Troubleshooting an RV Toilet

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While there’s not too much that can go wrong when it comes to the pretty simple appliance that is an RV toilet, there are a few things you should know about your toilet in order to properly troubleshoot the rare problem that might arise. Trust us, you don’t want to be unfamiliar with your toilet when you’re somewhere up a mountain in negative temperatures and discover that the bowl won’t hold water…

You’ll typically only have to worry about one key part of the RV toilet, and that’s the seal that separates the basin from the drain and retains water. This little component is liable to become clogged if you flush anything that ought not be flushed, and it’s also prone to cracking when left for long periods without use. In this quick lesson, RV expert Dave Solberg teaches you about some of the things you should be aware of when maintaining an RV toilet, including what to do in the vent of a clog or seal crack.

Pre-Trip Checklist

The dos and don’ts of an RV toilet

From time to time you may encounter an issue with your RV toilet, such as when the seal doesn’t seem to want to close completely, which results in a half-full or empty basin. To help you take care of this problem, Dave introduces the common causes of a malfunctioning toilet, as well as what to flush and not flush, and then he teaches you a simple trick to troubleshoot a faulty seal.

First things first, never flush paper towels down and RV toilet (or any other one, for that matter). Let’s just get that out of the way. Secondly, to avoid serious issues down the road, always take action at the first sign of a clog. Dave teaches you how to use a common household implement to get this job done. Furthermore, as soon as you see evidence of a seal or valve that won’t properly hold or shut, do yourself a favor and apply toilet seal lubricant and conditioner. Or if you’d like to avoid the added cost, some vegetable oil will do in a pinch. This is equally important when winterizing your RV for a roadtrip late in the year or storing it for hibernation.

Oftentimes a faulty seal occurs through no fault of your own. In certain parts of the country you’ll utilize hard water that can cause lime buildup along your drain and pipes. For that issue, there’s CLR. A healthy dose of this magic mixture, and your problem will be quickly solved!

In addition to clearing any blockages and treating lime buildup, you should also be sure to check your toilet and its components for any cracks that can lead to leaks. The attached sprayer is a common culprit, so Dave recommends a couple of solutions if you discover a faulty or leaking sprayer. With his simple tips, you’ll be able to shore up any problems with your RV toilet, and you can guarantee to give it a long lifespan and get your full money’s worth!

Discussion
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37 Responses to “Troubleshooting an RV Toilet”
    • Customer Service

      Hi Sherylen. Thanks for visiting the RV Repair Club site and the opportunity to assist with your toilet issue. Depending on the model and year, your toilet valve will either have a flat “spade” valve that is a piece of flat plastic that slides back and forth into a rubber gasket that is supposed to seal and hold water, or a rounded valve in the newer style. If it doesn’t hold water, it’s time to replace the valve. Find out if it’s a Sealand or Dometic and get the model number. You should be able to get a replacement valve assembly.

      Reply
    • Customer Service

      Hi, Raymond. We are sorry to hear you are having trouble viewing this video. Please contact our Customer Service Team at 1-855-706-3536; we would be happy to assist you.

      Reply
  1. Catherine

    behind the rv toilet is a leak from the tubing, please help me on how to repair this issue.

    Reply
    • Customer Service

      Hi, Catherine. More than likely it’s a loose waster line going to the supply valve or the valve is cracked as it might have frozen during storage? Depending on the make and model of the toilet, typically you can take off the plastic surround covering the base and the supply valve. It’s held on with a couple of screws, then remove the base to get access to the supply valve and hose. If you’re having trouble, provide the make, model and year of the toilet and we can get a diagram showing the parts.

      Reply
  2. GREGORY

    My toilet seals ok, but lately when I step down to flush, the seal doesn’t slide back in place and I have to raise it manually with my foot. Any suggestions ?

    Reply
    • Customer Service

      Hello Gregory,

      I would suggest starting with a good cleaning of the rubber seal that the spade slide across. Sanitize it with a 1/4 cup bleach and gallon of water and use a popsicle stick or other disposable flat object to clean the gap all around the seal. It could have calcium or lime buildup. Otherwise you will need to take the plastic cover off the foot mechanism and the lower plastic shroud to gain access to the valve assembly. There you can see if it’s just sticking or the spring has broken or come loose.

