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Old 01-04-2016, 05:47 AM   #1
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Bad Smell

You have the most practical and understandable information for this newbie! I bought a 2016 Coachman 23' pull behind in August after studying the lifestyle of the full time RVer. For a couple of years, I read books and interviewed full timers, but nothing prepares a person for reality except reality. I joined this forum when someone here posted what became the best tip for clearing my black tank. I gave it an enema (Flush King) and a laxative (Calgon fabric softener and Dawn dish soap), and now it smells better and empties properly. There was still a bad smell in the camper!

My grey tank smells like the black tank did. The most recent veteran RVer I talked to in person says that he never heard of such a thing, but when I stoppered the sinks, the smell abated. What would cause the grey tank to smell? Did too much food get trapped in it after doing dishes? Did something back up into the grey tank when I used the Flush King? I started noticing the stink a month ago, then the smell became much worse when I had to leave it sit unoccupied for two weeks due to a family emergency.

I poured about a cup of Clorox down the grey tank yesterday, and filled it with clean water. Today, I'll drain it and see if that helps. Also, I might try using Calgon and Dawn on it, too. Any other suggestions are welcome. Thanks!
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Old 01-04-2016, 05:52 AM   #2
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Sounds like you are doing things properly. I would try filling the grey tanks to full and dumping a few times to see if the smell goes away. Doing this may free up anything lodged that may be causing the smell. I have 4 tanks on my trailer and I like to do this to all tanks a couple of times throughout the summer. Its easy for me as my trailer is stationary at a campground. Hopefully the smell goes away. Best of Luck..
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Old 01-04-2016, 10:59 AM   #3
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The grey tanks can smell as bad as the black tank.

If stoppering the sink caused the odor to abate then I'd guess that you've lost the trap water seal. I'd check the traps to make sure that the traps are plumbed correctly to hold enough water to seal the gasses from the tanks from coming back into the RV. You may also want to check the tank vents to make sure they're not blocked, as that could allow the tanks to build up a little pressure and force gasses past the water seals and the odors with it.
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Old 01-04-2016, 02:05 PM   #4
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You might have a bad waterless trap.
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Old 01-04-2016, 02:18 PM   #5
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Traps should keep Bad smell's out of you RV! In regards to Gray tank smell,they can be MUCH Worse than Black at times! Youroo!!
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Old 01-05-2016, 06:47 AM   #6
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agree with what is posted that gray tanks can smell as bad as blacks and if you can back flush the gray tank and get is cleaned as possible the problem should go away. What happens is food starts to decompose if any particles are stuck to the bottom and if your like me and keep gray tank open when hooked to FHU, I back flush mine a couple times a year and do not have any smell. Also check your traps under the sinks and ensure they hold water. If you keep the tank closed you can use an enzyme product to dissolve any food particles then rinse and flush, IMO they do work and let them sit a couple days if you can. Hope this helps and Happy Travels!!
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Old 01-05-2016, 07:53 AM   #7
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I use Calgon and Walrex Elemonate in my gray tank and not had an issue.

water, water and more water !
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Old 01-05-2016, 08:07 AM   #8
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Your signature does not list what type of trailer/RV you have... there is one other place that the odor you are describing can emanate from. If you have a rig with a outdoor kitchen, two baths or with a half bath that are on opposite ends of the coach, many times there is a air emitter installed in lieu of a vent to the roof (air emitter is a one way valve that allows air to enter the drain line- this is done to stop the traps from being siphoned dry) There is a very lightweight internal rubber flapper that allows air to enter when needed. These units tend to fail and allow tank odor to escape.

Take a look around for something that looks like this:


Sometimes behind a access panel, or in the back of a cabinet, or behind a set of drawers.

See if your odor is concentrated around it.

Easily replaced and available at most big box stores for about $10.
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Old 01-05-2016, 12:33 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dieselbobcat View Post
Your signature does not list what type of trailer/RV you have... there is one other place that the odor you are describing can emanate from. If you have a rig with a outdoor kitchen, two baths or with a half bath that are on opposite ends of the coach, many times there is a air emitter installed in lieu of a vent to the roof (air emitter is a one way valve that allows air to enter the drain line- this is done to stop the traps from being siphoned dry) There is a very lightweight internal rubber flapper that allows air to enter when needed. These units tend to fail and allow tank odor to escape.

Take a look around for something that looks like this:


Sometimes behind a access panel, or in the back of a cabinet, or behind a set of drawers.

See if your odor is concentrated around it.

