How to Unclog an RV Toilet

how to unclog an rv toilet

Even though most RV, Tiny homes, and camper dwellers are shifting towards cassette and composting toilets, some still prefer the traditional comfort of a flushing toilet. 

A flushing toilet in your RV brings the familiarity of a house toilet and its unfortunate but occasional shortcomings. The most notable is clogging if misused.

Luckily, the plumbing in your RV toilet is short, making it easier to clear a clog without necessarily calling in a plumber.

Why Do RV Toilets Clog?

Mostly, RV toilets clog when someone flushes down something they shouldn’t. While you might know what to chuck down your toilet, a guest might not and end up flushing hard to breakdown content down the toilet.

Keeping a fun reminder poster is an excellent way to keep people from flushing newspapers, sanitary towels, and even flushable wet wipes down your RV toilet.

An RV toilet should only take poop, vomit, pee, and toilet paper—nothing else.

Apart from using it to dispose of the wrong type of waste, the plumbing in your toilet could also get clogged if the toilet isn’t flushed immediately after regular use.

Water is a premium on an RV. Some people could opt to skip flushing or not use enough water when flushing.

Solid waste and some tissue will remain stuck in the draining pipes. While this isn’t an issue if the next person flushes after two hours, the waste will dry up and stick to the lines if left for a day or so.

Flush your toilet with enough water at all times. If you will be packing the RV for an extended time, flush more than one and remember to drain the black water tank too before leaving.

Practical Ways to Unclog Your RV Toilet

Don’t worry if your toilet is already blocked. There are a couple of ways to quickly unclog it without getting dirty or calling a plumber. Try them one after the other as we have arranged them from the simplest to the most complex.

ProTip: If the toilet is completely clogged and not draining water, not even slowly, skip to the very last option in the list. Chances are the obstruction can’t disintegrate and has to be pulled out whole.

Flush Hot Water Down the Toilet

Hot water can be very effective in melting and breaking down fats and clogs in a waste line. Pouring it down your toilet and letting it slowly seep into the waste tank could wash away the clog leaving you with a working toilet.

Driving around with water in the toilet and the plumbing will shake things up, cleaning the plumbing better.

ProTip: If you have a plunger, you can use it to force the water down the toilet. The additional pressure could make pushing away the blockage in the toilet’s plumbing easier.

The Ice Cube Scrub

An ice cube scrub uses the hardness of ice cubes to scrub and rub down clogs as you drive along. Since the ice cubes will melt and turn into water, they won’t cause further clogs in the toilet.

  • Fill the toilet bowl a third way with water
  • Add ice cubes to fill the bowl
  • Flush it down the toilet and drive around to jolt the cubes around and clean the plumbing and tank
  • Driving on an uneven surface could yield better results

Buy a Septic Safe De-Clogging Chemical

If your RV toilet is partially clogged, you could use a septic tank-safe de-clogging chemical and flush it down the toilet.

These de-cloggers use a chemical reaction to break down specific solids opening up your toilet’s plumbing again. 

ProTip: Some people advise against these. There is no actual guarantee that they are septic safe as any of the other solutions listed on this guide so far.

Use a Snake and a Plunger

A plumbing snake is a flexible wire attachment that snakes down any plumbing and breaks down, pushes away, or pulls out clogs.

Even though efficient, it takes some patience, ingenuity, and courage. It is up close and nasty as you will be poking down a toilet. If you can’t handle the gross, get a plumber to help you out.

  • Work the snake down the toilet bowl and into the plumbing until you encounter some resistance.
  • Poke and wiggle it around, trying to break down the clog or hook it
  • If the snake breaks through the resistance, you have pierced through the clog
  • If you were using a snake with a hook, try pulling it back gently to bring the clog back into the bowl where you can collect it and throw it away
  • Otherwise, retract the snake and keep poking more holes into the clog

After this, pour some water (preferably hot) into the toilet bowl and use the plunger to push it down the plumbing with pressure.

The extra pressure should break down the remaining clog and clean your plumbing giving you. If you still experience a slow drain after this, repeat the snaking before finalizing with the ice cube clean for a perfect toilet.

Disassemble the Entire Thing

If a snake can’t clear the clog, you might have to disassemble the toilet and its plumbing to get to the clog physically.

This is rare. However, if someone really misused the toiled or intentionally plugged it to vandalize you, this could be the only way to fix your clogged RV toilet.

How to Avoid Blocking Your RV Toilet Again

A clogged RV toilet is stressful. You can’t use it, and chances are it will get the entire RV smelly. If you have dealt with a clog once, chances are you want to avoid it in the future at all costs. Here are some things you can do to keep the waste and water flowing.

Only Use RV Toilet Paper

Yes. RV toilet paper is a thing. It dissolves in water faster and isn’t as tough as regular toilet paper. Going out of your way to buy it instead of grabbing what is in the house will save you the pain of a clogged toilet.

You can order some online here

Apart from keeping regular residential toilet tissue, hand towels, and wet wipes off your toilet, it would help if you also refrain from using more than necessary tissue. The tissue doesn’t disintegrate as fast as human waste at the end of the day. It is bound to clog up if you use huge wads of it.

Use a Lot of Water With Each Flush

Limiting how much water you use per flush might sound like a great way to save on water and reduce how often you have to empty the black tank.

However, this increases the risk of clogging your toilet system. Too little water won’t wash everything down into the tank. Moreover, the ratio of water to solid waste in the tank will make it harder to drain.

Clean the Black Tank After Dumping

While draining your black tank is nasty and undesirable, don’t be in a hurry to be over with it. Take some time to clean the tank after dumping.

If your tank has a tank flush inlet, connect a hose and run clean water through the tank to wash away struggling solids. Alternatively, you can pour water down the toilet itself. The clean water will sweep off the remaining residue and carry it down the drain pipe.

Don’t Store Your RV With a Dirty or Dry Tank.

Finally, prepare your RV’s toilet system sufficiently every time you intend to leave it unused for an extended period. 

Note that even three days without using the toilet is an extended period enough.

Start by draining the tank and cleaning it. Leaving waste in it will encourage sedimentation, which could eventually cause clogs. Clean the toilet while at it and ensure that it flushed clean before closing up camp.

After draining and cleaning the tank, flush some clean water into the tank. Keeping at least the base covered in water will keep any small bits of residue moist, preventing them from caking into hard deposits that could eventually clog the tank.

Check this too: How Long Do RV Tires Last?

Why is My RV Toilet Backing Up?

Your RV toilet will back up under two occasions:

  • If there is a partial or complete clog in the plumbing that is making it drain slower than it is flushing
  • If the black water tank is full and there is nowhere for the fresh waste and water to go when you flush

Will My RV Toilet Eventually Unclog Itself?

If the clog is caused by degradable matter like feces or toilet paper, chances are they will degrade and get unstuck within an hour or two.

However, if something else or the clog persists for over 24 hours, you will have to unclog the toilet actively. You will also have to try one of our unclogging tips if you can’t afford to wait for that long to see if the clog self-heals.