The RV Poop Pyramid: What It Is & How To Get Rid Of It

RVers beware: the RV poop pyramid and how to get rid of it

If you’re squeamish, buckle up! Today we’re talking about one of the greatest fears of RVers everywhere: the RV poop pyramid. Those 3 words are enough to incite anxiety in even the most experienced RVers.. And soon you’ll learn why! 

And if you’re the unlucky soul who landed on this article because you are facing an RV poop pyramid yourself, take a deep breath. We’re going to work it out together! 

Although no one ever wants to have to deal with this crappy situation, many RVers will. Luckily, you can take care of it yourself without too much mess or having to pay someone else. Unfortunately, it is a somewhat long and involved process. 

But you can do it! Without further ado, let’s get into it. 

PS – if you have a RV pyramid plug and want to get rid of it, skip right to the “how to get rid of an RV poop pyramid” section for step-by-step instructions. 

In this article, you’ll learn:

  • What an RV poop pyramid is
  • What causes it
  • How to treat and get rid of it
  • How to prevent it from ever happening (or ever happening again)!

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What is an RV Poop Pyramid (aka Pyramid Plug)

An RV poop pyramid is pretty much exactly what it sounds like: a pyramid of poo and toilet paper in your RV black tank. It’s wide at the base and builds up over time, forming a pyramid that can sometimes block your RV toilet flap! 

Pyramid plugs are not only gross, they’re a gigantic clog waiting to happen. Over time, the waste and toilet paper dries out and solidifies. They can cause clogs when they get so tall they block your toilet flange. Or, they cause clogs when they break apart and cover your RV black tank drain opening. 

While talking about human bodily waste might feel revolting to some people, it’s just a fact of life. And for RVers, it’s a fact of life that we have to consciously think about and deal with every day. Living in a house with a plumbing system gives people the luxury to not think about it… but for us RVers, it’s just a casual campfire conversation! 

Related: RV Plumbing System Basics: Ultimate Guide to RV Plumbing

What Causes a Pyramid Plug? 

The number one cause of an RV poop pyramid plug is leaving your black tank gate valve open at a campground. 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 at least ⅔ full! 

The luxury of having full hookups at a campground is so you don’t have to worry about dumping… right? Well, not exactly. 

It’s perfectly safe, fine, and acceptable to leave your RV gray tank valve open when you’re on full hookups. However, leaving your black tank open causes major problems–like the RV poop pyramid. 

When you leave your black tank open at a campground, all the liquids (urine and water) drain out, down the sewer hose and into your campsite sewer hookup. 

The solids (poo and toilet paper) stay in the tank though. And without liquid, they dry out, harden, and build up. 

RVHQ Pro Tip: Always leave your black tank closed until it’s at least ⅔ full, then dump and rinse and close again.

How to Tell if Your RV Has a Poop Pyramid

There are a couple of ways to tell if your RV has a poop pyramid. First, if you have been leaving your black tank open and you now have a clog and can’t empty your black tank, it’s safe to assume you have a poop pyramid.

Sometimes, if the pyramid is large enough, you will be able to see it by using a flashlight and looking into your toilet while stepping on the pedal to hold the flap open. 

If you have no troubles emptying your gray tank but your black tank is not dumping, you definitely have some type of waste and/or toilet paper clog. 

Even if it’s not a pyramid, the steps to solve the problem are the same. Sometimes, waste and toilet paper build up on the sides of the tank and block the sensors. You can get rid of dried poop in your RV tank with the same methods you’d use to get rid of a poop pyramid.

How To Get Rid of RV Poop Pyramid

Fully dissolving your RVs poop pyramid or black tank clog can take several days and may require repeated treatments. 

If you have a camping trip coming up (or you’re in the middle of one), you will need to use the campground bathroom or get a portable camping toilet. Don’t use your RV toilet while treating a poop pyramid or black tank clog.

Let’s dive into the step-by-step instructions to get rid of an RV poop pyramid. 

