How To Empty A Boat Holding Tank

Although there are plenty of ways most boats can deal with the issue of—erm, waste—the most common is that your boat has a marine head attached to a holding tank. As a boat owner who wants to keep your boat in the best condition possible, there’s nothing more in your interest than to understand how to properly empty a boat holding tank.

Know Your System

Most holding tanks will come with a few parts, including the pump-out hose, the vent line, and a head-discharge hose. You may also see a device intended to dice the waste down to smaller, more manageable pieces.

Emptying your boat holding tank means dealing primarily with the pump-out hose. It’s possible you may find a pump-out hose also located with a dump station at a marina.

Using the Holding Tank Dump System

When you bring your boat to a marina, you’ll want to look for the universal dump-out symbol that looks like this:

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The pump-out system, if currently not in use, will likely have hoses connected to it that are currently rolled up. You’ll be able to connect the dump-out hose to the waste fitting on your deck. Make sure you know where to find this fitting and unscrew it when your boat is properly secured and ready for a dump-out. Make sure that when you take off the lid, you remember where to find it and that it’s secure—you don’t want this fitting falling into the water and exposing the dump-out system of your boat.

Ensure the flow valve is off and turn the pump on. Then connect your hose to the waste fitting. When you have a secure connection between the hose and the fitting, set the nozzle to flow.

Most hose valves will include a sight feature that lets you examine the flow as it moves through. This allows you to monitor whether you’re getting closer to the point at which you’re finished with dumping the contents of the holding tank. But there won’t be any harm in allowing the hose to continue to pump even after most of the waste is gone, especially if you want to be thorough. After all, you’ve taken the time and attention to dump your holding tank right now; there’s no point in saving more for later.

Maintenance on Your Holding Tank

After you finish with the hose and re-attach the waste fitting cap, run the valve through clean water to help clear it of debris. You may also flush the head in your boat during the process to ensure that everything clears out. Close the valve and put the hose back in its proper place.

By this point, you’ve done everything you can to keep the holding tank free and clear of waste. But you’ll also want to make sure that you use cleaners designed for boat use to keep everything else on your boat clean.

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