RV Toilet: Common Problems and Fixes

The RV is nice when you need something portable but comfortable. You can enjoy camping trips or you can have a “mobile home” for work if you need to. It’s a little but luxury mixed with a little bit of roughing it, right? Unfortunately, the toilets aren’t perfect in an RV and sometimes you run into problems. 

There are many common toilet problems that people face with RVs. Lucky for you, most of these problems also have simple fixes. It’s not always simple but when it comes to the common issues, you can take tips and tricks from people who have been there. 

No matter what you use your RV for, we certainly don’t want you to be fighting against toilet issues. Take a look at this guide to learn about some of the common toilet problems and fixes for an RV. 

RV Toilet Bubbles When Flushed

Bubbling is never a good sign with any toilet, particularly not your RV toilet. Typically bubbles at flushing are an indication that there is some sort of blockage somewhere. You might call it bubbling while some RV owners also call it burping. 

There are 3 main reasons that could lead to a blockage causing bubbling. 

  • Blocked Vent
  • Clogged Pipe
  • Full or blocked black water tank

Blocked Vent

The water tank vent can get blocked and this might lead to bubbling or burping. If that tent on the roof of your RV gets blocked with leaves or birds or anything else, it could cause your toilet to bubble. 

This is because the air has to release somewhere and the normal vent is not available for it. Just check out the vent and make sure it is free of any potential blockage. Make sure you check underneath the vent cap just to be sure as well. 

Clogged Pipe

Drain pipes on RVs tend to clog a little more easily than your home pipes. You probably are already familiar with that and maybe you even have specific rules for toilet use in your RV to try to prevent clogging. 

Be sure you’re using RV-approved toilet paper and not overusing toilet paper. However, if you are experiencing bubbling when you flush, it might be a sign that you have a clogged drainpipe. Once a clog starts, it can get worse so be sure to address this quickly if you notice it. 

You may be able to use a black water tank cleaning wand to get the clog loose. A couple of other options would be to try septic tank chemicals designed for breaking through clogs or pour boiling water down the drain to see if that breaks up the clog. 

Black Water Tank

One of the most common reasons an RV toilet will bubble is that the black water tank is either full or perhaps even blocked with debris. Check first to see if the tank could be full. If it is, this is usually an easy fix and you just need to empty your tank appropriately. 

If you suspect you have a buildup of debris in the black water tank, you can use the cleaning wand to try to dislodge and clean any debris. You can also pour boiling water into the tank to help with this one. 

How to Dissolve Toilet Paper in the RV?

If the toilet in your RV is clogging, it’s typically due to toilet paper not dissolving in the system. So what can you do when you face this issue? You really have a few different options here. Let’s take a look at a few. 

Boiling Water

Boiling water will work wonders in an RV and you don’t have to worry about harsh chemicals or sticking a snake down the drain or anything like that. 

The boiling water can break down solid waste like toilet paper and get your toilet back to normal. The boiling water can go down your drain or it can go into the black water tank, wherever you suspect the issue is. 

Boil water and let it cool for about a minute, then dump it in the appropriate spot. Let it sit for about an hour and then you can try to clean your tank and see if it helps with toilet paper dissolving. 

Septic Chemicals

Septic chemicals are designed to break down things like toilet paper and other build-ups so that the items can move through the line properly. While your RV is not quite a septic tank, it has a similar design. 

You can keep septic clog chemicals on hand and use those should you experience an issue with toilet paper not dissolving. 

 Baking Soda and Vinegar

This DIY remedy does not always work but it may be worth a try. Baking soda and vinegar are easy to get or take with you. You just need a box of baking soda and about half a bottle of vinegar.

Start by pouring the box of baking soda into your black water tank. Spread it out and don’t just dump it all in one spot. Then you should follow that by pouring about a half-gallon of vinegar into the black water tank. Again, spread it out, and don’t just dump it all in one spot. 

The mixture causes a reaction that will help to break down and dissolve toilet paper. 

Plumbing Snake

Another option you can try is to use a plumbing snake down your drain or down inside of the black water tank to see if you can clear blockages. You can also use the wand from your black water tank and potentially work magic with it! 

Why Does My RV Toilet Smell Like Urine? 

If every time you step into or walk by your RV toilet and you get a whiff of urine, either you need to give it a good cleaning or there is something contributing to the smell. 

If you clean your toilet regularly, then let’s move on to the other issues that could cause the odor. 

There are several reasons that your RV toilet might smell a bit like urine and most of them are pretty simple. 

  • You may have a clog that needs to be addressed
  • You may just need to give it a good cleaning
  • Your seals might need to be replaced
  • It maybe has just sat for too long

If you haven’t used the RV in a while and you’re noticing this, it may just be because it’s been a long time since it’s been used. Before you put away your RV, it’s a good idea to clean all the surfaces but also to empty and clean the tank. 

When your seals or the toilet ring start going bad, this could cause odors as well because a little bit of waste is probably seeping up near the base of the toilet and you don’t even notice. Try replacing the seals. 

If you figured out the problem and need to get rid of the smell, we recommend baking soda. You can sprinkle it around the toilet, floor, carpets, and more and let it sit while. Then go back and clean it all up. Baking soda absorbs smells and will work wonders. 

How to Get Rid of Sewer Flies in an RV Toilet?

Flies are so annoying and sewer flies are the worst! They seem almost impossible to get rid of sometimes but don’t worry, we’ve got you covered. 

One of the reasons people get sewer flies is that they open the dump valves on the RV black water tank and leave them open. It’s actually better to leave these closed and only open them when you actively dump your tank. You might feel like you’re being efficient but you’re better off letting the waste build-up altogether and then cleaning and dumping the tank in a single go. 

If the sewer flies have invaded, you can use bleach or an enzyme cleaner to help get rid of larvae. After you get rid of larvae, you can tackle the live adult flies. 

If you want to use bleach, it’s important that you don’ mix it with any type of ammonia. You will find that some RVers don’t recommend bleach so use it with caution or use another option altogether. 

Follow these steps to use bleach. 

  1. Empty your black water tank. 
  2. Fill the tank with fresh water and a gallon of bleach. 
  3. Let the bleach sit for at least an hour. 
  4. Drain and rinse the tank. 

You could use an enzyme cleaner instead of bleach as well. You will follow the same steps except that you probably should let it sit overnight instead of just an hour or two. 

This kills the larvae so then you need to wipe out adults. Try flytraps, light traps, and insecticides to wipe them out completely. 

No Water When Flushing the RV Toilet

If you’re trying to flush the toilet in the RV and have no water pressure at all, there is definitely a problem that needs to be addressed. It may just be something simple but it may require a bigger fix. 

Start by checking this. 

  • Loosen the nut that attaches your inlet hose to the water breaker. You can loosen it slightly by using a crescent wrench to turn it counterclockwise. You’re not removing the nut, just slightly loosening. 
  • If you notice water beading around the thread, your water pressure is just fine but your vacuum breaker probably needs to be replaced. If no water beads up, then you either have a blockage or a stop tap that is turned off. 

You can always first check to see if the black water tank is full and needs to be emptied as well. This might cause you to not get pressure or not be able to flush. 

If the problem is that the water is just not leaving the bowl, check to see if your side valve is broken or stuck as well. 


It is not uncommon to run into issues with an RV toilet. Knowing the best ways to tackle the problems is the only thing you can do when they strike. Be prepared with supplies just in case you run into a clog or a common issue like the ones that we have mentioned here and you will be good to go. 

Leave a Comment