      Thanks
      David RVRC Video Membership

      Reply
  3. Jeanette

    I have a Thetford toilet with the hand valve lever to rinse and flush. Don’t know model number/name as it is worn off. It is leaking from the back of the toilet -above where the water line enters the toilet. There is a black type valve with holes around it that is very loose in there. Can’t find a similar model when go to the Thetford website. Do you know what that upper valve is and how can I remove it (or can I can I remove it without removing the whole toilet).

    Reply
    • Customer Service

      Hello Jeanette,

      You should be able to get at the valve without taking the toilet out of the rig. To provide more specific troubleshooting information we need the model year of your rig so we can narrow down the toilet, most likely an Aqua Magic II, lll, or lV? Typically you can take off the plastic around the foot pedal and then the plastic shroud around the base of the toilet and get at most of the components although it might be a tight fit at the wall. Try tightening the screws if the loose part is the valve cover. Otherwise take a photo of the valve and we should be able to find replacement parts. Once you get the shroud off, look for a data tag that might have a model number?

      Thanks,
      David RVRC Video Membership

      Reply
  4. Dick Neff

    Got a 2016 Enterga Aspire front toilet will not fill with water. Flush, sounds correct cycling, but no water. Can not find a valve. Can anyone help. Thanks

    Reply
    • Customer Service

      Hello Dick,

      To provide more specific information on the location of your water valve
      for the toilet, we need the make, model, and year of your toilet.
      The valve is typically located directly at the end of the push lever
      hidden inside the plastic shroud or base. Usually it’s a broken
      plunger so you would need to remove the base and access the valve.

      Thanks,
      David RVRC Video Membership

      We’d love to have you be a part of our community. We are convinced you will enjoy the benefits of becoming a member and having access to the best instructional how to videos and professional tips. We would like to offer you a special promotion for your first year membership.
      http://go.rvrepairclub.com/C9875

      Reply
  5. MICHELLE

    Is there a way to replace the rubber seal that holds water in the bowl? It came off when being cleaned, the toilet is only a year old. Plus that’s what helps keep the smell out. Need to fix asap if we can. Look forward to your response.

    Reply
    • Customer Service

      Hello Michelle,

      To provide more specific troubleshooting information on your toilet seal, we need the make and model of the toilet. However both the Dometic and Thetford versions offer a replacement gasket for the flapper or ball type toilet.

      Thanks,
      David RVRC Video Membership

      Reply
  6. Joel Williamson

    Thetford Commode lets water in and ball valve seals well to hold water. Ball valve wil not open to flush. Any suggestions? Thanks for your asistance.

    Reply
    • Customer Service

      Hi Joel,

      To provide more specific troubleshooting information on your Thetford toilet issue, we need the model and year of the “commode”! If it’s a newer side pedal model, pushing the pedal down about half way opens the water valve and pushing it further pulls the plastic valve and opens the drain. There is a valve that opens the water and a separate spring housing and shaft that opens the flush ball or valve which I believe is broken on your unit?

      Thanks,

      David
      RV Repair Club Video Membership

      We’d love to have you be a part of our community. We are convinced you will enjoy the benefits of becoming a member and having access to the best instructional how to videos and professional tips. We would like to offer you a special promotion for your first year membership.
      https://go.rvrepairclub.com/C12078

      Reply
    • Customer Service

      Hi Shirley,

      Do you get good water flow to other faucets and the shower? If yes, and you do not have a water leak, just air, you need to bleed the system out. The unit was probably winterized using air to blow out all the lines, so there would be quite a bit of air to move and just stepping down on the plunger slightly would not bleed it properly. It is also faster to do this hooked up to city water as the pressure moves water much faster.

      Thanks,

      David
      RV Repair Club Video Membership

      We’d love to have you be a part of our community. We are convinced you will enjoy the benefits of becoming a member and having access to the best instructional how to videos and professional tips. We would like to offer you a special promotion for your first year membership.
      https://go.rvrepairclub.com/C12157

      Reply
    • Customer Service

      Hello Aluce,

      My guess is there is a crack in the floor seal or toilet itself which
      could have been caused by the water lines freezing? You will need to
      remove the toilet and inspect all the water lines as well as the water
      valve. The parts are inexpensive so it might be wise just to replace
      both while you have the toilet off?

