It’s a pretty awful feeling when you pull the waste valve to dump your tank, and nothing happens, especially if you know your tanks aren’t empty.
This likely means you have a clog in your plumbing system, and you won’t be emptying your tanks until you fix the issue.
One of the first questions we hear from RVers in this situation is, “Can I use Drano in my RV?” There’s quite a debate, but let’s look and see!
About Drano (and Why It Might Damage Your RV Plumbing)
Drano is a chemical product that many people turn to when they experience a clog in their plumbing system. It eats away and decomposes blockages in pipes. Once It does its job, a rush of water can finish the job by pushing the remaining chunks through your plumbing system.
Drano’s job is to create heat and eat away at anything that gets in its way, and it’s good at its job. An RV’s plumbing system typically uses a lot of plastic pipes and rubber seals to function properly.
These naturally fail over time due to normal wear and tear while RVing. However, using Drano can accelerate the wear and tear on these sensitive components.
The Consequences of Using Drano in Your RV
Using Drano sparingly in a newer RV will likely not have severe consequences. However, no matter how old or new your RV is, you can cause severe damage if you’re regularly using it.
The rubber seals in your waste valves and other sensitive components can experience premature wear and tear due to the Drano.
We don’t recommend using Drano in an RV or travel trailer.
If you’re regularly using Drano in your RV, you must discover what is causing your RV to experience clogs regularly. It could be something simple as using the wrong toilet paper, not using enough water in your system, or putting food and other substances that are hard to break down in your tank.
Adjusting how you’re using your system can prevent clogs in the first place.
Pro Tip: RVer Beware! Keep your plumbing system in perfect condition with this advice on how not to Neglect Your Black Tank Flush.
How to Safely Remove a Clog in Your RV
There are a few things we think you should try before you go putting harsh chemicals like Drano into your RV’s plumbing system.
These are typically safer alternatives and help avoid putting your RV in a potentially risky situation.
Use Boiling Water
A relatively easy hack for unclogging your black tank is to dump boiling water into your tank. The hot water can accelerate the breaking down of solids in your tank, which free any clogs in your system. It’s best to do this a gallon at a time and let the water cool down for a minute before dumping it into your tank.
If you don’t get the results you’re hoping for, try this a handful of times. Be mindful that adding too much boiling water in an RV’s plumbing system with aging or plastic tanks can cause issues. You don’t want to create a larger problem when unclogging your system.
Try an Enzyme Based Drain Cleaner
Using an enzyme-based drain cleaner can help eat away at the solids causing the clog. This is a more natural method that breaks down the oil and grease molecules.
Many of these cleaners will release fatty acids to lower the pH level in your system and typically eliminate odors and clogs within hours of adding.
Mix Baking Soda And Vinegar
Using natural ingredients like baking soda and vinegar can do the job just as well as expensive and harsh chemicals. The major difference is that baking soda and vinegar are cheap and won’t cause any issues for your RV.
You’ll first want to pour half a cup of baking soda down the clogged drain. Let the baking soda sit in the drain for 15 to 20 minutes. Then, pour half a cup of white vinegar.
Watch for the fizzing to stop, and then pour approximately half a gallon of boiling water. If all goes well, turn on the faucet to run another half a gallon of water through the drain.
Is It Ever Okay to Use Drano in Your RV Drains?
We don’t recommend ever using Drano in your RV drains, and most RVers agree. However, some companies make products that are thought to be safe for RV plumbing systems.
If you have a newer RV or one in great condition, using Drano on a stubborn clog likely won’t cause much harm. However, using too much Drano or exposing your sensitive seals and other components to it for too long can severely damage your plumbing system.
We’d recommend going the natural route and working your way up the risk ladder. You may even want to hire a professional before using Drano.
Pro Tip: Keep all the water in your RV clean and drinkable with these tips on How to Clean Your RV Fresh Water Tank.
Preventing a Clog in Your RV Plumbing
The key to battling clogs in your RV plumbing is avoiding them in the first place. Avoid letting chunks of food go down the drains in your RV. You should also always use generous amounts of water with each flush. Having a generous amount of water in your plumbing system can help dissolve the solids and avoid clogs.
Err on the Side of Caution
Some RVers are risk-takers and swear they’ve used Drano for years and never had a single problem. On the other hand, many RVers state they’ll never consider Drano a viable option for helping them with a clog. We wouldn’t take the risk and wouldn’t recommend it either. Minimizing risks is typically the best way to keep you and your RV on the road.
Would you use Drano in your RV? Drop a comment below!
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