Black tank, Grey tank, Dirty tank

I think I promised a black tank story, and here it is, with the comedy of it hopefully well represented. This happened right at the beginning of my trip, a blast from the past!

Not my photo- this is an example of what it looks like when you dump your tanks.

There have been issues with my black tank (where the toilet bits go) from almost the very start of my RV ownership. The first time my tanks were dumped was at my mom’s. She has 4 RV lots she owns and also rents out in Miramar beach. Mom basically did it all for me the first time. I watched her do it, so naturally, I figured I had it down. I have watched a video or two on the subject as well, so I might even be an expert.)


The second time, I had to take the RV in to Dixie Rv for some reason that escapes me now, and they graciously dumped it for me, but they had quite an issue with my tank sensor still reading that it was 1/3 full. They tried a few tricks but only could get it down to 1/3 from 3/4.

The third time I tried to dump it was at a campground I stopped at on the very first day and in the first hour of my trip, and there was a problem with one of the tank levers that wouldn’t close all the way because it was bent. (Great) So, I had to take it straight to Dixie RV to repair the bent shaft that opened the door, but only AFTER sewage spilled all over the poor gentleman’s hand who was helping me during this attempt. Luckily he mentioned that he had had MUCH WORSE come in contact with his skin in his lifetime. (Really?)


It was embarrassing for me to say the least. At the same time, I was glad it was him and not me! I know, that’s horrible. But it’s true. I’m just saying.

Let’s move on. Four hours and $200 later, my black tank was fixed and I was rolling down the road. However, when I checked my tank sensor, it now read 3/4 full. Sensors are tricky, unreliable creatures from what I am told on the internet forums that I have lurked in. So, that doesn’t bother me too much, but it’s inconvenient. I will keep trying to get whatever ‘rubbish’ is stuck on it off so that it reads correctly. We won’t go into detail about that. Nope.

After a week and a half living on the road full time, I had no choice but to dump my tanks (all alone) as they were surely getting full. I chose to dump at a Flying J, where you can pay $10 to dump your tank.


Upon arrival, I went inside, paid, got my code to open the sewer door, then pulled around to where the clerk informed me to go. I found the dump station and immediately noticed that there  was not a water hose at this one, for cleaning purposes and tank rinsing purposes. (Great) I was not sure if this was critical or not. Still, I needed to proceed.

Here’s the foot pedal to open the hole in the ground to the sewer. Not the nicest looking dump station out there…

I parked with the RV dump hose close to the sewer door, got the hose out and attached it to the RV. So far so good.

The Girls were in the truck, uninterested and unimpressed. I entered my code into the receiver, opened the sewer, AND THEN…. I put the hose end into it. (A little fake out. Did I get you?)

You are supposed to open up the black tank first, then afterwards, the grey tank, which drains water from the sinks and shower. This order cleans out the sewage from your RV hose so you aren’t left messing with sewer water inside the hose. I was not entirely sure which tank was which. (Of course NOW I see that they are labeled, but on that day, my eyes were blind to it…)

Yes, I somehow missed seeing the giant labels saying “black tank” and “grey tank”

Tentatively, I chose one of the levers to pull, and slowly, I started to open it. Lo and behold, I picked the black tank correctly. Under normal circumstances, this would be a good thing. This time, it was unfortunate, as I quickly discovered that I HAD NOT SECURELY ATTACHED THE HOSE TO THE RV. Sewage immediately spilled out onto the ground.

Let’s not forget, there is NO water at this dump station. I had nothing to clean it up with! It was gross.

Like, Disgusting Dry Heave Gross.

Somehow, flies found it IMMEDIATELY. It’s not that it looked like sewage, but the smell made the identity of the tank that I had opened unmistakable. I pushed the lever back in as fast as I could. (Gross, Gross, Gross!)

I needed to clean the hose and rinse the ‘bits’ with something. So I used water from 1-gallon milk containers I had on hand to do my best to clean up the ‘Haz Mat’ area and my hose. Let’s just say that I really feel bad for the next camper who came in behind me, unless it had sufficient time to dry!  I re-adjusted the hose attachment and completed the job with my tail between my legs.
Also, I understand why you should always wear disposable gloves during a dump. I was lazy and did not get any out of the basement. I was only SO VERY lucky that none got on my hands! Still, it felt like it was all over me, and it was hopefully the worst dump experience I will ever have.  Now I know to TRIPLE CHECK that the hose is fully secured.

Required uniform

Now my tank sensor reads as full like it’s just playing with me. I have to check it now, by sticking a stick down my RV toilet into the tank to see how full it really is. This might turn into another adventure, but I really, really hope not.

(4/17 Update: most tank sensors don’t work properly. I just use the ‘look into the tank’ method now since I can see straight down the toilet into my black tank. Gross? Yes. Reliable? Totally.)

So are the ongoing trials and tribulations of this RV, simplified living- I will have it down to a science soon enough, and the learning process is all a part of it and I am still really enjoying every moment!

Here’s a nice photo of very clear fresh lake water to cleanse your mind of the dirty blog you just read. This was from the shoreline of The Raven, which I blogged about on my VIE blog: La Muse. I’ll write about it here once it is up.

The rocks at The Raven

There. You feel better?

Thank you for enjoying the ups and DOWNS, like this, along with me!


7 thoughts on “Black tank, Grey tank, Dirty tank

  1. Dang Kelly, you are getting the full show! I hate dumping the tanks and I only pray that I never have your experience. Sorry…just saying.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Ha!!! No, I wouldn’t wish this on my worst enemy, so I’m happy you have NOT had the ‘pleasure’ of this crap! No pun intended… I did finally have an event free dump, and boy, you can be sure I made sure that the hose was connected securely! Live and learn, eh?


  2. A good story Kellie,
    I usually open the gray tank for just a little bit, then close it back, leaving the rest for rinse.
    That way you reveal if you have a bad hose, or other worries.
    I’ve dumped many times through the years, but since I switched to the Vintage Airstream, people these days want to talk to me about the trailer;
    however, it seems though that they only want to talk to me when I’m at the bloody dump station.
    I’ll be sitting’ in the park for weeks, in my spot alone, with beers to share, waving at folks walking by, and when do people choose to talk to me about my rig?
    Well, when I’m trying to deal that yucky process.
    Anyway, happy travels, and congrats on your hard-earned levels in the dump station game.



  3. Been there and done that. I opened the black tank with a loose hose and all over my shoes. Needless to say those shoes found the dumpster on the way out. Stories like this are great campfire conversation. Carry on and be safe.


    1. Yiiiiiiiiikes!!!! Sorry to hear that! I think everyone has the black tank stories!! It’s just the one thing that can go SO wrong of it goes just a little bit wrong!!! Thank you for taking the time to comment!


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