RV 101® – How to Properly Flush the RV Black Water Holding Tank

This is not anyone’s favorite RV topic, but it’s an important topic for RV owners to understand. First, there is a difference between emptying the RV black water tank, and flushing the RV black water tank. In this post I will discuss what items you should keep in the RV to make the job of emptying the black water holding tank, but it is more about how to properly flush the black water holding tank. Let’s get started.

The black water holding tank on your RV holds all of the waste water from the toilet until it can be emptied into an approved sewer drain system. When you arrive at the campground and make the sewer hose connection between the RV and the campground sewer drain there are a few of things that make the job easier and help when it comes time to empty the black water tank.

RV sewer hose adapters

Number one, is having an assortment of sewer hose adapters on hand in the RV. You never know what type of sewer drain the campsite will have. Some connections are threaded pipe and others are smooth pipe, and there are all different sizes of drain pipes too.

Number two is, you want enough length of sewer hose to reach the campground sewer drain. This is why I recommend keeping various lengths of sewer hoses in your RV. I guarantee the day will come when you will need more than one sewer hose to make the connection. 

RV sewer hose support

Number three is some type of RV sewer hose support. The day will also come when the campground sewer drain is above ground level, and the sewer hose support will provide a good angle from the RV drain outlet to the campground sewer drain to assist in draining the RV black water tank. 

Next, and most importantly for this topic is a see-through sewer adapter where the sewer hose connects to the campground sewer drain. This is one of my favorite adapters. It is called a universal RV sewer adapter, and this one is by Valterra products. It connects to six different sewer drain connectors, and this is the only way to really know when the black water tank is flushed and clean.

To properly maintain, and extend the life of the black water holding tank it needs to be flushed after you empty it.

Some RVs are equipped with a built-in tank flush. If your RV isn’t you can use a tank flush wand to do the job. For years, after I emptied the black water holding tank I would connect my maintenance hose to the tank flush wand and let the water run for a couple minutes to flush and clean the tank. I figured that was plenty of time to thoroughly flush and clean the holding tank.

flush RV black water tank

Then, when I started using a see-through adapter, I realized how much longer it can take before the water runs clear, letting you know the tank is flushed and clean. It’s really the only way to know for sure the job was done properly.

While you are on your camping trip, the black water holding tank does not need to be flushed every time you empty the tank, but it should be flushed and cleaned when your trip is over, and before putting the RV in storage. If you have plans for another camping trip in the near future add some water to the holding tank and add the proper amount of holding tank treatment to the tank after it is flushed and clean.

The next time you go camping, add the see-through universal adapter to your RV essential items list, and when you flush the holding tank let the water run until it is clear. This will give you piece of mind the tank is properly maintained and ready for your next RV trip.

To learn more about using and maintaining your RV, visit RV Online Training

Happy Camping.

Mark J. Polk

RV Education 101

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