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Old 07-09-2017, 02:51 PM   #1
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Smell From Sewer & Fresh Water Odor

Going all the way back to last year my first trip to Tennessee. We detected that terrible odor. I then did my research and somewhere on the forum someone said the Grey water needed lemon tablets. I tried that and it went away or so I thought. A little more research revealed pee traps needed to have water in them to prevent odor from coming back up through the pipes. I did that and it went away for awhile but return on several other trips. So, I'm down to the last thing that I think can be done. The 360 Siphon that I see so many reviews on and youtube https://youtu.be/CVcwc28PinQ . My next camping trip will be in Sept as scheduled so I have time to fix it before that trip. BUT BUT i wanted to share something with everyone that we did on July the fourth. The smell was in my camper and OMG what am I going to do. Being I'm in construction I'm alway thinking. Well this is what I done and believe it or not solve a problem (Now we'll call it a temporary Camping trip solution but you'll have to do it again and again but I found it to work. I turned the water off, open the toilet opening and stuck my leaf blower on low to blow air into the tank and out the vent. Guess what It work no more odor. I did this for a about 10 minutes. The odor was gone. So our week at the lake was wonderful.

Test #2:
I'm home and figure I needed to repeat the process again. This time I open the toilet value and set a counter fan same size a toilet and turned on low. Stepped out side and OMG there was that stink smell it was blowing out the vent. After a few minutes the smell was gone.

Test #3:
Now the gray water. Being I have two tanks I cleaned them out very well while at the camp site. I went to Walmart and bought me another connection (Clear) and hooked my swimming pool hose to it about six foot and connected it to my shop vacuum. Turned it on with gray water valves in open position. Within a few minutes that smell was gone.



So all I have to do now it purchase and install those new 360 Siphons. And even after I install these I'll probably still use the fan method each time I camp to assure myself I have filled the tank with quality outside air.


Anyway thought I would share my new idea and you can try itself and no expense.

Tim Coltrain in HOT NC
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Old 07-09-2017, 03:16 PM   #2
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I always flush my black water tank with a wand then I put Dawn dish washing soap in a bucket and pour it down the toilet, that seems to take care of it.
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Old 07-10-2017, 12:48 PM   #3
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Sounds to me like you are not cleaning your black tank correctly and/or not using sufficient water. Your leaf blower nay be temporarily getting gases out, but that they keep coming back in both black and gray means you are probably not flushing well enough and getting all the solids out.
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Old 07-10-2017, 01:01 PM   #4
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Did you check your air admittance valves?

Should be one under each sink. Little black things that stick up in the air at the top of the cabinet. If they get stuck open it can lead to some pretty bad smells.
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Old 07-10-2017, 01:55 PM   #5
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My flush procedure:
1: Dump Black Water Waste
2: Fill with water till 4th light appears.
3: Repeat x 3
4: Last time Only clear water come out
5: Completed


Grey water:
1: Fill and Flush One time. Tank #1
2: Fill and Flush One Time.
Tank #2


Did I miss something?

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Old 07-10-2017, 02:26 PM   #6
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Here's a link to a video talking about the valve I mentioned. Perhaps I didn't name it correctly in my post. Somewhat high failure item though from what I gather.

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Old 07-10-2017, 02:28 PM   #7
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How much water do you start with in the black tank? How much in toidy each poo? How long is each flush? Water is your friend.

Try this. After you go through your empty and flush and you see only clear water, close dump valve and pour 5 gal bucket of clear water into toidy and add this per instructions

://www.amazon.com/Camco-41502-Enzyme-Holding-Treatment/dp/B007EGLHI2

Leave it sit overnight and then tow your rig to your next destination with it sloshing around. When you get there first thing you do is empty waste tanks.

I guarantee the water won't be clear.
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Old 07-10-2017, 02:30 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by m35a2 View Post
Here's a link to a video talking about the valve I mentioned. Perhaps I didn't name it correctly in my post. Somewhat high failure item though from what I gather.

My bet is that ma35a2 is correct and you have a bad valve under the sink. Lots of threads with pics on this fairly common problem.
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Old 07-11-2017, 12:59 PM   #9
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P Traps with water

The P traps is there to hold water and seal out backflow of gas and smell, just as you say.

If left for awhile (probably depends on your humidity or lack of) some of the water in the P trap can evaporate. All it takes is less than an inch of evaporation to allow gas in.

Ever seen water in a house or cabin toilet that evaporates down after sitting unused?

Any water, especially any altered water left standing, in closed tanks will get rank, grow mold or bacteria. It is the never ending story of life of a contained system in RV life.

Glad you seem to have found a solution.
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Old 07-11-2017, 02:08 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by m35a2 View Post
Here's a link to a video talking about the valve I mentioned. Perhaps I didn't name it correctly in my post. Somewhat high failure item though from what I gather.

X2 - Easy fix and worked for me, too.
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Old 07-11-2017, 04:35 PM   #11
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Since the black and gray water systems are separate, your problem is likely to be in one system, but not both. Your problem appears to be related to gray water...not black water, but I'll address both, just in case.

Toilet-Black Water:
Hopefully you are using something like this each time you begin camping: https://smile.amazon.com/gp/product/...?ie=UTF8&psc=1 Be sure to use enough for the tank's capacity.

