Nobody wants to talk about RV plumbing. When it comes to blackwater tanks and RV bathrooms, we’d all rather plug our noses and look the other way. But knowing how to care for your RV’s waste system is important, unless you want to end up with an even more unpleasant mess in your unit.
The Black Tank Basics
RV sewer systems are different from what you’re used to at home. The black tank, where your waste goes after you flush, is normally located directly under the toilet. Most RVs have a pump toilet, simply pumping contents a short distance down into the tank. The black tank is similar to a septic tank, and it needs to be routinely drained.
Just like a septic tank, it’s important to be careful what you flush down. When purchasing RV toilet paper, choose a brand that dissolves quickly. This will reduce any issues with paper residue in the black tank or clogging of the toilet sensors. Generally, stick to one- or two-ply toilet paper options that advertise themselves as quick-dissolving.
Toilet Paper Breakdown Test
To be sure your toilet paper will be safe to use in the RV, try the toilet paper breakdown test. Pour one to two cups of water in a clear glass container, preferably one with a lid. Drop a couple of sheets of toilet paper into the water, close the lid or cover the top, and shake the container two to three times. Then, set the glass down and wait about one minute to see if the toilet paper starts to dissolve.
If there are still large pieces of toilet paper in the container, it’s likely not a good brand to use in your RV. Note that continuously shaking the container will not yield proper test results, as most toilet papers will dissolve if shaken vigorously. Shaking the container more than three times doesn’t simulate the way your RV toilet flushes.
This test generally applies to most pump RV toilets. If your RV has a different type of toilet, like composting, special toilet paper (often biodegradable) is necessary.
Although unpleasant, proper RV toilet practices are necessary for a positive camping experience. Your toilet paper can make or break your RV plumbing. Be sure to research different brands and try the toilet paper breakdown test before hitting the road in your RV.