Clogged RV Toilets

by A New Full-time RVer asks....
(Clearing a Clogged Toilet and Preventing Future Clogging)

How do you keep your RV toilet from clogging? We have been full time camping for only two weeks and the toilet is clogged. We are unsure how to unclog. We also do not want it to happen again.




Bob, the RVing editor's husband replies:

A clogged toilet has to be a disconcerting way to start your full-timing lifestyle. We have full-timed over 15 years and have never had this problem. It doesn't have to be part of living in an RV.

The basic RV toilet is designed to flush directly down into the top of the blackwater tank. With some units, this is a two or three-inch drop to the inside of the tank. Other units, with basement storage, the drop may be 16 to 24 or so inches, still directly straight down. To unclog either of these, all a person has to do is hold the toilet valve open and push the clog down with a stick, toilet wand, or something else.

It seems more and more RV designers are ignoring the design limitations of these toilets. They are placing an elbow under the toilet and piping the waste to a distant part of the RV. They then use another elbow to drop it down into the blackwater tank. Systems set up this way are prone to clogging. There is not enough water from an RV toilet to float and flush the solids through the piping.

If your RV is set up so the toilet flushes into an elbow, you'll need to do things a little differently. Use a flexible sewer snake, piece of cable, old hose, or something that will bend around the elbows. However, the thing you use for this needs to be rigid enough to break up or push out the clog.

If this doesn’t work, you may have to come up from the tank end of the piping. This could mean cutting the pipe to gain access or dropping the blackwater tank. An enclosed underbelly will add more work to the project. Hopefully It won't be necessary to do all that.

To prevent reoccurrences, use more water. You can add extra water to the toilet bowl before you use it. Always use plenty of flush water afterword. Some people have had good results by using a spray bottle of 50/50 solution of soap and water, spraying the bowl before use.

Don't use excessive toilet paper. We use whatever brand is on sale.

Don't put feminine products, condoms, tissues, napkins, food scraps, or other garbage into the toilet. Doing so will clog up your toilet and will give you problems when you dump your black water tanks.

Good luck going forward.

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