Friday, October 9, 2020

Plumbing and Poo Problems with the Pinnacle in Pennsylvania

And now, the post you have all been patiently waiting for, is here...

WARNING: This is all about plumbing problems and accompanying grossities. There are few photos for obvious reasons. (Uh-oh! says Eldo) This is a family friendly site, and Sparky will attempt to keep it clean. And actually, we are really fortunate. We have not had any poo explosions as some RVers have had. Just go on Youtube and check out newbie RVers plumbing problems. OMG, just sayin'.Just in case you'd like to skip this post completely, consider yourself forewarned! We totally understand. You can skip this post and go to the next blog, but it's not up yet. Sparky thinks these posts are helpful to other RVers, especially if they have a similar rig or problem. Eldo would prefer we just skip this part, so he is probably going to skip this post, haha.

We are having plumbing problems in our Pinnacle in Pennsylvania. For the third time.

So here's the problem. We have two toilets, an upstairs "master bath" one, and a downstairs one. The upstairs one is being finicky. It started with a bubbling pop of air for a few days at first when being flushed. Sparky thought nothing of it, until she noticed the tank was starting to fill up quickly. It's a 50 gallon black tank. There is no P trap, the valve just opens with the foot pedal and down it goes, straight into the black abyss below. We had just dumped, and it should be at least a week before the blank tank starts to fill. After a few days of the air bubbles, the tank was filling wa-a-a-y too rapidly. And then.....stuff wouldn't go down. At all. The water level was up to the bowl. We have a clog. 

Well, where do most people go for ideas on how to fix stuff these days? YouTube! So Eldo started researching. Every RVer should have a few basic tools. Here is what we have on hand--beside the usual teflon tape and maybe a pipe wrench or two. The white tube is a sprayer. You stick that into the toilet and hook up your hose to it. (SPARKY--Hook up the hose first, THEN stick it in the toilet!!! reprimands Eldo) Well, yeah, of course. The little metal end is supposed to rotate a spray of water, IF you have enough water pressure. The second tool is a deluxe plunger. It's pretty cool, actually, dual purpose for large drains and small drains. Blue pipe is Pex water plumbing pipe. OK, let's get down to it....(Sparky is on a roll here..go with it, ok?)

MANY videos later, here's what we tried:

1. First, we emptied the black tanks. When we did that, there was good flow coming out to the dump reservoir at our site. We knew that the clog was not near the bottom, or nothing would come out the hose. It must be at the top.

2. We then flushed the black tank (a cleaning method) by running water through a special hose especially designed for backflushing. You fill the black tank for about 5-7 minutes from the outside, then open the black tank valve and the fresh water rushes out and is supposed to clean the inside of the tank and out the hose. This, along with the special deluxe plunger, are you ready for this? It's called the POWER PLUNGE-IT.  To use in the Pinnacle, for the poo problem in Pennsylvania. HAHAHAHAHAHA...It helped clear the clog the first time. At this point, you are supposed to treat the black tank with special chemicals, (2-4 ounces of a special liquid for RV's), then you add couple of gallons of fresh water. That lays at the bottom the tank, and then starts to do its disintegrating magic on the TP and other stuff as you use the bathrooms again. Sparky forgot to do this right away, and then a day or so later, did the treatment. She accidentally poured a little too much down the tank, like about 4-6 ounces and didn't do quite the several gallons of water you are supposed to add to the concentrate. (WHA-A-A-T???? You didn't tell me that, complains Eldo.) A few days later, the bubbles started happening again. A big air bubble when you press the foot pedal. Only this time, they were humongous SOAPY bubbles, like the toilet was possessed by something foaming at the mouth. It was a little like a contained volano. Oh, dear!

3. Sparky got out her special plunger again. Remember, it's the POWER-PLUNGE-IT. It's very POWERFUL. (Sparky is laughing so much having fun with this post, she almost peed her pants.) She plunged and plunged and plunged. The soap bubbles exponentially grew and grew. Time to try the hot water method. You pour buckets or pails or saucepans of very hot water down the toilet. We had little bitty pails and one little bitty collapsible bucket. Sigh...And then, you wait. We waited till the soap bubbles went down. Couple of hours...Then we plunged and plunged. WHOOSH! That worked for a few days....

4. Then the bubbles started again. This time we could see vestiges of ghostly toilet paper clinging to the sides of the bowl, so we figured there was more down there, wrapped around something or trapping something else. We'll leave that to your imagination. (EWWWWWW, says E.) We tried plunging. Nope. We tried hot water. We hooked the shower head up to the water hose, then sprayed very hot water into the toilet. That didn't work very well, so then we tried the third tool, a sprayer that you stick down into the toilet. It has a rotating head so it will wash the sides of the upper tank. But the water pressure is so low, it was not enough to dislodge the clog, so....Nope. Time to bring out the heavy duty stuff and try the next method--plunging with a Pex piece of plumbing pipe, in the Pinnacle, in Pennsylvania. You retired teachers and alliteration fans, how is Sparky doing? We took a 6 foot Pex piece of pipe and used it like a plunger. We could definitely feel the blockage, it seemed as hard as a rock. You basically use it just like a plunger, pushing it around and around and up and down. (sounds like a dance, doesn't it?) It was hard work, but all of a sudden, it sort of "popped" and WHOOSH!  The clog went down....On YouTube, some people say it takes more than an hour to work it free. It didn't take that long.

Wish we could say that the problem is fixed....BUT....after about three days, the air bubbles have started again. We tried calling a mobile RV tech at our last campground, but they were solidly booked for several days, and couldn't help us out. we go again. We have the tools to try and fix the next clog, and next time we won't wait to see the water at the top of the bowl before tackling the clog....And we will keep trying to see if someone can figure out how to get us clog free for good. The takeaway to this, is to use LOTS OF WATER WHEN YOU FLUSH. Sparky was always conservative before now, thinking that the black tank will fill up too fast before we could dump (not all campgrounds have full hookups with septic as part of the full hookup) so now she is using TONS OF WATER and ALWAYS septic safe TP. 

To be continued....(Oh, god, I hope not! retorts Eldo)......


  1. We feel for you, we have had a similar problem. We have lived in Mexico where flushing TP is not allowed. We have now adopted that process in our motorhome. No TP in the toilet, it goes into a waste basket. No more problems. We are pulling for your problems to go away. Thanks for sharing your stories, we enjoy your blog.

  2. thank you. I have decided to forego the TP in the one bathroom that has the problem. For now.....