Saturday, February 4, 2023


How to remove surprise blockage in RV toilet drain pipe


gary-736Dear Gary,
How do I retrieve a toilet cleaning brush, approximately 14 inches long, from the toilet-to-holding tank sewer pipe? The brush fell down the toilet and appears to have wedged inside the pipe causing clogging which fills up the pipe. Very little waste is making it to the holding tank. The pipe length from the bottom of the toilet to the entry to the holding tank is approximately two feet and has a 45-degree angle. Help! —Robert H.

Dear Robert,
It’s literally impossible for that cleaning brush to ever get past that first 45-degree elbow in the toilet drain. In this instance, it’s actually a good thing your toilet drain has that bend in it. If it was a straight drop from the toilet into the holding tank, it would be more difficult retrieving it from the holding tank itself. 

You’ll simply have to cut through the 3-inch ABS drain pipe a few inches above or below the uppermost 45-degree elbow fitting. You may have to sacrifice the brush itself in doing so, but chances are you wouldn’t be using that brush again anyway! Depending on how easy it is to flex either the upper or lower section of the drain pipe after the first cut, it may also be necessary to make an additional cut in the ABS piping on the opposite side of the elbow. Making two cuts will enable you to remove that section with the brush completely and then easily remove and discard it.

Then simply cement two, 3-inch ABS couplers to reconnect the toilet drain piping. It may be difficult to install the second coupling if there’s not much give to the drain pipes. If that is the case, it may be easier to install a Calder-style coupler (see photo), instead of a glued-in fitting. A worst-case situation may mandate removing toilet and floor flange in order to reassemble all the pieces correctly.

It’s amazing what gets dropped down the toilet and into the holding tank, none of which is a good thing. As you found out, it definitely causes blockage issues. I even had one reader wonder how to remove a set of dentures from the solid waste holding tank! Yikes!

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5 years ago

Think I would try a good ol piece of baling wire with a hook bent n the end before cutting any pipes – KISS!!!

5 years ago

Had the same thing happen to us. I used a flexible bore scope with a large rubber band tied to the end when I could see the rubber band drop over the end of the brush I twisted the camera scope and wound the band around the brush handle. Pulled it right out.

5 years ago

You may also be able to get it out with a plumber’s snake, the kind that has a spiral/spring on the end that will wrap up the bristles on the brush. If you can’t see down the pipe, there are inexpensive USB flexible bore scopes that connect to your cell phone or laptop computer so you can see what is happening with the snake.

Al & Sharon
5 years ago

Before cutting into the pipe, I would buy a flexible grabber like this from

You might be able to grab the brush handle.

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