If you live in a rural area, chances are you have a septic tank. Wouldn’t it be practical to simply attach a pipe from your installation to your domestic septic tank and house visitors there? Is it even possible?
The simple answer to this question is yes. Yes, you can empty your caravan or motorhome in your septic tank. However, this “yes” comes with many responsibilities. There are many “ifs”, “but” and “and” that accompany this statement. If you take the time to educate yourself on this, you can successfully use your own septic tank to empty your black and gray water.
If you plan to empty your tank into your septic tank, you need to understand the basic operation of your typical septic tank system.
The breakdown of the septic tank
Septic tanks are used when centralized sewage systems are not within reach of an individual’s home. These are underground wastewater treatment structures that break down organic matter and disperse wastewater. With a retention tank and nature at its side, it is a very efficient and ingenious structure.
After each flush or whenever the tap is used, the waste and water pass through pipes, leave the house and enter the septic tank. There is a deflector in the middle of the pit to block sludge, grease and oils from the outlet to avoid obstructions. The bulkhead has an opening halfway down to allow the wastewater to pass, but to prevent the solids from remaining at the bottom and the oil at the top from passing through the outlet into the leaching field.
As waste is added to the tank, an equal amount of wastewater is pushed to the leach field. The leaching field consists of three perforated pipes called lateral. The pipes sink deeper into the ground at a quarter of an inch per foot. A rapid decline is not beneficial as the water will not push the solids, but will slide right in front of them. The underground pipes are surrounded by rocks to facilitate drainage. If the septic tank is not pumped regularly, the pipes can become clogged with the mud that has crept over the deflector.
With the description given, you must therefore know exactly where your septic tank is located underground so as not to empty it on the wrong side of the baffle. It is important not to empty the contents of your pit on the wrong side, as solids could be pushed into the outlet and obstruct the drain field.
Can I use chemicals?
It is a very organic and raw system which works thanks to the environment inside the tank. The problem with emptying the contents of your RV is chemicals. The chemicals in our tanks that help break down waste and paper can potentially be harmful and damage the natural biome of the septic tank.
Wastewater treatment systems in septic tanks contain aerobic and anaerobic organisms that contribute to the breakdown of organic matter. Anaerobic organisms do not need high levels of oxygen whereas aerobic organisms need it. Both are necessary for maintenance because they ingest different pathogens.
Adding chemicals to help break down the waste will kill the good bacteria in the septic tank. If the bacteria are destroyed, there will be an imbalance in the pit. This can potentially interrupt the natural bacterial action of the septic tank. This would cause backflow, blockages and flooding in the leaching field.
It may seem odd that it is not advisable to dump chemicals into your own septic system while campsites and landfills have no restrictions on chemicals. In fact, you are not paying for the maintenance of the campground. If you have to dump your tank into your own septic system, avoid chemicals.
In addition, depending on the use of the main house and the addition of the camper, you should be aware of the additional use and be prepared to pump the tank more frequently. The key to a healthy and happy septic tank is regular maintenance and pumping. Depending on the size of your pit, the average pumping rate varies from two to three years.
How to Empty the Trailer or RV Pit in the Septic Tank
Now that we have a good understanding of how a septic tank works, the easiest way to empty your tank is to clean it. It is a PVC pipe which is on the surface with a screw cap. It is located between the house and the septic tank. Just remove the plug and attach the sewer hose to your RV and drain system. If you can’t fix the pipe at the opening of the pipe, be sure to put something heavy on the pipe so that it doesn’t decide to shake and do a disgusting big mess.
You can leave your camper connected and let the sewage slowly enter the septic tank or you can choose to wait until you are ready to empty the black water tank and empty it all at once. Warnings are posted online about adding too much waste to your septic tank at one time. Some say it shocks the system and disrupts natural bacteria. However, the legitimate concern would be to overload the pit too quickly. This can cause sludge and other solid matter to splash on the baffle and in the outlet. If this happens, it can potentially cause a blockage.
We wrote an article with a step-by-step guide on how to empty the tanks in a trailer successfully. You can find the article here.
Be careful when using an access port
If your septic system is not equipped with a cleaning system, you can remove the cover from an access port. This can be extremely dangerous as the gases in the pit can be fatal. Bring a partner to help you remove the cover and empty your tank safely. You can’t leave your RV plugged in as well, because not only is it dangerous, but excess air could kill anaerobic organisms that help break down organic matter.
If you need to empty your tank in the access port, make sure you do so on the correct side of the bulkhead. You want to dump the side that keeps the solids in the tank. You must pour into the access hole closest to the house.
What about gray water?
The advantage of dumping your black water into your septic tank is that you can also discharge your gray water. As long as you use products that respect septic tanks that decompose easily, you can empty both tanks without problem.
When using dish soap, shampoo, cleaning products and toilet paper on a normal plumbing system, the composition of these products is not a problem. On the other hand, in a septic tank, it is important to pay attention to the types of products that you use. Not all products are compatible with a septic tank. By being sensitive to the natural elimination of waste, you can guarantee the longevity of your septic tank.
In summary, yes, you can empty the tanks of your recreational vehicle or trailer in a septic tank. Do not use chemicals in your black water tank that could destroy the natural ecosystem of your tank. When dumping waste from an access port, try to make sure you are on the right side of the bulkhead. So the solids will stay away from the outlet. Finally, you can empty your black and gray water tanks. Remember to use soaps and cleaners that are safe for septic tanks so that your tank can break down products effectively.