How to Unclog an RV Toilet

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A woman wears a mask, gloves, and goggles to tackle the disgusting but necessary task of unclogging a toilet. How do you unclog an RV toilet?

If you’ve ever experienced a clogged RV toilet, you know what a nightmare it can be. Plumbing issues are never fun, but they don’t have to ruin a whole vacation. Today we want to help you learn how to unclog an RV toilet, so you’re ready should you face a plumbing challenge in the future. Let’s get started!

Reasons Why Your RV Toilet Might Be Clogging

One of the most common causes of a clogged RV toilet is the solid-to-liquid ratio. RV plumbing relies on an excessive amount of liquids to help flush solids out of the system. Too many solids will cause a clump, which causes blockages when attempting to dump your RV tanks.

The second most common reason for a clogged RV toilet is the type of toilet paper you use. RV tanks require solid materials to break down quickly, including toilet paper. Thick toilet paper that doesn’t break down easily can cause a clog, especially if you use too much at once. Nothing should go down the toilet that cannot easily tear apart and break down in the water.

Many RVers make the mistake of keeping their black tank valve open. They believe that will prevent blocks or clogs. However, by keeping your black tank valves open, you allow the liquids to leave the tank while the solids remain. Without enough water pushing solids out of the tank, they’ll begin to clump together. These clumps will not only stink but harden and cause a blockage when dumping your RV’s black tank.

A hand drops toilet paper into a toilet. Is it going to clog the toilet? How do you unclog an RV toilet?

How to Unclog Your RV Toilet

There are several methods that RVers use to unclog their RV toilets. However, you may find you need extra tools or a professional to help.

You could use a sewer kit such as Camco’s Flexible Swivel Stick. This wand connects to a standard garden hose and goes inside the toilet drain to spray water into the tank. This may help dislodge or break up the clog into pieces that can pass through the black tank drain. You may want to fill up the black tank with the swivel stick and then drive around the block to dislodge any clogs.

Camco Camper/RV Holding Tank Swivel Stik Rinser | Features Powerful Rotary Cleaning Action & 34-Inches of Flexible Reach | Equipped with 1/4 Turn Shutoff Valve & Ergonomic Easy Grip Handle (40074)
  • POWERFUL ROTARY CLEANING ACTION: Enjoy superior cleaning power with this RV tank cleaner. Its powerful rotary cleaning...
  • FLEXIBLE REACH: The black tank rinser has a 34" flexible section that is perfect for hard-to-reach RV tanks. Get into...

Or you could try boiling or hot water. Fill the black tank with a generous amount of hot water to help break down the sewage and other waste materials causing the clog. Check with your RV manufacturer before trying this method, as many tanks are made of plastic and can’t handle high heat.

You can also use chemicals or even ice. Some substances specifically target and break down bacteria and paper materials found in RV black tanks. These chemicals help accelerate the speed at which materials break down. Whether you choose to add chemicals or ice, go for a drive before trying to empty your tanks again. The ice method could also help keep your RV tanks and sensors clean.

Camco Camper/RV Holding Tank Swivel Stik Rinser | Features Powerful Rotary Cleaning Action & 34-Inches of Flexible Reach | Equipped with 1/4 Turn Shutoff Valve & Ergonomic Easy Grip Handle (40074)
  • POWERFUL ROTARY CLEANING ACTION: Enjoy superior cleaning power with this RV tank cleaner. Its powerful rotary cleaning...
  • FLEXIBLE REACH: The black tank rinser has a 34" flexible section that is perfect for hard-to-reach RV tanks. Get into...

Can You Use Drano in an RV Toilet?

Drano is one chemical that you don’t want to put into your RV’s plumbing system. It eats away at the materials found in residential plumbing systems. The difference is that residential plumbing often uses higher quality materials that can withstand corrosion better. Drano can damage not only the seals around your dump valves but the holding tanks themselves, resulting in a costly and extensive repair. There are RV-safe chemicals that will assist with breaking up RV toilet clogs. When in doubt, check with your manufacturer.

How to Keep Your Black Water Tank Clog-Free

There are a couple of things you can do to keep your RV black water tank clog-free. First, make sure you’re using enough water when flushing. You can never have too much liquid in your black tanks. It helps break down solids and prevents build-ups and clogs.

