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Old 07-20-2015, 05:18 PM   #1
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Black tank odor

Howdy campers!

We just got back from first big trip with our first RV. It was a 5 week tour of the country with our kids in our Class A 2006 Fleetwood Southwind. We learned a lot, but one of our chronic problems that we experienced almost from day 1, was that awful black tank odor in the coach when traveling, especially on winding or bumpy roads.

The toilet flush valve was ok, it was holding water in the bowl just fine...in fact the bathroom didn't smell at all. The smell seemed to be coming from the ceiling area of the bedroom. (by sniff test) It would also smell bad from there sometimes when we were parked for the night and someone flushed the toilet. If we emptied the tank, and flushed it out with clean water a couple times, the smell stayed away for about a day's worth of use. I can only think that it has something to do with the vent stack, but I can't figure why it would be coming from the ceiling area, and I can't inspect the piping since it is all buried in the wall or roof...but I was thinking of trying one of those solar vent caps that run a fan to pull the vapors out continuously.

My questions are these: has anyone else experienced this odor phenomenon, and did it ever get fixed and how....and has anyone tried the solar vent cap, and did it help, hinder, or do nothing at all?

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Old 07-20-2015, 05:47 PM   #2
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You might try a cyclone vent and chemicals if the problem persist.

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Old 07-20-2015, 06:41 PM   #3
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The fastest solution (literally) is bleach.
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Old 07-20-2015, 07:28 PM   #4
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Southwind Sewer smell

We to have an 06 32VS, and have a sewer smell every time we flush and are traveling down the road, but never when we are parked. I put a cyclone vent on top, but no help. The vent pipe is only about 12" fron the bathroom vent, good engineering. We have closed all vents and windows when flushing, but we are still getting the smell. There is water in the p traps, and i have checked the vent under the sink and it seems to be working. We are frustrated also.
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Old 07-20-2015, 07:41 PM   #5
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You shouldn't be smelling any odor if everything is working o.k. In other posts the problem came from the outside vent post being clogged.

We always used only water - no chemical, and had no problems with smells.
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Old 07-20-2015, 07:49 PM   #6
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If the outside of your RV was covered with dirt / mud / crap and had a foul odor what would you do? You would power wash it and remove the source.
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Old 07-20-2015, 07:51 PM   #7
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Can you remove a vent, speaker or lamp to gain access above the ceiling? Even if you can't quite see the vent pipe, you might be able to do a sniff test to track the problem. Sometimes the vent pipes fall down away from the cap and into the tank.

And do what the portable toilet providers do, use chemicals.
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Old 07-20-2015, 07:57 PM   #8
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Tom13.........The vent stack should terminate above the roof. Another post mentiokned that sometimes they can fall below the roof level. Fo on the roof and remove the cover over the stack. Take a look to see if the pipe has fallen.
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Old 07-20-2015, 08:32 PM   #9
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I had the same problem and there are many old threads that discuss the same issue. The solution that worked for me is a plastic device called the 360 vent. It replaces the vent cap on the vent of your black water vent that is located on your roof. It is very easy to install and comes with good directions. If you do some searching on the web you will see a video of how it works. Since I installed it I have not had any bad odor problems. I was thinking of one of those solar powered vent caps but I choose the solution with no moving parts or complicated technology. People who install those shark fin vents also report good results but it also has moving parts and look easy to snag on a tree branch. You just need to create a slight negative pressure in your black water tank to prevent the smells from seeping into your motor home.
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Old 07-21-2015, 01:13 PM   #10
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It sounds like you have a vent problem for sure!

If you will use Happy Camper tank treatment you can eliminate most of the odor! Maybe this will help until you can find the problem!

Amazon.com: happy camper rv treatment
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Old 07-21-2015, 01:47 PM   #11
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Go on the roof and make sure the vent is not clogged.
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Old 07-21-2015, 02:43 PM   #12
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Originally Posted by twogypsies View Post
You shouldn't be smelling any odor if everything is working o.k. In other posts the problem came from the outside vent post being clogged.

We always used only water - no chemical, and had no problems with smells.
Good advice. Chemicals will do nothing for you.
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Old 07-21-2015, 04:43 PM   #13
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We get odors while traveling. It comes from the shower drain. A ziplock bag filled with water placed over the drain solved the problem.The grey tank can be quite odorous from kitchen food scraps.
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Old 07-21-2015, 05:41 PM   #14
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Originally Posted by Cat320 View Post
Good advice. Chemicals will do nothing for you.

I agree. Chemicals are just a band-aid and only mask the odor. However, using them temporarily until you determine and repair the problem might not be a bad idea.....but just don't rely upon them to cover the smell for now on.

You might want to run a hose up on the roof and run water down the vent pipe to insure that it is not plugged up. It may be only partially plugged and not allowing full venting capability. Make sure you have the black/gray tank drain valve open before you run water down the pipe.

You also might want to replace the Air Admittance Valve (AAV) located under either/both of the sinks. Better to just replace it as it is inexpensive and can be found at just about any hardware store.

It sounds like the previous owner wasn't too good about maintaining this system.

Good luck


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