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How To Unclog RV Kitchen Sink (HANDY Tips For Your Van)

RV Kitchen Sink unclogging

RV sinks can be clogged when you wash food, dirt and residue down the drain of this kitchen sink. Here’s how to unclog RV kitchen sink.

This situation can occur because of a faulty drain valve or some other components of your sink set-up. For instance, a faulty drain valve could move as though it is open while the internal gate remains shut.

The most critical factor is finding the cause of clogging RV sink and resolving it immediately before the clogging worsens. For instance, basic remedies like using hot water or a mild chemical could suffice if the clogging is just beginning.

However, you need plungers, augers, or drain shakes to fix a clogged RV sink. For others, using a flush valve becomes the ideal thing to do. In this article. you’ll learn more about how to unclog an RV sink.


5 Steps to Unclog RV Kitchen Sink

As an RV sink user, it becomes essential for you to unclog your kitchen sink in the safest possible way. This implies that while it is essential to unblock the kitchen sink, it is also crucial to maintain the RV’s integrity.

So, here is a step-by-step process for freeing up your RV kitchen sink:

Step 1: Thrust a Long Rod Into the RV Drainpipe

These drainpipes vary from domestic pipes in design and purpose, so you cannot use the same procedures as home basins.

Nonetheless, utilizing this rod is quite helpful in taking out the clogged substances from your RV drainpipe.

The long rod consists of soft tissue that goes into the drainpipe and gently takes out the clogging. Pushing the rod into the pipe forward and backward repeatedly while adding water cleans the pipe. 

Step 2: Add a Cleaning Agent

RV kitchen sinks are frangible and carry a design different from most other sinks. For instance, it has plastic pipes that are quite fragile and sensitive to harsh chemicals. So, you shouldn’t use cleaning agents with caustic soda, which can damage the plastic pipes.

Use environment-friendly cleaners by putting them in the filter or mixing them with fresh water and adding them to the sinks.

The cleaning agent should do two or three liters when there is enormous clogging. Then, wash the pipes with much water for 20 to 30 minutes.

Step 3: Wash Your RV Pipes Using Vinegar And Salt

A salt and vinegar solution is beneficial in fixing RV kitchen sinks clogged with food and dirt. First, add four gallons of warm water to a bucket, then add seven teaspoons of salt and a liter of vinegar. Vigorously mix the solution and allow it to stand for a while.

Next, add little proportions of the solution into the pipelines and sink drains. But ensure to keep the flow at a minimal level because breaking the clogging takes a while.

Then, thoroughly wash the pipes and inspect how the water drains into the wastewater tank. And if the flow is okay, halt the addition of the vinegar and salt solution. 

Step 4: Clean Through the Drain Fitting Device

Drain-fitting devices have unique designs that allow for the opening of kitchen sinks. The tools are pretty expensive and need soft handling, so employ a pro if you do not know how to use them.

One of their peculiar features is the spiral at the RV sink pipe’s extreme ends. A cable inside the device also draws to almost nine inches. 

So, place the cable in the clogged compartment and draw it until it hooks. Now this signifies that clogs are present at this close of the pipe.

Fold it a little and push it on the clog till it parts. So, push the cable through the other end and repeat this process. Next, add a lot of fresh water to clean off the clogged substances.

Step 5: Use Salt, Bolding Water, and Baking Soda to Eliminate Grease

A kitchen sink drain usually gathers grease when washing utensils with tons of oil. So, this phenomenon makes the water flow backward and collect close to the sink’s upper opening. 

So, put three tiny cups of baking soda into the pipe, add 1.5 cups of cooking salt, and then wait for ten minutes. Next, pour a bucket of boiling water into the drain to mix the salt and baking soda. 

The solution removed the grease clogging from the RV sink drain pipes. And this allows the sticky substance to flow into the gray tank. 

Why is RV Sink Not Draining?

Several reasons account for why an RV sink may not be draining. And this problem can be less complicated, than the accumulation of dirt. On the other hand, the problem can be more unexpected. Here are three reasons why this happens:

1. Accumulation Of Dirt And Food

As you clean your plates each day, there is a continued accumulation of dirt and food in the drain pipe. As food and dirt particles flow down, others pass through the pipe while others stick to the pipe’s walls.