Supplies Needed:

Time needed: 3 days and 4 hours

Step By Step Instructions to Get Rid of RV Poop Pyramid

  1. Determine if your RV toilet is clogged, unclog if necessary.

    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 this is the case, turn off the fresh water supply to your toilet. There should be a valve behind the toilet to shut off your fresh water. 

    Then, hold down the pedal to open the flap and use a long, rigid device to try and clear the toilet pipe. You can do this with a PEX pipe or old broomstick you can throw away. Try poking down the toilet hole to make a route for water to flow.

     You need to be able to get water and tank treatment into your tank via your toilet.

  2. Close the black tank gate valve.

    Once you know you have an open water-draining route through your toilet, be sure your black tank gate valve is closed.

  3. Add an entire bottle of RV Digest-It holding tank treatment.

    Pour an entire bottle of RV Digest-It holding tank treatment into the black tank via your RV toilet. 

    Why we Recommend RV Digest It: RV Digest-It is an effective and eco-friendly way to break down RV black tank clogs and remove odors. It uses bacteria and enzymes that feed on waste, liquifying it so it drains easily. It’s effective on all brands of toilet paper, too!

  4. Fill your black tank with water.

    After you pour an entire bottle of RV Digest-It tank treatment in, fill your RV black tank with water. 

    You can do this with a hose into your toilet, or you can turn the fresh water back on and hold down the toilet pedal until the black tank is full. 

    RV Digest-It is made up of natural enzymes and bacteria that feed on the waste and the clog, so it works best in temperatures between 40 and 80 degrees. 

  5. Let it sit for a minimum of 72 hours.

    Here’s the tough part – you have to let the tank treatment and full tank of water sit for a minimum of 72 hours. 

    This isn’t our suggestion! It comes directly from the manufacturer. 

    “No amount of time is too long for Unique Tank Cleaner to work, but we typically recommend at least 72 hours.”

    – Unique Camping + Marine

  6. Drain your RV black tank.

    After 72 hours, hook up your RV sewer hose and drain your RV black tank. 

  7. Rinse your RV black tank for a minimum of 30 minutes.

    After your black tank is drained, it’s time to rinse your black tank for at least 30 minutes–continuously. 

    You can rinse your RV black tank using your built-in RV black tank flush. Or, if you don’t have a black tank flush, you can use the Camco Swivel Stick Tank Cleaner

    To use this cleaner, hook it up to a non-potable water house. Next, turn off the fresh water supply to your toilet. Step on the pedal and open the toilet flange and insert the swivel stick tank cleaner down your toilet. Turn on the water and move the swivel stick around to rinse your black tank for 30 minutes.

  8. Fill and drain your black tank and look for these signs.

    After rinsing your tank for 30 minutes, close the gate valve and fill it up with fresh water. Be sure your clear attachment is connected to your RV sewer hose, and drain the tank. 

    As you drain the tank, watch the clear attachment and make note of the color of the water as well as how much debris you see coming out of the black tank. 

    You may still see a lot of debris, and if so, that’s okay! You can fill and drain the tank again. Sometimes, you may need to repeat the entire process.

  9. Repeat process if necessary.

    If you still suspect that there is a clog in your black tank, you may need to repeat the entire process again. Whether you can see it, the tank isn’t draining correctly, or you just have a sneaking suspicion–treating it again won’t hurt!

How to Prevent an RV Poop Pyramid

Now that you know how to treat an RV pyramid, you know it’s not an easy or quick process. Here’s how to prevent one from ever happening so you never have to deal with it! (Or never have to deal with it AGAIN)

Always Keep Your Black Tank Closed Until Time to Dump

This is the most important factor in preventing an RV poop pyramid: always keep your black tank closed until it’s time to dump, and at least ⅔ full. Yes, even if you’re at a full hookup campsite!

Once you notice your black tank getting full, shut your gray tank gate valve. This will give you a day or two to fill your gray tank. It’s important to dump your gray tank after you dump your black tank to rinse out your sewer hose!

