One of the least glamorous aspects of RV (Recreational vehicles) camping is dealing with your wastewater, but when you have the correct setup, it’s pretty simple, clean, and painless. For most RVers, the simple solution is to use an RV waste water hose, which easily connects to the outlet on your RV sewer pipe and slips into the inlet to the sewer connection or septic tank at the campground. However, some RVers, for various reasons, choose to incorporate rigid PVC pipe into their setup when camping at campgrounds that offer full hookups. Using a PVC setup is easy and, with the right tools, can be done in no time.
Using PVC pipe for your wastewater is a durable and easy solution that can simplify emptying your RV tanks. Many stationary RV owners use this popular DIY mod since they can have a semi-permanent setup that allows for easy waste water drainage, especially when emptying the black water tank. A PVC sewer system can be used on virtually any RV, including a motorhome, travel trailer, or fifth wheel. It can also be done inexpensively, costing less than a new sewer hose from the camping store.
This article will provide you with everything you ever wanted to know about using PVC pipe for your RV sewer hose connection. To get you started, here’s a quick list of the some of benefits of using PVC pipe and some quick tips for making the transition:
PVC Pipe Benefits for RV Sewer Hose
- Simplify Wastewater Management: PVC pipes offer a simple, clean, and painless way to manage RV wastewater, particularly at campgrounds with full hookups.
- Durability and Ease of Use: PVC pipes are durable, making them a great choice for stationary RVs. They allow for easy wastewater drainage and can be used with various RV types, including motorhomes, travel trailers, and fifth wheels.
- Standard Connection Size: RV sewer hoses typically use a 3-inch connection. When using PVC pipes, it’s advisable to use a 3-inch size for compatibility, but you can also opt for larger sizes (4-inch or 6-inch) with the use of a reducer.
- Advantages Over Flexible Hoses: PVC pipes are superior in durability, flow capacity, and rigidity compared to traditional flexible sewer hoses. They are less prone to damage and leaks, making them a reliable choice for waste disposal.
- Considerations: While PVC pipes offer several benefits, they are less flexible and can be harder to set up, store, and transport compared to flexible hoses.
About RV Sewer Hose Sizing
RV Sewer hoses use a standard 3-inch connection, which means that the line coming out of your RV will likely be 3 inches and accept any standard sewer hose. When transitioning to PVC pipes, you will likely want to use a 3-inch size PVC pipe for the connection. However, if you choose, you can easily ramp up to a larger size, including a 4-inch and 6-inch pipe. To do so, you will need a reducer to connect the larger pipe with the smaller 3″ pipe. These can easily be found in most hardware stores and will use the same simple tools as connecting a 3″ pipe.
The best way to set up your PVC pipe will depend on your chosen size. We’ll cover selecting the best size PVC pipe later in this article; however, a 3-inch standard-size pipe is usually more than sufficient for most people. The good news is that everything you need can be found at your local hardware store.
Benefits of using PVC pipe for your RV Sewer Hose
Many people gravitate towards the usual flexible hoses when choosing a sewer hose for their RV. But there’s an alternative that you may not have considered – the PVC pipe. There are several reasons why a PVC RV sewer pipe may be the best choice for your RV sewer hose over the traditional flexible ones. Even the best RV sewer hose is inferior to a PVC pipe setup regarding durability, flow capacity, and rigidity. However, what you gain in function, you lose in flexibility. PVC pipes are harder to set up, store, and transport.
Firstly, PVC pipes are well-known for their impressive durability. Unlike flexible RV hoses, which can get punctured, damaged, or prone to leaks, PVC pipes will withstand even the harshest camping conditions. They are resistant to corrosion and rust and can withstand significant physical impact. This strength becomes invaluable when you need added durability, especially for a more permanent setup. The robustness of PVC pipes ensures a reliable, long-lasting solution to your RV’s waste disposal needs.
Secondly, PVC pipes boast a high resistance to chemicals. The various substances encountered in wastewater can degrade flexible hoses over time. However, PVC’s non-reactive nature ensures that the wastewater’s chemicals won’t cause damage or degradation. This chemical resistance further extends the lifespan of PVC pipes, providing a long-term, cost-effective waste management solution for your RV.
In terms of installation and maintenance, PVC pipes will be a little more involved to set up, but it’s something any DIY RV owner can tackle. These pipes and their fittings are straightforward to work with, making their installation, repair, and replacement tasks simple, even for those with minimal plumbing experience.
Lastly, the interior surface of PVC pipes is smooth, facilitating an easier flow of waste materials. This reduces the likelihood of unpleasant blockages that are more common with flexible hoses. Also, since the pipes are rigid, you can avoid many problems with flexible hoses sagging or creating high and low points in the line.
