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Old 06-09-2016, 11:56 AM   #1
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Foul smell after emptying tanks

So we took our maiden trip with our Interstate. The second night was at full service spot so we emptied the tanks for the first time. Emptied the black and then gray and all was well. Put everything away and walked into the toilet and there was a horrible stench for the first time in there.

We had put in the green enzyme pockets in the toilet and I was amazed how well it was working all along. But here we were, and this super foul smell had filled the toilet.

I put a new enzyme packet in the toilet and ran some water through it but to no avail. We were in a hurry to leave so after a minute or so, I went in there and flushed the toilet some more. The scent would not go away.

I then thought maybe it is coming from through the gray tank and ran the sink in the toilet. FYI we had never used that sink before. The scent immediately disappeared.

What I don't know and that is the purpose of this thread, is whether the enzyme packet started to work in the toilet, or whether the gray tank had started to stink so much. Or horrors of horrors, the sink is draining into the black tank instead of gray???

With the problem gone now, not sure how to troubleshoot it now. Appreciate any insight or comments from anyone who may have experienced this. Thanks in advance.
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Old 06-09-2016, 12:30 PM   #2
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Foul smells

I am relatively new here as well but can think of a couple of possibilities. First as you say it could just be that the chemicals started to work. It does take the packets a short time to dissolve and release chemicals. The other possibility is that as you say the sink had never used and was bone dry and therefore it was allowing blow back from vent. Sometimes when the wind blows in just the right way it can allow venting to back flow into coach if the seal the water in the trap is not there to prevent it. In my humble opinion I believe that the second possibility might well have been the issue.
If I am wrong on this I hope someone will chime in and correct me on this.
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Old 06-09-2016, 12:39 PM   #3
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On thing you might what want to check is where the bathroom sink actually drains. I know nothing about Interstate plumbing. However in some trailers including the Classic 31 I recently sold, the bathroom sink actually drains into the black water tank.

It is also possible for gray water tanks to get pretty stinky, depending on how much food matter ends up down the galley sink drain.


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Old 06-09-2016, 12:42 PM   #4
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Agree that it sounds like a trap issue as the other poster noted. However, the cleaner the tank, the less likely the chances of odor problems from any source, dry trap or otherwise, so I will elaborate.

Speaking with amusement in the most general of terms, black tanks often don't drain as well as people assume that they do. Furthermore, if you have poorly drained material that was formerly under water and suddenly becomes exposed to the air, the odors produced by the sudden liberation of anaerobic bacteria can certainly monopolize a person's attention. More than once my husband has been forced to listen to me mutter, "That f&%@*^6 tank only stinks when it's empty!"


Seeking an improvement in our status quo, I researched what might help do a better job of evacuating our black tank. If you have a half hour to devote to this topic, this YouTube vid below is very instructive (although you might not look at peanut butter in the same way ever again). The author used a gravity system in that demonstration but I believe one or more of his other vids incorporate a macerator.

My answer as to engineering improvements came back as "nothing convincing" (as the vid suggests). Other than bucket-rinsing or hose-rinsing the black tank from above (which we do as a matter of course) and then immediately adding some fresh standing water and new tank treatment, it doesn't appear that there's a workaround.

I am curious, though, as to how your tank was capable of generating that foul of an odor with such a short waste residence time. You said "maiden voyage" and your unit is a 2016. I would expect an intense odor to be associated with bacteria that were allowed to flourish for a longer period of time, FWIW.

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Old 06-09-2016, 12:51 PM   #5
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Originally Posted by amirm View Post
So we took our maiden trip with our Interstate. The second night was at full service spot so we emptied the tanks for the first time. Emptied the black and then gray and all was well. Put everything away and walked into the toilet and there was a horrible stench for the first time in there.

We had put in the green enzyme pockets in the toilet and I was amazed how well it was working all along. But here we were, and this super foul smell had filled the toilet.

I put a new enzyme packet in the toilet and ran some water through it but to no avail. We were in a hurry to leave so after a minute or so, I went in there and flushed the toilet some more. The scent would not go away.

I then thought maybe it is coming from through the gray tank and ran the sink in the toilet. FYI we had never used that sink before. The scent immediately disappeared.

