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Old 05-01-2020, 09:53 AM   #1
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Chemical Smell in Kitchen

My husband and I just recently purchased a 2005 Work and Play and are new to the RV world. When we bought the trailer we noticed an odor that we thought would go away after airing it out (thinking it was a normal thing after sitting for several months during the winter). We cleaned the trailer from top to bottom, we have aired it out for numerous hours and we still cannot get rid of the smell. It seems to be a chemical smell and coming from the kitchen area. I have a read through a lot of threads/posts to see if others have experienced this and a lot of people mentioned that it's the refrigerator going bad. The refrigerator and freezer part (Dometic RM2351) do get cold and the smell isn't inside of the fridge at all. We took the refrigerator out yesterday and didn't notice any yellow substance leaking out of it. We kept it out of the trailer all night, opened all the windows/doors and also used a large barn fan to air it out for a few hours. When we went back in this morning, it still has the chemical smell. The bathroom doesn't seem to be the source of where the smell is coming from. It also isn't a strong smell underneath the kitchen sink but it's right when we walk in the door that we smell it which is where the refrigerator, microwave and stovetop area is. We kept the refrigerator in our garage overnight and it didn't "stink up" the garage and the smell doesn't seem to be strong when I get close to the refrigerator itself (now being in the garage). We took apart the stovetop and cleaned that entirely along with having the microwave out of the trailer for days and the smell was still there. Unfortunately we are at a loss of what it could possibly be and just want to get rid of the smell. I am hoping someone has some ideas on what we can "investigate" next. Your help is greatly appreciated.
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Old 05-02-2020, 09:03 AM   #2
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Perhaps RV antifreeze still in the plumbing. Did you run water thru all the pipes and also remember to turn off the water heater by-pass valve and open the 2 water valves for water to enter the water heater. Do not turn on the electric water heater unless there is water in it. If not, you will burn out the electric heating element.
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Old 05-02-2020, 09:18 AM   #3
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If possible contact the place where it was purchased. It is possible the previous owner made some repairs of treatments that are the source of the odor.
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Old 05-03-2020, 12:00 PM   #4
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Thank you

Thank you both for your responses. We have went through all the steps you have mentioned and unfortunately had no luck on getting rid of the smell. We purchased the trailer from a private party and when we got there, they had a moisture absorber pack hanging near the area where we have narrowed down the smell being the worst. I cannot believe that something like that would cause the trailer to smell (so strongly) after a deep clean and numerous hours of airing out but we have run out of ideas on what else it could be.
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Old 05-03-2020, 12:15 PM   #5
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Could it possibly be a sealant that someone applied around the door or window in that area? If it's got a moisture absorbent pack near there, they might have had a leak and applied a sealant or foam filler of some type.
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Old 05-03-2020, 12:19 PM   #6
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Check the wood in the area. If there was water damage, they may have used some of the wood restoration products that can have a strong chemical smell.
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Old 05-03-2020, 01:58 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by WorkNPlay05 View Post
My husband and I just recently purchased a 2005 Work and Play and are new to the RV world. When we bought the trailer we noticed an odor that we thought would go away after airing it out (thinking it was a normal thing after sitting for several months during the winter). We cleaned the trailer from top to bottom, we have aired it out for numerous hours and we still cannot get rid of the smell. It seems to be a chemical smell and coming from the kitchen area. I have a read through a lot of threads/posts to see if others have experienced this and a lot of people mentioned that it's the refrigerator going bad. The refrigerator and freezer part (Dometic RM2351) do get cold and the smell isn't inside of the fridge at all. We took the refrigerator out yesterday and didn't notice any yellow substance leaking out of it. We kept it out of the trailer all night, opened all the windows/doors and also used a large barn fan to air it out for a few hours. When we went back in this morning, it still has the chemical smell. The bathroom doesn't seem to be the source of where the smell is coming from. It also isn't a strong smell underneath the kitchen sink but it's right when we walk in the door that we smell it which is where the refrigerator, microwave and stovetop area is. We kept the refrigerator in our garage overnight and it didn't "stink up" the garage and the smell doesn't seem to be strong when I get close to the refrigerator itself (now being in the garage). We took apart the stovetop and cleaned that entirely along with having the microwave out of the trailer for days and the smell was still there. Unfortunately we are at a loss of what it could possibly be and just want to get rid of the smell. I am hoping someone has some ideas on what we can "investigate" next. Your help is greatly appreciated.
WorkNPlay05, Just a hunch here, but I have helped a number of folks with unidentified odors and the usual culprit is a failed or nonexistent Air Admittance Valve under the sink ... if it hangs up open you get the full smell from the galley tank in the RV. Look under the sink where the drain plumbing comes out of the sink, thru a "P"-trap to a pipe that is vertical. The AAV is located at the top of this vertical section close to the countertop. Most just screw into the fitting and can be replaced for just a few dollars. If that ends up being the source of the smell, put a cup of water softener and a cup of cheap laundry detergent down the sink about once every year and you won't have the stinky issues form inside the tank in the first place. The Water softener and detergent will also keep things from sticking to the walls of the black tank and keep your sensors working, too.
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Old 05-03-2020, 02:03 PM   #8
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Is there any type of paneling on the interior walls? Does the odor get worse if the unit is left closed up and the interior gets hot? IF so, then the odor may be coming from the glue the factory, or individual, used to install the paneling. The mobile home industry came under fire some years ago for an offensive odor problem. It turned out to be formaldehyde in the glue the paneling was put on with.
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Old 05-03-2020, 02:10 PM   #9
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On a 2005 model year the carpet, furniture, glues, and wood panels should be finished off-gassing.
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Old 05-03-2020, 02:15 PM   #10
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I think Swampy may be on to something. Smell the sink drain and see if the odor seems sink related. It should be strongest near the drain. Often the sink drain or the tank it's connected to can emit a swamp-like or a chemical smell. I know when our gray tank gets full we can smell it coming from the sink drain so we know it's time for some tank treatment like Swampy suggests. They have commercial holding tank treatments available as well. But look hard at the sink drain and holding tank. Make the holding tank smell pretty and see if that helps.
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Old 05-03-2020, 02:24 PM   #11
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A quick test

