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How to avoid a black tank mess

Dumping the black tank can be a source of extreme anxiety for new RVers. I know it was for us, so much so that even though we were full-time RVers, I forbade anyone from using the black tank except in the most dire of situations. That was until we learned a simple and easy way to avoid a black tank mess.

Black Tank Fears

Blog posts, YouTube videos and that scene from “RV” (the hilarious Robin Williams movie) fed and legitimized this fear.  

Iconic scene from the movie ‘RV’ with Robin Williams

After awhile, I learned that the fear and anxiety I felt about having a catastrophic black tank disaster was mostly unwarranted. Mostly…I would be lying to you if I told you I never had an issue dumping my black tank. However, the issues I experienced while dumping RV tanks were relatively minor and never, ever at the level Robin Williams experienced in “RV”. 

Escapees events are a wealth of information

Escapees is an RV club that supports, educates and entertains RVers. While attending an Escapees rally a few years back, Kerry and I attended an RV Tanks How To class and in it, I learned the one tip that cured me of my black tank phobia.  

Typical causes of a black tank mess

First, I need to explain how a black tank mess usually happens. Many RV tank dumping disasters occur because of the lack of a good seal at the points where the sewer hose connects to your RV tanks or where it connects to the dump station. 

This actually happened to me because I wasn’t aware that the o-ring/gasket inside the sewer hose at the point where the hose connector marries up with your tanks and or dump station port had fallen out.

The other incident occurred when my sewer donut (odor proof sewer hose seal) was not seated and therefore I had no seal. 

To dump tanks, the RVer typically has their sewer hose connected to the rig as well as the dump site and then empties the black tank then the gray tank to help rinse any remaining black tank deposits. We are going to add one small variation to our normal RV tank dumping process. 

Quickly release the gray for 2 seconds

Before releasing the contents of the black tank and hoping for the best, try releasing a small amount (2 seconds or so) from the gray tank first. This will reveal any leak points with water that was used for bathing, dishes and hand washing instead of revealing it with human waste.  

Once you have confirmed there are no leaks, continue with the normal process of dumping your tanks. The entire process as I’ve described is as follows: 

  1. Release a small amount from the gray tank (2 seconds should work) 
    – If no leaks continue with the normal process 
  2. Release contents of the black tank (don’t forget to close this valve after) 
  3. Rinse with the contents of the gray tank 
  4. Rinse your sewer hose with a dedicated tank rinsing water hose (separate from your drinking water hose).  
Avoid black tank spills with this simple tip

I hope this simple but effective tip helps you as much as it has helped us. Watch our video for more info and feel free to leave a comment below if you have any other questions.

Harvest Hosts? Top 10 Frequently Asked Questions & how to Save 15% ON MEMBERSHIP

Save 15% off membership now!

10 FAQs about Harvest Hosts

Today we cover ten frequently asked questions about the Harvest Hosts program for RVers.

What is Harvest Hosts?

Harvest Hosts is a membership network that invites RVers to camp overnight at a network of more than 792 locations consisting of breweries, distilleries, wineries, farms, museums and other attractions and more!

What types of RV’s are allowed?

All classes of RV’s including motor coaches are allowed. The only restriction is that they must be self contained. This means you have an interior toilet with tanks or some sort of composting system. Unfortunately tents, campers with tent pop-outs, minivans and sleeping in trucks or cars are restricted.

Do hosts offer electricity or water?

Some hosts may, however as a rule expect no hook-ups.

Can you I use a generator?

Generally, yes you can but it’s best to call ahead and make sure.

How long can I stay?

Harvest Hosts is designed as an overnight program with stays of a maximum 24 hours. It is frowned upon to ask your host if you can stay an additional night. However, your host may invite you to stay another night at their discretion.

Must I buy something?

You are encouraged to buy something to show your appreciation to your hosts for their hospitality. We look at it as we get some great products or experience an amazing event or location that we probably would have paid for anyway and then we get free camping on top of that.

Are pets allowed?

Many Harvest Host sites allow pets. Some allow them inside and others require the pets to stay in the parking area. This will be clearly marked on the Host information page.

We are traveling with friends, do they need to be a Harvest Host member too?

Each RV vehicle will need a Harvest Host membership to stay overnight at any Harvest Host location.

What are the parking areas like?

The parking surface might be concrete, asphalt, gravel, grass or dirt. You may be in the Host’s parking lot, or in a field, orchard or vineyard. This will be listed on the Host information page and you can verify this when you call to let them know you are visiting.

How much does it cost?

There are 2 plans. The first plan is Harvest Host Classic and that plan allows you access to all of breweries, distilleries, wineries, farms, museums and event locations. This plan costs $99.00 a year which is typically paid for in the cost of two stays at a Harvest Host site vs. a campground. Harvest Host + Golf plan allows access to all the Classic locations as well as golf courses which opens it up to about 1136 locations. The Harvest Host + Golf plan costs $139.00 a year which is typically paid for in the cost of three stays at a Harvest Host site vs. a campground.

Become a member now and save 15% by clicking on the image below:

Note: we may receive commissions when you click our links and make purchases. However, this does not impact our reviews and comparisons. We try our best to keep things fair and balanced, in order to help you make the best choice for you.

Check out our Harvest Hosts video playlist on YouTube for videos as we explore new locations!

Harvest Hosts in the news:

  • TRAVEL & LEISURE: Park Your RV for Free at Over 1,200 Wineries, Breweries, and Farms With This Membership Program [Sep 1, 2020]
  • BUSINESS INSIDER: You can park your RV at wineries, breweries, farms, and museums across the US for free with an $80-a-year membership program called Harvest Hosts [Aug 26, 2020]
  • ABC11.COM: North Carolina farms, wineries become hotspots for RV camps as agritourism grows during COVID-19 pandemic [Oct 6, 2020]
  • LOCALSYR.COM: A Unique Way To RV With Harvest Hosts [July 29, 2020]
  • YAKIMA HERALD: Harvest Hosts: Wineries in Yakima County offer a getaway for RV owners [Jul 12, 2020]