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Old 11-22-2009, 10:55 AM   #1
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Where should the water go...

...when the holding tank is full?

We had a couple rent our motorhome last night, and they managed to flood the bedroom! It's a home football game here in town (go Hawks! No Rose Bowl, but maybe next year...), and for that sort of rental we don't even give them the key to the ignition -- so this all happened in the parking lot out front of our hotel.

After vacuuming the water out of the carpet with a wet vac, we have searched and searched for a leak, and the ONLY source I can find is the large gray-water sewer pipe that goes into the floor beneath the master bed, which (I presume) goes into the gray water holding tank directly beneath the floor. My best guess is that the holding tank filled to capacity and then overflowed, bubbling up through that joint as the guests tried to dump more water in?

How in the world these people managed to fill that tank is beyond me, but (so far) this is my only working theory. I've checked all the plumbing, and can find NO leaks, so this appears to definitely be a holding tank over flow.

My questions:
1. Should the water do this when the tank is full?" Shouldn't it drain out on to the ground if it's full, and NOT bubble up through that top joint into the bedroom? (Or is there a law against that?)

2. Other than sucking up the water, setting up fans, and airing the unit out, is there anything else I can do to fix this? The carpet was so saturated that the water was coming through the wall/floor joint behind the rear wheels, so that whole wall is probably saturated.

3. Is there any way to rig up an alarm to the holding tanks -- a light, or a siren -- that would go off when the tank was full? We've got the standard electronic bar-graph gauge(s) on the wall, but you have to push a button to view that.

Thanks!
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Old 11-22-2009, 11:03 AM   #2
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Usually the gray water would back up into shower and overflow the shower if gray water continued to put down a drain.

Everything has to be dried out ASAP to prevent further damage such as mold and mildew by pulling up the carpet and gaining access to every place that got wet.
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Old 11-22-2009, 11:07 AM   #3
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Usually the gray water would back up into shower and overflow the shower if gray water continued to put down a drain.
That makes (somewhat) more sense than dumping into the bedroom!

So this means that the pipe joint (going into the floor, under the bed) is probably needing to be replaced/repaired?
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Old 11-22-2009, 11:14 AM   #4
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That makes (somewhat) more sense than dumping into the bedroom!

So this means that the pipe joint (going into the floor, under the bed) is probably needing to be replaced/repaired?
If there is no indication that the shower overflowed, then there must be a leak in a pipe.

Water should back up into the shower and remain as standing water until the tank is dumped.
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Old 11-22-2009, 11:59 AM   #5
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If the rig was hooked up to fresh water hose, overfill of your fresh tank would produce the same result in many coaches. It is common to have an air gap setup ~2ft above the tank, which usually means above the coach floor. Ours is buried w/wall plumbing behind the shower, but configurations vary.

Usually the gray tank capacity will be close to, but not up to, the fresh tank capacity. If they were not hooked up to a hose, check fresh tank level; you can empty the fresh tank to the gray by leaving a sink running. Next time you rent in a stationary way like this, don't fill the fresh tank to the top; leave it at less than the gray tank volume.

For cleanup, you need to get air under the carpet or you will have perpetual mold there. That means taking the carpet up & recarpeting, or lifting a seam where you can get a blower under it. Rental places have the blower you need, or you can call a water cleanup service and they have all the equip & know how. Probably cheaper to replace the carpet.
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Old 11-22-2009, 08:55 PM   #6
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If the rig was hooked up to fresh water hose, overfill of your fresh tank would produce the same result in many coaches. It is common to have an air gap setup ~2ft above the tank, which usually means above the coach floor. Ours is buried w/wall plumbing behind the shower, but configurations vary.

Usually the gray tank capacity will be close to, but not up to, the fresh tank capacity. If they were not hooked up to a hose, check fresh tank level; you can empty the fresh tank to the gray by leaving a sink running. Next time you rent in a stationary way like this, don't fill the fresh tank to the top; leave it at less than the gray tank volume.
We never filled the fresh water tank. The RV was attached to a fresh water hose, so there was no need to use the fresh water tank at all.

Just got back from a joyous afternoon/evening spent ripping all of the carpet out of the motor home. Wow, was THAT a PIA. Dutchmen put the carpet down before putting anything inside the RV, so everything -- bathtub, bed, sink, walls, refrigerator -- EVERYTHING -- is installed on TOP of the pad and carpet.

