If you enjoy RV traveling there are a few technical considerations required in order to keep your mobile home clean and operational. Of utmost importance is draining the holding tanks.
There are a few implements to choose from on the market to make this process comfortable and clean. In this article we will cover all vital aspects of picking the best RV sewage hose, that will make your RV journey comfortable and carefree all the way. We will also provide a quick to-do list of how to empty your tanks in under 5 minutes (providing you have a proper modern sewer hose) and be ready to hit the road again. While purchasing a sewer drainage hose may not seem like an interesting or pleasant task, you will be glad you spent a bit of time and money purchasing the proper one for you.
Regardless of size, the RV allows many joys of civilisation and daily comfort from almost anywhere. A full-size bed, a pleasant enclosed space with controlled atmosphere, kitchen, shower, and of course, a private toilet.
However, all of this comfort comes with a few necessary operations that an RV operator must perform to keep operational. One of these tasks involves regular emptying of water holding tanks. Most RV’s use separate waste water storage systems for sink & bathroom waste water and toilet sewage. These are usually called “grey tank” and “black tank” respectively. Modern RV’s have special sensors indicating how full each of them are.
The only job left to you is actually dropping by the designated special RV Dump Stations (which can be found in most RV camping sites and/ or via websites like this one) from time to time, and draining the tanks using a proper RV sewer hose.
Is there any major difference between RV sewer hoses currently on the market? Let’s find out! You’ll be glad you did!
What Makes a Quality RV Sewage Hose?
Although draining water tanks might seem a mundane task, there are a few key qualities your RV sewage hose must have to make this operation spotless:
RV waste water hose is designed to endure multiple uses and must remain perfectly sealed during all that time. Additionally, RV’s are famous for rarely staying in one place for over 2 weeks during the season – which means that your sewer hose will go through multiple compression/extraction cycles for use and storage. On the top of that, if you are staying at an RV camp (with a permanent connection to local utilities), you also likely enjoy the company of other campers around you. Unfortunately, these people are prone to occasionally walking over, stepping, crushing and even running over your connected sewer RV hose by car. It must be able to endure all of this, and not let sensitive matter spill.
Transportability and Weight
As if durability requirements were not enough, the RV drain hose should also remain reasonably lightweight for an average person to carry around, connect the couplings, along with washing and storing without too much hassle. There is a special (and important) number to do with sewage line transportability: the folded versus extended length ratio. This may go as far as 1 to 3 in some models, and it becomes important if you do not have a whole lot of space to keep it in (and for sanitary reasons you do want a separate/ isolated space to keep it in).
RV sewage hose made from materials like vinyl are durable, light and leak-resistant, but are vulnerable to prolonged direct sunlight exposure. These require extra coating/additives to keep them protected and not deteriorate over time. UV-resistant plastics like TPE are also fairly common in making these appliances, but they each have their own drawbacks.
Connection Fittings & Safety Caps
RV sewage hose must go through multiple connection cycles both with the RV pipeline ends and the local sewage dump terminals. Therefore the end-connectors (fittings) must be robust and fit snugly (leak-proof) on both ends. A convenient handle and locking mechanism design is also a great plus, as is having removable end-caps to isolate the hose from its surrounding environment when not in use.
It is simple physics – the bigger the diameter the easier the drain line will do what it should. A diameter of 3” is believed to be able to cope with most situations. Except in some extreme cold weather environments. We will further explain at the end of the article.
Warm weather is little trouble for an already-flexible and properly UV-protected appliance like an RV sewer hose. However, it is the cold weather that may cause trouble. Whenever choosing a drain hose, check to ensure somewhere on the package that it is functional at low temperatures, especially if you intend to travel in winter. The cheaper and lighter variants are prone to developing cracks and micro-leaks when extended/compressed in extremely cold conditions. You definitely do not want this kind of hose.
Vital Characteristics of RV Sewage Hoses on the Market
Now let’s see how the manufacturers fulfill the above-mentioned requirements in their products:
There are 2 types of materials generally used for sewer hoses:
- Thermoplastic Elastomer (or TPE), usually the Polyolefin
- HTS Vinyl (can be UV-stabilised)
Vinyl drains are generally lighter and less durable. They are perfectly suited for those who do not spend a lot of time travelling in their RV’s (the occasional holiday travellers) and for those people who enjoy boondocking (and thus do not require continuous connection to drain their water like in properly equipped RV camps). This appliance is still durable enough to last you a few seasons and is easy to handle.
When used in sewer hoses the TPE is usually spun around some other structure like metal coils (old technology) or a polymer helix. This provides excellent resistance to scratching, dents and punctures, but you pay for it in more weight and less compact storage length of the compressed shlong.
