How to Unclog RV Toilets: Best Ways To Get Things Flushing Again
Unfortunately, one of the most overlooked systems in an RV is the septic system. Whether this is a result of the nasty and disgusting nature of the system or just people's forgetfulness – I have no idea.
When the septic system isn't well maintained, you'll definitely start to have issues like clogs.
What is it that causes an RV toilet clog? Well, a clog in an RV toilet is usually the result of solid waste and toilet paper sitting at the bottom of the tank and hardening.
This solid mass can be almost brick-like, which is why you need to maintain your RV septic system before it gets to this point. That being said, here's a guide on how to unclog RV toilet septic systems so that you won't have to seek professional help to solve your issue.
- What You'll Need In Order To Fix Your Clogged RV Toilet
- Step by Step Instructions
- Final Thoughts
What You'll Need In Order To Fix Your Clogged RV Toilet
Before I get into the nuts and bolts of the more complex operation, it's important to note that some folks have found relatively easy ways to unclog a septic system in an RV. Let's quickly take a look at what you'll need for those:
- A hose.
- A standard or coffee pot.
Water Hose Method
The simplest method utilizes a hose to simply flush water down the toilet so that it can break up any obstructions along the way. Many RVers refer to this as the "power wash" method, and it requires you to just run water through your toilet system.
This method works two ways: the first way is that the hose attachment can break up some of the waste, and the second way breaks up the remaining waste by pushing it out with the water.
The primary drawback of this method is that it may not catch everything, which means that this could be just a stopgap measure. Also, you'll need a hose specifically for this purpose; the last thing you want is to forget and use this nasty hose for drinking.
Boiling Water Method
The second technique uses boiling water.
- Before you start, you'll need to open your toilet valve.
- Next, simply boil some water on your range top and pour it gradually down the drain.
This may break up any solid waste, but you may have to do this several times before it works right. Let the boiling water sit overnight and try your toilet in the morning. At first, you can expect this method to really steam up your RV.
More Thorough Method
The more thorough process of unclogging your RV toilet requires a few tools for a more complete job. As you might expect, the level of the clog will be commensurate with the overall difficulty.
As a rule, it's a good idea to have someone help you with this because you'll need someone on the outside near the sewer tank outflow valve. In any situation, you should have:
- A large bucket
- A plumber's snake or flexible toilet wand
- Some clothes that you don't mind getting rid of
- Some thick rubber gloves
- Eye protection
- Rubber boots or galoshes
- A hose
- An enzyme cleaner
Step by Step Instructions
Step 1: Get Dressed and Get Ready to Get Nasty
If you expected this method to not be icky, then I have some bad news for you: this is disgusting work. Put on a thick layer of disposable clothes – these will keep you from getting any of the black water waste on your body.
Next, you should wear rubber boots because of the fact that you'll be working in a tiled environment that will be slippery. Additionally, these boots will repel waste so that you don't ruin your shoes. Galoshes can also work well for this step.
Eye protection is also very important. Splashing waste can really cause a wide variety of ailments if it splashes up and hits the tissues of the eye, so wear a pair of thick work goggles, and you'll be okay.
Finally, don't neglect to wear some thick gloves. While you're in the process, there may be spills, so you'll definitely want your hands to be covered.
Step 2: Have Your Partner Get in Position
The next step requires your helper to get into position.
It's very important to have someone help you with this because you need someone to eyeball the sewer exit valve because the last thing you want is for there to be an uncontrolled overflow.
This is also a messy job, so your partner should use the same protective clothing and gear in order to not get sick from coming in contact with human waste.
Your helper should bring the large bucket to the outside of the RV and place it underneath where the outflow valve rests so that any black water flows into its body. Next, have your partner open the tank valve slowly.
Once the valve is opened, your partner should experience some black water trickling. Since the system is clogged, this will be a fairly small amount; he or she should just catch it in the large waste bucket if it's been placed correctly.
Step 3: Get in Position and Clear the Drain
You, on the other hand, will need to go to the bathroom with your snake or toilet wand.
Speaking of wands, there are also some products out there that are designed for this job; in fact, some even have a power nozzle hose attachment so that you can blast in water to help clear the obstruction as well.
There is a wide variety of products like winding snake machines that you can use for this process, but stay away from harsher chemical choices like Drano as they can cause damage to some RV toilets.
In any situation, grab your snake and push it deep into the septic system. Eventually, you should feel some resistance, which means that you've come into the clog.
When you do, use the snake to try and break up the obstruction; it's good to go as slowly as possible in order to break it up.
If this works, this may cause the black water to pour out the exit valve into the bucket, which means that the system is no longer clogged.
Step 4: Dump What's Left
At this point, if the black water waste pours out of the valve, simply have your partner dump it in the appropriate facilities.
If the snake hasn't cleared the obstruction, then you may want to contact a professional.
If you don't run into this issue, there's going to still be some waste left, so after the bucket has been dumped, close up the sewer tank valve.
Once closed, attach your sewer tank hose to the outlet like you would typically and let it flow like you would normally.
Step 5: Preventative Maintenance
Just because the toilet system seems to be flowing doesn't mean that there isn't clogging elements still within the tank.
At this point, it's a good idea to engage in a bit of preventative maintenance so that you can remove any outliers and prevent more clogs in the near future.
Place a good enzyme cleaner into your tank; these aren't harsh chemicals and are actually designed to cut down hardened waste inside your black water tank. Usually, these will require about a gallon of water or so in order to work.
Once you've applied the cleaner, simply take your motorhome or trailer out for a drive so that the cleaner can slosh around the tank and break up the waste.
I hope you enjoyed this tutorial on how to unclog your RV toilet. In addition to the steps I mentioned, you can also prevent these problems by using RV-safe toilet paper.
This toilet paper is designed to break up more easily so that the hardened blockages have a harder time forming. I've been RVing for years, and I've definitely have had to deal with a clog or two over the decades, and while it's gross, you can definitely fix a clog yourself.
Let me know what you think in the comments section below. I'll do my best to answer your questions and provide input if you need it.
Also, if you've really enjoyed this article, please feel free to share it on your social media feed so that your friends can use the info as well when they are troubled with an RV toilet clog.