Seacocks and Spelunking

Jan 25

It’s a funny thing when you tell people you’re going to be RVing full-time. They tend to assume your life will now be margaritas on the beach 24/7. They think of the best times they’ve had in an RV, or, even more likely, the pictures they’ve seen in magazines, and they think that’s the lifestyle.


Well, just like anything else in life, it’s part of the lifestyle. But there’s still regular old life that happens, too.

Case in point: clogged toilets. This new Airstream of ours has a macerating toilet, which means it shreds up the “contents” of the toilet before it flushes them into the black water tank. I’m not sure why this is considered a useful feature. Perhaps one of you readers can tell me. But I will tell you this. The goddamn macerator gets clogged at the drop of a hat. Oh, this also means our toilet is an electric toilet and anytime the macerator has to strain in the tiniest bit it blows a fuse.

Yes, you read that last line correctly: Our toilet regularly blows a fuse.

You can buy special RV toilet tissue that’s quite expensive but promises to flush and break up easily. It’s pretty much tissue paper. We’d heard that any toilet paper that was labeled “septic safe” would work, so we bought a roll of “septic safe” Scott 2-ply. This was the first time we discovered what owning a macerating toilet was really all about.  It spun that “septic-safe” 2-ply paper into cotton rope and jammed up good.

Learning that lesson, we reverted to regular ol’ Scott one-ply. Problem solved. Except, if you use too much it still sometimes blows a fuse.

Now to last night: I was very tired and cleaning my face with a disposable face wipe.  I absent-mindedly threw it in the toilet and flushed. The toilet immediately made the loud buzzing/roaring sound that we now know means the macerator’s jammed.

“What did you do this time?” Chris asked from the bed.

Here’s some free marital advice: Never ask that question to your spouse.


We went to sleep and figured we’d deal with it in the morning.  The Sealand 8100 Series MasterFlush™ manual says to clear a clogged macerator you must “close seacocks and clear foreign material.” After we finished snickering at the word “seacocks” we realized that this manual assumes that the toilet is in a boat.



We called a local RV repairman, who said he might be available this afternoon but if he couldn’t reach the clog he’d have to remove the toilet. Sounded kinda expensive, so we said we’d try it ourselves, first.  Since it was my error, and my hands are smaller, I got to be the spelunker.


Fortunately, the face wipe was within reach and I was able to pull it out by hand.  But I really, really don’t want to do that again.

The moral of the story is this: Wash your face early so you don’t have to go spelunking in your own toilet.


  1. Leslie, good marital advice! Happily married for almost 45 yrs, we don’t overthink Anything…just do it. We have a division of duties that we kind of fell into over the years. Hubby does heavy duty stuff: chopping firewood (felling trees), building houses, driving an RV or pulling a trailer for miles and miles and I do the sewer dumping, irradiation of varmints in and out of the house, and cooking…usually not all at the same time. I empathize with your instinctive toss 🙂

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