Make sure your sewer vent is functioning correctly. It's likely that the black tank is the only thing venting through the roof stack, so be sure that nothing is preventing proper venting. You mentioned that air pressure down the toilet from a leaf blower forces air out of the vent, but the vent should be open all the time. On a home, a sewer vent is just a straight pipe from the sewer line to the home's roof...no baffles, caps, flaps, etc. Your vent may be blocked in some way...including intrusion by a nesting animal or bird.

Note that in a home toilet, there is a water trap. But MANY (perhaps not all) RV toilets do not have water traps. They rely on a shutter valve and seal to prevent black tank stench from coming back through the toilet. If you can isolate the stench to the toilet, I'd suspect a faulty seal on the "flush" valve. If the seal is bad, odor can not only escape through the roof vent, but it can also seep past the faulty seal. Bear in mind that black water waste may generate a moderate amount of heat, and the stinky air will rise right back out of the toilet valve if it can.

Sink-Gray Water:
This is a separate system. It should not be connected to the black water system in any way other than possibly feeding into the same dump pipe as the black tank. BUT, IF THE GRAY WATER DUMP TIES INTO THE BLACK WATER DUMP, check the valve separating the gray water from the black water dump line. If that's not closing completely, you could have black water backing up into the gray water dump line and into the gray water holding tank. That would not only contaminate the gray tank and make the contents of the gray tank VERY unsanitary, it would also make the contents of the gray tank stink far more than normal. My PUP has separate dumps for gray and black....and they cannot mix, but many larger campers join the two together and terminate in one single dump system...relying on gray water to help clean black water out of the dump hose.

Note that gray water should NOT be hazardous. It should be nothing more than water "contaminated" with soaps and a small amount of food waste. By rights, you should be able to dump your "dishwater" on the ground just as tent campers do. If you have cross contamination between the black and gray tanks because both use a common dump pipe, it needs to be addressed.

Others mentioned dry traps and poorly functioning "cheater vents." Based on your schedule of camping trips (July 4 then September), that's plenty of time for the traps to dry out. Perhaps RV antifreeze will evaporate more slowly, but a simpler tactic is to keep an old orange juice bottle filled with water in the camper and about once a month pour a bit of water in each trap. This phenomenon is common in home "floor drains" in basements, etc. You have to pour water into the floor drain regularly, or the trap will dry out and the stench will drive you out of the house.

When I'm done with my camping trip, I first open the gray tank dump, then I use a garden hose going wide open into a sink drain to flush out the residue in the gray tank. Remember my comments about the gray water not being hazardous. I just flush this out onto my driveway and run enough water through the system (perhaps 10 gallons or so) to dilute any gray-waste residue. Food waste left in the gray tank will stink like hell in short order, but by flushing out the tank with this large amount of fresh, clean water, the tank is pretty clean, and it doesn't smell. Do this at the dump station or ASAP upon getting home, so that the particulates in the gray tank haven't dried onto the tank walls and floor. If you do this at the dump station, you may want to use your own dedicated hose, because the dump station hose will be pretty gross.

While you're at it, check all connections on your sink drains. They can have a nasty habit of rattling apart. There's a chance that some gray water has collected under the sink. If so, it will stink for a long time. If you find any loose "nuts" on the drain plumbing (J-trap, etc.), tighten them (carefully) with water pump pliers, then secure them with duct tape so they don't vibrate loose.

If you want to start 'fresh', you can sanitize both the gray tank and the black tank just as you do the fresh tank...only with a slightly stronger solution of chlorine bleach. Close your dump valves. Using the advertised tank sizes, dump chlorine bleach down the drain and down the toilet in about twice the concentration required to sanitize the fresh tank and plumbing. Use the garden hose to add water until the tanks are full. Let it sit for a day or two to enable the chlorine to kill all bacteria. Dump both at a dump station.
Unlike your fresh tank, you won't need to flush the chlorine out of the tanks with clear water, because you don't drink the gray or black water. Chlorine residue will remain in the tanks for at least one use cycle.

I can dump into my septic at home. The above scenario is not a good idea if you dump into a septic. I do NOT use bleach or anti-bacterial products in RV waste water (or in our laundry), because it will kill the biological action so crucial to proper functioning of the septic tank. Dump stations can handle the bleach because they either are connected to municipal sewers or they are holding tanks that are routinely pumped out and hauled to a municipal sewer system for dumping.

Last suggestion: food particulates in gray water can be minimized resulting if FAR less stinky gray water. We always use our paper napkins (paper towels) to wipe off as much food residue as possible into the trash. This dry wiping is pretty aggressive, to ensure that virtually no solids go down the drain. We even dry wipe egg yolk off the plates as much as possible. The same is true of cooking grease, olive oil (in marinades, etc.) and so on. We do our level best to keep food out of the drain and in the trash instead. The less food the less smell.
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Old 07-19-2017, 01:48 PM   #12
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Little late to the party but in regards to gray water tanks, these are my procedures any time I am storing the camper for 2 weeks or more and once I am back home. Obviously I drain the tanks prior to leaving the camp ground. When back home I simply put a little deodorizer into the kitchen sink drains and flush with a little water to move the deodorizer to the tank. Then I add a little bit more deodorizer to fill the traps, then I put a little into the other gray water drains, again just to fill the traps. Then I simply put the drain plugs in which forces any off gassing through the exterior vents.

Black water is similar, I drain the tank at campground, once home, black tank deodorizer with water and open to allow this into the tank. Then I put a little more deodorizer and water into the toilet and do not flush it. Doing this I have never had any offending or noticeable odors from my gray or black tanks.

Hope it helps.
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