Ten Cuss Job. Leaky RV Toilet Blues

SAM_6867I had been having some issues with an intermittent leak somewhere behind my toilet. It wasn’t much so I just put a rag down and watched and changed the rag once in a while. While traveling through North Carolina we went into a campground where the water was high pressure, even with our pressure reducer. We had a really bad leak then, I mean water pooling on the floor. We went back to using our pump instead of the direct hook up and the problem seemed to go away. However at this point the leak was too much to just ignore. I got that creepy “we are in for something” feeling so I started researching on line. I came across this video which explained the problem and how to fix it.

Leaky Toilet Fix

From the video I was able to figure out the problem and the spare part I needed which I ordered on line. Normally I find Amazon a bit pricey and use one of the other RV parts services but this time Amazon was the best price. Fine. Everything arrived safe and well and since the thing wasn’t leaking at that particular moment, I just kind of put it aside to deal with other more fun stuff, like walking on the beach and watching dolphins.

This morning, while doing laundry we had a small catastrophe. We ended up with water running under the bathroom wall into the bedroom and accumulating under the box we keep the dog food in. I hadn’t noticed this slow leakage before so when we pulled out the dog food box to mop up….ugh…mold. So we were in for a major cleanup with bleach and that meant hauling everything out, wiping the offending areas throughly, letting it all stand to dry. Naturally, once you start cleaning one area another demands your attention. We also decided to do the closet with the musty odour and found condensation had created more trouble, so more cleaning, more bleach and chaos and disorder spilling from the bedroom out onto the rest of the trailer. It was definitely time to fix that leak!


The instructions looked so easy. It is ever that easy? Well, in a word, no. The bolts holding the toilet down had rusted to the point that when we tried to unscrew them, all we succeeded in doing was stripping them underneath in the floor. There was no way those bolts were coming off without cutting them or breaking the toilet. That used three cusses. After considered our options, including trying to use a mirror to see in order to replace things (which did not work) we decided the sanest thing to do was to make a new access door.

That was a two person, six more cuss, job but we did it. One thing very important was to have one person making sure the saw did not do through the plumbing on the toilet side. The other thing was to get the spotter person to hold the wood panelling steady so it doesn’t bounce back and forth while the saw is doing the job. Once we had our access hatch, the rest was easy. Hubby dearest couldn’t really get a good picture as I changed the module due to the small working space, but that video I linked above shows it very well.

I could reach through, unscrew the screw and safety tab, and pull the old water module out, and replace it with the new “Thetford Water Module Replacement” The module is attached to the main plumbing with a really simply screw off/screw on end. There is an even simple small hose attachment to the water outlet on the toilet. The unit slips back in place to be held in by a tab and a single screw and then the lever stuck in. Oops, one more cuss and back up. It has to go screw on water supply, attach toilet water outlet, THEN put the hook in and after the hook is in place, do the tab and screwing in the screw is the very last thing. We tested it and we found the toilet was all fixed and working like new.

Note to RV manufacturers: Thetford makes a really great product with easy to change module. Why can’t you find a way to install the toilet without leaving only one inch clearance in back? I mean you could put it six inches out from the wall and put a shelf over it or something.

I am also left with an uneasy feeling. What will I do if I ever have to replace the entire toilet? That toilet is not coming off without a major bathroom renovation. We will have to pay someone else to do it because that fix is simply beyond us. For now, I will just hope the toilet outlasts the trailer. And we now have two holes in the wall to somehow fix. I think a hatch door is in order. That way, we can easily get in there again if we need to. I think we will donate that spare ring we didn’t use to one of the small RV repair businesses we encounter on our travels. They are always happy to take any new spare parts they know they will use and doing that invites good karma. One fellow gave us some free spare fuses for such a part.

And so job three is done. When we first arrived in Florida, the thermostat on the fridge quit and I had to change that. Then the microwave died, and today it was the toilet module. They say things come in threes. Hopefully we’re done for a while. Today, I’m off to the hardware store to find the parts we need to make the new door for our new access hatch. Unlike the additional microwave trim, which can wait until the day before we have to move, the new access must be fixed ASAP. Not only does it allow easy access to the back of the toilet, it also allows any smell immediately back into the bedroom. And it is not an acceptable way to awoken when you are the person lying in the bed and the one using the toilet is the cat.

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