That meant carefully cutting around everything, a tedious, difficult job in a house, but incredibly hard in a motor home with a brazillion nooks and crannies and no room to maneuver. But, it had to be done -- the pad and carpet were absolutely soaked, and mold and mildew were sure to follow. And, quite frankly, we were planning to do this next year anyway (the carpet was the only thing in the RV showing its age), so it's not all bad that this happened.

After much deliberation we've decided to install sheet product throughout the RV for ease of maintenance. We looked at putting in a real wood floor -- the cost difference is insignificant -- but decided against it due to the seams that you can never, ever get entirely clean. We also thought about laying real tile, but all that added weight in an RV is a real concern.

Putting carpet in would just invite more trouble down the road, obviously. I'm very concerned about being able to reproduce the problem, since -- although I'm 90% sure that the water came from an over-flowed gray-water tank bubbling up through a faulty pipe joint under the bed -- there's a 10% chance that it came from somewhere else. The underside of the tub is another possible source. Now that we've got all the carpet removed we'll fill the gray water tank to overflowing, and see precisely where the water is coming from.
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Old 11-23-2009, 12:39 AM   #7
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JJ...
"After much deliberation we've decided to install sheet product throughout the RV for ease of maintenance. We looked at putting in a real wood floor -- the cost difference is insignificant -- but decided against it due to the seams that you can never, ever get entirely clean. We also thought about laying real tile, but all that added weight in an RV is a real concern."

we just finished our installation of ALLURE oak plank vinyl flooring from HOME DEPOT. it is water proof except around the edges where we caulked.
veterans get a 10% discount at HOME DEPOT.
more info and pics to come soon.
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Old 11-23-2009, 09:02 AM   #8
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JJ...
"After much deliberation we've decided to install sheet product throughout the RV for ease of maintenance. We looked at putting in a real wood floor -- the cost difference is insignificant -- but decided against it due to the seams that you can never, ever get entirely clean. We also thought about laying real tile, but all that added weight in an RV is a real concern."

we just finished our installation of ALLURE oak plank vinyl flooring from HOME DEPOT. it is water proof except around the edges where we caulked.
veterans get a 10% discount at HOME DEPOT.
more info and pics to come soon.
No Home Depot around here, but we have Lowe's and Menard's who may sell the same stuff.

So is it kinda like the PVC decking you can put outside?
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Old 11-23-2009, 09:30 AM   #9
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Gray water usually smells bad.

Since the rig was hooked up to city water, perhaps a pipe joint leaked under pressure.

Most, if not all fresh water tanks overflow to the exterior of the rig.
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Old 11-23-2009, 11:11 AM   #10
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Gray water usually smells bad.

Since the rig was hooked up to city water, perhaps a pipe joint leaked under pressure.

Most, if not all fresh water tanks overflow to the exterior of the rig.
Here's what I've discovered:

1. I've got the rig parked back in the exact spot where the "Great Flood" happened yesterday.

2. I've filled the gray water holding tank to capacity, and the tub is backed up about 3" deep. This is good.

3. I've removed the paneling from in front of the tub, as well as the bed from the master bedroom. By doing so, I can inspect the bottom of the tub from in front and the side.

4. Although there are a few drips of water at the J-trap under the drain, there is nothing to explain the massive amounts of water that were in the RV yesterday.

5. The joint that I THOUGHT was leaking (that goes through the floor into the top of the holding tank) is bone dry. (It was impossible to tell if that was the source yesterday, because it was wet all around it.)

I'm hooked up to city water again, with no signs of leakage in the plumbing.

The underside of the tub does show signs of water damage, but nothing terrible for a 16-year old bathroom. Unfortunately, the idiots at Dutchmen laid the tub ON TOP OF the carpet back in 1993, so it's still wet from yesterday and smells just wonderful. WHAT KIND OF MORONS LAY A BATH TUB ON TOP OF CARPET?

So, I've eliminated the pipe going into the holding tank, which was my prime suspect yesterday. I'm close to eliminating the J-trap on the tub, too. I'm just gonna let it sit all day, with the tub and holding tanks full, to see what happens. The renters were in the unit for 18 hours, so perhaps the leak doesn't start for another 10 hours? I doubt it, but the only other possibility here is deliberate vandalism, which doesn't add up. This was a couple in their 40s, in town to visit friends, and stunned to find no hotel rooms available for 50 miles in any direction due to the home football game. Although they smoked, they took great care to step outside for a cigarette.