What do the different colors of PVS Pipe mean?
PVC pipes can come in several colors, including white, black, grey, and transparent. The color of PVC pipe is typically added during manufacturing and can signify the pipe’s intended usage. Here are the differences between white and black PVC pipes:
- Intended Use: White PVC pipe is typically used for plumbing and drainage applications in residential and commercial settings due to its clean, professional look. Black PVC pipe is often used for electrical conduit purposes because the black color helps protect the pipe from sunlight, preventing degradation. It’s also used in some applications where the pipe is buried underground. Most people are familiar with white pipes, typical for water lines in homes and the water system in some RVs.
- Sunlight Resistance: Black PVC pipe is more resistant to ultraviolet (UV) light thanks to its dark color. This prevents the pipe from becoming brittle and breaking down when exposed to the sun. White PVC, if exposed to direct sunlight over a prolonged period, can degrade more quickly unless it’s been specially treated for UV resistance. This isn’t a necessary upgrade in an RV unless you plan to leave the pipes connected season after season.
- Heat Absorption: Black PVC pipe absorbs more heat due to its color, which could cause problems if the pipe is used in an environment that could become too hot. White PVC, on the other hand, reflects sunlight and doesn’t absorb as much heat, so it may be a better choice for applications in warmer climates or where the pipe may be exposed to the sun.
- Visibility: White PVC pipe is more visible in most environments, which may be beneficial for safety or aesthetics. Black PVC pipe is less noticeable when used underground or in darker environments. Most of the PVC sewer pipes installed on the RV are black, likely for this reason.
- Cost: There’s not usually a significant cost difference between white and black PVC pipes. The cost might vary based on the specific type and size of the pipe, where you’re purchasing it, and whether there are any added features, like UV resistance.
Common PVC Sizes for RV Sewer Connections
PVC pipes for RV sewer lines are available in various sizes, though the three most common sizes are 3-inch, 4-inch, and 6-inch diameter pipes. Smaller sizes, such as 1/2″, 3/4″, and 1″, are typically used for water pipes.
The 3-inch diameter PVC pipe is a standard choice for many RV enthusiasts. This size aligns well with the usual output size of most RV waste valves, offering an adequate flow rate for the typical waste and greywater output produced by an RV. It’s a suitable choice for regular travel, providing a balance between efficient waste flow and portability.
Up a notch, the 4-inch diameter PVC pipe comes into play when a higher flow rate is demanded. RVs with larger capacity wastewater tanks or those intended for more permanent setups, such as park model RVs, might opt for this larger diameter. It allows for faster and more efficient waste disposal, ensuring your system can handle larger volumes of waste without backing up.
At the top end of the scale, the 6-inch diameter PVC pipe offers the most substantial flow rate. While not typically necessary for most RV setups, this size might be chosen for unique situations that demand high-capacity waste flow, like a large RV used for full-time living or a commercial vehicle. However, remember that a 6-inch pipe might be more challenging to install and transport due to its larger size.
The PVC pipe size you choose for your new RV sewer hose should align with your RV’s waste system and travel needs. While you can choose different sizes, a smaller pipe will be easier to manage, store, and transport. However, keep in mind where you plan to store the pipe when traveling. While a collapsable hose can easily fit inside an RV storage area, hose bags, or plastic storage containers, PVC pipe will need to be transported in long sections. A 3″ pipe can usually fit inside the bumper storage, while a 4″ or 6″ will be too wide. Ensure you have enough space for your pipes before you purchase and assemble the plastic pipework and adapters. Flexible RV sewer hoses come in one size (you can’t purchase larger hoses).
What are the benefits of a PVC Pipe instead of a standard RV Sewer Hose?
While standard RV sewer hoses are pretty popular, using a PVC pipe for your RV sewer system also comes with a range of benefits:
- Durability: PVC pipes are generally more durable and long-lasting than standard RV sewer hoses. They are resistant to damage from environmental factors and can withstand frequent use better than flexible hoses, which can tear or puncture more easily. With proper care, it will last as long as your RV
- Sturdiness: A PVC pipe maintains its shape and slope, unlike a flexible hose that might need support or specific placement to prevent sagging and ensure correct draining. This can simplify the setup and reduce maintenance. Most campgrounds will have a new hose for sale in the camp store, which makes life simple when you need a quick solution.
- Better Flow: PVC pipes typically have a wider diameter than most standard RV sewer hoses, allowing for a better flow of waste material. This can be especially useful if your RV’s waste system generates a high volume of waste.
