Sewer hose 101: the good, the bad, the ugly

Okay, it’s sewer hose education 101 time. Here are three RV sewer hoses spotted at RV parks. Our panel of sewer hose experts commented on each setup. Their conclusions:

This is a good hose setup. It’s sloped nicely for good flow. The hose is off the ground, which is a requirement in some states. So the owner of this hose gets a B-plus. He would have received an A if he had a higher quality hose like the one from Drain Master the RV Travel staff uses for dispatching its nasty contents to the sewage portal at campgrounds across America.

This hose has a bad case of droop. You might say it “pooped” out at the end, not quite making it to the finish line in proper fashion. It gets a C-minus for inefficiency.

This hose, or hose setup, gets an F. The long hose to the left, from the forward bathroom, is okay, although it has far too many connectors where leaks could occur, and its shoddy appearance does not help the overall ambiance of the neighborhood. But the hose on the right, from the rear bathroom, is a disaster. You wonder why the RV owner couldn’t pop for $10 to replace it. How many drip, drip, drips of sewage have seeped out of this?

That’s your lesson for the day.



24 Thoughts to “Sewer hose 101: the good, the bad, the ugly”

  1. Daniel

    As most everyone says dump black tank first. I disagree -My method is gray, black, gray. Why by doing a little gray I can observe is all my connections are tight, no pinhole leaks etc.It is much easier to clean up dishwater/bathwater than the other.
    So first dump a little gray determine your connections are tight and working correctly then do the black and finish with the grey to clean out the hose.

  2. steve peterson

    I agree that the Drain Master is a nice hose, but unless you are full timing $130+ for a sticky slinky is a lot!
    The argument that picture 2 is best is like asking which truck pulls best – to each their own!!
    I think any good hose in good condition works fine – just keep them inspected!

    Happy camping

  3. Frank

    Regardless the last setup is a disaster waiting to happen! Plus I never thought about the homemade p trap for the sewer. That makes sense and it looks like when he is ready he has some excess sewer hose stand available at the end

    1. Chuck Woodbury

      Frank, I agree. It’s best to just leave your tank valves closed until it’s time to dump.

  4. ctanson

    You gave the hose with a droop a C-. Have you ever thought that this may have been by design? When fully hooked up, we like to leave the shower grey tank valve open and the black closed. If we don’t create a water trap with a droop in my hose, then we have had unpleasant sewer gasses in the bathroom. If we purposely leave a droop in the hose, this does not occur. When it comes time to pull the black valve, I’ll simply remove the droop at the same time. Never assume that you know it all, your C- is my A+ !

    1. Chuck Woodbury

      You may have a point. We’ll check this idea out.

    2. Snayte

      Are there not traps in your unit to prevent this? Mine has a trap on every drain.

      1. Chuck Woodbury

        Yes. No matter what this RVer’s intent, creating one’s own P-trap is not necessary and not a good idea. If you do not want sewer odors coming into your RV from the RV park’s sewer system, simply keep your tank valves shut until you are ready to dump. This is the best way for a variety of reasons.

      2. ctanson

        My unit is a 2003 Sprinter 297bhs by Keystone and is fourth camper for us and the first one to have this issue. Yes, all of the drains have traps but for some reason, the bathroom would always smell if we don’t do this and have the grey open. We keep the black tank closed when on full hookups but always leave the grey open. I have a wife and three daughters, if I kept it closed, I’d be constantly out there draining the tanks so the “p trap” using the hose was a simple solution.

  5. Fred

    We travel full-time throughout N. America. The biggest problem that we’ve seen is that the park’s sewer connection is often too high to get a smooth flow when you factor in the height of the angle connection at the end of the sewer hose. This seems to be the norm.

    1. Laurel Springfield

      You said exactly what I was thinking! More often than not our hose has a sharp climb at the end where it connects. This leads to the stinky slinky dance as you pick up the hose at one end and lift, lift, lift from one end to the other so you can get it completely drained. Another excellent reason to make sure all of your connections are secure, especially if you have an extension!

  6. Gord

    “The hose is off the ground, which is a requirement in some states.”
    Why? I don’t understand why the sewer hose can not be on the ground.

    1. Chuck Woodbury

      Gord, I cannot tell you why but I have traveled in more than one state where the “hose off the ground” policy is enforced.

      1. Pat

        We have traveled to every state except Alaska, and have never heard of “hose off the ground” let alone had it enforced.

        1. Chuck Woodbury

          If you have traveled to every state, then it is very unlikely that you have been to all of them in the last half dozen years, during which many new environmental laws were put into place. I first encountered this a few years ago. It might have been in Oregon but I can’t remember for sure. Having a secure connection with the sewer was never a requirement until maybe 10 years ago. Now many states require it. RV parks do not always enforce it, but some do. Times change, laws change.

          1. Debra

            I’ve encountered this requirement in Sedona, AZ and in Palm Springs CA.

  7. Wolfe

    Several people already commented on the P-trap in number two being CORRECT so I won’t beat that horse again…

    That said I would actually take points off all three for leaving a hose connected at all. Since I am not leaving my valves open to dry out my tanks, I am thereby dumping deliberately when I do. If I’m pulling and closing valves, it’s not that much extra time to take the hose out at that point. By leaving the hose deployed, the sewer is open to release gas, and the hose may be damaged by cumulative sun, someone tripping or whatnot.

    If I were staying somewhere long enough to want to leave hoses out, I’d jump to making a stiff connection with PVC pipe. Smooth pipe supports itself and flows massively better.

  8. Buzzelectric

    What I didn’t see on #1&2 is something holding down the end of the pipe. #3 seems to have some sort of make shift system to keep the end down.

  9. Stuart Syme

    I give marks to #2. Obviously – look at the quality product, the completely sealed connection, and the carefully arranged supports. This RV-er has thought about his connection and put some effort into getting it right. His p-trap is neater than mine, but we agree on the need and solution.

  10. bjensen

    Actually the second picture has the droop that would act as a trap to keep out the sewer gas so I would give it a much higher grade.

  11. Grumpyoldtimer

    I actually arrange our sewer hose like #2 with a droop near the city connection. That acts like a trap that fills with liquid and prevents sewer gas from the city system backing up in my unit. We normally have the valves closed on both grey and black, but old habits die hard and sometimes the grey is open.
    That could have been my hose in the photo except the coach colors are wrong.

    1. Chuck Woodbury

      The black tank and the gray tank should be closed until ready to dump. We have advised this repeatedly in this newsletter and on the website.

      1. David Hartley

        Not gray if you have a washing machine

        1. Wolfe

          I would STILL advise keeping valves closed, dumping before and after doing laundry.

          A separate issue: If I had a washing machine, I’d seriously consider routing a discrete drainhose for it – mixing lint with kitchen grease makes a fibrous clog even professional cleaners struggle with.

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