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Old 07-27-2016, 07:14 AM   #1
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Tank Cleaning and Storage

Hello All,

Steve and I have had our new Airstream 10 months. When we return home from a trip we thoroughly flush the black tank (pump out at house) and store in our garage. I am picking up an odor.

Should we leave the black tank open so that it dries out?
If it is closed should we keep water and enzyme in it?
Can I fill it and put bleach, then rinse?
Can other things like Spic and Span be used during the flushing process?

Yesterday I entered the Airstream and smelled poop; this morning it is not there.

Any info will be appreciated. I want my tanks and lines spotless.

Tam
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Old 07-27-2016, 07:19 AM   #2
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I don't think you should have an odor in the trailer if the tanks are full or empty. Try the simple thing first, make sure all sink and shower traps are full of water. The same goes for the toilet bowl. If that does not fix the problem, there are other possibilities that can be addressed. I would not add a Spic and Span type product, its probably VERY bad for the valve seals. Hope this helps.
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Old 07-27-2016, 07:24 AM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Roadtoaster View Post
I don't think you should have an odor in the trailer if the tanks are full or empty. Try the simple thing first, make sure all sink and shower traps are full of water. The same goes for the toilet bowl. If that does not fix the problem, there are other possibilities that can be addressed. I would not add a Spic and Span type product, its probably VERY bad for the valve seals. Hope this helps.
Greg,
Are you saying that when our Airstream is stored in the garage we should still have water in the toilet bowl? If so how often would we pull it out and flush the tank and refill?

Thanks,
Tam
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Old 07-27-2016, 07:42 AM   #4
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Thumbs up What we do....

I used this method ..one time years ago.

Ever since, at least once every Season....1/3 cup Dawn in a empty black tank, fill the tank using the on board flush, let sit over night and empty. POI...even the sensors still work.

After camping I usually dump both tanks leaving the B-tank 1/2 full, let it 'slosh clean' during the trip home, empty at home, and add a few gallons with enzyme treatment. Make sure all traps are full.

Empty toilet, add enough Crisco oil to cover the flapper valve to prevent the seal from drying out when Winterizing, and prolonged non-use. (no rv antifreeze in toilet) Sprung a leak several years ago and had to replace the flapper assembly, no problems since.

Bob
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Old 07-27-2016, 07:56 AM   #5
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I would always leave a gallon or two in each tank to keep them from drying out and having any residue become petrified. Always leave water in the tbowl to keep the seal soft to keep out odors and of course make sure there is water in the traps. An additive of your choice would be helpful also.Now, if you are winterizing the procedure might be different, I live in Florida and never have had to winterize.
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Old 07-27-2016, 10:36 AM   #6
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Originally Posted by SteveTam9310 View Post
Hello All,

Steve and I have had our new Airstream 10 months. When we return home from a trip we thoroughly flush the black tank (pump out at house) and store in our garage.
That shouldn't be necessary. I just empty ours before I leave the campground.

Quote:
I am picking up an odor.
There are several useful things to try, some things to avoid, and lots of urban legend in this area. I will try to explain as best I can.

1) In general you want to be sure that there is at least a small amount of water in the toilet bowl when you park since that will help keep the valve sealed. If it will not hold water you have some fixing to do.

2) There should be no odor inside the trailer. If there is one, you have a leak. This, unfortunately, is common. The leak can be anywhere, and they are difficult to find. Either the grey water or black water tanks can leak and make a stink. I have had two leaks in common locations which you could check on your trailer:

2a) It is common for there to be leaks where the dump valves connect to the tanks, due to loose clamps or bolts. You can identify this situation by filling both holding tanks with water until they are full then looking for a drip near the dump valves. Correcting the problem involves cutting an access hole in the belly, unfortunately, and patching it with a panel.

2b) It is also common for there to be leaks where the vent lines connect to the top of the tank. In at least some cases, Airstream uses a hose clamp rather than cementing these connections, and the clamp will loosen as the plastic deforms over time due to cold flow, leading to a leak. Access methods vary from one model to the next.

