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Is It Legal to Connect Your RV to a Septic Tank?

This post was updated on June 5th, 2020

You came home from a long trip and all you want to do is relax. To keep things peaceful, you set up your travel trailer for your guests while they visited. The in-laws are staying for a couple of months in their motorhome on your property.

Regardless of the situation, the same concern comes up. The holding tanks on the coach need to be drained. You have a septic tank, but you’re not sure what that will do to your system. What should you do?

Is It Okay To Dump Your RV Waste Into Your Home Septic System?

The short answer is yes. It’s okay to dump your RV waste into your home septic system. Many campgrounds actually use commercial size septic systems on their properties. As long as you make some adjustments to your RV’s holding tank maintenance, everything should be fine.

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Before you hook your RV up, you should know how your system works and what to be aware of. RV holding tanks work differently than home septic systems. Here are some things to keep in mind.

How Your Home Septic System Works

Septic system worksSource: Unsplash

Your septic system filters materials before sending it to the drainage field. The first filter is the baffle. It filters out oils, sludge, and other materials that can obstruct the flow of the system.

The septic tank has two chambers that are evenly separated by a wall. Halfway down there is an opening that allows water to pass through. On the other side are a set of pipes that water and solids exit into the drainage field. Incoming water from your toilet and faucets create enough water pressure. This pressure pushes the solids through to the drainage field.

Within the tank itself, there is an ecosystem of anaerobic and aerobic bacteria. Their purpose is to breakdown waste materials. Each version of bacteria is responsible for breaking down different kinds of waste. Certain household chemicals can be toxic to these microbes. This is why manufacturers and installers always warn about being careful with what goes down your drains.

The breakdown of materials can take months to complete. This results in a sludge build-up over time. Having your septic system pumped every few years also prevents sludge from overwhelming the tank.

The dimensions of your house determined the size of your septic system. One of which is the number of rooms in the house. The idea is that a home with an established amount of rooms will produce a certain amount of waste. This figure is a rough estimation that the septic tank can handle.

Things To Be Aware Of

To maintain a septic tank

A septic tank can last for decades if it’s maintained. Pumping the tank every three to five years will prevent sludge build-up. Otherwise, it can be maintenance-free.

Dumping the contents of your RV into your septic system can skew the balance. A rare draining of your holding tanks is not as significant as frequent occurrences. You must be careful of what you are dumping as much as how often you are dumping.

Connect to the Septic Cleanout Pipe Correctly

Every septic system has a cleanout pipe that sticks out of the ground. Newer systems have a white PVC pipe that is close to the house itself. Running your RV’s sewer hose to this pipe is a matter of having the right length and fitting. If your RV’s sewer hose does not fit down the cleanout pipe, you can purchase sewer fittings to secure it.

Never use storm drains to dump your tanks. First of all, it’s against the law. Second, these drains lead to city water reservoirs. Putting contaminated water into these drainage systems can come with heavy fines.

Protect the Septic Tank Bacteria

Connect Your RV to a Septic TankSource: Unsplash

Some RV toilet chemicals used to breakdown waste and deodorize use formaldehyde. They usually are blue in color. This chemical is lethal to the bacteria in your home septic tank. If these bacteria die, your septic system becomes unusable. Professional septic system specialists are the ones that can get things running again. The process can take weeks or months to get the bacteria-count up to healthy levels.

Some RVers like to use alternatives like Rid-X for their RV toilets. RV toilet chemical manufacturers are making tank treatments that are safe for septic systems. Some states have even banned the use of formaldehyde in RV treatments.

Look for treatments that are safe to use. Instead of using liquids that need measuring. Try using premeasured pods or dry products. Look for ingredients that use enzymes or proteins that break down waste. Bioactive products use aerobic bacteria that can continue to work after draining.

These various products are friendly to the environment. They are not toxic to humans, so if you spill them, you don’t have to worry about exposure. The other advantage is your septic system can handle these treatments without problems.

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Monitor Flow

The pipes that lead from the septic tank to the drainage field are at a slight decline. This allows the water to push the solids through. If the angle is too steep, the water bypasses the solid material.

When you dump your RV’s holding tanks into your septic system, you want to make sure you don’t overload it. Septic systems have a certain balance of water to solid. If you are draining full tanks, it’s a good idea to open your tanks halfway to control the flow into your septic system. Overwhelming the system can lead to backflows.

If you have weak flow issues, you consider a macerator pump. Many people that need to overcome uphill problems find these pumps solve the problem. They create flow and churn up solid waste.

They attach near your holding tanks. The output can attach to a sewer hose or a regular garden hose. These electrical pumps also have the ability to clean out the build-up in your tanks.

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Adjust Your Septic Pumping Schedule

Septic Pumping Schedule

If you are dumping your holding tanks into your septic system on a routine basis, you are adding rooms to your home. Cleaning out your septic system may need to happen sooner than scheduled. Regular pumpings happen every three to five years.

Most people that have septic systems use a service to maintain their system. This service contractor comes out every few years to pump out the septic tank. Any sludge or other impurities that build up over the years pumped out.

Contacting your septic service contractor is always recommended. Update them on your new situation. They can adjust your pumping schedule to come out more often to pump out your tank.

Alternatives to Dumping Your Tanks At Home

Honey Wagons

If you don’t have a septic system, many septic service cleaning providers have “Honey Wagon” trucks. When they go out to drain a home septic tank, they pump the contents from the home tank into their truck. Some of these service providers will come to you to drain your RV.

It’s still a relatively new service. Not all septic companies provide this service. Bigger campgrounds, like KOA, offer this service to their guests. This idea is catching on and is creating a new revenue stream for septic service contractors.

Travel Centers

Travel Centers

Pilot/Flying J, Love’s, and TA Travel Centers of America cater to RVs. Many have designated lanes with RV services. For your convenience, they offer holding tank dumping services at the pump.

These services are not free, but their prices are around $10 or less. If you sign up for their rewards programs, they offer discounts. Some RV discount clubs work with these service centers for discounts as well. You can use their website or mobile device apps to find their locations all across the country.

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Other Websites and Apps

Other online sites you can use are RV or Both websites help you locate dump stations throughout the United States. They identify the location, address, and if there is a cost. When you choose a particular dump location, they allow users to leave reviews. This gives fellow RVers the ability to learn more about that particular dump station.

Product data was last updated on 2024-05-28 at 13:00.

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