This is are not the action of someone who would aim the shower over the side of the tub and leave it running while they went to the bar -- but I'm running out of explanations. If I can't reproduce "the Great Flood", I'm not left with too many other options.
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Old 11-23-2009, 11:22 AM   #11
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WHAT KIND OF MORONS LAY A BATH TUB ON TOP OF CARPET?
Most, if not all manufactures install the carpet/tile first as it's much quicker with an unobstructed flat floor. No cutting to fit.
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Old 11-23-2009, 01:31 PM   #12
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Hi JJHoneck,
After reading the posts, I have some questions:
  1. Could your renters have not known about the flood?
  2. About how long from when the renter left to when you entered the coach?
  3. When you entered the coach was the grey tank still full?
  4. Could any of the sinks or toilet have over flowed to cause the flood?
  5. Could any of the sink drains have caused the flood?
  6. The coach may not be perfectly level. If the coach is just as it was when the flood occured, try pouring some water on the floor and see how it flows. This might provide a clue to the source of the flood.
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Old 11-23-2009, 02:25 PM   #13
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My guess is that the tub/shower overflowed from a faucet left on-
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Old 11-23-2009, 02:57 PM   #14
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My guess is that the tub/shower overflowed from a faucet left on-
I think you are right on.

To answer some of the questions:

When I came in to the hotel yesterday morning, the woman-half of the renter couple was outside the RV having a smoke. She was taking pictures of the motorhome (this was a pretty bizarre experience for them, as they were EXPECTING to stay in a hotel room Saturday night, but none were available) from various angles. I offered to take a picture of her with the motorhome, which is when the guy came outside from our lobby, where he had been checking out.

I took a couple of pictures of/for them, at which time I noticed water dripping out of the side of the motorhome behind the rear dualies. Upon mentioning this, the guy then said that "Yeah, the carpet is pretty wet in the bedroom -- I just told your wife about it." -- at which point I dropped everything and asked if they were completely out of the RV so I could go inside and have a look. They were very polite, and replied that they were, indeed, out.

I went inside and found the disaster that I've described in previous posts. I quizzed the guy a bit, and he said that he had heard a "dripping sound" coming from "underneath the bed" all night long. By then I was in full-blown "water emergency mode" (we've got 16 hot tub suites in our hotel, so you KNOW I've seen this before) and not paying much attention to him. At some point they departed, while I was working the wet-vac.

Later on we decided to simply tear out all the carpet. We were going to do that next year anyway.

Since I have been unable to duplicate the flood, I asked Mary to call the guest and ask him about the sequence of events leading up to the water problem. She called and left a message, asking that he call back. I just got off the phone with the guy, and he described the following:

1. He wanted to take a shower before going out, but the water wasn't hot enough before they had to leave. They ran the shower a bit to see if the water was hot, but it was not. They then went out on the town, leaving at about 6 PM.

2. They returned to the RV at 11:30 to find the carpet wet. They "didn't want to bother anyone at that time of night" so they didn't say anything to my desk staff, and went to bed.

3. He again reported hearing the dripping sound all night long. When asked, he said it was probably one drip every 10 seconds or so. He agreed that there is no way that a drip THAT slow could have caused such a great flood.

4. In the morning, they each took a "quick, maybe 3-minute" shower. The water was nice and hot. The floor was still soaked.

5. I discovered the problem at 9 AM -- fully 9.5 hours after THEY discovered the problem.

Needless to say, these people were not the sharpest sticks in the bunch. Personally, I think they may have left the shower running after testing the water temperature (before heading out to the bars) and it over-flowed while they were gone. I don't know what else could result in that much water ending up on the floor.

Anyway, my tests are all complete, and I've given up trying to reproduce the "leak", since I no longer believe there was one. We're moving along with removing the carpet (I've managed to loosen the couches from the floor enough to pull the carpet out from under them, which will make installing new flooring much easier/better) and drying everything out. The good news is that the floor is pressed-wood plywood, and doesn't seem to have been harmed by the water.
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