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How and Where to Empty Grey Water Tanks in Motorhomes

Nov 17, 2023

If you’re new to the world of motorhomes, campervanning, and campsites, then you might have some questions about certain rules of the road. And one question that many new motorhome owners seem to wonder about is – how and where do I empty my motorhome’s grey water tank?

So this is your essential guide to safe motorhome waste disposal. As well as covering what you should do with your grey water waste, we’ll also explain what you should do with your motorhome’s black water waste.

Insurance is another thing you might be wondering about if you’re new to motorhomes. Want to discuss your campervan insurance needs with an experienced expert? Our friendly team is always on-hand to find you exactly the cover you need at a price you can afford. Call us on 0208 290 9086 or email us at personal@anthonyjones.com.

What is Grey Water?

Any wastewater from a non-toilet plumbing systems is known as grey water. In a home, this can include wastewater from washing machines, showers, baths, and hand basins. Most motorhomes will only generate grey water from sinks. Yet some larger motorhomes may also contain showers, which will generate additional grey water waste.

Where Is My Motorhome’s Grey Water Tank?

In most motorhomes, the grey water tank will be located somewhere beneath the chassis. Check your owner’s manual if you’re not sure. Though if you’ve converted your motorhome yourself, you’ll know exactly where it is!

This tank will store any wastewater from your motorhome’s sink, and also from the shower if you’ve got one installed. You can let your motorhome’s grey water tank fill to capacity, but you will have to empty it every so often. The tank should have a tap or a hose attached, so emptying it couldn’t be easier. It’s just a question of where you empty it…

Can I Empty Grey Water Into a Drain?

No! At least, you cannot empty grey water down just any drain. The UK has separate draining systems for rainwater and grey water. So you cannot dispose of your grey water down most of the drains you find along the road. Instead, you’ll have to use a dedicated grey water drain.

You can use this guide to all grey water disposal points in the UK. This map also lists all of the UK’s “aires”, which is a sort of service area for motorhome drivers that often contains facilities for disposing of grey water.

Alternatively, you can save your motorhome’s grey water and use it for gardening when you get home. You may have to treat the grey water a little first, though. Here’s a short guide to some of the things to bear in mind when considering grey water for garden use.

Can I Empty Grey Water While Driving?

In most motorhomes the grey water tank’s under the chassis, and you need to operate the tap or hose from the outside to drain it. So unless your motorhome’s built differently, it’s probably not possible to empty grey water while you’re driving.

But even if it were possible, this would not be a good idea. Emptying any wastewater while driving could create hazards for other road users. Also, standing water on the road would likely flow down the nearest drain. And as we’ve already mentioned, most drains aren’t equipped to manage grey water loads.

What is Black Water?

Black water is waste from your motorhome’s toilet system. In the home, wastewater from kitchens and dishwashers is also classed as black water, as it’s likely to contain certain pathogens.

Where is My Motorhome’s Black Water Tank?

If your motorhome doesn’t have a toilet, then it doesn’t have any black water waste management facilities. But if your motorhome is fitted with a flushing toilet, then it will be linked to the black water tank. This will either be found underneath the chassis, or it will be accessed via a clearly marked door on your campervan’s exterior.

How To Dispose of a Motorhome’s Black Water Waste

As with the grey water, you must only dispose of your motorhome’s black water waste at a dedicated disposal point. Most campsites will have a specific area for disposing of black water.

Never dispose of black water down a drain, or into a river, a canal, a pond, or any other natural water system. And unlike grey water, black water is wholly unsuitable for use in gardening. That means you shouldn’t dispose of it in hedges or into any undergrowth, and you certainly shouldn’t just dump it on the side of the road. You should consider it to be highly contaminated and treat it with as much care as possible.

Luckily, most motorhomes make it relatively easy to access and manage the black water tank. It will probably have a handle fitted for carrying, and it may even have a set of wheels so you can easily transport it across the campsite.

Disposing of Motorhome Waste in Europe

Across Europe you’ll find a dedicated network of motorhome service points, many of which are located at motorway service stations. For a small fee, you can dispose of all waste here – whether it’s grey water or black – and you can even top up your reservoir with fresh water.

If you’re planning a motorhome trip, either in the UK or on the continent, our specialist campervan and motorhome insurance can give you full cover, for less. For a free quote, call us on 0208 290 9086 or email us at personal@anthonyjones.com.

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