Aside from the few scratches and small dents we’ve put in the trailer and truck, we have been fortunate to have not experienced any major RV catastrophes … yet. Though we came very close when dumping our tanks after the recent stay at Lum Park in Brainerd, MN.
Anyone who has seen the Robin Williams movie RV, and remembers the dump station scene, may think they can relate to this little misadventure. But having experienced it first hand I can tell you that unless you’ve had this happen to you, you will never know how disturbing – and funny – it can be.
Keep reading to find out the whole story and get some tips on how to deal with such a situation yourself!
After dumping the black water, it is highly recommended to add your preferred chemicals and about five gallons of water to the empty tank. One easy way to do this at a dump station is to fill a bucket of water instead of dragging a dirty hose through your RV to add water to the toilet.
We have a five gallon collapsible water jug we use for filling our fresh water tank when boondocking at places without pressurized water. We figured this would be an ideal solution since we would easily know when we’ve added five gallons. And it would be, had we not dropped the spout off the jug down the toilet tank! (I say “we” as to not make René feel any more guilty than she does.)
From the sound of her scream, I figured she had gotten water or tank deodorizer all over the bathroom. But when she kept cussing I knew something was wrong and went to investigate. Apparently, she had taken the spout off the jug to make the water come out faster … while holding it over the toilet, while keeping the drain open with her foot on the pedal. Bad idea.
I did my best to calm her down and came up with the idea to fill the tank completely and hope the spout either floated up to the toilet where we could grab it, or would get forced out the drain valve by the water pressure. What I was not prepared for was just how much pressure one 45 gallon black water tank can provide.
Since I wanted to be sure we knew if the spout got passed through, I thought I would hold the dump hose under the drain and watch for it as I pulled the valve. Bad idea! Luckily, we had just dumped the tank and filled it with fresh water. But I think I will still need therapy years from now to help me deal with the amount and velocity of all the brown water that spewed forth in all directions so suddenly.
After quickly closing the valve and attaching the hose I proceeded to drain the tank, dry my legs off, and pick the bits off my shirt. I then began laughing whole heartedly, because I knew if I got upset the situation would just turn ugly. And good thoughts bring good things. Right?
Not knowing if we had gotten the spout out. We decided to repeat the procedure and then play it by ear, assuming the potential plug was gone. I figured that thing could stay in there for years without doing any harm, but it could do a lot of damage to our plumbing and our sanity if it got lodged in the drain valve.
The next day we were sharing this tale with another full-timer who said he had dropped various kitchen utensils down his toilet drain which remained there for years without trouble.
Upon trying the high pressure expulsion method again, I noticed a good deal of pressure in the dump hose even after closing the drain valve and thought the worst. I figured the spout had lodged in the valve for sure. Then I noticed the hose was full of water – yes, brown smelly water – and it wasn’t draining into the dump station. My deductive reasoning that the spout was lodged in the hose proved true when I pulled it from the dump hole and only a trickle of waste water was coming out. What a relief to find the spout – better lodged there than in our plumbing. Just one more thing to do…
I reached in the hose end and had to pull hard to dislodge the spout. And once I did we got another good spraying. I say we here meaning Me, Myself, and I as René stood back with the camera. All so we can document this here for any of you poor souls who might be looking for a solution after going through the same thing one day.
So, to dislodge an item you’ve dropped down your RV toilet drain, or to avoid such a situation altogether, we offer the following tips:
- Don’t panic.
- Never hold anything over your toilet tank while the drain is open. If adding chemicals, put water in the bowl, add them, then flush.
- If you do drop something down, try to force it out the drain by filling the tank full with fresh water and dumping it all at once.
- Do not ever attempt to hold the dump hose in front of the drain in an attempt to verify expulsion of the item. You won’t see it, and you will be sorry.
- If necessary, repeat this procedure then pretend the plug has passed until the day comes when you realize it didn’t.
- Don’t argue or point fingers. Be free of guilt and blame. Depak will be proud and the positive energy will result in a positive outcome.
If you have a similar experience, please feel free to share it with others here. I’m thinking of starting a SHAT support group to help Shit Hose Agony Trauma survivors.
26 thoughts on “And now for the fun part…”
Thanks for all this information. We have a 2020 Grand Design Solitude that we’ve been full-timing in since July. Yesterday I was standing, flushing the toilet and I opened the cabinet above the toilet (will never do that again) when a small bottle of rubbing alcohol fell from the cabinet and straight down the drain. To my horror, it was a perfect bullseye and into the black tank it went! My husband drained the black tank, then flushed it. The black tank dump handle would not push in to it’s closed position after he dumped it , so he knew the alcohol bottle was obstructing the valve. Fortunately he had recently purchased a Flush King (at Camping World) a clear elbow with back flush capabilities. It attaches between the RV sewer connection and the sewer hose. He back flushed from the Flush King and the alcohol bottle came out and lodged in the clear elbow of the Flush King. He was able to remove the Flush King and retrieve the alcohol bottle. I have to brag on him a little, He’s a smart guy, he had surgical training and retired as a NASA flight surgeon. I told him he “surgically removed” the obstruction from our black tank 😉 he said, “the Flush King allowed me to have proximal and distal control to remove the embolus” ;-D My lessons learned, always flush with the lid closed and never open that cabinet with the toilet lid open.
