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Old 05-02-2005, 08:48 AM   #1
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I've had this problem since I bought the 5'er. Whenever we transport, upon arrival the camper smells pretty bad of you know what. I can keep the smell down some by emptying the black water tank before departure, but I understand emptying it before it's full is not a recommended practice. Since learning that, we left it full Easter weekend, and this past weekend when we went to Gettysburg, the stink was so bad it took over a day to wear off. I don't seem to have any broken pipes, the tank doesn't leak, and the hopper holds water OK. Is this just the way they are, or am I doing something wrong?
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Old 05-02-2005, 08:48 AM   #2
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I've had this problem since I bought the 5'er. Whenever we transport, upon arrival the camper smells pretty bad of you know what. I can keep the smell down some by emptying the black water tank before departure, but I understand emptying it before it's full is not a recommended practice. Since learning that, we left it full Easter weekend, and this past weekend when we went to Gettysburg, the stink was so bad it took over a day to wear off. I don't seem to have any broken pipes, the tank doesn't leak, and the hopper holds water OK. Is this just the way they are, or am I doing something wrong?
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Old 05-02-2005, 09:19 AM   #3
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There are several possibilities:

1. Are you leaving any vents or windows open in the 5th wheel during travel? The reason for this question is that you can create a low pressure area in the interior of the RV that will pull fumes and vapors inside. This isn't a root cause, but could compound one of the following problems.

2. I stand open to correction by RV Wizard or one of our other "potty experts" on this one, but my recollection is that many of the RV toilets have an overflow passage from below the rim of the bowl to below the valve at the base of the bowl. This overflow has a P-trap that should be full of water to seal off the sewer gas from coming back into the bowl. If you've lost the water from this P-trap (not that uncommon due to the motion of the RV during travel, especially over rough or twisting roads), you have a passage for sewer gas to come directly from the black tank into the interior of the RV.

3. Another area to check is where the black tank vent penetrates the interior and roof of the RV on the way to its termination on the roof. If there are any open (unsealed) areas around the vent stack (including on the roof) or any discontinuities in the vent stack as it travels from the black tank to the roof, sewer gas can be pulled back into the interior of the RV.

Maybe these suggestions will get you started until some others check in.

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P.S. - I never leave a campground without dumping black and gray tanks and flushing the black tank.
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Old 05-02-2005, 09:46 AM   #4
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Agnem, first of all welcome Neighbor . Am I to understand by your post that you left the crap in the black tank after Easter, and then dumped it at Gettysburg? That is your one main problem if that is what you did. If the tank is not full when you leave a campground.......make it full with water. Leave the flush pedal open til it fills. WATCH IT THOUGH> Then dump it. I would never transport the black tank full if I could dump. I agree with Rusty too. If you leave your overhead vent open when you travel you will get fumes. Also as a side note. If you travel on the Bay Bridge Tunnel. Close all roof vents. They will bring in the diesel fumes from the tunnels. UGH. Good luck
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Old 05-02-2005, 09:54 AM   #5
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<BLOCKQUOTE class="ip-ubbcode-quote"><div class="ip-ubbcode-quote-title">quote:</div><div class="ip-ubbcode-quote-content">...but I understand emptying it before it's full is not a recommended practice. Since learning that, we left it full Easter weekend, and this past weekend when we went... </div></BLOCKQUOTE>

My own experience and personal preference would cause me to veer from this just a little.
Yes, when the black tank is fuller, it drains better (more completely).
But i typically won't let my tanks stay full or even half full especially if I am taking off on a big weekend or a special weekend. I go to the local drain spot near my house, drain the tank even if it is quarter full, and then I just rinse it out enough times to make sure I am at a comforatable level of clean. The drive home from the previous campsite will liquify things enough that even a quarter-full tank is easy enough to drain.
Draining a fuller tank will indeed leave a more clean tank, especially if you are draining the grey tank concurrently, because this gets and keeps the 'flow' going. This is why people don't recommend leaving your black tank 'open' continuously when hooked up to a sewer at a campground. The flow doesn't get any muscle behind it.
But me? i personally will drain and clean the black tank if I am going anywhere longer then a couple days, or if the whole family is coming with. It is just too easy to have a clean black tank. I keep a (black) garden hose in my rig just specifically to keep a clean machine.
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Old 05-02-2005, 11:17 AM   #6
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Had a friend with a 5th that left black tank partly full an support straps pulled out an I can guess the results weren't to pleasent. ---"007"
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Old 05-03-2005, 08:10 PM   #7
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Agnem, this almost sounds like your black tank vent pipe is clogged or not venting correctly. Have you checked the vent cover on the roof to make sure you don't have a birds nest or some other obstruction? I live in AZ where it gets really hot in the summer. There have been times when I have traveled with an almost full black tank in hot weather and I have never had this problem. There are several after market vent pipe attachements that claim to eliminate this odor problem. Here are a few links: http://secure.rvtoystore.com/catalog...des/XV100.html http://www.lslproducts.com/MK-IVPage.html
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Old 05-04-2005, 05:23 AM   #8
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My thinking is that he is just draining and not flushing clean the tank. Leaving some solids behind that are stinking. I use a clear end on my slinky and have noticed that it can take 5 or more 'fill and drain' cycles using my 'quickie flush' before all the crud is out. I also refill my black tank to 1/3 full with fresh water after each drain and I don't use any chemicals. (I don't normally have a stink problem because the water normally covers all the solids. After 4 or 5 days of not dumping the tank, I sometimes do use chemicals, but I don't usually have to go that long.) These black tanks need water, and a LOT of it, to work correctly. Even with chemicals, that 2 or 3 gallons of water they say to add is just not enought for the 20-45 gallon tanks we now see.
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Old 05-04-2005, 06:17 AM   #9
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The problem with continuously draining the holding tank while camped is the solids build up directly below the toilet. Liquids will drain off and cause impacting of the tank. Not a good thing. Always drain the tank prior to travel but give it a complete flush. Fill it a couple times if possible and empty. Another great device is the flush wand that attaches to the sink and sprays at a right angle to the wand. This does a marvelous job of cleaning.

