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Old 07-02-2014, 05:04 PM   #1
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Smelly bubbles coming up when flushing 5th wheel toilet

NORMALLY, we have no smell when flushing, and no bubbles. Works fine. But, twice now, in the last year (since we've had this 5th wheel), we've started getting a big bubble when we flush the toilet. Needless to say, it's unpleasant.

Currently, the RV has been at the campsite for 5 days, with 2 of us over the weekend, then just me for 3 days. It started this about 2 days ago. With so little use I can't believe the tank is so full that it would unable to vent.

When we dump, which I can't do at present as I have no sewer hookup, we run a LOT of water through the tank, AND use the built in sprayer that's in the tank. Typically, empty 'til things run pretty clear, then add several gallons of water. We ALWAYS leave the valve closed until we're ready to head home, and then dump, so normally there's at least some amount in the tank. It usually gushes out pretty good. I traveled for 6 WEEKS this spring, and only dumped a MAXIMUM of weekly, and never had this problem.

Also try to use a goodly amount of water when flushing, even when we don't have a water hookup.

I suppose it COULD be the vent cap, although I checked it about 3 months ago, and I don't THINK it's gotten pushed down or anything.

Last time, after a period of having bubbles, even after dumping, the problem suddenly went away, so I'm wondering if it's possible that "stuff" is getting built-up where the plumbing dumps into the tank rather than having a vent pipe problem? I"ve tried flushing extra bowls of water down, but I still get the big,. exploding, stinky bubble...

Worst case, I'll be able to dump Sunday, and next week we'll be in a park where we DO have a sewer hookup, so if necessary when I get home on Sunday, if it's still bubbling when empty, I can use the toilet wand down the drain method to see if I can blast things loose... Or even dump a bag of ice cubes down the toilet just before we start the 6-hour drive.

Anything else I should be thinking of?
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Old 07-02-2014, 05:14 PM   #2
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Sounds like a plugged vent. Displaced air goes up the vent (good) or up the intake (bad).
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Old 07-02-2014, 05:18 PM   #3
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I have read of folks using Cologen water softener and dawn. Ice cubes seem to be a favourite as well...I dump a full black tank and fill it twice more before I'm ready for travel....Always leave a little bit of water, about 1/4 tank, to swish around while we travel to the next CG. Seems to work. Haven't use any Cologen or dawn....so far. The bubble sounds like a blockage though.....sort of what a sink would do........gulping in reverse.
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Old 07-02-2014, 06:33 PM   #4
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Sounds like some critter built a nest in the vent pipe............
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Old 07-04-2014, 06:46 PM   #5
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Unfortunately, it's not something I can check where I am, so it's going to have to wait 'til I get home.

I"ll know more once I dump Sunday - if the blockage goes away either the tank was a whole lot fuller than I thought (which it shouldn't be), or the vent is sticking too far into the tank, which isn't something I'm going to mess with.

Either way, I'll hopefully know more then. BTW: We do the same thing when dumping - flush bowls of water down, use the in-tank sprayer while dumping, and keep several gallons of water in the tank to slosh around. If the blockage DOESN'T go away Sunday, I'll dump a big bunch of ice cubes in Wednesday when we take of again. See if that can break whatever's in there loose.
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Old 07-04-2014, 06:57 PM   #6
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Been there, done that

In my case it was a clog in the pipe leading into the black tank from the toilet.

I cut the Barb off a regular hose and used it to ram the clog into the tank.

Then it clogged the tank when I was dumping.

Messy, very messy. Rubber gloves were needed. And a change of clothes.
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Old 07-04-2014, 07:43 PM   #7
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I too had the same problem and it also was a clog at the bottom of the pipe running from the toilet and had an obstruction right as it dumped into the tank. Had this GREAT IDEA (it seemed so at the time!). I took my toilet brush and using plastic wire/cable ties, tied it to the end of my toilet wand, which btw would go thru the clog but even with water not clear it).

Pushed the brush in as far as I could. Started to withdraw it just as my wonderful wife said "hope the handle doesn't come off", it did. Who would have thought that the toilet brush was in two pieces anyway?

Luckily I had a long handle set of needle nose pliers that just BARELY reached the brush. Withdrew the brush and have had no further problems. Whatever was stuck is now clear.

DISCLAIMER: Although this method worked, it is NOT recommended! Lol.
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Old 07-04-2014, 10:44 PM   #8
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Could be

Could it be the 'dreaded pyramid of poo'? This typically happens when the black tank is used for a while with the drain handle pulled out. At some point the tip of the pyramid reaches the pipe and does exactly what you describe.

Someone else on this forum found out that their grey and black handles were mis-labeled just today!
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Old 07-05-2014, 09:53 AM   #9
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I"m hoping it is the "dreaded pyramid of poo", if for no other reason than it SOUNDS amazing!!!!!!! We never operate with the drains open - learned years ago that's a great recipe for all sorts of unpleasantness. BUT, it doesn't mean there CAN'T still be a pyramid at the end of the toilet drain. I ran some water in yesterday, and it SEEMED like it was backing up in the drain - at least from the sound of water filling the drain pipe...