- Cost-Effective: PVC pipes are often less expensive than high-quality RV sewer hoses, especially over the long term. While there might be a more upfront effort to cut and assemble the pipe, the longer lifespan of a PVC pipe can make it more cost-effective.
- Less Odor: PVC pipes are more tightly sealed than flexible hoses, so they can better contain odors. This can make your camping experience more enjoyable, especially during longer stays.
- Customizable: With PVC pipes, you can easily customize your setup based on your needs. You can use different fittings and adapters to create a system that perfectly fits your RV and the campground’s sewage drain.
Choosing between PVC pipes and a standard RV sewer hose largely depends on your specific needs, preferences, and how you use your RV. A flexible hose might be the best choice if you’re frequently moving and need something easy to set up and take down. However, a PVC pipe could be the more favorable option if you stay in one place longer or need a more robust system.
What are the benefits of a standard RV Sewer Hose over using a PVC Pipe?
While using PVC pipe for your RV sewer hose has its advantages, there are also several benefits of using a standard flexible RV sewer hose:
- Flexibility: Standard RV sewer hoses are made of flexible material, which allows them to bend and fit into various configurations. This is particularly useful when the sewer inlet is in a problematic location or at an awkward angle. PVC pipes, on the other hand, require fittings like elbows and bends to navigate corners or obstacles. Many premium RV sewer hoses will have a flexible connector, which makes it extremely easy to connect to your black and gray water tank outlet.
- Length: If you need a longer sewer hose during a camping trip, you can easily purchase additional hoses to connect to your setup. You won’t need any additional adapters like you would with a PVC pipe.
- Storage: Flexible RV sewer hoses can be compressed and stored in compact spaces, which is highly convenient for an RV where storage space is at a premium. PVC pipes require more storage space and can be more challenging to transport due to their rigid structure. They can even be copied and stuffed in a storage bag. Additionally, many RVs have a rear bumper designed to store standard RV sewer hoses.
- Ease of Use: A flexible hose is generally easier to connect and disconnect from your RV’s waste outlet and the campground’s sewer inlet. It can be quickly set up and dismantled, which is helpful for those who move frequently. Since it packs up smaller, you typically have easy access to your hose when needed.
- Ready for Use: Standard RV sewer hoses typically come with all the necessary fittings and adapters, meaning they’re ready to use immediately with standard attachment points. They’ll typically have the correct swivel bayonet fitting already connected to the end of the sewer hose. On the other hand, PVC pipes require the purchase and installation of additional parts like adapters and couplings. If you want something quick and easy to set up, you can purchase an RV sewer hose kit, providing everything you need to get started.
- Resistant to Cold Weather: Flexible hoses are better suited to withstand harsh weather conditions as they won’t become brittle like PVC can in extreme temperatures.
While both standard RV sewer hoses and PVC pipes have their own benefits, your choice should be guided by your specific needs, camping style, and personal preferences. For instance, if you frequently move from place to place, a standard RV sewer hose’s flexibility and ease of use might be more beneficial. However, if you’re planning to stay in one location for an extended period, the durability and longevity of PVC pipes might be more appealing.
How do you connect the PVC Pipe to the RV Drain Hose?
Joining an RV sewer hose to a PVC pipe is achievable by carefully selecting fittings and adapters. Begin by gauging the required length of the PVC pipe based on the span from your RV’s sewer outlet to the campground’s sewage drain. Once measured, use a saw to cut the PVC pipe to the desired length. Remember to protect your eyes with safety glasses during this step.
After cutting, cleaning the cut ends of the PVC pipe using a cloth to eradicate any residual debris or dust is crucial. The following step necessitates an RV sewer hose adapter. The design of this adapter incorporates a threaded end to be connected to your RV sewer hose and a smooth end to fit into a PVC slip coupling. Choosing an adapter compatible with the size of your sewer hose and PVC pipe is essential.
Proceed by connecting the threaded end of the adapter to your RV sewer hose, ensuring it’s tightly secured to avoid any possible leaks. For the next phase, you’ll need a PVC slip coupling corresponding to your PVC pipe’s diameter. While PVC cement can create a more permanent and watertight seal, it’s not always necessary. If you opt to use it, apply the cement to the smooth end of the adapter and one end of the slip coupling before pushing them together. Adding a quarter turn as you connect them can help create a tighter seal.
The next step is to join the other end of the slip coupling to the PVC pipe. If you’re using PVC cement, you will apply it to these surfaces before pushing and twisting them together. If you need to extend the length or navigate corners, add more PVC pipe sections with additional slip couplings or incorporate PVC elbows or bends.
