Small House Big World


Excuse Me Sir There’s a Fly in My…. Toilet

Anna Edgren • August 28, 2015

I almost don’t want to write about this because 1. It is pretty gross and 2. No one else should have to relive what happened. But here we are anyway. One word: Flies. Let’s change it to two words just to start you off with a little more detail: Shit Flies.  

Let me go back to the beginning. Kelly and I have had no problems with our lovely little Thetford toilet until a couple of weeks ago we noticed that it was no longer sealing 100%. The Thetford toilet is the same type of toilet you would find on a sailboat or an airplane – it has a little flushing foot pedal and when you step on it a plastic cover slides open and lets the contents drop through to the tank below. The problem was that our plastic cover would close 99% of the way, but the world’s tiniest crack presented itself, hinting gently at the abyss below. 

2015-08-17 07.31.00

Yes, I am showing you a picture of our toilet. If you thought you were going to get through this post without having to look at anything gross, you were wrong. If you will notice, you can’t even really SEE the crack. It is more of a shadow on the bottom side of the circle. That’s what I’m talking about. But this innocuous-looking crack has been allowing some fumes to float upwards in an unpleasant manner. Obviously we needed to do something to fix it, and research told us that our only move here was to take the toilet apart and try to fix it by hand. God knows we weren’t super-keen to start on that project. So we didn’t. We ignored it and kept the lid shut and it was mostly fine for a while. 

Then one lovely Thursday I noticed that we had a couple of flies in the house. We get flies sometimes – we are in and out a lot, and we are often in the woods. It happens. Then I noticed a couple more. Like an abnormal amount. A puzzled look crossed my face as I glanced towards the bathroom window screen and noticed 4-5 flies clinging there. I slowly walked down the hallway to the bathroom, brow furrowed as a slow realization crept over me. I entered the bathroom, looked down at the closed toilet lid, said a little prayer, and opened it up. Flies. Inside the toilet. There were about 5 of them. At that point everything became clear. The little buggers must have spawned in the toilet and were making their way out into our world. NOOOOOOOOOO. 

Obviously keeping the toilet lid closed was not enough to stop the attack. The toilet lid was worthless and ineffective and I continue to hold a grudge against it. Within the span of about 2 hours, we went from an abnormal amount of flies to an UNHOLY AMOUNT OF FLIES. We had no choice but to quarantine the bathroom and give it over to the invaders. We had no idea what we should do – there was no way to stop them. So we shut the door and locked them in and didn’t look back. 

At this point two things needed to happen: We needed to fix our toilet so that the flies could stop escaping, and we needed to get all the flies out of the tank to stop them at the source.

To take the toilet off in the midst of a fly invasion seemed crazy, but at that point we were nowhere near a dump site, so there was no option to try to dump and clean the tank and THEN work on fixing things. We had to go into emergency mode and just rip that sucker out of there, cover the hole with a rag, and hope for the best. 

We also had 5,000(ish) flies IN OUR HOME that would also need to be dealt with. Luckily our quarantine was successful – we trapped about 90% of them in the bathroom. So we mustered up our courage and cracked the bathroom door to see what we were working with: It was THICK with flies, a hypnotizing buzzing sound filling the air. There was just no way to get into the bathroom and work on the toilet – you would literally be covered in flies. You would breathe them. They had to be removed. We realized we could take off the screen to the fan in the bathroom, turn on said fan, and suck them out of the hole in the roof. We executed on this plan, and once we covered the skylight with a dark towel to dissuade them from hiding in there, the majority of them flew up through the hole. Jackpot. 

Though we did not have a 100% removal success rate, the flies were very much lessened, and Kelly was able to wrap himself around the toilet (funnnn) to try to unscrew and remove it. Fellow RVers, if you are lucky enough to have the Thetford Galaxie Starlight version of toilet, and have not had the pleasure of removing it, boy do you have something to look forward to. Apparently with later models of RV toilet, they wised up and made the nuts and bolts fairly accessible. But with the Thetford Galaxie Starlight, those bastards hid one bolt under the foot pedal, which you can only get to by having a second person stand on the pedal and carefully try not to squash your hands, and the other bolt is behind the toilet and under a plastic cover – you can’t actually see it unless you hug the toilet with both arms and put your face right next to the seat. It is impressive how inconvenient they made this. Brave Kelly got in there and after much swearing and sweating managed to get the toilet out. 

2015-08-20 20.02.26

The hole where the toilet was (rag-covered)

Then we slapped that sucker outside where we could get to fixing it. 

2015-08-20 19.56.43

In all its glory. Note kitty Ace making a break for it in the background.

Once outside, we took a knife and dug into the slit surrounding the plastic slider to remove debris that was wedged in there – I will spare you the details of what that experience was like, let’s just say I’d rather not do it again. The good news: We sealed the crack. We tested the toilet before we put it back in, and it actually holds water now. Not only is there no crack, but it is watertight (as it should be). Excellent!

Then we had to screw the toilet back into place, which was about as much fun as it was to take it off. It took us probably 45 minutes of serious effort to get everything screwed into place as it should be. 

Then – the cleanup. There were dead flies littering the ground in the bathroom.  There was dirt tracked in from having the toilet on the ground. There was water on the floor from the toilet removal that mixed with said dirt. It was bad. I cleaned and I cleaned. I used every cleaning product we have.   

The next day we flushed out the black tank better than we ever have – we went so far as to bring a hose inside and fill it from both ends. Then we filled the tank with bleach and let it slosh around in there for a couple of days to kill any remaining living things. One thing I’ve learned from this experience: If your toilet does not seal completely, that is something you should fix immediately. Lesson learned.

Unfortunately putting this story into words has made me relive the incident myself – a part of me feels like our bathroom is forever unclean.

forever unclean

Time to go mop the floor again.

Happy travels!!!! 

flies in black tankfly invasionHORROR STORYpoop fliesthetford galaxie starlight repairthetford toilet

Anna Edgren • August 28, 2015

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  1. John Hennig September 21, 2015 - 11:31 am Reply

    Equal parts gross and awesome. Would read again.

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