A toilet frozen in mobile home is one of my worst fears when camping in winter. After doing my business, can I flush my toilet if my pipes are frozen?
Yes, you can flush the toilet as long as it’s just the bathroom pipes that are frozen. You’ll need lots of water from an external source to clean the toilet after you have used all the water from the tank. If you have frozen drain pipes, it’s difficult to flush because the water will only go back up.
Let’s discuss the causes, effects, and solutions of frozen pipes below.
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Can Cold Weather Affect Toilet Flushing?
A toilet not flushing due to cold weather is a common issue. When the temperature starts to drop to 32 degrees Fahrenheit, the freshwater lines are the most likely to freeze. The water lines freeze faster if you install them outside the RV without proper insulation.
It’s pretty inconvenient when you have a toilet water supply line frozen. You can use the water already stored in the toilet tank, but it will be for a single flush only. After that, you can’t use the toilet tank for flushing because it can’t be refilled with fresh water.
In some cases, the cold weather can freeze the drain pipe or usually the trap inside the toilet. When you have a frozen toilet drain pipe, flushing is impossible because the exit way is technically blocked. The water you’ll flush will only return to the surface and may cause a messy overflow.
Can Frozen Pipes Cause Toilet Clog?
A toilet line frozen at the drain pipe can cause a clog. A block of ice can block the pathway where the water can exit from the toilet. When you pour more water into the clogged toilet, it will only cause the contents to spill over.
One way to fix frozen toilet pipes is to pour salt and boiling water into them. The hot water will try to melt the ice while the abrasiveness of the salt can remove the small ice particles. When doing this, make sure that your pipes are made of PEX because they can handle hot temperatures.
How to Flush Toilet When Pipes Are Frozen
You can flush toilet with frozen pipes, assuming it’s just the water lines that experience blockage.
- Since the toilet tank will be empty after flushing with its stored water, you can replenish it manually. Open the tank and fill it with water from an external source, then hit the flush handle or pedal.
- Another way is to pour buckets of water directly into the bowl. Your RV toilet needs at least ½ gallon of water to flush after each use. As much as possible, use no more than two gallons because the black tank is small and gets full easily.
How to Tell if Toilet Pipes Are Frozen?
Before applying a fix, you have to make sure that the toilet pipes are really frozen. Here are some signs that your toilet pipes are frigid cold.
- No Water: One indicator that you have a frozen toilet pipe is the lack of water when you use the faucet because frost is blocking the flow of water. The toilet can also be empty because water can’t flow in and refill it.
- Cracks Or Signs Of Damage: A freezing toilet can put a strain on the pipes, making them show cracks or deformation. If the ice has become too large, you might see a bulge on the pipe.
- Frost: One obvious manifestation of ice is frost. If you see that the pipe has developed some frost, then it’s probably frozen. A frozen pipe also feels very cold to the touch.
Tips to Thaw Frozen Toilet Pipes
A toilet won’t flush frozen pipe issue has an easy fix. You need to apply gentle heat slowly to prevent further damage to the pipes. Also, open the faucets to prevent the pipes from bursting due to pressure buildup.
Here are some tools that can help you thaw a frozen toilet pipe.
- Hair Dryer: This hair-drying device can help you thaw a small part of your frozen toilet tank or pipe in a pinch. You can use it on all types of pipes because the heat is gentle. If you don’t mind the noise, use the highest setting to thaw more quickly, but move the device across different pipe sections.
- Heat Gun: A more powerful device for thawing a frozen pipe is a heat gun. Make sure that your pipes are made of metal because the high heat might melt a PVC pipe.
- Propane Heater: If the frozen pipes are located underneath the camper, you can thaw them more effectively with a portable propane heater. Make sure that you position the heater away from flammable materials because they can produce a powerful heat wave.
- Heat Tape: The safest heating option is the heat tape because it’s built with a thermostat to help cut off the power when the temperature rises to dangerous levels.
Tips to Keep Toilet Pipes From Freezing
The best way to keep toilet from freezing is to apply the right prevention. You might need to purchase most of the items here, but they’re worthy of investment because you can be worry-free every winter.
- Use antifreeze in toilet to prevent freezing. This process can be time-consuming. You have to empty all the tanks and bypass the inline water filters before adding the solution to the toilet, drain pipes, and holding tanks.
- Skirt the RV to protect the pipes underneath the vehicle from freezing from the cold air. You can use plywood, vinyl, or insulation boards for skirting the RV.
- To keep the holding tanks from freezing, you can use a heating blanket to cover them. You can also use pipe heating cables to warm the pipes in the winter.
- Open the faucets a little to let a trickle of water flow. Running the water through cold exposed pipes can prevent them from freezing.
Frequently Asked Questions
How long do pipes take to unfreeze?
It takes about 30-40 minutes to unfreeze toilet pipes using a heat source. When the pipes are enclosed, it can take longer than an hour. Once the pipes have frozen, check for leaks because they could lead to more serious problems.
Will a toilet break if it freezes?
Yes, a toilet can break when exposed to extreme cold, especially if you use cheap PVC or copper piping. Unless you’re using flexible PEX tubing, the frozen water can expand and burst the pipes.
The toilet tank can also break, especially if it has water trapped inside. When that water freezes, it expands and cracks the tank as it exerts a very high pressure.
By now, you should know the answer to the question “Can I flush my toilet if my pipes are frozen?” It takes a lot of risks, especially if your drain pipes are the ones frozen. To save yourself the worries, winterize your RV and try to prevent the toilet from freezing.
Share with us your experiences with frozen pipes in the comment section below. To help others with the same query, share this article with your friends.
Related: 5 Possible Causes Why You Have Noisy Pipes When Flushing Toilet.