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Old 04-16-2018, 07:40 AM   #1
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Smyrna , Georgia
Join Date: Jun 2017
Posts: 8
20 ft Argosy Plumbing Help Needed!

Help! We have several water related issues that we cannot seem to get a handle on. I'll start from the most recents events as we understand them.
1. When we fill up the clean water tank the shower will also fill with water.
2. On most recent trip, we woke up in a.m. to shower full of water. The water was somewhat discolored and distinctly smelled of urine. (Sorry, this is a bit disgusting.) After we returned from this trip and eyeballed the water level in the clean water tank it was definitely much lower than it should have been due to our limited usage.

Lots more tidbit of observations could be added but I'll keep it simple to start a discussion. We really could use some help. We spent 6 weeks in Florida in Jan and Feb and thought we were starting to get a handle on these issues but we keep getting confounded! Help! Still love our Buggy.

She's a 78 20 ft Argosy Minuet BTW!

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Old 04-16-2018, 05:23 PM   #2
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1966 17' Caravel
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Las Cruces , New Mexico
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The clean water and waste water are two different systems. The only way clean water gets into the drain system is by your opening a faucet or flushing the toilet. There is no valve on the shower drain so it goes to the dump opening directly. Since black tank, grey tank, and shower all exit through the same opening, the shower can fill up if the water from the grey or black tanks can't drain. Good practice is to plug the shower drain when dumping the other tanks just to avoid brown floaters in the shower pan coming from the black tank.
You don't say whether you are connected to a sewer drain when this happens. If you are connected, the drain is blocked somehow. This sounds like the valve or valves to the black and grey tank aren't closing completely. Waste water comes out of the tank, can't flow out the drain, backs up into the shower.
After dumping the system, leave the cap off, close the valves, put a little water into the black tank. If the valve isn't sealing, you will see water come out of the main drain. If that valve is good, do the same routine with the grey tank. Be aware that the rods that actuate the valves can stick with the valve open.

1966 Airstream Caravel
2006 Toyota Tacoma
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Old 04-17-2018, 06:26 AM   #3
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1975 Argosy 28
Springville , Alabama
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I agree with argonaut20. Either your water pump isn't functioning properly in conjunction with a leaky shower faucet or you have a leak in the fresh water tank(crack) or the drain valve is stuck (it drains the tank it's on the bottom. The drains and fresh water are two separate systems.
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Old 04-17-2018, 07:09 AM   #4
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Smyrna , Georgia
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Thx for response! We were boondocking when this occurred (not connnected to sewer or outside water supply.)

I appreciate the shower plug suggestion. My husband says I mentioned this at some point early this year when had our first shower pan incident but I don't remember it!

Referring to my first scenario, I still can't understand how water ends up in shower pan when we fill up our clean water tank? (Water pump is not on.)
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Old 04-17-2018, 09:43 AM   #5
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1977 Argosy 28
Lewisburg , Tennessee
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gray tank

the gray tank will backup in the shower if tank gets full 2 showers and dish washing will fill our 1977 argosy also if dump valve is shut your kitchen sink. bath room sink and shower are drained to the same gray tank and the low spot is the shower floor if the dump valve is leaking water will drip or run out when you remove the drain cap to connect at dump, always drain black tank first and flush with gray tank last
a photo of mine 1977
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Old 04-17-2018, 10:11 AM   #6
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1973 21' Globetrotter
Houston , Texas
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Well, you never know what changes the previous owner may have done to your systems, so the first thing you really want to do is figure out where all your tanks are, what you have for valves, etc..

From what you describe, I would say that you probably have a leaky sink faucet, the water runs/drips constantly, but not noticeably, fills your grey water tank, and then, since your grey water tank is below the floor, water continues to fill and you get grey water in your shower pan. This would explain the water in the tub, but not the urine smell, unless you just have urine-smelling grey water.

Another possibility could be that you have a cap on the bottom of your dump valve, and the valves to black and grey tanks are both open, allowing the contents of the two tanks to mix. If your black tank is above the floor, and grey is below, then the contents of the black tank will flow down into the grey tank, and once it is full, it will come up through the shower drain. This would explain the urine smell, but I would think you would become very aware of the situation when you went to drain your tanks.

At any rate, You need to map out your plumbing and get a good understanding of the current state. Don't trust that it is as it was built.

good luck!
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Old 04-17-2018, 10:57 AM   #7
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1977 Argosy 28
Euless , Texas
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Posts: 309
In some small vintage Airstreams the shower is plumbed straight to the sewer hose connection and not into the gray tank. My 20' Minuet made in '77 is this way. I believe this is because either the tanks are not low enough to plumb into or too small for the shower water storage. On mine if I have a cap on the dump connection and open the gray valve it will back up into the shower pan. It has also done it if I am dumping and the hose backs up.

I always keep a plug in the shower drain when not in use both to prevent backup and also possibly odors.

If you have a cap on the dump line and a dripping or leaking faucet in the shower it could over time leak enough water to back up into the shower bringing with it some of the residue in the dump line.
President, Vintage Airstream Club, WBCCI # 7291
1977 Argosy 28 Center Bath, 1978 Argosy Minuet 6.0
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Old 04-17-2018, 11:42 AM   #8
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Smyrna , Georgia
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RVB, yes that's it for us too. AFTER 6 weeks of use we found out the important info that shower water does not go into grey tank. This helped us piece together some of the "mishaps" that had occurred but left us with more confusion after our last outing. It's starting to get clearer though. One of the last pieces to the puzzle seems to involve the question of how water seems to be finding its way thru plumbing and eventually backing into the shower stall without the water pump kicking on? FYI, these scenarios all occur with boondocking situation.
The shower drain plug is at the top of my shopping list now, that's for sure!

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argosy minuet, clean water tank, grey water, plumbing

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