A clogged toilet is probably one of the most frustrating situations you can find yourself in. The foul odor that it would emit can stink up your RV and make it an incredibly unpleasant place to be in.
Even if you have the best RV in the market, you could still end up being stuck with a clogged toilet in the middle of nowhere. So if you’re planning to go on a long road trip in your RV, here are some simple methods you can use to unclog an RV toilet.
How to Unclog Your RV Toilet in 6 Steps
Use Hot Water
If you don’t have any equipment with you to fix a clogged toilet, then your best chance is to use hot water. Fill up a pan with water and heat it on a stove, microwave, or water heater.
Turn off the heat when the water is just below the boiling point. Make sure you do not let the water come to a full boil. Boiling water can crack the toilet bowl or even melt the ring of wax around the toilet.
Pour the hot water down the toilet from waist height to add some force, and let it rest for some time. You’ll know the toilet’s been unclogged if the water begins to drain. You can then flush your toilet 2–3 times. If it’s a more stubborn situation, you may have to repeat the process a couple more times.
Use a Plunger
Using a plunger is one of the most effective and common methods of fixing a clogged toilet. Ensure that the plunger you buy has a tight grip and strong suction. Purchase plungers with metal and rubber sticks for the best results.
Gently place the plunger in the toilet bowl to force out any air from the bell. After forcing out the air, move your plunger rigorously inwards and outwards.
This makes the water move in both directions and helps loosen the clog. This process takes a little time, which means you must be patient. Use your plunger at least 15–20 times to effectively loosen the clog.
Use a Plumber’s Snake
In case a plunger doesn’t work, then a drain snake or a plumber’s snake is an effective tool for unclogging toilets. You feed your snake into the toilet till it reaches the clog and then reel it back into the drain. Make sure you get one that is extra long and has some flexibility.
Push the plumber’s snake into the toilet bowl so that the end of the snake faces down at the drain. Then, turn the snake’s handle clockwise to extend the cable in the direction of your clog. You will have to keep extending your cable till you reach the clog, but it shouldn’t be too far down.
Once you’ve reached the clog, you can stop extending the cable. You will then have to reel the cable back in. Now, the aim here isn’t to bring up the entire clog, it’s to break down the clogged material so that you can flush it down easily.
Use a Septic Safe De-Clogger
Another method for de-clogging your RV toilet is using septic-safe de-cloggers. There are several commercially available septic safe de-cloggers. One of the most important things to remember while using these de-cloggers is to ensure that the chemicals used are meant for septic use.
To use septic-safe de-cloggers, fill half the toilet with water. Pour the chemicals into the water and let it rest for some time. You want to let the chemicals remain in the tank for a few hours so that they can break down the clog. After a few hours, flush the toilet.
To get the best results, drive your RV to ensure that chemicals inside the tank move around. You can then check the toilet to see if it has been de-clogged.
Use a Holding Tank Cleaner
A holding tank cleaner basically breaks down solids inside the tank and makes it easier to flush. It also deodorizes the contents to mask any foul smell. You can use bacterial cleaners that break down the materials inside the tank to prevent clogging and to deodorize the tank.
You can also use enzyme treatments. These cleaners break down the contents inside the tank using proteins, but they don’t control odor like bacterial cleaners do. Holding tank cleaners come in multiple forms, including drop-in cleaners, powders, and liquids.
Using chemicals to clean your RV toilet should be your last resort. Make sure to try other methods before you use strong chemicals.
Use the Ice Cube Method
This method entails filling a third of your toilet bowl with water and then putting multiple ice cubes in the toilet and flushing the toilet. Drive your RV around to create enough movement in the toilet so that the ice can unclog the pipes. Keep adding more ice and water if the toilet is still clogged.
The ice cube method is a little weak because you need a considerable amount of force to unclog your toilet. And to generate that kind of force you will have to drive your RV aggressively and that can be dangerous.
If Everything Fails, Go to The Dealership
If after trying all these methods, you’re still unable to unclog your toilet, then the problem is quite serious. You should head to your dealership to get some professional assistance.
If the problem seems to be severe, don’t try and unclog the toilet on your own as you might cause further damage and even end up hurting yourself in the process. Seek help from a professional by going to your RV’s dealership.
How to Tell If Your RV Toilet is Not Working Properly?
Most times, you will not be able to see if your RV’s toilet is facing a problem unless the toilet has undergone physical damage. The easiest way to tell if there are problems with your toilet is if there’s a foul smell coming from the toilet.
Keep an eye out for signs of wear and tear and keep that nose sharp. You want to be able to catch any problems with your RV’s toilet at the earliest to prevent further damage.