Also, ensure your toilet paper is safe for your RV. While there are RV-specific toilet papers, most septic-safe toilet papers will do the job. You can test your toilet paper by placing a square in a jar of water. Put a lid on top and shake it a few times. The toilet paper should immediately begin to break down and eventually disintegrate. This breakdown process is a sure sign that the toilet paper you’re using will be safe for your RV’s black tanks and minimize the risk of clogs.

Can You Use a Plunger in an RV Toilet?

If you do experience a clogged RV toilet, a plunger will be of no assistance. Clogs in an RV toilet system occur once the material has reached the tank. Gravity pushes the waste into the tank, and clogs can happen when emptying the tanks. Using a plunger will do nothing to push the clog out but will damage the seals in the bowl of the toilet. These seals help keep water in the base of the bowl and must be water-tight to help keep smells down.

Using the tips we’ve shared with you today, you’ll be more prepared when facing a clogged RV toilet. However, if you can’t seem to get it unclogged, you may need to hire a professional to assist you. Do you have any RV toilet clog tips you would add to our list? Let us know in the comments!

Last update on 2024-07-24 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

  1. We have used a short hose with a sink attachment to put hot water from the tap down our black tank a few times. The water from our water heater is scalding to say the least so wear gloves if you try this….

  2. JASON,We have a Jayco 5 the wheel with a front bath over the storage.. The run from the toilet to the tank has 2 90°bends before it drops into the tank. This season we had a blockage in the run before the tank. Of course we didn’t realise it until we drained the black tank and the water didn’t go down in the toilet. Soooo called the local roaming tech and tried a few things, his flexible wand didn’t quite make it to the clog, this may have worked with a longer piece of pex so he filled the tank through the discharge valve (twice) and was able to float the T P clog and flush it out. So now we do a full bowl flush after the initial flush to make sure the paper makes it to the tank. All of our other campers had a straight shot down from the toilet to the tank, so this was never a problem.

  3. I thought I was using RV friendly tp bought it at Lowe’s it was Scott’s marine to well it eventually clogged the line to the black water tank and started backing up luckily I was close to a small town hardware store I bought a 20 ft flexible snake with a rubberized tip it connects to a cordless drill. About 10-15 seconds is all it took you could hear the clog swoosh to the tank. I than hook up the auto Mercerator for an hour and completely cleaned and flushed out the system. Never had the problem again I just buy RV specific to for now on That snake and cordless drill is on board now.

  4. If you have a macerator toilet, a plunger can come in handy. It’s possible that the macerator gets plugged and the pump cannot empty the contents in the toilet bowl when attempting to flush the contents. In such cases, a plunger can assist the pump and get it going again.

  5. Had a clogged black water tank when leaving a campground about 200 miles from home. Put in some hot water and a fair amount of Dawn dishwashing liquid. Drove home, filled the tank all the way with water. Pulled the valve and no more clog. Not sure if was the sloshing on the drive home or the Dawn. Just glad it worked.

  6. Had a problem with a guest using to much toilet paper. Line clogged just below bowl. I had the idea to use a pool noodle. Flexible and sturdy, safe for plumbing, usually about five feet long, easy to hold on to, inexpensive. Worked in seconds. I now travel with 2 or 3 as back up.

  7. Not sure how a plunger would damage the seals in the toilet bowl, if one opens the slide, has water flowing and the black tank valve also open when using a plunger? Thoughts.

  8. If the clog is immediately below the bowl and not in the tank, then a plunger will work. Have done it a couple of times successfully. Just need to fill the bowl and let the clog create the water back up, be connected to a dump and open the black tank valve before doing so.

  9. We bought our motorhome second hand and quickly found out that there was a stubborn clog just below the bowl. I do mean stubborn! I tried hot water, dawn dish soap, every RV chemical known to mankind to try and get that clog free. We tried a snake but it didn’t work either.
    I bought a cheap plastic wand and slowly pushed on the clog over and over. It took a few days of working on it but it finally let go. Our motorhome seems prone to clogs.
    All it takes is someone using too much paper and not allowing enough water to flush. I have found dumping 2-3 big buckets of water down the toilet every couple of days keeps things flowing. It is the only thing that seems to work.

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