Last but not least – you should go with the TPE if you plan to stay predominantly at RV campsites on your journeys. A well-designed TPE hose will easily recover from various abuses and even if run over by another RV. The same should not be expected from a lightweight HTS hose.
Cold weather properties of both materials are not as straight forward – you will need to read the box and/or ask the seller to ensure that any particular model is suited for low-temperature usage.
The Line (shlong)
Typically RV drain hoses come in a few standard lengths (when fully extended): 1×20 feet long or 2×10 feet long lines. In the case of 2 separate units they are connected to make a single 20 foot unit by means of a bayonet connector and are disassembled for easier storage. Sometimes 15’ 18’ or even 30’ models can be found. The primary consideration of what length hose to purchase is the volume and shape of the storage space it’ll be kept in.
The RV-side connectors generally used are the bayonet-type for ease and speed of assembly. Slip-ring connectors are less common as is a more reliable but admittedly bulky cam lock design. The simpler the design – the better (seems to be true with most things in life, and with sewer hoses as well!). In the end you should really just go and try handling different types of fittings (compatible with your RV drain pipe that is) – and pick one that you find easiest to work with.
The sewer-side connectors are not always required to fit firmly into the local sewers terminal (sometimes it’s just a concrete hole), but nice if they do. Sewer terminals themselves can be of different sizes, usually 3-4”. The general solution is to use a 4-in-1 or 6-in-1 90 degree elbow for that end of the sewer hose to ensure tight connection. Some manufacturers equip this end of their hoses with a universal tapered rubber doughnut nozzle. A nice extra feature to have is a translucent end-section (or the elbow itself) that will allow you to make sure that the hose is empty all the way down before you remove it. This kind of information is priceless.
How to Drain Your RV Camper Trailer Waste Water in 5 Minutes
We’ve covered most of what you will need to make an educated purchase of a drain hose that would be right for your needs. Additionally, we will explain how to use them properly.
Here is our 10-step operations guide to emptying your RV waste water tanks in under 5 minutes and be done with it:
Preparation (before you arrive): buy and use a box of disposable gloves. A box should last you a whole season and will save you many worries about sufficiently guarding your hands from unsanitary equipment.
At the dump station:
Do NOT rush. If you rush – you make mistakes. If you make mistakes you might just make it to YouTube and become famous… but probably not the way you’d want to be.
Put a pair of disposable gloves on before you do anything – even opening your RV storage compartment. Extract your RV sewage hose from the storage compartment, and remove the safety caps (if so equipped). Take it and go towards the dump station terminal. Insert the respected end of your line into the terminal (sometimes it’s just a hole). Ideally this end of your drain line is pre-equipped with a 5-in-1 size adapter to fit in snugly and it has a translucent elbow to confirm that the hose has been fully drained at the end of operation. Make sure it is installed well and won’t jump out of the terminal when sewage hits the pipe.
Take the other end of the hose to the RV, extending it as necessary. Remove the RV’s holding tanks’ drain pipe safety cap and connect your hose connector fitting (the coupler) to it. Make sure it fits well. Fasten the camlock, spin the bayonet, and push the slip ring all the way; now give it a little pull (to make sure it is connected snugly and water seals will work as it should). Give the other end a quick inspection to make sure it is still well-connected to the dump terminal.
You should be emptying the black holding tank first. Most RVs have one terminal to which both black and grey drain pipes go. In this case the drain pipe of a larger diameter is the one that comes from the black tank. Reach for the handle on that pipe and pull it to open the valve and discharge the waste water.
Observe as the dirty water leaves the tank. After all the water has discharged (no sound of running water any more) wait for another 30 seconds for all the remaining contents to leave the hose’s end.
Now it’s time to empty the grey tank. Reach for the handle on the thinner drain pipe and pull it open. As the water leaves the grey tank some of it will go over to the now-empty black tank pipe and give it a little extra wash. The grey tank waste water cleans most solid residues that might be left over in the sewer hose from the black tank’s discharge.
Wait for another 30 seconds and shut off both drain pipes’ valves. Disconnect the sewer line from the RV terminal first. Put the RV drain safety cap back on with your free hand.
Take the free end of the hose to the fresh water washing point (usually a shlog found somewhere next to the dump terminal). While still holding the free end of the sewage line up with one hand – insert the fresh water schlong inside your wastewater hose by a few inches with your other hand.
Open the fresh water and give that drain hose a thorough 40-60 seconds wash. Bear in mind that the other end of your waste drain line should still be connected to the dump terminal as you do so.