There Will be a Foul Smell Coming from the Toilet
A major sign that your RV’s toilet isn’t functioning properly is when there’s a foul smell coming from the toilet. If you notice an unpleasant odor coming from your toilet, hose, or black water tank, then it’s possible that something is clogging your toilet.
You want to be able to identify this problem at the earliest and fix it, because clogging can cause considerable damage to your toilet if left unrepaired. You can refer to the steps mentioned above if you need to unclog your toilet.
The Black Water Tank is Hard to Open
If your black water tank is difficult to open and doesn’t drain when you do manage to open it, then you most likely have a problem with your toilet. To put it simply, when you drain your tank and don’t see anything happening and when the tank isn’t empty after draining even though it should be, these are signs that your toilet is not working properly.
Remember, if your toilet is going through any of these problems, then it’s probably clogged.
Tips to Prevent Clogs in the Future
Fixing a clogged toilet is all well and good, but we all would rather not have to face that situation again. If you wait for your toilet to clog to then do something about it, you’ll only be damaging your toilet and adding more work for yourself.
So how do you prevent your RV toilet from clogging in the first place?
Use these tips as a part of your RV’s maintenance to prevent clogs in the future.
Keep the Black Tank Valve Closed
This is one of the main things you should do to prevent your toilet from clogging, especially pyramid plugs.
You should always keep your black water tank valve closed. By keeping the tank shut during regular use, you allow all the liquid waste, solid waste, and toilet paper to mix around. The continuous mixing of the solids and liquids breaks down these materials. Therefore, when you dump the tank, the waste can come out smoothly without clogging.
When you leave the tank open, the water waste flows out first into the sewer, leaving the solid waste behind. This makes it easy for the solid waste to get trapped in the tank. If you keep the tank open when using the toilet, the tank will only accumulate more waste and eventually clog up the toilet.
Use the Right Toilet Paper
You need to use the right kind of toilet paper in an RV. As an RV uses a septic system, you must make sure that your toilet paper is also “septic safe.”
To find toilet papers that match this criterion, buy toilet paper that’s labeled “septic safe” or “certified safe 2-ply”. Don’t purchase toilet papers that are more expensive and thicker. Thicker toilet paper takes more time to break down in the septic system.
Your toilet paper has to be thin so that it can break down fast with water. Avoid flushable wipes as well because they don’t dissolve as easily and can clog your toilet. If you’re using wipes, throw them in the garbage and not in the toilet.
Use Drop-In Cleaners
There are various types of drop-in cleaners available in the market such as drop-ins for the kitchen and the bathroom. Make sure that the drop-in cleaners you’re purchasing are septic-safe.
Purchasing the wrong kind of drop-in cleaners can significantly damage your toilet. Buy cleaners like the blue max drop and the tissue digester as they usually work fine for RV toilets. Each drop-in cleaner has a different set of instructions; read them carefully. The instructions will help you use the drop-in cleaners effectively.
Maintain Your Toilet and Black Tank Regularly
One of the easiest things you can do to prevent future clogging is maintaining and cleaning your toilet and black tank on a regular basis. Logically, water moves and breaks down your waste and toilet paper in your tank, making it easier for the waste to pass through your tank’s pipes and into the sewer.
It’s thus advisable to flush your toilet twice after use. This will fill the tank with more water that will help to break up the waste and reduce the chances of clogging significantly.
To clean your black water tank, you will have to perform some cleaning tasks on a monthly and yearly basis depending on how often you use the RV. The best thing you can do for your black water tank is to drain and clean it often. Following these easy steps will prevent your toilet from clogging in the future.
Don’t Store with a Dry Black Tank
If you think storing your RV while traveling is easy and safe, think again! One of the biggest problems you might face while storing your RV is leftover waste drying up inside your black tank.
You don’t want that to happen, because if the waste dries and solidifies, it can lead to more foul smells, a clogged toilet, and even cause sensors to malfunction. Besides, in colder temperatures, the waste in the tank can freeze up and then cleaning it will be another hassle you do not want to deal with.
So, always dump the waste from your black tank and rigorously clean the tank using cleaners or flushers before storing your RV.
Unclogging an RV toilet is certainly not an enjoyable task. And a clogged toilet can cause significant problems to the RV and to you. If you’re going on long trips, you have to ensure that your toilet is functioning at its best.
Of course, to avoid this problem altogether, just don’t use the RV toilet and go to public toilets instead!
Regular maintenance and cleaning will help prevent any type of clogging in your RV’s toilet. And if you do find your RV toilet clogged, now you have multiple methods handy to deal with it and continue on your journey with ease and comfort.