When your RV toilet keeps clogging you need to know what to do. This common problem can turn your getaway into an unforgettable experience for all the wrong reasons. A clogged toilet is always disgusting but especially so in the tight quarters of an RV. With our help, you should be able to unclog your RV toilet and get back to having fun on the open road.
Dealing with a clogged RV toilet isn't that different from addressing the same issue in your home. You can try the following:
- Using a humble plunger
- Unclogging with a toilet snake
- Working a Pressure Hose
- Adding boiling water to the bowl, AKA the Water Method
- The Ice Cube method
- Chemical Cleaners that are RV Safe
- Consult With a Professional
You shouldn't hesitate to consult a professional if you can't take care of the issue yourself or if your RV bathroom is consistently clogged. A poorly functioning toilet isn't something you should ignore. Having your tank cleaned and serviced regularly will go a long way toward preventing clogs. While removing a clog isn't normally an arduous task, it still isn't a chore you want to perform when you're on the road.
RV Toilet Keeps Clogging: What to do?
Let's take a closer look at the toilet. Not the most pleasant thing in the world, but one that needs to be done when you're having clogging issues.
If you have a minute, take a look at our guide about how RV toilets work. You'll be able to read there more about the overall structure of the sanitary systems of your RV. Essentially, there's a relatively short way going from the toilet bowl to the blackwater tank (or black tank), where tank chemicals and water dissolve the contents.
Let's take a look at some of the possible solutions for when that system isn't working properly. If you find yourself dealing with the issue, you don't have to call Good Sam roadside assistance. You can buy any of these items at Camping World or at a local Walmart SuperCenter. It never hurts a couple of these tools onboard your RV though, especially if the problem comes back once in a while, or you're planning on boondocking. You can try pre-ordering from Amazon or Etrailer, in case you want to be prepared.
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1. Using a humble plunger
You should always have a plunger in your RV bathroom just as you do in your bathroom in your home. There is a reason we still keep them next to the toilet; they work. A routine clog can be cleared with a few pumps. Just like with any clog, if you aren't able to take care of the problem after plunging the toilet it's time to move on to more intensive measures.
You should get an RV-specific plunger for the job, it holds the toilet valve open while in use and minimizes splashing (a most desirable quality!)
2. Unclogging with a toilet snake
Some RV toilets are too narrow to accommodate a plunger. In those cases, a toilet snake is the best alternative. Snaking involves inserting a piece of flexible wire (the snake) down into the toilet to dislodge the obstruction. There is an auger bit at the end of the snake. Using the crank on the end of the handle, you can turn the snake to break up the clogged materials and allow the pieces to pass into the tank.
3. Working a Pressure Hose
A pressure water hose is another approach to clearing a clogged RV toilet and probably not something that you would try in your home. At full pressure, the hose should be able to knock the obstruction loose.
This isn't as simple as it sounds. You need to pay attention to the indicator on the black water tank so you don't continue to spray water in the toilet after the tank is full. It is best to hook the hose up to an outside water source.
4. The Hot Water Method
Many people, including RV owners, swear by the hot water method. This is as simple as opening the toilet valve and pouring in boiling water. You may have to repeat the actions a few times.
The water won't immediately break up the clog, so you may have to let it work overnight. Taking the RV for a short spin after pouring the boiling water into the toilet will help move the water around the black water tank to reduce buildup.
5. The Ice Cube Method
On the opposite end of the spectrum, you can try ice cubes. Unlike some of the other solutions we have discussed, this one is RV specific. Fill the toilet basin 1/3 with water and then the rest of the way with ice.
As with the hot water method, drive the RV around for 15-20 minutes after you flush the ice and water. During the drive, the ice should be jostled around sufficiently to remove the clog.
6. Using Chemical Cleaner
When all else fails, use a chemical cleaner. But first, make sure it is safe to use in an RV toilet. There are plenty of chemical cleaners that are made for black water tanks. Some need to be mixed with hot water first while others can be poured right into the toilet. After you add the chemical to the toilet basin, let it sit for a while before you flush. Then take a short drive to allow the chemical to move around and do its work.
7. Calling in the Pros
If none of the above methods worked, or if you prefer not to get your hands dirty, you could pay someone to do the job for you. Your best bet is to call the RV manufacturer and ask them to refer you to the nearest qualified repairman. If you're staying in a campground, you can also ask their office and see if they have any local recommendations.
How to Dissolve Toilet Paper in an RV
Fortunately, there are RV specific toilet papers that break down faster and prevent clogs. If you are still having problems there some things you can try, such as chemicals that can help dissolve toilet paper and waste. You can also drop an aspirin in the tank. Believe it or not, aspirin does a great job of breaking down toilet paper and tissues.
Some people have a problem with RV-safe toilet paper. Admittedly, it is thinner than what you use at home. Any toilet paper that is rated safe for septic tanks shouldn't cause you any problems. When in doubt, there is a test you can perform to determine if your favorite toilet paper is OK to use in your RV. Put a couple of sheets in a jar of water and give it a good shaking. Any toilet paper that starts dissolving during this test should be fine for the RV.
A clogged RV toilet can quickly put a damper on an outing. But, it doesn't have to be the end of the road. With a little patience, you should be able to take care of even the most stubborn clog in a matter of minutes. And taking the proper steps, such as using the right toilet paper, can ensure that clogs are a rare occurrence.
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