Easily replaced and available at most big box stores for about $10.
----------------------------------------------------------------

Except he says the smell goes away when he plugs the drain.
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Old 01-05-2016, 12:49 PM   #10
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Try un-stoppering one drain a a time to see if you can isolate the one causing the problem. Then check that one. The trap water will evaporate if there is one you don't use often or when towing. You implied you were fulltiming, but didn't say of stationary.
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Old 01-05-2016, 04:26 PM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Toddupton View Post
----------------------------------------------------------------

Except he says the smell goes away when he plugs the drain.
Indicating that the trap seal has been compromised either by drying out, or by being "pulled down" or siphoned when waste water passes due to lack of venting.

Plugging the drain contains the grey tank odor the same way the water trap should.
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Old 01-06-2016, 08:21 AM   #12
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Thanks, everyone. After I put two cups of Calgon and a cup of Dawn down the kitchen sink, the smell abated. I also put a capful of Calgon into the bathroom sink. I have decided that I need to flush more water down the sinks each day. Some odor lingers in the walls and the upholstery, but that's an easy fix! Both tanks empty faster after this treatment.
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Old 01-06-2016, 11:35 AM   #13
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I'd still do a little investigation if it were me. You shouldn't have any odor from the tanks in the unit if the seals are working correctly.
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Old 01-06-2016, 12:41 PM   #14
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When traveling, I put a plug in the bath tub drain; if I don’t the water from the p-trap sloshes out and then it can smell. My bathroom is in the back of the trailer and probably bounces the most, plus I believe the shower p-trap is the shortest. Plug keeps any smell out and when we stop I add water to fill P-trap, problem solved.
My thoughts are that we use as little water as possible in everything we do leaving lots of organics to decompose in the traps and grey tank. Three times a year(at home), I take a 5gl bucket filled with hot water and dish soap and dump it down every drain, even both sides of the double sink. I just think it helps.
Once I even had bubbles coming out of the grey water roof vent, that was kind of funny.
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Old 01-31-2016, 11:06 AM   #15
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I had that problem and solved it by first ensuring my traps were working properly and then adding a Cyclone vent to the plumbing vent on the roof.
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Old 02-29-2016, 08:11 AM   #16
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I had the problem and thought something died under my cupboards . It turned out to be the shower drain had a different type of check valve to keep the odors and sewer gases out of the trailer. I had some type of silicone flap valve in it and the wifes hair from shampooing went down the drain and was holding the valve open and tank odors were getting into the trailer. I just unscrews and I cleaned the hair out of it and the odor was gone.
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Old 02-29-2016, 08:49 AM   #17
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Let us know what you find.
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Old 02-29-2016, 11:05 AM   #18
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Thank-you all. These are the measures I have taken, which includes advice I received in this forum and from fellow campers here at the park.

1. My shower is unused, because the camp ground has a much better shower.
2. All the sink and shower drains remain closed unless I'm draining water.
3. After draining and using a wand to clean the black tank, I use only liquid Camco RV Toilet Treatment because it says that it is 100% Biodegradable, and it smells reasonable. The grey tank gets Clorox.
4. Since I am a full-timer, I dump both tanks twice a week according to advice from the dealer, who did come out and check my tanks.
5. Both tanks' outside releases are closed against the park's sewage system until it is time to dump.

My cabinets have retained some smell, but that is slowly dissipating. We keep the windows open in reasonable weather. The strongest smell seems to be coming from underneath the refrigerator and hugs the floor. It will be a major undertaking to get under there, so I haven't taken off the panels, yet.

Some days, everything seems to be fine. I leave for the day and come back to a mostly fresh TT. Then on other days, the smell overpowers me. I've even wondered if maybe the two guys in the fiver next to me are really the source of the smell? Their sewer hose is wrapped in duct tape and is five feet from my front door! This problem escalated a month or so after they arrived.

Meanwhile, the measures I listed above seem to be helping as long as my daughter and I do them religiously.
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Old 02-29-2016, 11:12 PM   #19
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Sorry, I'm a little late on this thread.

As for bleach, be careful not to use too much too many times in a row. I found out that a heavy dose of bleach can ruin the glues used in some black plastic (ABS?) drains. Too much bleach destroyed my condo drain connections.

As for my trailer, when I have the sewer hooked up, I create a "P" trap configuration in the sewer hose by raising the hose higher than the low point somewhere along it's path and leaving the grey water drain T-handle open. That way, there's always some grey water in the sewer hose to keep the sewer smells from entering the grey tank. This allows us to use the grey water drain without having to worry of the water level in the grey tank. I found this method on a You Tube channel.
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Old 02-29-2016, 11:47 PM   #20
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If your shower is unused the water in the P trap will evaporate. You may get a noise when your sink drains depending on connection but will certainly get air from the sewer / sewer hose / gray tank. Water needs down drains to keep P traps full.
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