Thanks for sharing your experience Marilyn, I’m so glad you found the bottle!
Our grandkids have pulled apart some foam off the mattress topper ! We think they may have hidden it down the toilet as It’s hasn’t emptied well this time !!!
Any ideas ? I was going to try and flush it and do a tank treatment tomorrow
Yikes. Fill, flush, repeat. Fill, drive around, flush, repeat…disassemble.
How about a empty plastic bottle of water? like a 20 oz aquafina? I’ll try the flushing method. haha.. your story is still helping people 13 years later!
Yikes! If it still floats, fill the tank and hopefully you’ll be able to grab it. I would remove the toilet for easier access. Good luck with that.
One of my children was cleaning the water stains off the inside of the toilet where the clean water goes in around the top with an old electric toothbrush. She was keeping her foot on the pedal so clean water would come out as she was scrubbing. YEP…she dropped the electric toothbrush into the toilet and it was ON. So…we had that noise. We figured…if it could go in…it could go out. We purchased a clear 90 degree angle piece that is on the end of our hose going into the RV dump. We wanted to see if the new chemicals we are using are really liquifying things as it claims and it is also an easy way to know that the tank has stopped draining. So…we filled the tank and opened the valve. NOPE. No toothbrush. We could hear it still inside the tank and it had moved closer to the exit. Filled the tank again and WHOOSH…it came out and then got stuck in the 90 degree turn before entering the parks system.
WHEW. Glad that worked. We figure it might have scubbed some of the inside of the black tank a little cleaner while it was in there.
That’s one way to scrub the tank! 🙂
I accidently dropped my Clorox toilet wand down the toilet. Any suggestion as to how to retrieve it back the way it went in?
Ugh. A whole wand would be difficult. I would likely first try removing the toilet and repeatedly filling the black tank and poking around from above to try and retrieve it. Second option would be to leave it and hope it never obstructs the waste valve. Only remaining solution would be to drop the tank and replace it if the wand cannot be retrieved.
Beverly, how did you end up retrieving the wand? My son dropped ours into the toilet this AM! And it is clogging the drain! We can’t flush anything down 🙁
Yes your story sounds like mine…tonight i was emptying my black water then I was putting the chemical stuff in the toilet I dropped the friggin bottle down into the tank…..cussing insued…my husband came running I told him what happened i felt soooo bad….anyways thanks so much for the tip about flushing the item we will try that in the morning when its daylight out, oh and next time when u see it coming duck!! Good luck with rving. We have a 33ft cardinal been full timing for 3 years.
Thanks for the comment Brandy! Good luck getting the bottle out … But don’t feel bad, we’re not the only ones. We heard a story from someone who had dropped a bunch of silverware down into the black tank (long story, really) and said they never bothered getting it out and it never did any harm.
As far as the rubber gloves go … I took those off after they filled up with juice from the first good dousing! After that, they really weren’t doing much good.
I asked the same thing mike! 🙂 This fellow camper said their grey water tank filled up a lot quicker than their toilet holding tank when boondocking without hookups. They would clean their dishes with a tub in the kitchen sink then dump that water in the toilet. That’s how silverware got down the toilet.
All RV toilets do have a stop valve that keeps water in the bowl from going down the drain. “We” had just inadvertently kept our foot on the pedal that keeps it open when adding the water this time.
(Brain: You are too funny!)
Great story Jim! Good luck with that support group. I guess Rene was successful in her twelve steps? The twelve steps she took to stay away from you and the spray of black water!!
I dropped a can of febreeze down the tolit. I was holding the tounge of the RV tolit open with it so I didn’t have to stand there 4ever while it filled to clean. .. I tried the magnet…no success. I tried fishing…no success. It has gotten lodged in the open close valve twice… just needs 2B pushed back up. I don’t know how to get it out…I’m worried one day I won’t be able to push it back up so I can re-close black tank.
:-O Good luck with that one…try and try again, fill tank, go fishing, hope it doesn’t get stuck. best advice is to pull tank and get it out before you’re in a bad spot and can’t!
Did you have any luck if so how I did the same thing.
Yes, exactly like we explained in this post.
Ok. … funnier than ever!! Glad you were smiling too!!! But where the hell are your Gloves??? YUCK!!!
“another full-timer who said he had dropped various kitchen utensils down his toilet drain which remained there for years without trouble.”…what was that guy doing in there in the first place with those items..? How about some sort of portable large mesh filter device, sort of like a huge coffee filter screen that you could place in the bowl when you were just using fresh water to flush/fill through the bowl..Or some sort of exterior fill hose port that would do the same thing so you wouldn’t have to do it through the bowl….?
water weighs approx. 7lbs. per gal. x 40 gal.= AWW SHITTTT !!!
Good work! After watching the video your story is way too real, but funnier than hell. Glad you are learning all of this and maintaining a sense of humor. Sounds like a great trip to me. Hope you and Rene are happy and clean!
We are thinking about you two often.