how does an rv toilet work

A recreational vehicle can be considered as a blessing for anyone who loves to spend time outdoors. It lets you go on a trip while still having most, if not all, of the facilities present in your home. You can even have an RV toilet installed in your RV.

This is a big help, especially if you want to enjoy your time outdoors without having to deal with the discomfort of looking for a camouflaged tree in case nature calls. However, take note that the toilet and bathroom in most RVs are smaller when compared to those found in homes.

It is because of the need to store most of the facilities you need in a limited space. Also, take note that in most cases, the toilet installed in an RV works a bit differently when you compare it to the ones at home. Learn more about how an RV toilet works with this informative article.

Understanding How your RV Toilet Functions

how rv toilet work

When trying to understand how the toilet installed in your RV works, it is crucial to note that in most cases, RVs come equipped with three water tanks. The first one is the fresh water tank, which is used in holding water taken onboard so you can use it in the bathroom and kitchen.

The second one is the gray water tank, which works by holding the water draining from your bathroom and kitchen sinks. Then there is the black water tank, which is designed to store the waste coming from your RV toilet. The size of the tank designed for the toilet is actually dependent on your vehicle’s size.

However, it usually has a capacity of around 37 gallons. As for the flushing, take note that the instead of a handle found in the tank of toilets at home, the one for RVs often come with a pedal, which you can find beneath the bowl. You just need to press the pedal with one foot to let the fresh water rush into it.

Pressing the pedal will also cause the opening of the flap at the bowl’s base. When that happens, water is then flushed to the black water tank, which is often mounted beneath the vehicle. Chemicals that are the same as the ones often used in portable toilets are also helpful in not only breaking up wastes but also getting rid of the odor.

It is also advisable to use a single-ply toilet paper since it is known to break up faster and easier than the 2-ply, which is known to be thicker. To close the flap, you just need to release the pedal. It can help prevent odors from coming out and spreading inside your RV.

If you have an RV toilet, then take note that the black and gray water tanks require regular emptying, preferably after every few days.  The number of times you will need to empty both tanks will also be dependent on how many people use the toilet. Also, take note that you need to empty both tanks prior to traveling.

It is mainly due to the fact that if the tanks are full, then there’s a great tendency for it to increase the RV’s weight, which might also lead to reduced gas mileage. If you are already outdoors, then rest assured that the majority of campgrounds today have their own dump or sanitation stations.

The black and gray water tanks are equipped with valves that you can find below your vehicle. They also feature a connection point, which you can use to let a hose reach a dump station’s opening starting from your vehicle. In most cases, the hose is around 10-20 feet long and 3-4 inches wide.

After setting the hose in place, the black tank’s valve will then become open, causing the accumulated waste to flow down and reach the dump station. You can also expect the valve of the gray tank to be open, which will then result in drainage.

It is crucial to empty the gray tank last as it makes sure that you can flush any matter left from the hose. When emptying the tanks, make sure that you are wearing gloves to keep yourself safe. You can choose to wear disposable gloves as they do not only function well but are also affordable and are easy to discard after each use.

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  • [VERSATILITY]: Aqua-Magic Residence is a stylish, comfortable, and lightweight toilet, suited for all RV type
  • [FUNCTIONALITY]: The toilet uses a single-pedal system - pressing the pedal half way adds water to the bowl, while...
  • [SANITARY]: Residence comes with an antimicrobial seat, which inhibits mold and odor-causing bacteria growth

Choosing the Best RV Toilet

how do rv toilets work

Now that you know how an RV toilet works basically, learning how to choose the best one out of your numerous options should come next. Here are some factors designed to help you formulate the right RV toilet buying decision:

Style – One of the first things you have to decide on if you are planning to buy an RV toilet is the style. Once you make your search, you will realize that this item is actually available in different styles, ranging from classic to modern.

Choose one which perfectly matches the kind of recreational vehicle you have. However, you can also pick the simple classic foot flush, as it is the most frequently used toilet in an RV.

Versatility and Ease of Use – You also have to assess the versatility and ease of use of a toilet prior to buying. Go for one, which is versatile enough that you can use it in other applications, too, aside from just your RV.

For instance, you should also be able to take it to the wild or use it at a campsite. It should also be easy to use. That way, you will definitely have a more convenient time using it.

Materials – Check the materials used in constructing the RV toilets, too. In most cases, you can find those made of plastic, China or a mix of both materials. Find out which one among the materials used in the toilet fits your budget and your preferred decorative style the most.

If you want the toilet to give you a feeling like you are at home, then you may want to pick that made of china pedestal. However, if you want to really enjoy the feel associated with camping, then go for a plastic toilet. It is known to be perfect for travel trailers, campers, and RVs.

Bowl Seat and Overall Height – In most cases, higher toilet and larger bowl can give a homey feel. It can make you feel like you are just in your residential unit. You can also go for inexpensive RV toilets made of plastic.

They are affordable but ensure that you decide on the width of the bowl seat and the exact height of the toilet, which you find comfortable.

Flush – You also have to consider the type of flush used in the toilet. Note that you have plenty of options, including the foot pedal, slide handle, electric push-button flush, and handheld handle. Go for one, which suits your budget and preferred style while also being convenient to use in an RV.

Hygiene – It is also crucial to look for a toilet, which will help you maintain a good hygiene. In fact, this is one of the most vital factors to consider when searching for the best RV toilet. Go for one, which is hygienic enough that it does not come with any leakage and does not cause spread bacteria.

Maintaining your RV Toilet

Once you pick your own RV toilet, installed it, and learned how it works, it is time to learn a thing or two about how to maintain its excellent condition. The following simple RV toilet maintenance tips can definitely help:

Repair toilet seal – Once you notice that the toilet seal dries out and hardens, you have to focus on repairing it right away before it causes leaks. You can actually fix this problem by applying a plumber’s grease directly to the seal.

Ensure that you’re wearing rubber gloves. Such grease works in lubricating the seal, thereby ensuring that water will return to the bowl.

Treat the tank – Do this regularly as this is a vital part of RV toilet and bathroom maintenance. With the help of tank treatment, it’s possible to break down toilet papers and wastes, thereby promoting cleanliness when pumping the tank.

Make it a point to use deodorizers and treatments routinely to ensure that you can lengthen the tank’s lifespan.

Clean the toilet bowl regularly – Plenty of RV toilets today are equipped with an attached sprayer, which you can use to clean up the bowl in case you notice that the flush is not too powerful to do the purpose.

If your RV toilet is an older model, though, then just make it a point to clean up the bowl regularly with more water. That’s crucial in maintaining their excellent condition for a long time.


Knowing how does an RV toilet work will make it easier for you to take care of it once it is installed in your vehicle. You have to make sure that you pick the best out of the many RV toilets today, so you can conveniently use it for a long time.

Last update on 2023-05-06 at 08:29 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API