When you’re coming back from a long weekend, you may be tempted to ignore the light squish beneath your feet when you pass the head, but now is not the time to kick back under the awning with a cold beer! No, it’s time to put trepidation and tired muscles aside, and open the door to your trusty toilet. Is the carpet soaking wet? Is water spraying onto the wall? If so, you have an RV toilet malfunction! Don’t take too long to marvel at the spectacle – now’s the time to run outside and turn the off the water to your rig. (It’s also a good time to give thanks for the fact that this didn’t happen in mid-winter when your water main was sealed in a particleboard box of fiberglass insulation!)
Water off? Good, now comes the fun part. Where’s the leak? You can feel around behind the toilet where the water line is located, but everything will be wet. The moment has come to learn how your toilet attaches to your RV. Dig out the manual, examine the figures, and read the three words of English text. Now squat down, put your face in the wet carpet, and find the “finger tightened” bolts on the underside of the unit. You can’t move them at all with your fingers, can you? Ha! Work for an hour or so with an improvised combination of sockets, pliers, and an adjustable wrench to get them off. Well done! Unscrew the water intake valve and lift the toilet up. Now that you can see the mounting plate, notice how you could have removed the unit without loosening the bolts at all, by twisting it counter-clockwise. Sucker!
Ok, so you have your toilet in your warm embrace. There may be a bit of unpleasant residue on the seal of the output junction. Take this to a certified HAZMAT facility for removal (don’t let your neighbors catch you spraying it off out back!).
Locating the leak may seem like the number one problem, but what about restoring your RV’s water supply while you search? Notice in the manual that the water intake consists of a 1/2″ threaded hose. Armed with this information, head to the Home Depot plumbing section and improvise a system of parts to both plug the detached water line in the RV, and attach a garden hose to the toilet intake. This will take some imagination.
When you get home, plug that line and turn on the water. Are the walls and floor getting wet again? If not, your idea works! Now try the system for attaching the garden hose to the toilet (do this outdoors). Crank it up. Can you see the leaking water valve? Great! Are you soaking wet? Oh, well.
Look up the faulty part online. If it costs $30 in Denver, and it costs $20 to drive to Denver, the part will be available locally for $50. Shell it out. Notice how the part, unlike the full manual, contains clear instructions. Turn your water off one last time, remove your improvised plug, and follow those instructions. Starting to feel like you know what you’re doing? You go, camper. Turn that water on, put your face in the carpet once more, and beam with pride when nary a droplet can be felt in the works. Now when you take that seat, you’ll know you’re on top of it.