RV Poop Pyramid: Causes, Fixes, and Prevention

RVing can be a great way to explore the country and experience nature. However, there are certain challenges that come with living in an RV, and one of the biggest is dealing with the black tank. The black tank is where all the waste from the RV’s toilet goes, and if it’s not managed properly, it can lead to a nasty problem known as the RV poop pyramid.

The RV poop pyramid or pyramid plug is exactly what it sounds like: a pyramid of solid waste that builds up in the black tank and can cause serious problems and odors. This occurs when too many solids accumulate in the tank and there’s not enough liquids to help flush them out or distribute them evenly throughout the tank. RVers who leave their black tank valves open while connected to full hook-up campsites are especially likely to have this problem.

Preventing the RV poop pyramid is essential for any RVer. The first step is to always keep the black tank valve closed until it’s time to dump or until the tank is at least 2/3 full. This will allow enough liquid to accumulate in the tank to help flush out the solids. Additionally, using plenty of water when flushing the toilet and adding a RV tank digester to the tank can also help prevent the formation of a poop pyramid.

What Is An RV Poop Pyramid?

Pyramid Plug
An RV poop pyramid is a pyramid-shaped buildup of solid waste in your RV’s black tank. Yuck!

RV Poop Pyramid is a buildup of solid waste in the black tank of an RV. It is called a pyramid because the waste and toilet paper form a pyramid-like shape that can cause blockages in the tank and prevent proper drainage. This can lead to clogs, unpleasant smells, and even damage to the RV’s plumbing system.

The main cause of RV Poop Pyramid is leaving the black tank valve open for extended periods. When the valve is left open, the liquid waste drains out, leaving the solid waste and toilet paper to accumulate on the bottom of the tank. Over time, the waste builds up, forming the dreaded pyramid shape that can cause issues.

Another cause of RV Poop Pyramid is using too much toilet paper or flushing inappropriate items down the toilet. This can also contribute to the buildup of solid waste in the black tank. It is important to only flush human waste and the right kind of toilet paper for RV toilets down the toilet to prevent blockages.

Here’s a great instructional video from National RV Training Academy on the ins and outs of RV poop pyramid plugs:

How Do You Know If You Have A Pyramid Plug?

It’s important to know if you have a pyramid plug in your RV black tank so you can take the necessary steps to get rid of it. The easiest way to know if you have a poop pyramid is if you have trouble emptying your black tank.

If a poop pyramid prohibits you from dumping your black tank, you’ll likely have no issue dumping your gray tank. If you can’t empty either your black or gray tanks, it’s probably not a pyramid plug that you need to worry about.

Another way to tell if you have a pyramid plug is to use a flashlight to look into the toilet bowl. If you see a pyramid-shaped blockage, then you have confirmation. You may also notice that your toilet is not flushing properly or it’s even backing up into the RV!

Don’t sit on this problem- no pun intended. Leaving it untreated can cause serious damage to your RV’s plumbing system and can lead to costly repairs.

Causes of RV Poop Pyramid

Leaving Your Black Tank Valve Open

Leaving your black tank valve open at a campground is a common cause of a camper poop pyramid. This causes solid waste to build up when the liquid waste drains right out. You should always leave your black tank closed until it’s time to dump, or until it’s at least ⅔ full. This will allow the water to mix with the waste and help prevent solids from building up.

Not Using Enough Water When You Flush

Not using enough water when you flush can create a poop pyramid. When you don’t use enough water, solids can stick to the sides of the tank and create a buildup. Try pre-filling the toilet with water before flushing solid waste.

Using The Wrong Kind Of Toilet Paper

Using the wrong kind of toilet paper can also cause a pyramid plug. Some types of toilet paper don’t break down easily and can create a blockage in your tank. It’s important to use RV-specific toilet paper or a brand that is labeled as septic-safe. These types of toilet paper break down quickly and won’t cause buildup in your tank.

Inadequate Tank Capacity

Another cause of an pyramid plug is having an inadequate tank capacity. If your black tank is too small for your RV or you have too many people using it, it can fill up quickly and cause a backup. It’s important to know your RV’s tank capacity and plan accordingly. If you frequently have a full tank, consider upgrading to a larger tank or plan on emptying it more often.

Improper Dumping Procedures

Improper dumping procedures can also contribute to an RV poop pyramid. If you don’t empty your tank completely, waste can build up and create a blockage. It’s important to empty your tank completely and rinse it out with clean water after each use to help prevent buildup.

Using the Wrong Chemicals

Using the wrong chemicals in your tank can also cause pyramid plugs to develop. Some chemicals can kill the bacteria in your tank that break down waste, which can lead to buildup. It’s important to use chemicals that are specifically designed for RV black tanks and follow their instructions.

Lack of Regular Tank Maintenance

A lack of regular tank maintenance can also contribute to the RV poop pyramid. If you don’t clean your tank regularly, waste can build up and create a blockage. It’s important to clean your RV black tank at least once a month and use a tank treatment to help break down waste and prevent buildup.

How To Get Rid Of An RV Poop Pyramid

how to get rid of rv poop pyramid

Getting rid of an RV poop pyramid requires a bit of elbow grease and some patience. Here are the steps to follow:

  1. Determine if your RV toilet is clogged: First, you need to determine if your toilet itself is clogged. Sometimes a pyramid plug can build up all the way to the toilet flange, which means your toilet will not flush. If your toilet is clogged, unclog it first.
  2. Close the black tank valve: Close the black tank valve to prevent any more waste from entering the tank.
  3. Add water to the black tank: Add water to the black tank to help break up the pyramid. You can use a tank wand or a garden hose to add water through the toilet.
  4. Add chemicals: Add chemicals to the black tank to help break down the waste. You can use a commercial tank cleaner or a homemade solution of baking soda and vinegar.
  5. Let it sit: Let the chemicals and water sit in the tank for overnight (or ideally about 72 hours) to allow them to break down the waste and soften the pyramid.
  6. Use a tank wand: Use a tank wand to break up the pyramid and flush it out of the tank. You may need to repeat this step several times until the pyramid is completely gone.
  7. Flush the tank: Once the pyramid is gone, flush the tank with plenty of water using a backflusher or rinsing wand for between twenty and thirty minutes to ensure all waste is removed.
  8. Prevent future pyramids: Use the prevention steps we outlined earlier in this guide to ensure this nasty problem doesn’t happen again.

By following these steps, you can get rid of an RV pyramid plug and prevent it from happening in the future.

Check out our other helpful RV repair and troubleshooting guides while you’re here:

How to Clear a Blockage in an RV Holding Tank

Can You Dump Gray Water on the Ground?

Should You Use Dawn Dish Soap in RV Black Tanks?

6 Easy Fixes for RV Toilet Not Holding Water

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