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.