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Old 08-09-2008, 12:20 PM   #1
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I'm new to the site, so please excuse any steps or procedures I have overlooked. We have a 2007 Dolphin 35' gas motorhome that we absolutely love . . . BUT
In our travels last winter we noticed a horrible order under the sink and in the adjoining cabinet, which holds the trash can. Well, I started taking out the trash every 5 min. and it still smelled. Finally figured it was coming from grey water vent so my husband thinking it was malfunctioning replaced it with a new one. Still horible smell!! Then thinking the roof vent must be plugged took the hose on the roof and ran water through the vent tube which seemed to drain just fine. Finally he sealed the under sink vent with a solid cap instead of the vented back-flo cap and hope that solves the problem. Afraid the sink won't drain properly, and also worried about the master grey water drainage, as it was already VERY slow. Any help or suggestions would be greatly appreciated
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Old 08-09-2008, 12:20 PM   #2
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I'm new to the site, so please excuse any steps or procedures I have overlooked. We have a 2007 Dolphin 35' gas motorhome that we absolutely love . . . BUT
In our travels last winter we noticed a horrible order under the sink and in the adjoining cabinet, which holds the trash can. Well, I started taking out the trash every 5 min. and it still smelled. Finally figured it was coming from grey water vent so my husband thinking it was malfunctioning replaced it with a new one. Still horible smell!! Then thinking the roof vent must be plugged took the hose on the roof and ran water through the vent tube which seemed to drain just fine. Finally he sealed the under sink vent with a solid cap instead of the vented back-flo cap and hope that solves the problem. Afraid the sink won't drain properly, and also worried about the master grey water drainage, as it was already VERY slow. Any help or suggestions would be greatly appreciated
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Old 08-09-2008, 02:28 PM   #3
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Yep, gray water can be nearly as bad as black water. I add black tank treatment to the gray tank with each draining, solved the problem. Keep in mind that unless you don't cook in the coach, you will get food particles in the tank.

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Old 08-09-2008, 04:20 PM   #4
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You can try a couple of things to maybe help with 1) the flow of the water out of the tank and 2) the odor.

First to help the flow of the water out of the tank -- look for Calgon water softner (the powder is what I use) and I disolve a cup of the powder in a gallon of hot water and then put into the grey tank. You have probably noticed that water softer makes a surface very slick -- like soft water on your skin. This has the same effect on the sides of the tank. After getting the diluted water softner in the tank, I will then fill to about 2/3rds full -- drive around for a while to slosh it around and coat the inside of the tank and then drain. After draining the tank, I will use about 1/2 cup disolved in hot water and use the tank as normal -- I do this to about every other tank.

Also, you may need to "santize" the tank. I do this by pouring a gallon of liquid bleach into the grey tank. In your case, I would do this when you put in the initial water softner -- you can do both at once. Then about every 4th or 5th tank after that, I will put in the bleach.

I also use this in my black tank with one addition --- I use powdered laundry detergent and dump a cup full directly into the black tank -- my commode drops straight into the black tank.

The side effect of doing these two treatments is that the sensors on both of my tanks work pretty well as the insides of the tanks stay clean and all of the "particles" slide off of the sides and out of the tanks.

You might give this a try.
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Old 08-09-2008, 05:14 PM   #5
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To this point the advice offered will make the contents of your tank smell nice.I have never added anything of an odour enhancement nature to my tanks and there is no stink under the galley sink!There is ,however,a vent device which is a one-way valve under the sink.Look for a vertical pipe that points up from the horizontal pipe that drains the sinks.The vent should unscrew from the vertical and will probably be found to be jammed or compromised in some manner.Lowes is a source for a new one.
Short of a broken drain pipe,this is the only source of this smell.
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Old 08-09-2008, 06:38 PM   #6
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Dee & Kenny

Welcome to the list!!

I would never "sanitize" a waste water tank -- they function as a bacteria environment to break down waste. "Sanitizing" with bleach will kill the bacteria needed to do the job down there!!!

Like exrench, we never put anything into our tanks for odor control other than plenty of water. We do use something with coconut oil in them 2 or 3 times a year to help lubricate the dump valves.

From what the OP said, ensuring the vent exrench he describes under the sink is working properly via repair or replacement will stop the odors under the sink. Sealing that vent could CAUSE odor problems as when the gray tank is dumped, the pressure can suck the water out of the sink & shower traps allowing odors to come up the drains.

