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Are RV Toilets Supposed To Hold Water?

If you have an RV with fully functioning water tanks, you might have questions about your plumbing. You may want to take a shower or use the bathroom as normal. Are RV toilets supposed to hold water?

The answer is yes and no. Some toilets can hold water and other types may not. However, unlike regular toilets, some types of RV toilets won’t hold a lot of water. So it is important to consider how much water you are using while your tanks are filled. Conversing water is important, especially when you do not have a designated water hookup as you would find at a campground.

Now that you know the answer to this question, we can go into a more in-depth explanation of why it is normal to hold water in an RV toilet. But it should not stay in the toilet itself all the time. Especially if you are not using the RV itself. To learn more about using and maintaining your RV toilet, keep reading.

Types Of RV Toilets

There are four different types of toilets that we will look at. These include the traditional gravity flush toilet, portable camping toilet, cassette toilet, and composting toilet. Which of these toilets will use water from your tank (and which ones will not)?

However, you may prefer one out of the other for personal reasons or ease of use. Let’s take a look at each toilet type up close:

Traditional Gravity Flush RV Toilets

This type of toilet will operate just like a regular toilet. It will hold water, but it won’t hold as much compared to a standard toilet you’d find in your home. These can be used in one of the following two ways: it will need to be connected to an external water source such as a water hookup from a campsite. Or it can be connected to a water pump, which will originate from your holding tank.

Another thing that is distinct between RV and standard home toilets is the flush handle. The RV toilets will have a foot pedal that will be used for flushing. You can pull it up or press it halfway down to fill the water tank.

You will be using less water than usual. But the longer you flush it, the more water you use. So be sure to engage the flush in a short amount of time in order to conserve water.

As a rule of thumb, hold the flush up or down for about a couple of seconds (and nothing longer than that). Regardless of the size of your tank, water conservation is important. This is the most common type of toilet that is found in RVs.

Composting Toilets

This is the type of RV toilet that does not use water. If you are in a camping area where there is no water supply or dumping area available, this is your best option. Contrary to popular belief, composting toilets will not emit an odor so long as it is used properly.

It is one of the best environmentally friendly options you can find. And best of all, you won’t be wasting water at all. Not a bad choice, when you think about it.

Granted, not all RV toilets are supposed to hold water because of the type it is. A composting toilet is a good example of this. You deal with no waste water mess, nor deal with any clogging.

But you will deal with some issues such as a hefty price tag, frequent emptying of tanks that contain urine, and complicated overall use. But if you know how to use it properly, it shouldn’t be a problem to use it during your RV road trips.

Portable Camping Toilets

This is a toilet that won’t contain water. When emptying these, you are basically emptying raw sewage. That’s because there are no black tanks or separation between solids and liquids. Simply put, it’s one of the least favorite choices that are available.

Granted, they do use water. But the problem is that the amount of water is miniscule. And you may not be able to hold water in the toilet itself.

Cassette Toilets

These are toilets that you’ll find in smaller RV vans. Like the portable camping toilets, there is little water used and the holding tank is quite small. And the dumping process isn’t that pretty.

Before you ask, no these toilets do not hold any water most of the time. When using these, it will feel like nothing like the toilets you normally use at home. At this point, you already may have a good idea of which type of toilet that you want to use in your RV (and for good reason).

If you are using an RV van or something similar, you may want to consider relying on rest stops or the outdoors itself (if that is more of your thing).

How Much Water Do I Need To Fill The Bowl?

If you are using an RV toilet, you should consider filling up the bowl with no more than two inches of water before use. This should be enough water for a good flush. After use, be sure to keep a few inches in the toilet (without the risk of overflow), this will ensure that an odor barrier is in place.

Final Thoughts

It is possible for RV toilets to hold water. But that will only apply specifically to one type of toilet. Otherwise, if you are using some of the others, you may not be using any water at all. And that can spell disaster for you if they are not used or disposed of properly.


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