Nobody wants to do it, but sometimes it has to be done. Here's how to unclog an RV toilet with easy methods and simple tips to make the dirty job easier…
It's not a pretty scene when your RV toilet clogs. The smell can quickly permeate your entire RV, and it's just not a fun thing to deal with.
But, alas, as RVers, we sometimes have to get our hands dirty. Figuratively, that is! None of these tips require you to do anything that will make you want to wash your hands with sandpaper after.
I'm going to teach you how to unclog an RV toilet using the easiest ways possible. Plus, I will give you preventative tips because the best way to unclog a toilet is to not let it clog in the first place!
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Main Causes of Clogged RV Toilet
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To know how to fix a problem, you first need to understand it. The RV Proctologist helps us understand a lot in the above video. I highly recommend watching as much as you have time for. But for the basis of this article, it comes down to this…
Your RV septic system doesn't work like your household toilet. So, I will try to give you a good idea of what you're most likely dealing with.
If you're researching how to unclog a toilet RV, then chances are you have a gravity flush toilet. This RV toilet system is the most common type of RV toilet because it's closest to the regular toilets you use at home. It flushes (usually by pressing a foot pedal), and the waste material goes into your black water holding tank.
The main reason an RV toilet keeps clogging is a build-up in the bottom of the tank. This is so common that there's even Slang RV terminology for it: a poop pyramid. And it's just like what it sounds like.
Human waste piles up in your RV tank and pretty much becomes a solid mass that refuses to flow out of your stinky slinky. (A stinky slinky is another RV nickname for a septic hose.)
I'm going to tell you at the end how to prevent this pyramid plug from forming. But first, let's address the problem at hand. Here's how to unclog that clogged toilet…
How to Unclog Your RV Toilet
There are both store-bought products and home remedies you can try to unclog your toilet. Let's start with the products that can help. Then we'll cover home remedies since you might not be near a store or willing to wait for Amazon.
Even though I promised your hands will only get figuratively dirty, I still recommend you wear rubber gloves. It's for the best whenever you're working with the plumbing system.
Use Black Tank Cleaners
When it comes to cleaning, your mind probably went straight to chemical cleaners. Thankfully, there are some good black tank cleaners that efficiently deal with the clog.
While there are several effective products on the market, let me save you some time. I've tried enough products and have been RVing long enough to confidently tell you that Happy Campers Holding Tank Treatment works great. And no, I'm not a partner of Happy Campers. I'm just a happy customer.
And another product you should explore is the Thank Tank product. They say, “Never have to worry about chemicals destroying the balance of your septic tanks; never be forced to buy expensive, special toilet paper. Our RV holding tank treatment is not only septic-friendly, but prevents clogs and waste buildup.”
If you prefer to make your own tank treatment, you can always try this homemade RV tank holding treatment.
Use a Swivel Stick or Toilet Snake
For stubborn clogs, you can use water pressure to your advantage. There's a great product that makes it easy for RVers to do just that.
The Camco RV Flexible Swivel Stik dislodges and flushes out waste from your clogged black water tank. It comes in two different models, one with a straight stick and one with a flexible stick. You'll need the flexible stick if your tank is not directly below your toilet.
The swivel stick attaches to a water hose (that's not used for drinking water) and blasts out all the gunk. They have a very helpful video on their Amazon product page, which I link to above.
The Hot Water Method
This method uses boiling water to break down any solid waste or paper products that may be clogging your toilet. It's an easy process that can really help when you're in a pinch.
Bring water to a boil in a big pot (it should only take about 2 minutes per cup of water). Then pour it into your toilet*. Let it sit for about an hour, and then drain your septic tank.
*The hot water shouldn't damage anything in your RV. However, consider the materials in your plumbing system and what shape your RV is in, and let the water cool a bit accordingly.
You may need to repeat this process. Try to pour down at least a gallon each time.
The Ice Cube Method – but does it work?
You might have heard about this method, but in our experience, it doesn't work.
How to Prevent Future Clogs
Alright, I promised to give you some tips on preventing future clogs. Here's what you need to do…
- Use RV-Specific Toilet Paper
- Keep your black tank valve closed when hooked up (Leaving it open is one of the most common RV Newbie Mistakes!)
- Regularly treat tank with Happy Campers Tank Treatment
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