Now it’s time to disconnect the second end of the hose. After you do – drop the hose to the ground and give it another quick wash with that fresh water. Retract (compress) the sewer hose and bring it back to the RV. Put the safety caps back on. Place the RV sewer hose in the appropriate compartment.
Go back to your RV drain pipe terminal and make sure the safety cap is on – it is required to by the law whenever you’re driving! Even if it was not, inevitably…someone…somewhere will appreciate the fact you did.
Take disposable gloves off and dispose of them (surprise – they are disposable gloves!) in an eco-friendly manner. Don’t forget to sanitize your hands afterwards to be on the safe side.
Most modern RV’s are equipped with a special storage compartment for all types of water hoses (including the sewage hose). In larger RV’s there can be 3 separate compartments, while smaller rigs may have just one. In any case, you should always account for the space available when picking a sewage drain – and make sure it’ll fit in when folded properly.
Remember that it is generally a good idea to keep the appliance you use to drain used toilet water separate from any other equipment, especially any fresh-water hoses. If you are short on space and have to keep your drain hose along with any other equipment, it would be prudent to keep it in a separate waterproof sealed plastic bag (no matter how well you clean it after every use). Stay on the safe side when away from civilization.
A general solution to a lack of storage space is purchasing a separate square back-bumper attachment and use it solely for save storing the dump water hose.
As previously mentioned, not all drain hoses for mobile homes are designed to remain flexible (and subsequently not crack or leak) at low temperatures. If you do plan for winter travels – make sure to consult with the seller and learn what temperature your hose can be reliably used in.
However, even if your hose is good to use in freezing cold there are still a few tips on how to avoid typical winter errors.
Wastewater is still water (surprise!). It freezes at temperatures below 32F (0C). Regardless of whether your RV itself and the tanks are winter-ready, your hose will be exposed to local temperatures.
It is the possibility of gradual ice build-up inside the pipe and clogging it during prolonged use (we’re talking about a constantly-connected hose with free-running waste water)
If the temperature is 20-30F – a gradual slope down of your drain hose is usually sufficient to keep the drainage going smoothly. Wastewater has an above-freezing temperature at the RV drain pipe terminal and will simply not have time to freeze before it reaches the end of the hose this way. An RV sewage hose support works especially well for this, as it not only lifts the pipe above ground level but provides a nice slope all the way.
If the temperature falls below the teens however, and even more so in single digit numbers (Fahrenheit) – you would want to connect your drain sewage hose only when you are about to empty the tanks, and disconnect it once done. Otherwise risk getting something called a “poopsicle” – and you definitely don’t what to know precisely what that is.
This is an easy one. If you have an RV sewer hose that is made of two separate pieces you will connect them via a bayonet type coupling – in the same manner as you’d connect the hoses end to your rig’s drain pipe. Same goes for a case when you have a few RVs at an RV campsite sharing the same local dump terminal for permanent connection. There you can connect up to 3 different sewer hoses to a single exit-section via an X-adapter, all using the bayonet connectors.
Your typical RV drain water hose serves for 2 years. However there are a few high-end models that are built of high quality components and include a second layer inside. Such a house can last (and do its job well) for a period or 5 to 7 years before wear-and-tear take their toll.
Both black and grey tanks require occasional cleaning. Whilst not practical by any means to do so after every draining, it’s generally a good idea to do so every 5-10 drains. Cleaning is performed immediately after the dirty water discharge by refilling your freshwater tanks and draining the freshwater to waste tanks straight away before discharging them again.
Some models have a separate valve in the wastewater tanks through which fresh water can be sent directly to them without filling the freshwater tank first. If your rig has this set up – make sure you keep a separate freshwater hose for these occasions (for sanitary reasons).
Remember that blackwater tanks are technologically required to be filled with at least 1 gallon of fresh water after it has been drained in order to operate properly.
Want to learn more about sewage? We didn’t think so. Do not worry, we are almost done.
- the reasons why to use (and master) RV trailer sewer draining;
- key qualities that are required for your sewage drain hose to be a good, practical appliance and serve you over many years;
- the design and material solutions, and models on the market offered to meet those requirements;
- a quick guide on how to survive an RV dump station operations and have them go flawlessly – Some frequently asked questions regarding the RV sewage sensitive matters.
RV sewer hose is not an extra – it is a necessity (as is the application) that every roadhouse dweller is well familiar with. After all, what comfort is a house with no running water? We hope we have made it a bit easier for you to embrace and master the subject. The hose you’ll end up choosing will help you have a spotless impression of your many amazing camper journeys.