Airstream Central - Info for Airstream Owners -
Dump Station 101
Stephanie Roberts
I have owned my 1968 Caravel since 2003 and have performed extensive restorations on it, including replacing the axle, the front 2/3rds of the floor, and all major appliances. 
By Stephanie Roberts
Published on 08/23/2007

Learn to navigate the dump station. Tips and tricks to make emptying your RV holding tanks a more pleasant job.

Dump Station 101

Sooner or later we all have to go to the dump station. Here are some basic tips to avoid a messy disaster.

Most trailers have two holding tanks. Black tanks hold sewage and grey tanks hold waste water from showers and sinks. Always dump the black-water tank before the grey-water tank so the "soapy water" from the grey tank can clean the residue from the hose.

Wait until your black tank is half full before dumping. The release pressure will be greater and you will get better tank evacuation. Consider topping up your holding tanks with water just before dumping. Don't leave the black-water tank valve open when hooked up at a campsite. This will cause liquids to drain, leaving solid waste behind to harden on the bottom of the tank.

Use a heavy-duty sewer hose about 6 to 8 feet long to make handling easier. Be sure you have the right size fittings. Older Airstreams and newer ones have different sizes!  Make certain you have the right parts before you leave on your trip.

Carry an extra garden hose for rinsing in case the dump station doesn't have one and store this in an area where it won't come into contact with your drinking water hose. Never use your fresh water hose for rinsing sewer hoses or the dump station area.

Try to chose a dump station where your hose doesn't have to run over a curb or uphill.  A full sewer hose is heavy and may build back-pressure causing the hose to disconnect from your bayonet mount. There's usually a notch cut through existing curbs at dump stations to alleviate this problem.

Pack and use disposable rubber gloves. Learn to remove the gloves without touching the outside - peal them off (inside out) and throw away. Leave the dump station area cleaner than you found it.

Step by step instructions:

Put on your protective gear! Use gloves and glasses for splash protection.

Remove the tank outlet cap and connect your sewer hose to the outlet of your holding tank.  Extend the hose to the opening of the dump station, which is usually a hole in the ground that is slightly larger than the hose.  Usually there is a hinged cover over the hole (sanitary hatch).

Insert your sewer hose into the dump station's hole about four to six inches. Use the cover, a brick or something heavy enough to wedge the sewer hose in place so it doesn't come out of the hole.

Once you're sure that all is connected and held down, open your black tank valve. You'll hear the effluent flow and eventually it'll slow, then stop. Close the back tank valve and open the gray tank valve. Again, you'll hear water flow, then slow, and stop. Close the gray tank valve.

You may want to flush and rinse your tanks. You can fill your tanks to two-thirds full (from your fresh water tank)and repeat the emptying process. If others are waiting to use the dump station, skip this step.

Double check to be certain that both your black and gray water tank valves are closed and disconnect the sewer hose from your tank outlet. Replace the tank outlet cover. Lift the end of the sewer hose (the end you just disconnected) to completely drain the hose into the dump station.

If a non-potable water hose is available, run water through the sewer hose to rinse it out. Remove the sewer hose from the dump station hole and rinse the outside of the hose. Rinse the area around the hole to ensure that any spillage has been cleaned up and cover the dump station hole.

Go into your RV and add a little water to your black tank and then add the appropriate amount of holding tank treatment. If you use a treatment for your gray tank, do that as well.

The task of emptying your RV's holding tanks is finished!

Dump Station Don’ts

  • Leave your kids in the car! Don’t let them run around a bio-hazard area. Same for pets.
  • Don't drop your hose down the sewer - wet hoses are slippery.
  • Don’t leave other garbage in the area.
  • Try not to hold up the line - please.
  • Don’t put anything other than the contents of your holding tanks into the dump station.
  • Don’t put your used rubber gloves down the sewer. They are NOT biodegradable and will clog up the works.