How to Unclog a Composting Toilet

How to Unclog a Composting Toilet

Composting toilets are a great sustainable and eco-friendly alternative to traditional flush toilets. However, like any toilet, composting toilets can get clogged from time to time. As the owner of a composting toilet, it’s important to know how to effectively unclog it when needed. In this comprehensive guide, I’ll walk through all the steps and techniques you need to get your composting toilet flowing freely again.

What Causes Clogs in a Composting Toilet

Before we get into the solutions, it’s helpful to understand what causes clogs in the first place. Here are some of the most common culprits:

  • Excessive use – Too much waste and toilet paper building up faster than the composting chamber can handle. This overwhelms the system.

  • Improper materials – Putting the wrong items down the toilet that don’t break down well, like plastics, paper towels, and feminine hygiene products.

  • Lack of maintenance – Not removing compost or leachate frequently enough. Overfull chambers impede airflow and lead to clogs.

  • Foreign objects – Dropping things like toys or thick toilet paper down the toilet. These get stuck and cause obstructions.

  • Drying out – A very dry compost chamber can cause waste to get stuck together and clog.

Unclogging Methods to Try

If you notice your composting toilet isn’t draining properly, here are some effective DIY methods to unclog it:

1. Use a Toilet Auger

  • A toilet auger (or closet auger) is a long, flexible metal cable with a curved end used to hook and break up clogs.

  • Insert the auger down the toilet and twist it to hook into the clog. Crank the handle to spin the cable and loosen the blockage.

  • Augers are inexpensive and available at most hardware stores. They’re highly effective for dislodging toilet clogs.

2. Flush with Extra Water

  • Adding extra flushes with clean water can help dissolve and push through minor clogs.

  • Use a bucket to slowly pour 3-5 gallons of water into the toilet in batches. Let it soak for 15 minutes between flushes.

  • The agitation and added liquid can help loosen waste and paper buildup stuck on chamber walls.

3. Use a Plunger

  • A standard flanged plunger can generate enough suction and pressure to dislodge clogs.

  • Place the plunger over the toilet hole to get a tight seal. Push and pull forcefully 10-15 times to loosen the blockage.

  • Angle and rotate the plunger to work from different directions. This helps dislodge stubborn obstructions.

4. Remove and Clean Components

  • For major clogs, remove internal components like baffles, tanks, and chamber walls.

  • Scrub pieces by hand or hose down outdoors to remove stuck-on waste and residue. Use hot water and eco-friendly products like vinegar or biodegradable soap if needed.

  • Reinstall components and test flushing. This deep clean can clear even severe clogs and buildup.

5. Empty Compost Chamber

  • A full compost chamber impedes airflow and drainage. Emptying it can unclog the system.

  • Scoop compost into an aerated compost bin or bag to finish decomposing.

  • The extra space and airflow in the freshly emptied chamber helps waste drain freely again.

Preventing Future Clogs

The best way to deal with clogged toilets is to prevent them in the first place. Here are some tips:

  • Follow manufacturer instructions for capacity limits and maintenance schedules.

  • Remove compost regularly so chambers don’t overfill. Most need emptied every 3-6 months.

  • Only flush approved items – just human waste and toilet paper. No trash!

  • Chop or shred paper before flushing to prevent buildup.

  • Add bulking agents like coconut coir or wood chips to improve airflow and drainage.

  • Keep chambers moist. Dryness can cause waste to stick together and clog.

With proper use and care, your composting toilet can work for years without clogging. But now you’re equipped to tackle any obstructions that do pop up and get things flowing freely again. Let me know if you have any other composting toilet questions!