I have seen a few mention adding water and ice cubes to clean the surfaces after flushing and the movement of the tow cleans the interior spotless.
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Old 05-04-2005, 07:34 AM   #10
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I think Sundevil is getting to the root of the problem,I owned a Wilderness TT by Fleetwood and I had the same problem. What had happened was when it was built the vent pipe was too long and the roof cap sat right down on top of the pipe,with no room for gases to escape. I cut the pipe down a little and no more problem...
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Old 05-04-2005, 08:31 AM   #11
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I used to have this problem. I installed one of those covers over my vent in the bathroom so I could leave the vent open while on the road and now it's just fine when I get home.
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Old 05-04-2005, 11:06 AM   #12
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If I may expand on some items already mentioned and add a couple more here. First, you mention you have had this problem since you bought the rig. I presume you bought it used.
Things to check: Has the roof vent fallen down inside the black tank to where it isnt venting.
Get up on the roof, take off the vent cap and make sure the vent stack is up above the roof line about 1 7/8" to 2" above roof line. Is the stack loose to where you can raise up out of the roof? Pull lightly on stack to see if it moves. Is there a gap between top of stack and vent cap for the air to come out?
There is a product that dealerships will use to really break up the crud in older tanks when people havent properly used them. You may have a severe build up of junk in that tank. As mentioned, use plenty of water and drain and flush several times. Put a clear elbow on your sewer hose so you can see what is coming out. Always drain before leaving the campground. Refill with fresh water at least 5 gallons or more(rule of thumb is 1/3 full on tank), but normally alittle less is ok. Try putting ice cubes down it while traveling to break up things.
Now the other thing not mentioned here is the possibility that the smell is actually gray water smell. In addition to giving it a good scrub with water softener solution liquid detergent, check your vacuum breakers that are located under probably both the kitchen and the bathroom sinks. Right around where the P traps are, you will see a pipe that sticks up. On top of that pipe, is something that looks like a vent cap. They screw on to the pipe. If the vacuum is bad, they will emit odor back into rig that smells very similar to black tank. Also, when traveling, always close the drains on the sinks by putting your plungers down in the closed positions. This will prevent a vacuum action of draining the P traps with moving and allowing gasses to come back up from the gray tank.
If you bought this used, extensive scrubbing and cleaning is a very good start.
One more thing, if the above helps but you still have some smell. Look at installing the Lil' Stanker that is in our rvupgrade store. I just did and will be posting a product evaluation on it in the next day or so.
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Old 05-10-2005, 07:42 AM   #13
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OK! Wow, what a great bunch of responses. Let me throw out a couple of one-liners here to address some of the comments.

I'm sure it's black water odor.

I do leave my windows open a tad.

There is no way to get the vent pipe higher than the roof realistically (front living room).

So, it looks like I'm doing some bad things, and have some mods to consider. The first thing we will do is close up before towing. I'll get one of those nifty vent pipe vacuum devices to keep the air going the right way (that looks like a major possibility as the cause of a lot of it). I'll resume my pre-departure flushing activity which I thought was a bad thing. I do have a clear elbow for my hose but I'll get one that has the valve that will allow me to fill the tank to better flush it. I'll get on the roof and check the vent pipe to make sure it is not obstructed. Can anyone say the best way to do this? Just pour some water down it and see if it sounds like it's open? I'm familiar with that overflow tube on the toilet. How can I check it? Thanks for the great ideas.
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Old 05-10-2005, 07:56 AM   #14
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As far as the vent pipe goes, take the cap off of it, make sure the stack hasnt falled down in the tank. Do this by makeing sure you have at least 1 7/8" of stack above the roof and that the stack isnt loose when grabbed by your hands. I guess you could try alittle water down the pipe or put a long pole down and see if it hits bottom.
The clear plastic elbow with the valve on it really doesnt allow you to back fill very much. As you are putting water in, it is flowing right back out thru the hose. That only really allows you to kinda spray the end of the tank close to the the drain. You can either instal a tank sprayer on the side of the tank if you have access or you could get a Flush King that allows you to close the tank valve and back fill that way. Just some thoughts.
Mike
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