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Old 04-28-2014, 01:16 AM   #1
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Toilet odor control

Our new to us 2012 Interstate has never had the toilet or shower used. We have now had it for two weeks and have been avoiding using the bathroom. Will the toilet smell if we use it? Are there any good ways to keep the odors away?

Any advice would be great. It has been quite the learning experience the last few weeks! We just successfully turned on the heat which has been nice.

Oh, and do we just fill up the fresh water tank, or do we need to treat the water in the tank?
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Old 04-28-2014, 04:22 AM   #2
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Why would there be odors? Do you think those of us who use their toilets have to live with odors? The flapper and the water on top of it seal odors out. You trailer has the exact same system as any house with a septic tank. The only difference is it is reduced in size.
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Old 04-28-2014, 04:31 AM   #3
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Originally Posted by poodlelover View Post
Our new to us 2012 Interstate has never had the toilet or shower used. We have now had it for two weeks and have been avoiding using the bathroom. Will the toilet smell if we use it? Are there any good ways to keep the odors away?

Any advice would be great. It has been quite the learning experience the last few weeks! We just successfully turned on the heat which has been nice.

Oh, and do we just fill up the fresh water tank, or do we need to treat the water in the tank?
I have never encountered a problem with toilet odors. BUT, if the toilet hasn't been used, check the seal on the toilet valve before its inaugural use; rubber seals seal better when kept moist than when they're allowed to dry out, and yours might need replacement.

Hints for odor control; after flushing, allow a small amount of clean water to flow into the bowl and let it sit; no odors will get out of the tank past the water. Also make sure every guy who uses it hits the target when he aims. If someone misses and they own up to it, a quick rinse with the handheld shower nozzle removes any odorous liquids before they can dry in place.

There is an overhead vent fan; use it. I leave it open but turned off in storage; any rainwater that comes in finds its way into the gray tank. And I leave it open and turned on whenever I'm using the Interstate and it's parked. I only close it when driving.

To keep the shower from smelling like a locker room, I also use automotive wax (Turtle Wax Ice spray) on the fiberglass, everything but the floor. Water beads up and rolls down the walls, so the walls dry quickly, and just a quick squirt with the shower nozzle is all it takes to get rid of soap residue. Since automotive wax is designed to stand up to weather, it should last an entire camping season inside your shower stall before it needs to be reapplied.
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Old 04-28-2014, 11:13 AM   #4
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To keep the shower from smelling like a locker room, I also use automotive wax (Turtle Wax Ice spray) on the fiberglass, everything but the floor. Water beads up and rolls down the walls, so the walls dry quickly, and just a quick squirt with the shower nozzle is all it takes to get rid of soap residue. Since automotive wax is designed to stand up to weather, it should last an entire camping season inside your shower stall before it needs to be reapplied.
^ Great tip. TY
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Old 04-28-2014, 11:36 AM   #5
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There are any number of products available at RV supply stores to put in your holding tanks to help with the breakdown of solids, and toilet paper. Make sure to only use single ply toilet paper. Scotts is available at all grocery stores. There is a debate, but I do not think you need to use special RV toilet paper. Leave the black water valve closed until the tank is at least 1/2 to 3/4 full, then dump it. You probably have a rinse attachment on the exterior of the trailer to rinse the inside of the tank with a hose. Flush with plenty of water; this is not the time to save the planet. The "Newbies Guide to Airstreaming" gives a good summary of all of these points. We do not store the trailer with matter in the black water tank. We dump it prior to storage, and put about 2 gallons of water in it with our tank product of choice. Do not leave the tank dry during storage. If there are remaining solids of any kind, they can harden, and then you have potential problems. Also remember that this is a holding tank, not a septic tank. You are just storing the "stuff" until you have a place to dump it. Depending on content and temperature, you might get a brief "whiff", but it really should not smell up the trailer. Basically, adopt the sailboat rule: "Do Not Put Anything in This Toilet Unless You Have Eaten It First".
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Old 04-28-2014, 11:55 AM   #6
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I like Rid-X, which is an enzymatic septic tank treatment, and it is the only thing I use in the black tank. We tried it after we bought our trailer and found there was some dried on material that was significantly reducing our black tank capacity. Adding some Rid-X and letting it sit between trips resulted in clean tank after the next dump station visit, so I was convinced. A tiny splash of it into the tank after it has been emptied and refilled with a gallon of water seems to do the trick. A small bottle of this stuff has lasted us YEARS, and it will not damage any system it is emptied into.

Other than that, use single ply paper, and when you empty the tank, put a little water back in it. A couple times we have done the bag of ice trick to give the tank a good cleaning. You can hold the toilet valve open and look down the hole with a flashlight and get an idea of if you have any build up issues going on in there.

Now you might want to look up Dump Station Tips, to figure out the next step in the process. It's easy, but it can be a little intimidating at first!


Oh, and Fresh Water: I do not treat, but you want to use an RV hose that is meant to be used with drinking water, and keep it clean and separate from any hose you use to flush the black tank. I like to empty the hose after use and screw the ends together to keep it clean. If you fill up from questionable sources, you may want a water filter before the hose to catch any impurities. Other than that, we only clean the fresh tank once a year when de-winterizing, using a tiny bit of bleach.
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Old 04-28-2014, 11:58 AM   #7
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The occasional 'whiff' (from the hatch, or pulled in from the vent) can be pretty unpleasant, even if it is temporary.
This for the trailer.
This for us.
Keeps everything daisy fresh, and running smoothly.
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Old 04-28-2014, 12:07 PM   #8
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WalMart has a complete selection of gunk to add to the tank. I suggest staying away from the flavored stuff; not much worse than strawberry or lavender poo!
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Old 04-28-2014, 12:11 PM   #9
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One additional wordClick image for larger version

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Old 04-28-2014, 04:03 PM   #10
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You're more likely to get odors from the gray water tank than the black tank since the black tank is sealed off with the rubber valve and (usually) a half inch layer of water on top of that.
The grey tank could contain decaying food matter from the kitchen sink, and in storage probably doesn't get flushed out. I pour some antiseptic dishwashing soap down the 2 sinks and the shower, a little water to dilute it a bit, and fit all 3 plugs to seal it up. It's worked for me.
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Old 04-28-2014, 07:12 PM   #11
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And toss one of these into the tank...
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Old 04-28-2014, 07:35 PM   #12
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One reason to use RV TP is that it breaks down better and shouldn't clog the macerator pump.

There's a female hose fitting next to the hose reel that connects to a sprayer in the black water tank. Be sure to use this when you pump out to make sure there's nothing left behind. I bought a couple of brass fittings to go on the outdoor shower hose that came with RV. I just remove the spray head and put the fittings on that converts it to a male hose fitting. Just screw that in to the flush fitting and turn on the valve. That way you don't have to tote an extra non-potable hose to flush the black tank.
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Old 04-28-2014, 08:04 PM   #13
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73shark - I've used the outside shower hose to fill my freshwater tank while connected to a campground's city water connection. But I'd be nervous about connecting it to the back flush on the concern of contaminating the shower hose which can be used with fresh water which might contaminate the FW tank. Am I thinking about that incorrectly?
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Old 04-28-2014, 09:14 PM   #14
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I don't think there would be any possibility of backflow since there is a check valve in the flusher. I've never seen any evidence of black water at the flusher connection.

Just curious, why don't you just fill your freshwater tank w/ the campground connection?
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