Why do I get air bubbles in my RV toilet?
The toilet is the one element that truly makes RV life a home from home. It gives you much needed privacy that other methods of camping do not. Therefore maintaining your toilet is very important. One of the early signs that your toilet needs attention is if you notice air bubbles coming back up the bowl when you flush. This is caused by venting issues in the main waste water holding tank.
Understanding why there is venting issues.
The waste water from your toilet is stored in an enclosed tank. At the top of the tank there is a vent to let air out. Getting bubbles coming back up in to your toilet bowl is a sign that the vent is not working properly which is causing the air to come back though.
The air bubbles coming back through can be powerful enough to pop the water out of the bowl. This can obviously leave a mess so it is something you will need to get rectified fairly quickly. It also means that any unwanted smells will also be able to come back in your bathroom and this is definitely something you do not want!
There are two reasons why the vent may be blocked. Firstly, if the bubbling in the bowl is only when the tank is full then you may find that you have allowed the tank to over fill and the pipe that takes the air out to the vent is blocked by the water level being too high. It could also mean that the pipe is too long and therefore goes in to the water too far.
The second reason for the vent being blocked is if you notice the bubbles in the bowl all the time. This suggests that the vent is clogged. This can be caused by the tank being over filled and something like toilet paper is blocking the vent.
How do I clear a clogged RV toilet?
Once you have investigated whether the problem is the water level being too high or the vent being clogged there are various solutions to fixing this issue.
To fix your water level being too high, this meaning that the vent pipe is submerged you will need to empty your waste tank more regularly. This is good practice for many other reasons too. A good time to empty your tank is at about two thirds full. If you leave emptying you tank up to the “until you have to” moment then the vent pipe is likely to become submerged and send air back through to your bowl. Also, over time, sediment can collect on the bottom of the tank. This is why it is extremely important to flush the tank out with clean water on each emptying. If you end up with a build-up in the bottom of the tank it leaves less room for your waste and will result in more frequent clean outs. This is also the case at the end of your vacation; this is the most important time to ensure the waste tank is completely clear. As it is likely that you are going to be leaving the tank dry for a while you do not want any sediment left behind to dry completely. This is something that, over time, can result in a new waste being required.
On each dumping of the waste tank it is also highly recommended that you sanitize your tank. This leaves your tank as clean as possible after each clean out and gives you a ‘good as new’ waste system.
If the vent is clogged you need to find out where the clog is. The vent pipe runs all the way from the waste tank up to the roof of your RV. Whilst your RV is sat unused for a while you can get debris enter the pipe from the top. I would recommend starting my looking down the pipe from the roof first. Run some water down the pipe to see if it gets to the waste water tank. If not then this implies that it is the top section of the pipe that is blocked. It may take some fast flowing water from a hose to shift this.
Another way to help avoid blockages from toilet paper is to use paper that is specific for RV use. This tends to be 100% biodegradable and dissolves very quickly. Whilst normal every day toilet paper can be used in RVs I would recommend investing in paper for RV use. This will give you piece of mind that you are doing all you can to avoid the vent pipe blocking. It also means your waste tank does not fill up as quickly too.
How often do you have to dump an RV?
This is completely dependent on the number of people using the facilities. For a family of four I would recommend every other day however if you have a sensor in your waste tank that tells you how full it is then the recommendation would be at two thirds full. Be warned though the waste tank sensors can fail and do not always give an accurate reading.
Can I use bleach to clean my RV toilet?
We have already discussed how any build up in your waste tank can cause longer term issues and by using bleach in your toilet this will ensure your tank is getting a good clean too. This is particularly important when you are preparing your RV for storage. You want to leave your RV as good as new so it is in perfect, and clean, working order ready for your next vacation.
General cleaning of your RV toilet with bleach is perfectly ok too providing the bleach is dissolved in water and not used neat. Some plastics can react to neat bleach to it is advised that you dilute the bleach to be safe. The general guide would be to use one quarter cup bleach in one gallon of water.