This phenomenon prevents your RV sink from draining and grows worse if you do nothing about it.

These food and dirt particles also aid the growth of living organisms, making the clogging process easier and faster.

2. Clogged Roof Vent

Most recreational vehicles have a vent affixed with the plumbing that stands on top of the roof. With time, debris enters this vent, or insects begin to live in them, building their homes there.

But if this vent isn’t functional, your RV sink would not drain. So, this phenomenon occurs when the pipes become obstructed with either debris or insects, draining slows or halts entirely.

When you connect your RV sink with municipal water, you will observe significant variations from when you dry-camp. 

3. Filled Gray Water Tank

Your RV sink can fail to drain when the gray tank gets filled. Gray tanks are tanks for holding kitchen wastewater. So, water sometimes flows back from these tanks through the drain placed in the lowest position when the tanks fill up. 

Can You Use Drano in Your RV Sink?

You should not use Drano or any caustic drain cleaners in your RV sink. And this is because it can damage your RV system’s pipes.

In addition, Drano and other caustic drain cleaners could damage the rubber enclosures on the dump valves. This cleaner can also damage the wastewater holding tanks.

Caustic drain cleaners cause premature wear and tear to the rubber components of your seal valves. You would also put other sensitive parts at risk with the use of these drain cleaners, such as Drano.

So, despite the need to go aggressive when unclogging RV kitchen sinks, using other more friendly cleaners is advisable.

What to Use to Unclog a Drain in RV?

The best solutions you can use to unclog a drain in an RV are relatively mild solutions. These do not kill helpful microorganisms in the plumbing system and do not destroy the RV’s components.

Baking Soda And Vinegar

Vinegar is a widely-used cleaning agent that effectively deals with foul smells in your RV system.

Sprinkling a 50:50 solution of vinegar and baking soda down your drain works quite well. However, it takes some time to feel the effects.

Green Gobbler Enzyme

It is an enzyme-rooted cleaner that cleans your RV plumbing while preserving the needed bacteria in the holding tanks.

In addition, this cleaning agent is excellent at breaking through food and greasy wastes, which makes it ideal for RV kitchen sinks. 

Drainbo Drain Cleaner

For a quicker effect, many RV owners turn to Drainbo products made for gentle and effective drain cleaning.

The manufacturers have described these products as natural. In addition, these products have been labeled as safe and all-natural by the Natural Products Association.

How to Unclog RV Water Lines

It is essential to unclog RV water lines; this process keeps your water fresh and removes the materials causing odor and dirt. So, here are five quick steps to carry out this process.

Step 1: Clear the Water Heater

If you use an electric water heater, turn off the power using the on/off control.

Also, take a look to ensure that the gas pilot is off, then take out the drain plug on the water heater. Next, unhook the release valve that controls the pressure to drain the water in the heater.

 Step 2: Identify the Low Spots in Your Lines

You can find the location of these low points in your RV’s user manual. Nonetheless, these are usually found under your RV close to the lowest spot of your water system.

Several RVs carry two hot and cold drain points, while others carry three, for cold, hot, and freshwater. 

Take out the plugs so that the water drains quickly. Also, unhook the kitchen and bathroom faucets to allow better drainage.

Step 3: Empty the Holding Tank

Open the drain of your water tank and clear the water. Also, turn on the water pump for all the water to go out. But be careful not to run the pump after the water completely drains to prevent damage. 

Step 4: Use Bleach to Flush the Tank

After the water clears out, lock the valves and clean the tank with some bleach solution. Measure a quarter cup of bleach for 16 water gallons in your tank, then fill the entire tank with clean water.

Now, switch on the pump to push it into the water lines. However, ensure to keep the faucets locked and allow them to sit for a few hours. 

Step 5: Flush the Tank Using Clean Water

Open the faucets to empty the tank and lines, fill the tank again with clean water and flush it. This activity helps clear out the rest of the debris from the water lines. Again, flush it until you notice that the water is clean and odorless.