It's possible that's what's happened, which would be a much better choice than having the vent pipe too far in the tank...

Worst case, if it's still bubbling after I dump, I can add enough water that there's plenty of sloshing on the trip north Wednesday. Add a bunch of ice cubes, maybe some Rid-ex...
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Old 07-05-2014, 08:07 PM   #10
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Ice cubes and....

Calgon, dawn dish washing detergent, tide, rid-x, Happy Camper. All have been reported to have worked.

I think it's the sloshing.

Do you have a tank sprayer?
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Old 07-08-2014, 10:44 AM   #11
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Thankfully, it was NONE OF THE ABOVE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

When I dumped, I FLUSHED a HUGE amount of water through the in-tank sprayer(s) - TWICE... By the time I was done, the water going out was clear. No joy.

Drove home, tried flushing. Still big bubbles.

This morning I got up on the ladder and made sure the cap wasn't closing the vent. Nope........ Took the hose up there and ran a BUNCH of water down the vent...... No blockage....

SO, I figured it was either in the toilet drain, or it WAS the "dreaded pyramid of Poop".......

Took the garden hose into the bathroom, put the flexible wand sprayer on the end, and had my wife hit the water......................................

And sprayed ALL OVER THE BATHROOM, FLOOR, WALLS, TOILET, CARPET, SHOWER AREA... All the time trying to hold the hose end that's spraying all over while still controlling the end of the wand and screaming for my wife to turn off the water..... I'd forgotten that this hose has a bad end, and leaks/sprays water all over the place.......... Unfortunately, for me, this is a fairly normal STUPID HUMAN TRICK! Note: It does NOT help when you exit the trailer soaked and dripping, to have your wife walk up and start laughing at you!!!!!!!

Put a GOOD hose on the end of the leaky one and left it OUTSIDE the trailer. Good hose into the bath, wand attached, have her hit the water again. Put it in the toilet and the bowl started filling. Pushed wand into the drain, and at about the 2 foot mark the drain took a sharp turn, and concurrently we encountered a "BLOCKAGE"......... Pushed a bit, sprayed a bit, and SUDDENLY, "VOILA", things move and the bowl empties............

No more blockage, and now we know if we get one it's most likely in the drain line, which is easy to clean out with a short hose, the wand, and a connecter to attach it to the bathroom sink......

SO, problem solved, and now I know what to do if it happens again.... I had earlier used my little plunger, so I'm curious why THAT didn't push the material into the tank, but it's clear now, so back to happy...

Thanks for all the advice and help.

BTW: Do others routinely put a little Rid-X down the toilet? How about the gray water tank(s)? Does anyone know about how long it needs to do anything?
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Old 07-09-2014, 04:41 PM   #12
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Glad you found it!! Sorry about the mess. It sounds like you have a mini pyramid site in the flat pipe after the bend. Might be worth dumping most of a 5 gal bucket once in a while to get a super flush and clean out that flat pipe section.

Don't use any of the septic tank chemicals because they work slower than my dump rate. OTOH find some detergent and/or water softener makes things flow better. Ditto more water. The toilets are great at saving water but that means the water to solid ratio is not good for flushing out the tank. That is why tank flush tools have results. Because of that if I am dumping less than a full tank I add water at the beginning. Also dump in a few gallons before a trip.
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Old 07-09-2014, 08:04 PM   #13
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Thanks... I think the error was mine... We were in a campground with just electricity, and wife and I were there for 3 days, then I was there for another 6... I suspect we were more conservative then usual with the flushing, although I tried to use plenty of water...

I've never used detergent or Calgon or whatever, so we may give that a try just to keep the plumbing smooth and slippery!

In any case, things are now flowing freely...

Amazing that after something like 50 years of camping and using one form of RV or another, I STILL have stuff I'm learning.
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Old 07-10-2014, 12:54 PM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dkperez View Post

Took the garden hose into the bathroom, put the flexible wand sprayer on the end, and had my wife hit the water......................................

And sprayed ALL OVER THE BATHROOM, FLOOR, WALLS, TOILET, CARPET, SHOWER AREA... All the time trying to hold the hose end that's spraying all over while still controlling the end of the wand and screaming for my wife to turn off the water..... I'd forgotten that this hose has a bad end, and leaks/sprays water all over the place.......... Unfortunately, for me, this is a fairly normal STUPID HUMAN TRICK! Note: It does NOT help when you exit the trailer soaked and dripping, to have your wife walk up and start laughing at you!!!!!!!
Read this while in Nevada traveling to wife's class reunion...best laugh I've had in a while!

Thanks!

Tim
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