Someone recently asked: “How long is too long when others are waiting behind you at the dump station?”
This caused me to ponder an appropriate answer. How long is too long to occupy a dump station when others are patiently waiting?
“If you’re doing everything properly, you can get the job done in less than 15 minutes without even making a mess.” Says RV blogger Jessica Lipscomb.
I prefer to disperse camp (aka boondock) versus camp in developed campgrounds or RV parks that feature full hookups with sewer. Therefore, I am dependent on public dump stations along my route to dump my holding tanks. If potable freshwater is available, too, I will also refill my freshwater tank while I am there. I am never sure where the next opportunity to do so might present itself.
How long is too long? I like to “git r done!”
I have become very proficient at dumping my tanks, filling my freshwater tank, and getting back on the road on my way to the next boondocking camp. After all, why spend extra time to flush and rinse my black tank when we are just going to start refilling it at the next camp? In fact, I feel the same way if I am going to use the RV again in the next week or two. Why spend a bunch of time rinsing and flushing the black tank when I will be using it again soon? Just add some water and chemical to the black tank after dumping, let it slosh around on the way home and call it good!
How long is too long? 5-10 minutes?
For me, the dumping process is pulling into the dump station (hopefully without waiting behind another RVer), and stopping so that my termination outlet is close enough for me to reach the dump with my sewer hose. Then I dump the black tank and rinse the sewer hose using the discharge from the gray tank.* I make sure the sewer hose is drained and, unless I spilled something, disconnect my sewer hose and stow it back in the bumper of my travel trailer. Done, easy peasy, in under 5 minutes.
* I utilize the following procedure to make sure I have cleared black water from the termination assembly back to the black dump valve: Once a substantial amount of gray water has entered the sewer hose I will lift the center of the sewer hose higher than the dump valves a couple of times. This will force gray water back against the now-closed black tank valve and flood the interior of the sewer hose, rinsing away any remaining black water. When I lower the sewer hose back down, the impounded gray water will then rush through the sewer hose rinsing away any solids that might be remaining from dumping the black tank.
How long is too long? Filling up freshwater too! 10-15 minutes?
Assuming there is potable water available (typically at a faucet as you begin to leave the dump area), I will pull far enough forward to allow another RVer to pull into the dump area behind me. If needed, I will use an extra length of freshwater hose to make sure I have left enough room for the next dump user, especially if they have been waiting behind me. To make sure I am able to fill my freshwater tank quickly and exit before the RVer behind me is done dumping, I have added a pressure fill system to my RV as the original (poorly designed) gravity fill took upwards of 20-30 minutes to fill my freshwater tank. I hated being the guy that held up others at the dump station as I waited for my freshwater tank to fill. Now if the pressure is good, I can fill my freshwater tank in under 5 minutes.
As you can see, for me, the process of dumping and refilling my freshwater tank is 10 minutes or so. If I am heading home and don’t need to take on freshwater, it is about a 5-minute process.
Now I understand that: 1) Some RVs have more than one gray tank or more than one termination outlet. 2) You may have a disability that adds time to the process. 3) You may have to store your sewer hose in an interior compartment or a less convenient place which requires you to bag or fully drain your sewer hose, so your time to dump and fill may take longer than it take me.
So, how long is too long? 15 minutes, 20 minutes, 30 minutes, more?
To see if I could find an answer, I did an online search and found a fairly lengthy thread on the RV Tips Facebook group.
Danielle Westerhausen posted the question:
“How long is an acceptable time at the dump station when there’s a line? I feel so rushed and nervous when there’s a line of folks but I’m very particular about the process. How long are you willing to give the folks in front of you without getting too impatient??”
Following is a sampling of the answers:
Amy Bellm: “We take about 10 minutes, set routine & organized under carriage ….Final one of season is about 15 min for good wash out.”
Sandie Sanderson: “Thank God there wasn’t anyone behind us, our valve stuck and it took us 30 minutes to drain it, I felt horrible and no one was even waiting.”
Donna Pearce: “You take the time you need… I will take the time I need… others will do the same… if others do not want to wait… they can get up earlier and leave earlier…”
Pay for an extra day and avoid the rush
Sandy Farkas McGinnis: “Or pay an extra day and leave later in the day after the mad rush. Then you won’t feel pushed because no line behind you.”
Don Steaples: “I try to take out what I’m going to need while I’m waiting, drain as fast as I can, rinse my hoses and pull up out of the way to put everything back up”
Cindi Freeman: “Not more than 10 min. max, imo. You can pull forward to finish the process away from the tank.”
Joy Miklevich: “As long as it takes”
Art Arevee: “Reminds me of people that park at a gas pump and go inside to shop (not pay for the gas). Really annoying when all the pumps are being used. Those people live in a bubble and only care for themselves. The other side is those that are considerate. They may or may not be efficient. If one is trying that’s all you can ask of them. For a relaxed day, be flexible, things happen.”
Russell Jones: “30 min”
Scott Stanley: “A BAG OF ICE DOES WONDERS, UNTIL you have more time”
Finally, regarding flushing and rinsing the black tank, Herk7769 says on Forest River Forums: “Obviously if there is a line for the dump station, you might want to wait for a full hookup campground for a serious flushing.”
Here is the answer:
How long is too long? Based on my experience and the comments above: 10-15 minutes seems to be acceptable, 30 minutes is pushing it, and one hour is way too long.
For me, if there is a substantial lineup for the dump station, I will continue down the road to the next one. Here is how I locate them.
What are your thoughts on how long is too long when others are waiting? Please share your comments below or continue the discussion on my forum.
For those of you that may have been grossed out by my comment of, “Why spend a bunch of time rinsing and flushing the black tank when I will be using it again soon?” I do rinse and flush my black tank at least once or twice a year. When my RV is parked at home with the black tank empty and with the black tank valve closed, I use a holding tank rinser and some good old dish soap. The rinser will cause the soap to aggressively suds as I work it up, down and sideways in the black tank. Once the water reaches the lower neck of the toilet, I shut the rinser off and let the tank soak for a couple of days. The soaking loosens any caked-on solids, cleans the monitor tank probes, along with testing the integrity of the toilet floor flange seal. I then take the trailer to a dump station and dump the soapy contents of the black tank.
Dave will be speaking at the FMCA Convention in Tucson, AZ, March 25th and 26th. He would love to meet RVtravel.com readers that will be attending. Feel free to introduce yourself after one of his seminars.