How Do You Fix a Slow Draining RV Sink?

A sluggish and slow draining RV sink is quite a common issue. Usually, debris collection within the sink drain is the root cause.

So, unclogging the RV kitchen sink drain fixes this problem. But still, here’s a step-by-step process of achieving this.

Step 1: Remove Debris Using a Zip-It Equipment

When fixing a slow draining RV sink, the first move is to clear any debris or dirt that accumulated there. And a Zip-It device is quite convenient for that; it is an affordable tool that fits into the drain. It works by collecting debris and bringing it out; its small size makes it easier to use. 

Step 2: Takeout the Pop-Up

The design of the sink’s pop-up allows it to gather debris that builds up.

So, if you do not own a Zip-it tool, you can take out the pop-up and clean it. Also, if the tool did not efficiently remove the debris, you can go for this option.

Most pop-ups are attached to the sink using a nut, so removing the nut allows you to clean it easily.

Step 3: Use a Mild Drain Cleaner

After removing the larger debris, clean the drain pipes with a mind cleaning agent. These agents can easily degrade the leftover debris and allow the RV sink to drain adequately. 

Step 4: Lear the Sink’s Overflow Opening

The overflow opening works by pushing water into the drain if it rises above the average level in the sink. However, another essential need for this opening is to allow air entry into the drain. 

Unfortunately, debris can accumulate in the overflow opening, considerably slowing draining. So, clean the overflow when you notice this.

Step 5: Utilize a Plunger

A plunger is also helpful for cleaning an RV sink drain; it minimally helps unfasten debris in the pipe. So, covering the overflow before plunging makes the operation more effective. 

Can You Pour Boiling Water Down RV Sink?

It is okay to pour boiling water down your RV sink; it helps clear the grease and other debris. It is one of the most common ways of quickly unclogging RV kitchen sinks.

In addition, boiling Water helps melt soap that builds up in the drains of your RV sink.

How Do You Clean RV Drain Pipes?

Many campers and RV owners do not understand the importance of a plunger in a recreational vehicle. And this is quite understandable because these sinks function differently from typical home sinks and fixtures. However, using a plunger remains one of the easiest, swiftest, and most efficient ways of cleaning RV drain pipes.

So, when you notice that your sink has begun to drain sluggishly, use a plunger to break the debris creating this issue. This idea is also applicable when you notice that your sink has completely stopped draining. 

Another quick way to deal with this problem is to add three spoons of baking soda into the drain. Next, cap it off with a cup of white vinegar.

Allow it to stand for some hours and wash it down with a bucket of boiling water. This process clears the drain pipe if grease or oil are the clogging material; hot water excellently deals with the problem.

If none of those can clean your RV drain pipes, you would have to tackle the issue vigorously. Using a cleaning agent to clean these pipes is an excellent step.

However, never use caustic cleaning agents because they can harm your RV’s sink valves. Instead, use cleaners with liquid bacterial enzymes to clean the pipes.

How to Prevent RV Sink Blockage

Sometimes, instead of waiting for your RV sinks to get blocked before finding solutions, it is better to be preventive.

This action saves you time and allows the entire plumbing to work better. So, here are a few ways of protecting your RV sinks from blockage.

1. Wipe Dishes Before Washing

Grease and food are the most significant roots of clogging in RV sinks.

However, you can prevent damage by wiping food remnants into the garbage before washing your dishes in many circumstances.

This practice minimizes the amount of food residue going through the drainpipe, decreasing the chances of clogging. 

2. Do Not Use Solid Soap

Usually, soap is a valuable item because of its importance in cleaning. However, utilizing solid soap in your sinks can cause blocked drains.

For instance, if the soap breaks into pieces, these pieces can stick to the drain pipe’s interior, holding other slivers. 

3. Clean Your RV’s Sinks Frequently

Recreational vehicles require frequent cleaning and maintenance to make them livable and comfortable. Sink maintenance is an essential part of this activity.

So, by keeping your sink’s external frame clean, you would help prevent the proliferation of bacteria that causes problems eventually. Regular cleaning also prevents the buildup of residue and dirt in the sink.

