Everything You Need to Know About Your RV Toilet and Sink

Sales strategies for motorhomes and RVs rarely cover the toilet and bathroom sink. After all, there’s nothing glamorous about this little corner of an RV. Nonetheless, there is quite a bit to know about it. Smart RV owners will take time to learn everything necessary to make sure the toilet and bathroom sink continue operating as designed.

This post will cover everything you need to know. Whether you are new to RVing or you are a seasoned veteran, understand that keeping your sink and toilet in good working order only serves to create better memories as you travel around the country.

Gray and Black Water

It is common for modern motorhomes and RVs to have two separate waste systems for gray and black water. Gray water is the water that drains from your bathroom and kitchen sinks. Most showers are also connected to the gray water system. Black water is the water and waste that drains from the toilet.

When you’re dumping your two tanks, dump the black water first. Following with the gray water will help flush any solids stuck in the hose. Incidentally, there are times when campground dumping stations are higher than the level of your gray and black water tanks. In such cases, you need a pump to drain the tanks.

How the Toilet Works

Where your home toilet operates on water pressure, an RV toilet relies solely on gravity. This is good and bad. It is good in the sense that an RV toilet doesn’t require as much water to flush. It is bad in the sense that less water means it can take more effort to keep an RV toilet clean.

Also note the difference in waste management. At home, gravity and water pressure work together to force the contents of your toilet into the sewer, where it flows away from your home. In an RV, waste is removed through a small valve that opens at the bottom of the toilet. Waste simply falls into the black water tank where it is collected until you dump.

Treating and Protecting the System

This storage tank arrangement can lead to foul orders emanating from your toilet whenever you use it. Fortunately, there are chemicals you can add to the black water tank to solve this problem. The chemicals break down waste to help eliminate odors. You can buy chemicals for your gray water tank as well, just be sure to never mix the two.

In terms of protecting the system, there is little you need to do other than routine maintenance chores like inspecting seals and tightening connections. If you’re concerned about cold weather plumbing issues, AirSkirts makes an air-based RV skirting system that provides more than adequate insulation.

Dumping Your Tanks

In closing, do not ever assume you can dump your gray and black water tanks anywhere you like. You cannot. For example, it is illegal to dump either tank in a public storm sewer. You are also not free to drive up to campground dumping stations unless you’re a paying customer.

At home, you could theoretically empty your tanks into smaller containers that you carry inside and dump in your toilet. But do you really want to do that? Probably not. The safest bet is to just go to a campground or RV service center and pay to use their dumping station.

Toilets and sinks make RV camping more comfortable and convenient. Make a point of fully understanding how yours work in relation to your gray and black water systems. The more you know, the less trouble the systems will give you.