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Old 06-24-2013, 11:33 AM   #1
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Eliminating Sewer Gas Smell

A few days ago we returned to the RV late and when we came inside we had a sewer gas smell.

I do not ever remember having that as an issue with any RV before. However we recently traded and although our new 5r is used, everyone who has seen it comments about how new it looks inside and out. Very well maintained.

On the roof is a Cyclone Sewer Vent which is very close to the Primary AC unit. Less than 12" away. The winds had switched and the exhaust port of the Cyclone Vent was directly in line with the primary AC unit.

I did not think of this right at the time but we shut off the AC where the odors seemed to be coming from. Opened windows, used fans and went to bed.

5r is equiped with a built in eternal black water flush system so I did a complete tank flush, the winds however also changed and the exhaust port was no longer in line with the AC.

We continued to have several days of no issue so not really sure if it was combination of perhaps overdue tank flush, and or the Cyclone Vent exhaust in line with AC and it's very close proximity.

Few questions:
1. Any one else experience AC unit pulling in sewer fumes before?
2. How often do you preform a black tank flush?
3. When you are away from RV say 3 days or more, do you close the valves off on your unit so the septic fumes are not allowed back up throught the sewer line?

We had also noted the slight sewer smell coming from the W/D area perhaps the vent. Really unsure and since we have no more smells not sure what it was. Thanks!!
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Old 06-24-2013, 12:01 PM   #2
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Something else to check is to see if your batteries are off gassing. We had a distinct sewer type smell and finally found that one of our batteries had a shorted cell. This caused the charger to continually try to charge the batteries causing them to boil. Check to see if one of your batteries feels hot to the touch.
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Old 06-24-2013, 12:13 PM   #3
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We quit using commercial tank chemicals. Always had odor while using them. Now almost never do, except when dumping tanks. (though we are now hooked to public sewer and use home type commode and open tanks.)
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Old 06-24-2013, 12:17 PM   #4
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Hi Kro1957,
Consider checking the vacuum vent that is on each drain. You should be able to see it by looking under the sink, etc. These are to the grey tank. I know you say it is sewer gas, but grey tank smell can be very similar to black tank smell. Over time I have had to replace all the vacuum vents. The vents allow draining of water by allowing air into the drain, but should close so no air is allowed back into the coach.

To answer your questions?
1. My roof A/C can not pull air into the coach.
2. Black tank flush is two times a year.
3. If not at the coach for several days the grey and black tanks are dumped and the valves are closed.

Depending on how your coach plumbing was run, it could be as simple as the only thing going into the black tank is the toilet (like my coach). However, some coaches have other sinks and drains going into the black tank. Lastly, consider placing a back tank vent pipe cover on the black tank vent. There are several choices.
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Old 06-24-2013, 12:19 PM   #5
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Jerry, a CG neighbor bought a brand new TT. They FT, first thing he did was put in a Residential Fridge and had a plumber come in and put in a residential toilet. I did not know you could do that with a toilet.
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Old 06-24-2013, 12:20 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Kro1957 View Post
A few days ago we returned to the RV late and when we came inside we had a sewer gas smell.

I do not ever remember having that as an issue with any RV before. However we recently traded and although our new 5r is used, everyone who has seen it comments about how new it looks inside and out. Very well maintained.

On the roof is a Cyclone Sewer Vent which is very close to the Primary AC unit. Less than 12" away. The winds had switched and the exhaust port of the Cyclone Vent was directly in line with the primary AC unit.

I did not think of this right at the time but we shut off the AC where the odors seemed to be coming from. Opened windows, used fans and went to bed.

5r is equiped with a built in eternal black water flush system so I did a complete tank flush, the winds however also changed and the exhaust port was no longer in line with the AC.

We continued to have several days of no issue so not really sure if it was combination of perhaps overdue tank flush, and or the Cyclone Vent exhaust in line with AC and it's very close proximity.

Few questions:
1. Any one else experience AC unit pulling in sewer fumes before?
2. How often do you preform a black tank flush?
3. When you are away from RV say 3 days or more, do you close the valves off on your unit so the septic fumes are not allowed back up throught the sewer line?

We had also noted the slight sewer smell coming from the W/D area perhaps the vent. Really unsure and since we have no more smells not sure what it was. Thanks!!
1. The AC should not exchange air with the outside. The AC recirculates the air within the RV. So, the odor was be recirculated on the inside.
2. I always do a flush when we leave the campground.
3. I always keep the tank valves closed, even the grey tank, so that everything get flushed out. The grey tank can smell just as bad if everything is not flushed out. If you left the grey tank open, it is possible that the fumes were coming from the campground sewer system through the washer vent if it is not sealed off. I had some bad odors and realized it was coming from the washer that we had not used in a while.
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Old 06-24-2013, 02:47 PM   #7
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Great information. I did not know there were so many vent caps for the drains.
I seen one in the WD area but cap does not come off of the pipe. Not sure how you could inspect that. We did smell that in the closet area of the WD so perhaps that was where it was coming from and the AC was just circulating it. Any help on inpecting that washer vent is appreciated. I will look for the galley area vent if there is one.
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Old 06-24-2013, 06:27 PM   #8
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A couple of weeks ago we were going from Utah to Las Vegas. It was 105F+ and I was using the dash AC in the recycle mode when I started getting a sewer stench. Didn't think about it at the time but when I put the AC using outside air the smell appeared to stop.

We pulled into an RV park in Vegas, hooked up the power, turned the AC to 72 and left for the next 5 hours visiting family. Got back to the RV around 10 PM only to find the RV smelled worse than an outhouse. It was putrid!!!!

Had no clue ... searched the web, forums, etc. Found many examples: batteries, black tank, etc. and did my best to rule them out. Then my DW found a few posts about the "P" trap(s) not having any water in them causing the smell to come from the gray tank.

Put water in all the sinks and shower which resulted in the P traps having water back in them and the smell stopped. Opened up ceiling vents and within an hour or so the stench was gone.

My theory, and I'm sticking to it, is that while driving at 65 mph in 105F+ down the road the water in the P traps evaporated therefor allowing the smell from the gray tank to permeate the RV. We use the same chemicals in the black and gray tanks.
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Old 06-24-2013, 06:32 PM   #9
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If you don't use your WD much (or don't have one), make sure the washing machine trap has liquid in it.
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Old 06-29-2013, 10:29 AM   #10
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As someone said check the vacuum breaker but not all breakers are equal.
i bought one at a Lowes but still had the smell, went to Home Depot and got one that looked different and it worked fine. I'm not saying Home Depot is the only place to get them just there are differences.
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Old 06-29-2013, 11:00 AM   #11
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W/D pee trap is a chronic offender. Just run the washer even empty and it will solve that problem. In storage you can use anti freeze in the trap to keep it from drying but we just run the washer once.

The A/C will not draw air from the roof but what happens when you have anything taking air out of the RV, roof fan etc, it changes the pressure enough to draw on the vent pipes both inside or outside. An open vent in the rear and a fan going in front can draw roof air from the rear vent. The cyclone or equivalent set up take care of that mostly.

Chemicals or not there is no substitute for a good flush and cleaning plan/routine for all your tanks.
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