the water spigot and sewer drain are fairly close to each other.
11. Disconnect, drain, & rinse off the RhinoFLEX and Flush King. Stow everything back in the RV and re-attach all caps. Once all valves are closed again, I disconnect the Rhino hose from the Flush King/RV and hold it up directly over the sewer drain. If I have access to a non-potable water supply (most Dump stations have a water spigot like this painted in red and/or has a non-threaded hose attached to it near the sewer drain), I’ll rinse some of this water down the hose into the sewer drain, then I’ll disconnect the orange threaded fitting and Flush King and rinse those items off as well. I’ll then reattach the Rhino end caps and the RV’s drain cap and stow all items back in the RV.
12. Rinse the dump station down, dispose of your gloves, wash hands, refill your black and gray tanks slightly, and be on your way! Proper Dump Station etiquette is to take the non-potable water hose and rinse off the area around the sewer drain and beneath your RV’s drain pipe.to ensure the station is clean for the next RVer to use it. NEVER use this water supply to fill your fresh water tank. There will usually be another water spigot further away for that purpose.
Once the Dump Station is back in order, come into the RV to wash up and refill your tanks with a gallon or two of water to prevent the tank bottoms from drying out (run the kitchen faucet and toilet sprayer a minute or two).
If there are line of RVs behind you, you’re best best is to skip the Flush King back-flushing process, quickly dump your black and then your gray tanks, and save the back-flushing for another day.
Sewer Hose Usage at Full Hookup Sites – the great debate!
Some folks think because they have a full hookup site, they must drag out the sewer hose and connect it as soon as they arrive. I suppose if you’re planning to stay at in-place for over a week, that might make good sense, but otherwise, keep your hose packed away from the harsh sun and only bring it out when you need to dump. My RhinoFLEX is now 2 years old with no signs of pinhole leaks or other problems due to exposure to the elements.
NEWBIE TIP: If you do plan to stay at one site awhile and hook up your sewer hose, do NOT keep the black tank valve open! Not only will you get some pretty strong sewer smells whenever you flush your RV toilet, you’re also very likely to develop a dried up “pyramid” at the bottom of your black tank due to insufficient liquids to keep things afloat.
Now I guarantee that you’ve just spent more time reading this lengthy post than it will actually take you to dump your tanks! But after dumping a few times, you’ll have the process down. While I’m not sure any RVer ever comes to love tank-dumping, girls that dump their own tanks certainly will feel a sense of accomplishment and independence! Go ahead, give it a try!