As for the gray tank draining slowly, it may have a smaller dump valve than the black tank (2" rather than 3") which could account for reduced outflow. Many mfs's put a smaller dump valve on the gray tank since it is not likely to clog as the black tank could with a small dump valve. Also, if the dump valve is not opening fully, that would also make it dump slower. Frankly, I doubt making the tank walls "slicker" will affect how fast the tank dumps, although that CAN help the accuracy of the tank level monitors.
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Old 08-09-2008, 06:41 PM   #7
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I add 1 capful of calgon liquid water softener from wally world in the gray and black tanks after each dump. i use 12 oz bleach in the gray tank primarily to sanitize the stinky slinky after dumping and flushing the black tank. the bleach also helps to control odor. since using calgon, my holding tank quantity indicators are working again.
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Old 08-10-2008, 10:46 AM   #8
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As a microbiologist the only tank that should be sterilized with chlorine is the fresh water tank.

Now for those other two tanks, black and grey. I'm not a big fan of any product that is a biocide, it's counterproductive. I also don't necessarily promote enzymes since enzyme activity is very specific and spatially dependent. But I do promote the use of wetting agents and bacteria. Each will enhance the other and reduce bad odors.

Water is not that wet and the use of a few capfuls of a good dishwashing detergent such as Dawn is sufficient for the black tank. The use of powdered detergents I do not recommend, use a liquid instead. Powdered detergents contain fillers, often peanut or other nut shells, which ever is cheapest at the time. The same shells that are used in sandblasting.

Any commercial bacterial product wether for septic tanks or holding tanks is recommended with the Dawn. Use in both the grey and black. Good biological activity produces gas so make sure your vents are functioning.

A bit on gas. Good aerobic conditions, oxygen, will produce more CO2 and less methane and H2S the foul smelling gasses. Anaerobic conditions, no oxygen, will produce the H2S and methane. The use of a biocide, such as bleach, will kill most of the aerobic bacteria first and fewer of the anaerobic which are hiding in protected areas where there is little oxygen such as in fats etc. encouraging bad odors.

A gallon of bleach in 50 gallon tank is called super chlorination and can lead to some deadly gasses being produced, I do not recommend it. This is especially true if ammonia is present.

I hope this helps with odor control issues.
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Old 08-10-2008, 03:06 PM   #9
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"Afraid the sink won't drain properly, and also worried about the master grey water drainage, as it was already VERY slow. Any help or suggestions would be greatly appreciated"

If your gray water drainage is slow, that indicates a blockage in the vent and the odor is coming through the standpipe. The vent pipe has a "wye" connection and the straight pipe goes to the black tank while the wye goes to the gray. I am betting you have a blockage somewhere in that line. it could be very hard to track, so good luck.

Oh, check the standpipe under the sink in the bathroom also. That is if the bath gray and kitchen gray are common.


Oh, is it "gray" or "grey"? I never can 'member!
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Old 08-10-2008, 03:11 PM   #10
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<BLOCKQUOTE class="ip-ubbcode-quote"><div class="ip-ubbcode-quote-title">quote:</div><div class="ip-ubbcode-quote-content">I would never "sanitize" a waste water tank -- they function as a bacteria environment to break down waste. "Sanitizing" with bleach will kill the bacteria needed to do the job down there!!! </div></BLOCKQUOTE>

That is correct for a septic system but holding tanks are not microbial breakdown systems. It takes a number of days to break down waste matter and I presume you don't hold your "stuff" for months. We rarely use chemicals and dump every 2-3 days. We rarely have odor. If we do, a bit of Odorlos [sp?] does the trick
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Old 08-10-2008, 04:58 PM   #11
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A lot of microbial activity occurs in very little time as evidenced by the presence of obnoxious gases from the anaerobic bacteria growth. Promoting aerobic growth is a plus as far as odor control and removal of waste from the tanks. Dumping frequently is always good. Btw septic systems rely on the less efficient anaerobic breakdown in the long haul.
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Old 08-12-2008, 05:59 PM   #12
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If you let your grey tank open all the time, food particles and grease can build up. That could be why it is draining so slowly. Must be a vent problem for the smell to be under the sink though.
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