The final connection is between the PVC pipe and the sewer drain, which may require a sewer drain adapter, such as a straight adapter or a 90-degree elbow. If you’re using PVC cement, it would be applied before pushing and twisting the pipe and adapter together. You may use a clear elbow for this connection to see that it drains correctly.
After all, connections are made, and the cement (if used) has had time to cure, inspect your system for leaks by running water through it. If the system holds water without leaking, it’s ready for use. Keep in mind these are general instructions, and specific RV sewer hoses, PVC pipes, and adapters might require different methods. Always follow the manufacturer’s instructions when handling PVC materials, including the optional use of PVC cement.
Tools you’ll need
Do RV Parks allow PVC Sewer connections?
While many RV parks allow PVC pipes for sewer connections, the rules and regulations can vary significantly from one park to another. Some parks are okay with it, especially for long-term residents who will stay for an extended period. They may appreciate the increased durability and better seal of PVC pipes, which can help to prevent leaks and odors.
However, other parks, such as National Parks, may not allow them, particularly those that cater to short-term or overnight guests. These parks might prefer flexible hoses due to their quick and easy setup and removal, which better suits transient guests.
Furthermore, some parks may have specific rules about the type of sewer connection you can use or how it can be installed. For example, some might require an appropriate seal at the sewer inlet or certain types of support or protection for the hose or pipe.
Therefore, checking with the specific RV park before you arrive is always best. Look at their rules and regulations or contact them directly to ask about their policy on PVC sewer connections. This will help ensure that you arrive prepared and can set up your RV’s waste system in a way that complies with their rules.
Do you need an RV Sewer Hose Support when using PVC Pipe?
Generally, you won’t need a separate sewer hose support when using a PVC pipe for your RV’s sewer system. One of the benefits of PVC pipes is their rigid structure that maintains its shape and slope, which is crucial for the proper flow of waste material.
The inherent sturdiness of PVC pipes eliminates the need for additional support to prevent sagging, a common issue with flexible RV sewer hoses. This can simplify your setup and make it easier to maintain.
However, ensuring that the PVC pipe is set up with an appropriate slope from the RV to the sewer inlet is essential to encourage waste flow. You might also want to secure the pipe to prevent it from shifting, particularly in areas with high wind or wildlife activity.
As always, you should check the specific rules and regulations of your campground or RV park. Some parks may have specific requirements for how sewer hoses or pipes must be set up, including supports, protection, or seals.
How do you use PVC Pipe for RV Sewer Hose Storage?
Using PVC pipe for storing your RV sewer hose is an innovative way to keep your hose safe and secure. Here is a step-by-step guide on how to create a PVC pipe storage system for your RV sewer hose:
- Measure Your Hose: The first step is to measure your collapsed RV sewer hose to ensure you have a large enough PVC pipe for storage. Typically, a 4-6 inch diameter PVC pipe will suffice for most standard hoses.
- Cut the PVC Pipe: Using these measurements, cut your PVC pipe to the desired length with a saw. Ensure the cut ends are clean and smooth.
- Acquire End Caps: Purchase two PVC end caps to seal both ends of your storage tube securely. One should be a threaded cap that can be easily opened and closed for access, and the other can be a regular cap that will be permanently attached.
- Attach One End Cap: Using PVC cement (optional for a more permanent attachment), affix the regular end cap to one end of the PVC pipe.
- Mounting the Pipe: Depending on your RV’s design, you may mount this pipe to the underside of your RV, within a storage compartment, or on the RV’s bumper. Ensure you use sturdy brackets and fasteners that can handle the weight of the pipe and the hose inside. The mounting should be strong enough to withstand road vibrations and movements.
- Insert the Hose and Seal: Once the PVC pipe is securely mounted, insert your collapsed sewer hose. The threaded end cap can then be screwed on to secure the hose inside.
Remember, you should ensure that the sewer hose is clean and dry before storing it to prevent odor buildup or bacterial growth within the pipe. Also, it’s essential to periodically check the mounting brackets for any signs of wear or loosening. Regular inspection and maintenance will ensure your sewer hose storage remains secure and durable.
A popular choice for many RVers is to store the PVC storage pip on the bummer or secured to the frame underneath the RV. However you choose to install it, it’s a good idea to use strong metal straps to ensure that it stays connected while traveling.
Upgrading your RV sewer hose to PVS is a great option if you’re stationary or spend a lot of time in one place. PVC pipe is durable, offers great flow rates, and will last a long time as compared to a standard flexible RV hose. There are some downsides, but they’re minimal. PVC pipes come in a variety of sizes, but a standard 3″ pipe is usually more than sufficient. Always ensure you have a proper fitting and use the right size connections when designing your system. A busted sewer hose is no fun when you’re camping.