      Thanks,

      David
      RV Repair Club Video Membership

      Reply
  7. blrittman

    I noticed that the valve assy, behind the tolet is leaking, is there something I need to do other than replacement of the tolet

    Reply
    • Customer Service

      Hello,

      Typically you can take the valve assembly apart and replace a seal or the valve without replacing the entire toilet? Usually what causes this is water left in the valve assembly during the winter and it freezes and cracks something in the valve. Find the make, model, and year of the toilet and give McBride’s Service and Parts a call and they can get the part you need. http://www.getrvparts.com

      Thanks,

      David
      RV Repair Club Video Membership

      Reply
    • Customer Service

      Hi Dorothy,

      Does you handle or pedal go down at all? It depends on what make and model you toilet is, but there is usually an armature or lever connected to the pedal or handle that goes to the valve and it may have come off. Sometimes it can be put back on but a lot of the time a piece of plastic has broken and needs replaced. You have have to remove the toilet to gain access to the valve parts and inspect what may be broken. If the pedal or handle won’t go down, check to see if there is anything logged in between the valve and gasket. Using a coat hanger, you can scrape around the gasket and try to free it. Just be careful not to tear the gasket. If you can get me the make and model, I can look into how it is assembled and help you more. The data tag is usually on the back of the toilet.

      Thanks,

      Dan
      RV Repair Club Video Membership

      Reply
  8. Andre Chatel

    Water leaking at back of a 2009 jayco featherlite 23-B travel trailer toilet. How can i find and fix the leakage??

    Reply
  9. Mac

    Stepping on the pedal of my 2013 Aqua-Magic V foot pedal model results in normal operation of the blade, and a nice flow of water. However, the blade will not automatically close, and the water won’t shut off. I have replaced a water module already, to no avail. I can get the water to shut off, and the blade to close, by reaching behind the toilet and snapping a lever back there until it catches. Is my new water module cursed? The good news is that I can replace it (again?) without pulling the toilet.

    Your advice much appreciated! thanks, Mac

    Reply
    • Customer Service

      Hi Mac,

      If the lever does not go back to where it was after operating, it is usually the spring on the flush lever. There is a spring to retract the lever back into position and it closes the water module. If you can move the flush lever freely, there is a problem with the spring. It can sometimes be set back into place but they are held in by plastic molding on the toilet. If the plastic has broken, you will need a new toilet. I would check the spring and see if it can be put back into place. This can be tough to do, easier with needle noise pliers, but I have been able to re set them. You may unfortunately have to remove the toilet this time to inspect the spring.

      I hope this helps!

      Dan
      RV Repair Club Video Membership

      We’d love to have you be a part of our community. We are convinced you will enjoy the benefits of becoming a member and having access to the best instructional how to videos and professional tips. We would like to offer you a special promotion for your first-year membership.
      https://go.rvrepairclub.com/C14797

      Reply
  10. Lynda Johnson

    I have an 88 Carry Lite 29’ 5th wheel. It’s being used for an elderly relative to stay in temporarily. The bathroom carpet is soaked from a leak that has occurred. It seems to be coming from the back of the toilet. It’s spreading quickly. How can I find the problem, or remove the toilet to try and fix the problem?
    Thank you so much. Any help would be appreciated.
    Lynda

    Reply
    • Customer Service

      Hello Lynda,

      It sounds like the water valve or connection is bad on the back of the toilet. The best way to check is by removing the toilet. There are many different ways that toilets are installed but they are usually held in place with two bolts. Sometimes they are usually covered with plastic caps that can easily pop off but on other models, the casing around the toilet will have to be removed. Some you have to take apart the foot handle and then the casing. It is different for every toilet. Once you gain access to the nuts, remove nuts on the bolts and the toilet should lift up. I would leave the water line connected on the back for now and turn the water pressure on to see where it is leaking. If it is just the connection, you can sometimes tighten it to help but it may need a new one. If you see the water coming from the back of the water valve, it will need replaced. There should be a sticker on the back indicating the make and model of the toilet. You can then search for replacement parts. If there is no info or parts can not be found, you may have to purchase a new toilet. If it is the water valve, again they install differently per toilet but they will come with install instructions and usually only require a screw driver and maybe pliers to assist. They are simple to replace. Here is a video showing the removal of one type of toilet,
      https://www.rvrepairclub.com/video/rv-toilet-replacement-014005/

      I hope this helps!

