Gone Outdoors

How to Install a Holding Tank for a Camper

by Eric Cedric

Most recreational vehicles (RVs) and camper travel trailers use at least one of three different holding tanks. Gray water tanks hold waste water from sinks and shower drains. Black water tanks hold the sewage water and waste from toilets. Fresh water tanks hold the fresh drinking and cleaning water. Campers and RVs have special housing areas to hold these tanks. To install a holding tank, find the housing area and follow a basic formula to get a watertight seal.

Park the camper. Disconnect all water to the rig and set the emergency brake. Turn the main circuit breaker so that the power in the rig is off.

Open the tank housing panel. This is typically on the right-rear side of the RV or camper. Prop the door open and look inside to see a variety of holding areas and hoses. Determine which tank you are installing and find the appropriate hose or hoses for that tank. For example, if you are installing the black water tank, find the hose marked toilet.

Insert the tank into the housing area. Pop off the tank's valve caps. Slide a hose clamp over the hose for your tank and then push the hose down onto the tank's receiver nozzle. Use the adjustable wrench for added leverage when pushing the hose onto the nozzle.

Slide the hose clamp down onto the nozzle where the hose attaches. Tighten the hose clamp with the screwdriver.

Apply a thorough coat of silicone caulk to the hose attachment areas. Let the caulk dry, ensuring that you have a watertight seal around the tank hose.

Turn on the water and test the tank through flushing, adding fresh water or draining a sink, depending on which type of water holding tank you have installed.

Items you will need
  • Screwdriver
  • Adjustable wrench
  • Hose clamps
  • Silicone caulk
  • Caulk gun

About the Author

A former Alaskan of 20 years, Eric Cedric now resides in California. He's published in "Outside" and "Backpacker" and has written a book on life in small-town Alaska, "North by Southeast." Cedric was a professional mountain guide and backcountry expedition leader for 18 years. He worked in Russia, Iceland, Greece, Turkey and Belize. Cedric attended Syracuse University and is a private pilot.

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