How to Bypass RV Holding Tanks (I Covered 7 Methods)

RV holding tanks are a necessary part of RV life, but they can also be a pain to deal with. If you’re tired of emptying and cleaning your holding tanks, you may be wondering if there’s a way to bypass them altogether.

The good news is that there are a few different ways to bypass RV holding tanks. Such as you can carry a portable waste tank with your RV or can use a macerator pump to use them for bypassing the holding tanks. However, it’s important to note that there are also some risks associated with bypassing your holding tanks. 

In this article, I’ll discuss the different ways to bypass RV holding tanks, as well as some tips for doing so safely and effectively.

How to Bypass RV Holding Tanks

Method 1: Use a Portable Waste Tank (PWT)

A Portable Waste Tank (PWT) is a wheeled tank that can be used to store and transport wastewater from an RV. PWTs are typically made of plastic or metal and come in a variety of sizes. Some PWTs have a single opening, while others have two openings, one for filling and one for emptying.

To use a PWT, you will need to connect it to your RV’s sewer outlet. This is usually done with a standard RV sewer hose. Once the PWT is connected, you can open the valves on your RV’s holding tanks and allow the wastewater to flow into the PWT.

Once the PWT is full, you can disconnect it from your RV and tow it to a dump station. At the dump station, you can connect the PWT to the sewer inlet and open the valves to empty the tank.

Pro Tip: Invest in a quality PWT with wheels for easy maneuverability. Nobody wants to drag their waste through the woods.

Method 2: Install a Macerator Pump

A macerator pump is a device that grinds down solid waste into a slurry, making it easier to transport and dump. It is a popular addition to RV arsenals because it allows users to dump their holding tanks into portable waste tanks or nearby sewers, even if the tanks are not level or the sewer is at a higher elevation.

Macerator pumps work by using a series of blades to chop up solid waste into small pieces. The blades are typically powered by an electric motor, but there are also manual macerator pumps available. Once the waste has been ground up, the pump can be used to transport it to a portable waste tank or a nearby sewer.

Macerator pumps are relatively easy to install and use. They typically connect to the RV’s sewer outlet using a standard RV sewer hose. Once the pump is connected, the user simply needs to turn it on and allow it to grind up the waste. Once the waste has been ground up, the user can open the valves on the RV’s holding tanks and allow the waste to flow into the pump. The pump will then transport the waste to the portable waste tank or nearby sewer.

Pro Tip: Make sure to keep a spare fuse for your macerator pump – you wouldn’t want to be stuck with a clogged hose far from civilization.

Method 3: Use a Sewer Hose Extension

A sewer hose extension is a great way to add extra length to your RV’s sewer hose. This can be useful if the dump station is far away from your campsite, or if you need to position your RV in a specific way to reach the dump station.

Sewer hose extensions are typically made of the same material as RV sewer hoses, such as PVC or rubber. They come in a variety of lengths, so you can choose the one that best suits your needs.

To use a sewer hose extension, simply connect it to the end of your RV’s sewer hose. Be sure to secure the connection well using hose clamps or other fasteners. Once the extension is connected, you can open the dump valves on your RV’s holding tanks and allow the wastewater to flow into the dump station.

Pro Tip: Go for a high-quality, durable extension hose to minimize the risk of leaks.

Method 4: Utilize a Dump Station on Wheels

Mobile dump stations are a convenient and hassle-free way to empty your RV’s holding tanks. They are typically offered by campgrounds and RV parks, and they come right to your campsite.

To use a mobile dump station, simply contact the campground or RV park and schedule a time for the service. The mobile dump station will arrive at your campsite and the technician will empty your holding tanks for you.

Pro Tip: Call ahead to make sure the mobile dump station service is available and to get their schedule.

Method 5: Install a Composting Toilet 

Composting toilets are a more permanent solution for bypassing RV holding tanks. They work by breaking down waste using natural bacteria, so there’s no need to empty them into a dump station. However, composting toilets can be expensive and require regular maintenance.

Composting toilets work by combining waste with bulking material, such as sawdust or wood shavings. The bulking material helps to absorb moisture and prevent odors. The bacteria in the composting toilet break down the waste into compost, which can be used to fertilize plants.

Method 6: Chemical Treatments

While not a bypass method in the traditional sense, chemical treatments can extend the lifespan of your RV holding tanks. These treatments break down waste and help control odors, allowing you to stretch the time between dump station visits.

  • Digester treatments contain enzymes and bacteria that help to break down waste, including solid waste. This can help to reduce the amount of solid waste in your holding tanks, which can help to prevent clogs and backups.
  • Odor control treatments contain chemicals that help to control odors in your holding tanks. These treatments can be used to freshen up your holding tanks between dump station visits, or they can be used to help control odors if you have a problem with leaks or backups.

When choosing a chemical treatment for your RV holding tanks, it is important to read the label carefully and follow the instructions. Some chemical treatments are not compatible with all types of holding tanks, and some chemical treatments should not be used in black tanks that contain human waste.

Method 7: DIY Gravity Discharge

If you’re a hands-on RVer, you can create a DIY gravity discharge system. This involves setting up a hose from your RV to a downhill location where gravity can do the dirty work. Just ensure it’s done following all local regulations and campground rules.

Pro Tip: Always have a proper hose support system to prevent any kinks or backflows.

Tips for Bypassing RV Holding Tanks

Now that you know how to bypass those holding tanks, here are some tips to make the process smoother and less messy:

1. Regular Maintenance is Key

Keep your RV’s sewage system in good shape by maintaining it regularly. Flush the tanks, clean the sensors, and check for any leaks or blockages. Prevention is always better than dealing with a nasty surprise on the road.

2. Use Biodegradable Toilet Paper

Not all toilet paper is created equal. Using biodegradable toilet paper will help break down waste in your tanks, making them easier to empty. Plus, it’s better for the environment.

3. Monitor Tank Levels

Invest in a tank monitoring system or use an app to keep an eye on your tank levels. This will help you plan your dumps more effectively and avoid overflows.

4. Empty Tanks Before Traveling

It’s a good practice to start your trip with empty holding tanks. Less weight means better fuel efficiency, and you won’t have to worry about sudden backups.

5. Know the Rules

Different campgrounds and RV parks have different rules and regulations regarding waste disposal. Always follow the rules to avoid fines or getting kicked out.

Final Thoughts

With the right knowledge and equipment, you can ensure a smoother and more enjoyable RV adventure. Remember, the key is to plan ahead, stay informed, and make environmentally friendly choices whenever possible.

In the end, RVing is all about freedom and adventure, and mastering the art of bypassing holding tanks is just one more way to enjoy the journey. Bon voyage!

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