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Originally Posted by Swampy View Post
WorkNPlay05, Just a hunch here, but I have helped a number of folks with unidentified odors and the usual culprit is a failed or nonexistent Air Admittance Valve under the sink ... if it hangs up open you get the full smell from the galley tank in the RV. Look under the sink where the drain plumbing comes out of the sink, thru a "P"-trap to a pipe that is vertical. The AAV is located at the top of this vertical section close to the countertop. Most just screw into the fitting and can be replaced for just a few dollars. If that ends up being the source of the smell, put a cup of water softener and a cup of cheap laundry detergent down the sink about once every year and you won't have the stinky issues form inside the tank in the first place. The Water softener and detergent will also keep things from sticking to the walls of the black tank and keep your sensors working, too.
Good Camping .... Jim
A quick test for a stuck Air Admittance Valve is to simply put a "baggie" over it and fasten it with a rubber band. There's an illustration below. Yours could be white or have a domed top.

That said, a "chemical smell" is a pretty ambiguous description. A 2005 RV is somewhat old. If at some time there was a leak, you could be smelling mold (mildew). The use of moisture suggests this possibility. Search RV Mold Remediation on Google.

The hard part is mold that's hidden where you can't see it and scrub/disinfect it. People have considered using ozone generators and those little packages that create fungicidal fumes.

It helps to keep the interior of the RV really dry. The moisture absorbers only work so well, and they have to be tended all the time. I favor a dehumidifier in the shower, powered when the trailer is stored and when it is in use, with all windows and vents closed. Take the tank off the dehumidifier and let it drip directly into the shower.
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Old 05-03-2020, 02:55 PM   #12
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I agree with Larry, seal a bag over the AAV and give it a chance to air out. Strange odors can come from the grey holding tank.
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Old 05-03-2020, 02:59 PM   #13
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I agree with AAV... while your at it, change the one under bathroom sink.

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Old 05-03-2020, 03:04 PM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by WorkNPlay05 View Post
My husband and I just recently purchased a 2005 Work and Play and are new to the RV world. When we bought the trailer we noticed an odor that we thought would go away after airing it out (thinking it was a normal thing after sitting for several months during the winter). We cleaned the trailer from top to bottom, we have aired it out for numerous hours and we still cannot get rid of the smell. It seems to be a chemical smell and coming from the kitchen area. I have a read through a lot of threads/posts to see if others have experienced this and a lot of people mentioned that it's the refrigerator going bad. The refrigerator and freezer part (Dometic RM2351) do get cold and the smell isn't inside of the fridge at all. We took the refrigerator out yesterday and didn't notice any yellow substance leaking out of it. We kept it out of the trailer all night, opened all the windows/doors and also used a large barn fan to air it out for a few hours. When we went back in this morning, it still has the chemical smell. The bathroom doesn't seem to be the source of where the smell is coming from. It also isn't a strong smell underneath the kitchen sink but it's right when we walk in the door that we smell it which is where the refrigerator, microwave and stovetop area is. We kept the refrigerator in our garage overnight and it didn't "stink up" the garage and the smell doesn't seem to be strong when I get close to the refrigerator itself (now being in the garage). We took apart the stovetop and cleaned that entirely along with having the microwave out of the trailer for days and the smell was still there. Unfortunately we are at a loss of what it could possibly be and just want to get rid of the smell. I am hoping someone has some ideas on what we can "investigate" next. Your help is greatly appreciated.


