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Unclogging An RV Toilet

October 11, 2017

Blue truck on a bridge over a river. Bold white text


So, your RV toilet is clogged and you're trying to figure out how to fix it?

Nothing kills RV-fun like a disgusting, backed up toilet! Let's be honest, isn't a comfortable bathroom experience one of the main reasons why we buy RV's?! Well, read on and we'll get you taken care of.

Don't worry. In most cases this a very inexpensive and easy fix!

We'll cover some of the common causes of toilet backups, how to fix them, and how to prevent them in the future.

Disclaimer: In our line of work we talk about things like poop and pee and toilet paper on a daily basis and quite frankly, using vague terms like "refuse", "waste", or "discharge" just doesn't get to the point in helping you solve your toilet problems. So, we apologize in advance for all of you sensitive folks out there. Buckle your seat belts because we're about to ride the poop train for the next 5 minutes.


Why did my RV toilet get clogged?

For most campers the reason their RV toilet gets clogged is because of a nasty little thing called a "pyramid plug".

A pyramid plug is literally a pile of poop and toilet paper that has built fup rom the bottom of your black water holding tank and formed a pyramid of grossness that has now reached your toilet and is clogging it up. 

Many people incorrectly assume when they have a clogged RV toilet that their waste water tank is totally full. For a very few people, this may be the case, but for most of you - almost all of you - the culprit is not a completely clogged tank, but in fact, a pyramid of waste.

To understand why you get a pyramid plug you have to understand first and foremost that your holding tank is essentially flat on the bottom. Why is this important? Well, most people who get pyramid plugs do not follow Rule #1 for properly operating RV toilets - KEEP YOUR VALVE CLOSED.

When you keep you black water valve in the closed position during normal operation you allow the solid waste and liquid waste to accumulate in your tank. Then when you dump, all of that sloshing waste flows out smoothly.

If you keep your black water valve in the open position during normal operation, every time you use the toilet, your liquid waste freely flows out of the tank and into the sewer, but because your tank is flat on the bottom, the solid waste accumulates. Over time, you keep adding more and more of that solid waste and unknowingly start to build a pyramid of poop and paper that would make the ancient Egyptians marvel at your speed and ingenuity.


How Do I Unclog My RV Toilet?

Now that we know that majority of clogged toilets are from pyramid plugs we can start to solve this poopy problem.

What you need to do is knock out the base of the pyramid. As soon as you do, the pyramid will collapse into your tank bottom - and if you do it correctly - will flow out of the tank and into the sewer and that will be the last of your worries.

So how do you do it? Well, you could go to all of the work of hauling your rig into a dealership or repair shop where they will charge you $100 - $200 (on average) to use a spray wand to reach up into your tank and spray out the debris.

Or, you could do it the easy and inexpensive way with Unique Tank Cleaner.

Here's how easy it is...

  2. If possible, add several gallons of water to your black tank. The more water the better, so fill your holding tank up as much as you can without making a mess.
  3. Pour the entire bottle of Unique Holding Tank Cleaner into the tank through the toilet.
  4. Let sit for 12 hours (or more if your problem is extreme). After the treatment period, the solids in your holding tank should be broken up and liquified.
  5. Open your black tank valve and let the tank empty out.
  6. If you have a tank rinser, run it for about 20 minutes to do a thorough rinsing of the tank.
  7. CLOSE YOUR BLACK TANK VALVE and only open it when you're dumping so you never have to deal with this again!
  8. Enjoy your unclogged RV toilet!

    NOTE: If your tank is so full that you can not add anymore water you can skip adding water to the tank, but please note that for Unique Tank Cleaner to work it needs liquid to nourish the active cultures that digest the waste. So, getting as much water in the tank as you can is incredibly beneficial.

    ALSO NOTE: It's important to run your tank rinser (flusher) for 20 minutes or more after the tank contents have been broken up and successfully dumped from your black water tank. Often when you first start your rinse you'll see clear water coming out and assume that your tank is completely clean. This is just the clean hose water running out of the tank. Normally you will find that if you let the rinser run longer, at some point the waste will let loose and you'll see a tidal wave of brown water come pouring out of your tank and it will dump like that for a solid several minutes.


    How do I prevent my tank from backing up in the future?

    To prevent backups you have to ensure your tank is at all times a sloshy mix and you achieve this by:

    1. Keeping your valve closed except for when dumping
    2. Using a waste digester to liquify the poop and toilet paper
    3. Use plenty of water with each flush

    You might think a lot of people experience clogged toilets when they are dry camping (boondocking) because they use very little water with each flush, but in most cases, dry campers have to keep their valve closed until they get to a dump station which allows for plenty of sloshy action to keep that waste liquified. We know, we sound like a broken record, but the life lesson is keep your valve closed. As much as we like to think of our RV's as our homes, the plumbing simply doesn't work the same way as your home's plumbing does, so you can't expect your waste to flow out into the sewer lines with every flush.


    What if my holding tank is actually completely clogged?

    Don't worry! Even if your tank is actually completely clogged from a compacted line, Unique Tank Cleaner can open it!

    In fact, if you find yourself in the rare and unfortunate event that you have more than a pyramid plug - that you are completely clogged - there is a good chance that a lot of liquid is present in the tank. This means you won't have to add water before adding Unique Tank Cleaner (but it's always a good idea to add water just to be safe if you can). 

    Just follow the treatment steps outlined above. You may need to allow the product more time to work though - like 18 hours.


    How does Unique Tank Cleaner work?

    Unique Tank Cleaner employs billions of safe bacteria cultures - probiotics, like you find in yogurt - to eat the solid waste in your tank, turning everything into liquid so it can flow out smoothly. All of the ingredients in Unique Tank Cleaner are safe for the environment, people, and pets.

    Hopefully this answers all of your questions about your clogged toilet. If you should find yourself in this putridly poopy predicament and need further assistance, don't hesitate reaching out to us. We're happy to help you get your toilet back on track.

    Happy Camping!


    Further Reading

    Did you like what you just read? Check out some of our other related resources!

    Preventing Clogs In Your Holding Tank
    Cleaning Holding Tank Sensors
    + Eliminating Tank Odors


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