RVs provide a convenient way to travel while enjoying the comforts of home. However, they also require regular maintenance such as emptying the wastewater tanks. As an RVer, learning how to properly empty the gray tank that collects water from sinks and showers is an essential skill. Failure to do so can lead to nasty odors, blockages, and leaks. Now, I’m here to provide the complete and proper procedures for emptying your RV’s gray tank safely and efficiently.
Basically, you need to securely connect the sewer hose to the drain outlet while using support for proper drainage. Open the gray tank valve slowly to ensure a steady, unoverflowing flow. Monitor drainage for blockages, complete the initial draining, and rinse with a garden hose if needed. And lastly, disconnect and rinse the hose, and store it securely.
Now, without any further ado, let’s go for the details!
What’s the Gray Tank?
The gray tank collects water from sinks, showers, and washing machines in an RV, excluding toilet waste. It might have bits of food, grease, hair, dirt, and cleaning stuff. The black tank, on the other hand, stores toilet sewage separately. They have different plumbing and storage systems.
The tank size varies based on the RV’s make, model, floor plan, and build. Usually, gray tanks can hold 30 to 80 gallons. For example, a medium-sized Thor Motor Coach Chateau might have a 65-gallon gray tank. Check your owner’s manual for specific details. Always empty the tanks before they get too full.
Modern RVs often have digital panels with sensors showing tank levels: empty, 1/3, 2/3, or full. Older systems use manual sight tubes for level checks. Depending on use, you might need to empty every 2-4 days. It’s recommended not to let any tank fill to avoid spills and damage.
Choosing Where to Drain Your RV Gray Tank
The first step is deciding where to dispose of gray water, as indiscriminate dumping carries hefty fines. Only drain tanks at designated RV sewer hookup points. These are available at private and public campgrounds, RV parks, dump stations, and some gas stations.
Many campsites offer full hookups with integrated sewer inputs. If boondocking and dry camping are without facilities, locate nearby regional dump zones through maps, apps, and directories like Sanidumps. Per-use fees, access times, and stay limits may apply.
Ensure all local regulations are followed based on municipality, county, and state statutes. For longer trips, research wastewater protocols for each travel jurisdiction. Environmental Protection Agency standards provide a consistent general framework.
Responsible RV owners make an effort to dispose of gray water carefully. Our collective adherence to policies preserves the natural spaces we enjoy.
Things You’ll Need to Empty the Gray Tank
Gather essential accessories beforehand for smooth sewage hose connections –
- Protective eyewear, gloves, & masks for hygienic handling
- Drinking water hose with standard garden nozzle
- A sewer hose at least 10-20 feet with secure fittings
- Hose guide to ensure downhill waste flow
- Tank deodorants and enzymatic cleaners
- Hose storage tube keeps everything organized
Inspect all attending gear periodically for cracks and leaks. Have backup supplies available as needed.
Step-by-Step Gray Water Draining Instructions
Follow this robust protocol when draining the RV gray tank –
Don nitrile gloves, protective eyewear, and an N95 particulate respirator mask before connecting to wastewater outlets. These items shield against bacteria and effluent splash hazards.
Prep the Sewage Hose
Uncoil the RV sewage hose completely and attach an airtight sewer adapter to the outlet end. For extra security, use clung bands on all interfaces. Verify the hose diameter matches the hookup inlet size.
Access the Drain Valve
Locate the external gray tank release valve, distinct from similar black tank controls. Place a bucket underneath to catch any drips.
Connect & Secure the Sewer Hose
Align the sewage hose adapter into the valve outlet port. Twist it clockwise to thread tightly. Engage the attached bayonet fittings for a 360-degree grip.
Adjust Drainage Slope
Situate the hose so it maintains a downward drop of 3 to 4 inches per foot. Utilize a hose ramp to assist flow. Keep the open hose end centered over the sewer inlet.
Open the Drain Valve
Pull the T-handle on the gray water tank valve slowly. Opening rapidly can produce splatter and static pressure may distort hoses. Expect a steady effluent rush fading to a trickle when nearing empty.
Monitor Tank Levels
Observe the sensor display panel during drainage. LEDs will change from full to empty as liquid evacuates. Cross-check progress on a sight tube model if available.
A weak stream indicates partial obstructions. First, allow the tank to fully void contents before investigating issues. Then reuse hoses for inlet flushes or manually wash the tank.
Allow the gray water to fully evacuate until just a sparse dribble remains. At this stage, detach the sewer adapter and retract the hoses before the final rinse steps.
Rinsing Out RV Gray Tanks
For optimal cleanup, always finish by washing the recently emptied gray tank. This involves –
a) Reconnecting a garden hose to the drain inlet.
b) Spraying clean water to fill about halfway.
c) Recycling water out through the outlet to flush.
d) Using cleaning agents if needed.
Repeating rinses removes clinging residue and prevents mold formation. Frequently sanitize tanks on long trips or before winterizing RVs.
Disconnecting Hoses & Accessories
Conclude by closing valve handles, detaching all fittings, and draining excess moisture from hoses. Rinse off external surfaces well before recoiling neatly for the next use. Return caps onto outlets to avoid infiltration.
Give gloves and equipment a final disinfecting wipe down with antimicrobial cloths to inhibit contamination. Remove and contain any standing gray water politely.
Advanced Gray Tank Maintenance Tips
Here are some bonus troubleshooting pointers and gray tank care advice –
a) Minimize gray water production by being strategic with water usage. Take sailor showers and capture rinse water.
b) Use sink strainers to catch food scraps and hair. Flush very sparingly with RV toilet paper. Introduce enzyme cleaners often.
d) Mask odors by sprinkling baking soda or an RV-safe deodorizer down drains before travel. Avoid harsh chemicals.
e) Take short “sailor” showers, capture sink runoff in buckets for reuse, and collect air conditioner condensation.
f) Prep tanks for seasonal storage by draining fully, adding RV antifreeze, and sealing inlets/outlets.
g) Abide by all wastewater regulations and environmental policies based on region.
With practice, dumping the gray tank can become a quick and hassle-free routine. Consult RV manuals and research local laws for proper adherence. Focus on responsible disposal practices to sustain our recreational spaces.
How often should I empty the gray tank?
A: Ideally once the tank reaches 50-75% capacity. For moderate usage, expect to empty every 2-4 days.
Can I empty tanks in parking lots or streets?
A: No. It is illegal to drain RVs into public spaces or landscaping. Always use approved sanitary stations.
Is the black tank drained together with the gray tank?
A: No, they use separate drain valves and should not be emptied simultaneously due to differences in waste type.
Wrapping It Up
Properly managing recreational vehicle wastewater is crucial to avoid contamination and environmental harm. Neglecting regular tank draining can lead to blockages, leaks, and unpleasant odors. This guide covers all aspects of emptying your RV’s gray tank, providing essential information on tank systems, fluid level monitoring, dump station locations, and necessary equipment.
The step-by-step instructions in this guide ensure a safe process, including connecting hoses, opening valves, monitoring flow, rinsing, and proper storage. Additional tips cover optimization, troubleshooting, and responsible camping practices. While individual RV models may have unique features, these best practices are universally applicable. Consult your owner’s manuals for specific details, and with regular care, your wastewater systems will operate smoothly trip after trip.