Have you ruled out maybe a small propane leak? If you have the tanks on maybe there is a pinhead leak. Turn off the tanks as part of your diagnosis.
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Old 05-03-2020, 03:31 PM   #15
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One more thought

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I agree with Larry, seal a bag over the AAV and give it a chance to air out. Strange odors can come from the grey holding tank.
Has the RV been stored for a while without being used? It is possible that the "traps" under the kitchen sink, lavatory sink, or shower have gone dry. Those U-shaped traps are filled with water to keep smelly vapor from coming up through the drain pipes. Just put a cup or two of water in each one and see if the smell goes away.
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Old 05-03-2020, 03:42 PM   #16
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I agree with Larry the filter under the sink is your problem I had the same smell. The trouble you can’t find one like it. Best of luck
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Old 05-03-2020, 03:58 PM   #17
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Originally Posted by WorkNPlay05 View Post
Thank you both for your responses. We have went through all the steps you have mentioned and unfortunately had no luck on getting rid of the smell. We purchased the trailer from a private party and when we got there, they had a moisture absorber pack hanging near the area where we have narrowed down the smell being the worst. I cannot believe that something like that would cause the trailer to smell (so strongly) after a deep clean and numerous hours of airing out but we have run out of ideas on what else it could be.
A chemical odor has many meanings. Unless we can smell it, it is up to you to see if you can narrow it down. Bleach has a specific odor as do paint thinners and glue, RV antifreeze has very little odor and smells sweet, propane is odorless but has an additive making it unmistakable, mold has a dirty socks odor, rodent urine has a strong odor, and new carpet may be off gasing. Most people have experienced a sewer odor so that smell could be put into words. All of these are chemicals odors. Is this odor, faint or pungent? Was the odor noticeable when the previous owners had the "deodorant" packet in place? Could this unit have come from a flood area? Did you mention the odor to the sellers. Is there any sold as-is statements in your bill of sale?

Yes, more questions than answers, but we are still here to help. One of the most common and most serious conditions with a camper is mold. Because it is a health risk at least and fatal at worst, it would be wise to check this out by a professional or mold test kit.

I would suggest that you start documenting what originally happened in the sale and what corrective measures you have tried. You may by now guess where this is going. If the seller knew of a material defects that could affect the health of the buyer or other conditions, they should have disclosed it. It is referred to as concealment, according to the web info below. There are some exclusions to buyer beware.

https://ask-a-lawyer.freeadvice.com/...whe-128173.htm
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Old 05-03-2020, 05:02 PM   #18
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Hmmm.

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A chemical odor has many meanings. Unless we can smell it, it is up to you to see if you can narrow it down. Bleach has a specific odor as do paint thinners and glue, RV antifreeze has very little odor and smells sweet, propane is odorless but has an additive making it unmistakable, mold has a dirty socks odor, rodent urine has a strong odor, and new carpet may be off gasing.
RV antifreeze has very little odor and TASTES sweet.

propane is odorless but has MERCAPTAN making it unmistakable.

rodent urine has a strong AMMONIA odor
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Was the odor noticeable when the previous owners had the "deodorant" packet in place?
Not a deodorant packet. Just one of those moisture absorbers.
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Could this unit have come from a flood area?
You did read the part where the OP said the odor was localized in the area of the kitchen sink, right? That would be pretty unusual for a flooded trailer.
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Is there any sold as-is statements in your bill of sale?
It's a 2005. Surely it was sold As-Is. Can you imagine anything else?
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Old 05-03-2020, 05:05 PM   #19
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Can't find it?

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I agree with Larry the filter under the sink is your problem I had the same smell. The trouble you canít find one like it. Best of luck
It's not a filter. It's a "check valve" that lets air into the drain system but (when working properly) does not let air out--a one-way valve. It doesn't do any filtering. There's no need to filter dirty drain water.

Can't find it? In prior threads, responders have posted URLs from Amazon, Lowe's, Home Depot, and Walmart.
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Old 05-06-2020, 10:06 AM   #20
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Thank you all for your input, it is much appreciated as this is a whole new experience for us.

We are currently waiting on 2 new Air Admittance Valves that should arrive today. We will see if replacing those will help eliminate the odor. My husband has noticed that the smell is also quite strong in the cabinets above the sink so he has been running a fan in the trailer continuously for the past several days. It has seemed to reduce the smell somewhat but it's still there and comes back just as strong if we turn the fan off. He has also installed one Maxxair Fan Deluxe that is running continuously and will be installing another one as soon as we get it, just to keep the air flowing when we cannot keep the doors/windows open.

One thing that I forgot to mention in my first post was that the mattresses that came with the trailer seemed to have "soaked" up the same smell. We aired them outside of the trailer for several days just to make sure that it wasn't those that created the smell but the trailer still smelled (as strong) as it did with the mattresses in there. We have now removed all but two of the mattresses and they are in the furthest area away from the kitchen. The smell is still the strongest in the kitchen area which is right when we walk in the door.

When we purchased the trailer, the previous owners said that they normally had the moisture absorbers in the trailer during the winter months so I figured that was just a normal thing that owners do when it wasn't in use and in areas that have snow during winter months. They also bought the trailer used so I'm not sure if it's been an "issue" since they bought it or not.

If I had to compare the smell to anything, I would say it's similar to bleach/chlorine and sometimes takes my breath away especially if we don't have the fan running. We have pressured washed the entire floor, scrubbed the floors in the kitchen area and wiped every surface down (inside) with Simple Green so I would think by now, if it was just a "surface" smell/issue, it should be gone but unfortunately it is not. Fingers crossed that the Air Admittance Valves will do the trick.

Thanks again for all that provided your thoughts. Hopefully we will be able to figure out where it's coming from and resolving the issue.
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