What I don't know and that is the purpose of this thread, is whether the enzyme packet started to work in the toilet, or whether the gray tank had started to stink so much. Or horrors of horrors, the sink is draining into the black tank instead of gray???

With the problem gone now, not sure how to troubleshoot it now. Appreciate any insight or comments from anyone who may have experienced this. Thanks in advance.
The gray water tanks can produce smells that are pretty awful. Running water in that sink that you hadn't used likely filled the drain with enough water to prevent the smell. I have added some dishwasher soap to the gray tank occasionally to get the odors under control - a tip I read in one of the RV forums.
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Old 06-09-2016, 01:09 PM   #6
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If you opened the gray and black tanks at the same time, the black might have backwashed into the gray.

First black, then gray.

That possibility aside, a cup or two of clorox in the gray tank will work wonders when it gets the "stink".


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Old 06-09-2016, 01:55 PM   #7
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The suction from dumping the tanks may have overwhelming the vent and sucked water out of the P traps. Don't forget the trap in the shower floor.
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Old 06-09-2016, 02:26 PM   #8
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If you opened the gray and black tanks at the same time, the black might have backwashed into the gray.

First black, then gray.

That possibility aside, a cup or two of clorox in the gray tank will work wonders when it gets the "stink".


Superat stultitia.

You can't open the black and gray tanks at the same time on an late model Interstate. They are operated by electric valves and a control circuit that only allows one valve at a time to be open. But your advice to do black first, then gray still applies.


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Old 06-09-2016, 02:29 PM   #9
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The suction from dumping the tanks may have overwhelming the vent and sucked water out of the P traps. Don't forget the trap in the shower floor.

There are no P-traps in late model Interstates. They now use Hepvo valves.
http://www.hepvo.com


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Old 06-09-2016, 02:36 PM   #10
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I then thought maybe it is coming from through the gray tank and ran the sink in the toilet. FYI we had never used that sink before. The scent immediately disappeared.
I have highlighted your problem. If the sink had never been used there was no water in the trap. What comes as a supersize to most is the fact that the gray water often smells worst than the black. Your emptying of the gray tank stirred thing up and the smell came up through the sink trap.

Now as for the enzyme packets in the toilet. That is a complete waste of time and money. There is nothing you can or should do to the black water tank unless you just want to promote the general economic condition.

I watched the video after my original posting above and have to say that is an interesting item. I will wait to see if the claim of no back flow of odor is in fact true. They claim the local vent can be removed but no mention of the vent stack on the tank. I have to assume that is still necessary or else a positive pressure would build in the tank because of the water compressing the air volume of the tank as it fills.
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Old 06-09-2016, 02:56 PM   #11
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If the sink had never been used there was no water in the trap.
As others have said, late model Interstates do not have traps in the drain lines. HEPVO valves block back-flow and odors, without any standing water as in a P-trap.

The fact that the odors disappeared after running water in the sink is just a coincidence.

If I had to guess, I'd say that the odor came in through the bathroom roof vent. If memory serves, it is located close to a tank vent on the roof.
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Old 06-09-2016, 03:25 PM   #12
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As others have said, late model Interstates do not have traps in the drain lines. HEPVO valves block back-flow and odors, without any standing water as in a P-trap.

The fact that the odors disappeared after running water in the sink is just a coincidence.

If I had to guess, I'd say that the odor came in through the bathroom roof vent. If memory serves, it is located close to a tank vent on the roof.
Lets think this through a bit further. If there is a HEPVO trap in the unit, and you should let us know, and it never saw water can we be sure the seal of the membrane was ever made? I think it is far more likely the smell came back through the sink than through the roof vent. The sewer roof vent would have a negative pressure on it during draining. Yes there are time in heavy wind conditions when sewer roof vents have been credited with causing smells to enter open roof vents but thast should not happen during a normal draining.
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Old 06-09-2016, 10:39 PM   #13
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Thanks for all the comments and ideas everyone! I guess the conclusive answer will come the next time I empty the thing. Right now it smells excellent, courtesy of the enzyme solution. Next time I will be more methodical about fixing the problem so that I can figure out the source.
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