4. Check The RV’s Vents

Surprisingly, vents can worsen drainage problems in an RV. For example, if you have an issue with a clogged sink, obstructed vents exacerbate the foul smell. This phenomenon makes it even harder to remove the debris in the drain pipe.

Also, check the roof vents and the inline vents on top of the P-trap. These can block the buildup, causing a foul smell. 

New RV Sink Not Draining – What to Do?

After installing a new RV sink, you may notice that it isn’t draining. Unfortunately, it is not an entirely unusual occurrence because certain factors can cause the drain pipe to clog during previous storage. Also, your new RV sink’s drain pipe can get blocked during the installation of the sink. 

So, when this happens, you can use a mild cleaning agent to unblock the drain pipe. But if it persists, you should use a plunger to loosen the clogging material. Luckily, this material is usually not firmly held to the drainpipe, so gently plunging the pipe opens it up.

RV Sink Draining Slow — How To Fix?

Your RV sink drains slowly due to the accumulation of dirt, scum, and food matter in the drain pipes. Removing the dirt and food particles will open up space for the sink to drain adequately.

Firstly, you can open up the draining pipe by attacking it with hot water. Certain clogging materials such as soap, grease, and dirt come off when scourged with hot water.

This style is one of the simplest ways of dealing with a slow draining RV sink. However, avoid using hot water if your drain pipe consists of PVC as it could incur damages.

If your RV sink carries a garbage disposal system, check it because it could be the root of the drainage problem. If the issue arises from the disposal, putting it on will typically deal with the blockage.

However, this system breaks down in some other circumstances and prevents your sink from draining. So, fixing the garbage disposal and unclogging it is enough to fix a slow draining sink.

If the disposal is okay, plunging the blockage or pouring vinegar and baking soda into the drain should be next. Otherwise, use the plumber’s snake to unblock the drain pipe.

Why is My RV Sink Leaking?

Your RV sink leaks when calcium or debris builds up in its aerator. This circumstance is prevalent for kitchen sinks with sprayer faucets, where you’d notice leaks emanating from the sprayer handles.

On the other hand, your recreational vehicle’s sink can also leak when there is too much water pressure. Sometimes, the RV’s connected water pressure regulator can be faulty and unable to control the excessive water pressure. This occurrence can be pretty common when using an external water supply since its pressure is always enormous.

Unfortunately, there is a high possibility of having other hidden leakage points if the problem is excessive water pressure.

So, it is always advisable to use water pressure regulators directly attached to your RV’s water supply hose. So, pick them out and apply some tape to the nodes to control the leakage.

Why Does an RV Sink Smell Like Rotten Eggs?

An RV sink smells like rotten eggs when anaerobic bacteria combine with aluminum or magnesium anode bars. For this reason, many campers use a disinfectant, peroxide, to flush their water heaters to deal with this egg smell. 

A 16-ounce hydrogen peroxide bottle is enough to tackle this foul smell. However, using two bottles is even a better choice. On the other hand, vinegar is also effective if you do not fancy hydrogen peroxide’s toxicity. 

To avoid this smell of rotten eggs from plaguing your RV sinks, replace the anode bars with an aluminum-zinc anode. The presence of zinc in the anode works to get rid of the bacterial action, which gives rise to hydrogen sulfide. And this effectively deals with the foul egg smell. 

Unfortunately, many RV owners encounter this circumstance.

Wrap Up & Solutions

The RV sink can easily get clogged when dirt, grease, and food particles stockpile in the drain pipe. But this is a common occurrence, so there are several methods of unclogging the RV sink.

Pouring hot water into the drainpipe is one way of unclogging RV kitchen sinks, especially if soap residue and grease cause the clog. Another way is by inserting a long rod into the pipe and tickling it around to clean it.

However, there are effective ways of preventing this situation in the first place. Wiping dishes before washing them and avoiding using solid soap are the main ways of preventing sink clogging.

Regularly cleaning your RV sink and inspecting the RV’s vents are other ways of preventing RV sink clogging.