      Dan
      RV Repair Club Video Membership

      We’d love to have you be a part of our community. We are convinced you will enjoy the benefits of becoming a member and having access to the best instructional how to videos and professional tips. We would like to offer you a special promotion for your first-year membership.
      https://go.rvrepairclub.com/C14947

      Reply
  11. Jeffrey Apanowicz

    Have a Thetford in our Rv it has the 2 push buttons for a light flusha nd a heavier flush Right now it is clogged Push button gets water but wont flush How
    do we remedy

    Reply
    • Customer Service

      Hello Jeffrey,

      It is possible there is something wedged in the gasket and not allowing it to open. You could try using a coat hanger and try scraping around the gasket and see if it frees up. If this doesn’t work you would have to remove the toilet and inspect the valve mechanism for operation. It could be something like a loose wire, cable became disconnected or the mechanism has failed. Really the only way to find out is to inspect everything on the back of the toilet. Most parts can be replaced but you would have to find out what is not working. Since the button does allow water into the bowl but the valve is not opening, I would expect the problem to be the mechanism is stuck or not functioning at all.

      I hope this helps.

      Dan
      RV Repair Club Video Membership

      We’d love to have you be a part of our community. We are convinced you will enjoy the benefits of becoming a member and having access to the best instructional how to videos and professional tips. We would like to offer you a special promotion for your first-year membership.
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      Reply
  12. REBECCA GREEN

    I’m in a 2001 Admiral HR. The front toilet works great until I flush. The spade that opens/closes does not move. I’ve checked the springs their all good. Nothing seems to be not working except the spade!! How do I get it open to inspect the seal in there?

    Reply
    • Customer Service

      Hello Rebecca,

      It sounds like the mechanism that connects to the valve has come off or broken. If you aren’t able to wedge anything in to open the valve you would have to remove the toilet and see what is causing it not to open. This isn’t fun to do so I would try using a coat hanger and running around the seal or a plastic pry bar to see if you can get it open first. It may just be wedged closed with some debris in the gasket, but if that doesn’t work removing the toilet is the next option.

      I hope this helps,

      Dan
      RV Repair Club Video Membership

      We’d love to have you be a part of our community. We are convinced you will enjoy the benefits of becoming a member and having access to the best instructional how to videos and professional tips. We would like to offer you a special promotion for your first-year membership.
      https://go.rvrepairclub.com/C15855

      Reply
  13. Ed Lund

    I Have a 2018 Forest River Wolf Pack
    I have water to all sinks, shower, and second toilet
    the main toilet does not bring water into the bowl. I opened the water supply line behind the toilet, and there is water to that point, but nothing coming into the bowl. What should I do next

    Reply
    • Customer Service

      Hi Ed,

      It sounds like the water valve is bad or the mechanism to operate the valve has become disconnected. The best way to tell is to gain access to the back of the toilet. You will see a lever going to the valve. You can manually operate this and see if water comes out, if it doesn’t the valve will need replaced. If it does come out then you would have to follow the valve to the operating mechanism, pedal or handle, and see is something is broken or has come off.

      Hope this helps!

      Dan
      RV Repair Club Video Membership

      We’d love to have you be a part of our community. We are convinced you will enjoy the benefits of becoming a member and having access to the best instructional how to videos and professional tips. We would like to offer you a special promotion for your first-year membership.
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      Reply
  14. Vicki

    We have a new Dometic toilet with a step flush mechanism, that was installed 2 years ago in our cottage. The cottage is in Manitoba and we have to turn the water off in winter – all pipes are drained to prevent freezing, but we still use the toilet by pouring water in from a bucket to flush contents down into sewage tank. The cottage is rarely used in winter, sometimes we go out for a few days if there is a thaw in February or March. The seal holds water just fine, but when we step on the flush pedal, the part that slides across to let the bowl contents out only opens halfway. We cannot see any obstruction. I tried adding some vegetable oil to help it slide more easily, but that had no effect.

    Reply

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