Dump station

How Do RV Dump Stations Work? (Prices & How-To Guide)

In RV living by Kate Holmes

Using an RV for travel is not only great when it comes to storage and size, but also appealing because of their “on-suite” bathrooms.

However, this means that you will need to become proficient in using RV dump stations.

So, how do RV stations work?  RV dump stations allow you to connect your RV’s septic tank to an underground waste disposal station so that you can safely and efficiently empty your tank. It’s the correct way to get rid of your wastewater from the toilet in your camper or RV.

While knowing what an RV dumping station is can be important, knowing how to use it is a completely different battle.

Here is everything you need to know about RV dump stations so that you can hit the road without skipping a beat.

How Do You Use an RV Dump Station?

Dump station

Before hitting the road, you should do a quick search to find RV dumping stations along your path.  Once you get to the dump station, there are a series of steps that you need to take in order to properly empty your RV’s septic tank.

Here is a step-by-step guide to properly use an RV dump station:

1) Align Your RV

The first thing you will need to do is properly line your RV up with the pump located in the station.

This will also require you to know where your tank hook-ups are located.  Park your RV as close to the pump attachments as you can.  This way you can easily get in and out without missing a beat.

3) Safety First 

Because you will be working with human waste, you will want to make sure that you are protecting your skin.  While heavy-duty rubber gloves are a must, Some people prefer to take it one step further.

Wear clothes that you don’t mind getting dirty and even a face mask if you are sensitive to smells.

3) Connect the Pump

Start by taking your RV connector hose and first attach it to the pump station before sealing it on your RV’s tank. You will want to make sure that the hose is properly fitted to the pump station hose using the sealing rings that come fitted with your hose.

This will help to ensure that there will be no spills or splattering.  For extra measure, use a weighted object to hold the hose in place to the dumping hole.

After the hose is securely in place where you are sure it won’t pop out, connect the other end of the hose to your tank’s emptying valve.

4) Release the Valve 

Once you are sure that both ends of the hose are securely in place, you are now ready to open the valve to release the waste.  The valve handle should be located right at the base of your “black tank”.  Open the valve completely until you hear the liquids start to flow through the hose.

5) Rinsing Your Tank

While your tank is emptying, you can start to prepare your RV for rinsing.  This can easily be done with a standard garden hose.  Depending on the style of your RV, you should have some sort of automatic rinsing system located on your “black tank”.

Once your tank has finished draining, attach your water hose to both your RV and the dumping station.

Let the water flow through the tank a few times to ensure that solids that may be stuck in the bottom of the tank can be loosened and rinsed away with the water.  Automatic rinsing systems will allow the water to flow without much work on your end.

However, if you have an older RV system, you may need to manually rinse your tank by flushing your RV’s toilet a few times.

6) Close the Valve 

Once your tank is clean and flushed, you can turn off your black tank’s valve and remove the waste hose from both ends.  Before putting away your supplies, give your tank one final rinse to make sure that it is completely clean and empty.

This step is very important because nothing is worse than hitting the road with a lingering waste smell left in your tank.

How Much Does it Cost to use an RV Pump Station?

Most full-service dump stations will cost you on average $10-$25 per dump.  This will allow you to do everything from emptying your tank to rinsing your black tank completely.

If you are looking to get a dump station membership, your fees will run you anywhere from $200-$1500 a year for a full-service membership.

While most people prefer to pay a one-time fee for using a dumping station, memberships are great for people who travel year round.

The cost of using an RV dump station will vary depending on where you are traveling.

It also should be noted that there are a few dump stations that offer free water and hose access.

You should always factor in using a dump station into your travel budget, especially since free stations are few and far between.  However, there are quite a few dump stations that offer discounts to seniors and members of the military.

Most RV dump stations will either require a one time fee or a membership in order to use the station.  While using a “one-time” station might be inevitable, you should look into obtaining a pump station membership.  Especially if you are planning on using a station that is a chain.

This way you can use multiple stations for the basic cost of one membership.

What Do RV Stations Look Like?

Knowing what an RV dump station looks like is important for first-time travelers.

This way you can be an expert at spotting these specialty stations along your travel path.  RV dump stations look like a cross between typical gas stations and car washing stations.

There will be several dumping “docks” that are located next to each other but far enough away for larger RVs to park comfortably along the pumps.

Feeling nervous about your first trip to an RV dump station?  Have no worries!  Dump stations are designed to be very user-friendly.

It also should be noted that most RV travelers are more than willing to give newbies a hand when it comes to hooking up their tank.  Also, most stations have signs that show step-by-step guides to help you be able to clean your black tank like a pro.

What Should You Bring to an RV Dump Station?

Using an RV dump station does take a little bit of planning and preparation beforehand.

You will want to make sure that you stock up on pump station supplies before hitting the road.

While many of these supplies are available for purchase at truck stops along the way, it’s always a good rule of thumb to grab the things you need before heading out on your adventure.

You can find the right items you need in order to properly use an RV dump station at RV supply stores or even some big box hardware stores.

Here is a complete list of supplies you will need:

  • Heavy-duty rubber gloves
  • Rubber smock or apron to protect clothes 
  • Standard water or garden hose
  • Weighted discs to keep the hose in place
  • Rags or towels that you don’t mind ruining
  • Buckets for flushing water

Many of the things you will need to use an RV dumping station will already come standard with your RV.

This is especially true if you have a newer model of RV that already comes with an automatic tank flusher.

The main hose that connects your RV to the dumping station hole should already be stored near your black tank.  However, if you find that this hose is damaged or missing, you are able to order or purchase a replacement depending on the model of your RV.

Become a Dump Station Pro

Even avid RV travelers have a little trouble when it comes to using an RV dump station.  User error is the most common problem that people face.

Whether the hose isn’t connected tightly enough or the hose becomes clogged, everyone has been there.  So if your first pass at using a dump station doesn’t go perfectly, don’t be too hard on yourself.

When it comes to properly empty and cleaning your RV’s black tank, practice makes perfect.  Luckily for you, you will be emptying your tank anywhere from 2-3 times a week which means soon you will become a professional.  Before you know it, you will be cleaning out your tank without skipping a beat.

Good luck.

Sources: RVdumps.com, wikipedia.org, everything-about-rving.com