3) Odor outside the trailer can be noticeable particularly if using indoor storage. If the stink is outside only it may just be the tank itself but if it's inside too, particularly if it's worse inside, you have a leak. In most cases you can adequately control the outside stink, as well as any stink that occurs when flushing the toilet, by using Aqua Chem liquid according to the directions, and always adding at least a couple gallons of water in the holding tank after emptying (in addition to teh Aqua Chem).

4) Bleach and drain cleaner will work but you risk damaging the seals on the dump valves and toilet. This damage accumulates over time with exposure to chlorine and it's not a fun repair.

5) Most of the enzyme products and home remedies like dishwashing liquid mainly work because they contain a masking fragrance. If you perceive that as solving the problem, fine, I perceive it as covering up the problem which is why I use Aqua Chem.

Quote:
Should we leave the black tank open so that it dries out?
If it is closed should we keep water and enzyme in it?
Can I fill it and put bleach, then rinse?
Can other things like Spic and Span be used during the flushing process?
In general it shouldn't be necessary to fiddle around flushing the tank unless something has gone wrong and there is an unusual accumulation of debris that won't drain out, or someone has done something really dumb like flush a tampon or a washcloth.
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Old 07-27-2016, 01:09 PM   #7
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I was always informed never to leave your black tank dry. I have water in there about 20 seconds worth of flush.

I flush for ten seconds, then add the Happy Camper solution, then flush for another ten seconds. That is my black tank prep after I have flushed it and cleaned it out. Then I am ready for my next trip.

So far, it has worked. No smell. Even in my Los Angeles heat.
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Old 07-27-2016, 01:20 PM   #8
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Guessing Gray tank odor is my problem

After going through all of the possibilities the one that makes the most sense is odor coming from the gray tank. I have never used any kind of chemical on return from trips, not even the blue stuff in the drains (yes, I should have know...lol). Under the sink I could smell the odor the most.

We have a automatic flusher( not sure what it is called) on the black tank and we let it flush for a good 10 minutes before storing the camper. I have not been putting water and tablets in but I am starting now. I was surprised though, that that was NOT where the smell was coming from. There was a tad of water in the black tank and we emptied it into a bucket and I took a sniff. No smell.

I checked for leaks using flashlight, mirror and feeling around and could not find any. I have a very sensitive sniffer so I am thinking the odor I am picking up is a sour gray tank. Hopefully...fingers crossed.

Thanks!!
Tam
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Old 07-29-2016, 06:50 AM   #9
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Under the sink I could smell the odor the most.
Most of the newer plumbing layouts include an air admittance valve under the sink. They are prone to failure, but are cheap easy to replace. They just unscrew and you put in a new one. It wouldn't hurt to use some teflon pipe thread tape on the connection.

There are some better quality ones on the market now that meet the codes for residental construction. Cost 8x as much though, $16 instead of $2.

http://www.supplyhouse.com/Oatey-390...0jcaAgVB8P8HAQ
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Old 07-30-2016, 06:20 PM   #10
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Jammer, I will read the manual to figure out where and what the air admittance valve is. I just purchased and poured in the gray tank solution tonight. I had already put the packets in the toilet a few days ago. The smell was there when I walked in tonight. Thanks for the lead I will follow it.
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Old 07-30-2016, 11:45 PM   #11
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"I checked for leaks using flashlight, mirror and feeling around and could not find any. I have a very sensitive sniffer so I am thinking the odor I am picking up is a sour gray tank. Hopefully...fingers crossed."

I think most people would be surprised by the fact that the gray water usually smells much worse than the black water.

Smell under the sink is likely an air admittance valve gone bad. As mentioned easy fix once you know what to look for. Also readily avsilable at most hardware stores. Since it screws in you can use a PVC one if it's easier to locate locally.
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Old 08-03-2016, 12:03 PM   #12
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Follow up - bad air admittance valve

Thank you everybody! It was the air admittance valve after all. I called the manufacturer directly and they were wonderful. They are sending me another.

I had a bit of a curve ball because the one that failed had been cranked down so hard that we thought it had been glued on. I received conflicting information on whether it was supposed to be glued or not. So I was not wanting to use a channel lock wrench to get it off.

The manufacturer confirmed that it should NOT be glued on AND the cap should NOT be swiveling freely (which it was).

Tam
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