Written by 10:26 am RV Maintenance

How To Avoid The Dreaded RV Poop Pyramid

RV Poop Pyramid Featured Image

There is an ugly truth and horrible phenomenon that strikes fear into the hearts of every RV owner, the dreaded RV poop pyramid. It is something that can easily happen to you if you’re not careful.

Don’t worry, there are certain precautions you can take to make sure you can use your RV toilet without worry.

In this article, we are going to explore every angle of the RV poop pyramid, from how it forms, how to get rid of one, to how you can avoid it altogether.

So, if you’re ready, let’s embark on this odorous journey together as we learn how to keep our RVs – and our noses – happy and healthy.

Let’s jump in…

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What Is An RV Poop Pyramid?

RV Poop Pyramid Featured Image

As the name implies, an RV poop pyramid is what happens when solid waste and excess toilet paper stack up in your RV’s black tank, forming a pyramid.

If it gets bad enough, this pyramid can block your plumbing pipes and prevent you from dumping your waste tanks.

When this happens, you have a serious and smelly problem on your hands.

What Causes An RV Poop Pyramid?

The main cause of an RV poop pyramid is lack of water and too many solids in the black tank. This happens from not using enough water when flushing, or by leaving your black tank valve open when camping with full hookups.

When the waste valve is left open, liquids will drain from the tank, leaving behind the solids. When the solid waste and toilet paper build up, you eventually will build an RV poop pyramid.

If these solids are left in the tank for too long, they will begin to harden, making it nearly impossible for anything to drain out of the tank.

Steps To Avoid The Dreaded RV Poop Pyramid

Avoiding the RV poop pyramid isn’t difficult. But you will have to take certain steps to be proactive. Below are some steps you can take to make sure you, and your RV, can avoid this crappy situation.

Use Plenty Of Water When Flushing

Clean Fresh Water Featured Image

The most important step you can take to avoid the RV poop pyramid is by making sure you use plenty of water when flushing solids down the toilet. Don’t fall into the common misconception that by limiting the amount of water you use with each flush, it will extend the time between dumping your tanks.

When it comes to your black tank, water is your best friend. The more water that is flushed, the easier it will be for solids to break down and be flushed out when you dump your tanks.

RV Safe Toilet Paper?

Deciding on whether or not to use RV safe toilet paper is a highly controversial and debated topic in the RV community.

Roll Of Toilet Paper

For us, we always use a septic safe toilet paper in our rig and have not had any issues. If you have any doubts on whether to spend the extra money on RV specific toilet paper, there are many YouTube videos where RVers actually perform tests using several types of toilet paper to see which ones break down easiest.

If you’re feeling a bit adventurous and want to try the test for yourself, throw a few different types of toilet paper in clear containers, give them a shake or two, and see which ones perform the best.

The goal is to use a toilet paper that breaks down easily and will help prevent a clog.

Keep Black Tank Valve Closed

One of the main causes of the poop pyramid is leaving the black tank valve open. Many new RVers have been misled into believing that if they are a campground with full hookups, they can leave the black tank valve open.

This just isn’t the case.

By leaving the black tank valve open, the liquids that are flushed will drain out, but the solids will not. The bottom of your black tank is only slightly slanted. Therefore, the solid waste will simply build up over time.

By leaving the black tank valve open, the overall chances of developing a poop pyramid increase every time you flush solids into the black tank.

Dump Your Black Tank Regularly

Another step to avoiding the RV poop pyramid is to dump your tanks regularly. This will help ensure that your tanks are clean and free of “extra” solids. The more solids that are left in your tank, the greater the chance is of developing a pyramid of poop in your tanks.

As I mentioned above, don’t skimp on the amount of water you use when you flush in an attempt to avoid another trip to the dump station.

The general rule of thumb is to dump your tanks when they reach at least 2/3 full.

Use Waste Tank Treatments

In addition to using plenty of water to avoid the RV poop pyramid, certain holding tank treatments can help in the process of breaking down solids and keeping your waste tanks clean.

We use Happy Campers Tank Treatment and have been pleased with the results.

How Do You Know If You Have An RV Poop Pyramid?

If you are having issues dumping your grey and black tanks, it is doubtful that you have a poop pyramid. However, if your grey tank dumps with no issues but your black tank doesn’t, the chances are good that the culprit is the feared RV poop pyramid.

How To Get Rid Of An RV Poop Pyramid

Once you have determined that your black tank issues are because of a poop pyramid, the next step is to get rid of it. Be prepared for a nasty and smelly job.

The first step to eliminating the poop pyramid is to close the black tank valve and fill the tank with as much water as possible. Some RVers will also dump a bag of ice into tank and take the RV for a drive so the ice and water slosh in the tank. The sloshing will help break down the solids that have built up in the tank.

Another method for getting rid of the blockage is to add a black tank enzyme treatment like TST Max RV Toilet Treatment or Happy Campers. The trick to using these enzymes is to give them plenty of time to do what they are designed to do.

If the above methods don’t work, then it’s time to get your hands dirty.

If your black tank is directly below your toilet, you can use a piece of PVC pipe or a wooden dowel to manually break up the pyramid of poop.

Some RVs will have an elbow between the toilet and the black tank. If this is the case, you can use a piece of PEX piping to break up the pile of solids.

Once you have the pile broken up, fill your black tank with water and try to dump it.

The final method to getting rid of an RV poop pyramid is to hire a professional like Kleen Tank to come and deep clean your waste tanks.

Final Thoughts

Dealing with an RV poop pyramid is not one of the most glamourous parts of RVing, but it is a real concern for new and veteran RVers alike.

By taking a preventative approach and establishing a regular maintenance routine, you can keep the dreaded poop pyramid at bay and enjoy a fresh, clean journey every time you take your rig out.

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Last modified: February 17, 2024