If you’re only camping for a weekend and your black tank won’t get very full, you should still keep the tank closed. 

Before you leave your campground, fill your black tank with fresh water by holding down the toilet flusher. This will put enough water in the tank to help remove all solid waste when you dump before you leave camp.

Use Your Black Tank Flush and Clean Your Black Tank Often

We recommend cleaning your black tank every time you dump it. After you dump your tank, use the black tank flush (or a black tank cleaning wand) to rinse the tank for 10-15 minutes. 

Afterwards, fill up the tank and drain it, using a clear attachment to watch for debris. If you still see a lot of debris, rinse it again.

After dumping and rinsing your black tank, close the valve and then add a few gallons of fresh water and 2-4oz of RV Digest-It to prime the tank.

Use RV-Specific Toilet Paper

While RV-specific toilet paper might seem like a marketing gimmick, it’s actually essential if you want to avoid RV toilet and black tank clogs. 

If you have a favorite brand of toilet paper that you just can’t part with, you can still use it! Just don’t put it down your RV toilet. 

In our RV, we have a special trash can with a lid in our RV bathroom just for disposing of toilet paper. 

RVHQ Pro Tip: Never put anything other than waste and RV-specific toilet paper into a toilet. Dispose of all menstruation products into a trash receptacle instead!

Use a Eco-Friendly Holding Tank Treatment

A holding tank treatment like RV Digest-It isn’t just for breaking up clogs! We recommend it for ongoing maintenance. 

After each time you dump your black tank, close the valve and add a few gallons of water to your toilet by holding down the flush pedal. Then, pour in 2-4oz of RV Digest-It treatment before using your toilet again. 

This will help break down waste until the next time you need to dump your toilet. 

2oz of RV Digest-It treats up to a 40 gallon sized tank.

And, since it’s all natural, it will not damage your RV tanks, plumbing, or local campground septic systems.

Unique RV Digest It

Enzymatic RV Black Tank Treatment

  • Natural enzymes and bacteria turn solid waste into liquid
  • Works on all types of toilet paper
  • Will not damage your RV tanks

Flush With Plenty of Water

The key to avoiding poop pyramids and clogs in your black tank is to flush with plenty of water. Liquid is the solution to keep everything moving and adds enough force to drain all the waste out of the tank!

Add plenty of water to your toilet bowl before going to the bathroom. Then, when you flush, hold down the pedal to allow extra water to flow into the tank. 

You may end up filling your black tank faster than you used to, but the liquid is essential to keeping things flowing smoothly – literally. 

The main key to preventing clogs and a poop pyramid from happening in the first place is to learn how your RV toilet works and how to properly maintain it.

Pro tip: if you really want to avoid a poop pyramid or ever having to deal with your black tank again, consider swapping out your regular RV toilet for an RV composting toilet.

Wrapping Up

By now, you know why an RV poop pyramid is every RVers greatest fear. 

It stinks, both literally and figuratively. 

And no matter if you’re a full-time RVer or a part-time RV camper, not being able to use your RV toilet for 72 hours while you treat the clog is not an ideal situation! 

Luckily, it’s pretty easy to avoid an RV poop pyramid. Just keep your black tank closed until it’s time to dump, be sure there’s plenty of liquid in the tank at all times, and rinse your tank after each dump. 

And if you find yourself facing a poop pyramid, don’t feel bad. No one tells you that you should keep your black tank closed–and that’s why so many RVers face this problem. But if that’s you, now you know. And you can help other RVers avoid the problem by spreading the word… You can even share this article!

RVing Headquarters Team

RVing Headquarters is operated by long-time RV enthusiasts with over 8 years of RV industry expertise and full-time and part-time RV ownership experience. From motorhomes to trailers and campervans, we've done it all. Our Mission: to inspire, educate, and entertain anyone who is interested in the RV lifestyle.

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