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Old 03-21-2016, 09:20 AM   #1
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Join Date: Sep 2015
Location: Red Bluff, Ca
Posts: 169
Odor in 1998 Alpine 36

Our recently acquired Alpine 36 has a "chemical" odor that I thought was just "mustiness" from being closed up for a long time before we bought it.
Previous owner had numerous deodorizers in the coach which masked the odor. Removed all the deodorizers and aired out the coach.

Can't identify the source or nature but it is not mold under the sinks or holding tank odor. Shower, bath and kitchen p-traps are all filled with water. Definitely not a dead animal. Doesn't smell like cigarette smoke.

I rented an ozone generator over a weekend. That temporarily removed the odor. Odor came back over night;even with all windows and ceiling vents open.

Had the carpet and cloth sofa steam cleaned. My wife admits to vast improvement but claims she can still detect a faint odor.

Is it possible to clean the ceiling fabric? I'm concerned that the heat and moisture will deactivate the glue and the fabric will droop.

The flat areas of the ceiling look clean but the 1" angled recesses around the 12v ceiling lights are grayish. And the area above the microwave is also a bit discolored.

I suspect that there may have been a cooking accident that filled the coach with smoke.

I'm hoping that steam cleaning the ceiling and fabric window valances will solve the odor problem but I don't want to cause a bigger issue with a droopy headliner.

Comments and suggestions please.

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Old 03-21-2016, 12:44 PM   #2
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Location: Cincinnati
Posts: 19,907
'Chemical odor' is pretty general, but if the previous owner was trying to cover it up it's probably not a new problem. Odor from the black and grey tanks could be from a bad 'cheater vent' or toilet seal. Does the toilet bowl hold water? If so, one place eliminated. Your sinks most likely have 'cheater vents' which are used in place of actual roof top sewer venting. They are intended to be one way valves that often fail to close up again when water drains. They are screw on vents in cabinets under sinks.

Oatey 1-1/2 in. ABS PTC In-Line Cheater Vent-39012 - The Home Depot

Also, if you have plumbing for a washer/dryer, that trap can be dried out and cause odors. You might use a cap on the stand pipe if you don't use it.

Check for signs of roof leaks that might be causing mildew or mold in ceiling or side walls. Sniff the walls, carpets, etc. for signs of mold or rot.

I'd ask local shops for advice about steam cleaning the ceiling, it might cause drooping in a fabric cover 18 years old by destroying the adhesive holding the fabric to the padding or stretching the fabric.


Bob & Donna
'98 Gulf Stream Sun Voyager DP being pushed by a '00 Beetle TDI
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Old 03-21-2016, 04:34 PM   #3
Join Date: Dec 2015
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We had a similar odor in our coach when we got it and did all the same things you have tried even steam cleaned the headliner

Still would smell like hell especially when driving

Turned out the smell was the splendid washer

Open the door and you will find a gray rubber seal about 2 inches wide, pull the seal back and you may find all kinds of lint and prizes

Now we keep it cleaned out and leave the door open just a little

No more stinky
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Old 04-03-2016, 04:58 PM   #4
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Location: Red Bluff, Ca
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Thanks to all for your comments.

Taking your advice; I found and replaced the 3 Studer vents. One for the washer vent-(no washer installed-stand pipe above p-trap is capped)
One for the bathroom sink and one for the kitchen sink and shower.

No improvement in the odor.

My son was nosing around trying to help me locate the source. He found a strong bad odor under the shelf below the kitchen sink.
We got a quart of odor blocking Zinsser Bin shellac primer and painted 2 coats on all parts of the top of the cabinet bottom that we could reach.

That was a week ago. The son and family took the coach on a 1500 mile trip over the past week and he reports that the odor is now only barely noticeable.

Any other suggestions for eliminating odor completely? Washing with Bleach or ammonia?
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Old 04-03-2016, 09:11 PM   #5
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Location: Cotuit, MA
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Have you looked at the holding tanks? I would look for a leaking tank or cracked drain/vent pipe.
Dave, Bobbi and Fenway
2005 38' FDTS Alpine Limited, 2016 Jeep Grand Cherokee Limited
Cape Cod, MA
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Old 04-03-2016, 09:18 PM   #6
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Was there any signs of a plumbing leak in the past under the sink? I'd think about pulling out the floor of the cabinet to see what's underneath. If rot or mold is growing, you want it out, not just covered in shellac. Rot and mold keep growing, it needs to be removed and good wood put in it's place.


Bob & Donna
'98 Gulf Stream Sun Voyager DP being pushed by a '00 Beetle TDI
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