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Old 08-28-2009, 04:28 PM   #1
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Odor in a new 25' Flying Cloud

We've had our 09 25' FB FC for about 3 months now, and have used it for at least 5 days per month as we shake it down for our next major x-c trip. On each of these outings, we have noticed a strong, strange odor in the closet behind the bathroom. Smells something like glue, plastic, sewer, and dead critter. This odor is most strong in the upper closet and weakly in the compartment below the 2 drawers. The drawers don't seem to gather the bad air despite being open on the tops to the closet chamber. Opening the closet and letting it vent a couple of days clears the odor until we shut the closet for a few days again.

The compartment houses half of the hot water heater, with the other half under the bed in the compartment that opens to the outside. No odor has been noticed in the under-bed compartment. The odor exists regardless if the water heater has run or not. There are no signs of a water leak either by the water heater or under the bathroom sink/counter.

The vent pipe for the black water tank is in its own little chase behind the toilet in the bathroom. And the toilet empties directly into the tank, as does the bathroom sink (after the P-trap). The tank has been cleaned and disinfected, yet the strange pungent odor remains.

Several folks have looked at this for the past couple of weeks, and a call to Air Stream didn't help diagnose the issue.

We thought that maybe a small critter died, but with all the hot weather we've had, it would have stunk up the FC, not just the closet.

Any suggestions?
Thanks
Hugh
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Old 08-28-2009, 05:40 PM   #2
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We have an odor in our 2005, 22' Safari that we cannot identify. I doesn't smell like tank water, dead anything, just odd. And we can't tell if we just get used to it while camping or if it goes away when we are in it, as we really don't notice it while out. Hoping that when we got on our 1st rally next month someone there might help us figure it out.
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Old 08-28-2009, 05:48 PM   #3
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I have a odd odor in my '07 International as well. Someone on another thread mentioned the plastic storage bins AS provides for under-bed storage as a culprit. Worth checking out.
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Old 08-28-2009, 07:13 PM   #4
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We have already checked the plastic bins, and its not them; otherwise the entire storage area would smell, which it doesn't. At first, we thought this was just one of the many 'new' smells, but it has gotten worse.
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Old 08-28-2009, 07:32 PM   #5
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Hugh, it could be a couple of things. First of all, our Safari (same trailer except for a few small changes) has had a chemical smell since we bought it. We air it out all summer leaving the vents open and one fan on. That has helped a lot and I think it's finally gone after 1 1/2 years. Airstream uses a lot of nasty stuff in the trailer that off gases for quite a while. When camping, we didn't notice the chemical smell after a while—our noses became insensitive to it.

I'm unsure which closet you speak of. It sounds like the small wardrobe next to the queen bed, the one with two drawers and a small compartment under it. If so, it's possible an odor travels through the space behind the folding door and may come from some problem with the vent pipe chase.

The sewer smell sort of near the toilet is suspicious as one would expect it comes from the toilet seal or the vent pipe has a bad connection to the black tank. The vent pipe could be blocked at the roof with a bird's nest or a mud dauber (paper wasp) nest. I don't know how a bird could get in the vent unless the cap has disappeared, so check for all possibilities. Are you using deodorizer in the tank?—without it there will be an odor.

I don't know how long this trailer had been on the dealer's lot—a 2009 could have been on the lot for almost a year. A lot of things could happen in that time that can lead to strange problems.

You've got about the same trailer and truck (though blue) we have, except each a year newer. The combination has worked very well for us and after you get through all the learning that comes with it, I'm sure you'll enjoy your new adventure.

Gene
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Old 08-28-2009, 07:46 PM   #6
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We don't have the plastic storage bins in ours, so it can't be that.
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Old 08-28-2009, 07:57 PM   #7
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Get a portable gas sniffer and check for a propane leak. I know it's supposed to be low, not high like yours, but my experience is that it can happen. We had a leak in a stove in a former SOB, took us all summer to identify it, because we really thought it was a dead animal stuck somewhere. Come to find out, it was a cracked supply line into the stove burners where the line had rubbed metal against metal. If your hot water heater is in or near that closet, that may be your problem.

Kay
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Old 08-28-2009, 08:50 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Minno View Post
Get a portable gas sniffer and check for a propane leak. I know it's supposed to be low, not high like yours, but my experience is that it can happen. We had a leak in a stove in a former SOB, took us all summer to identify it, because we really thought it was a dead animal stuck somewhere. Come to find out, it was a cracked supply line into the stove burners where the line had rubbed metal against metal. If your hot water heater is in or near that closet, that may be your problem.

Kay
I agree that the smell could be a propane leak. Just mix up some dish detergent in some water and coat the connections (Spray or brush on). If it bubbles you have a leak.

If you have a leak --- turn it off at the tank.

Carol
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Old 08-28-2009, 09:57 PM   #9
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Gene: Thanks, we'll check out the plugged vent, though we got the trailer as a new delivery in May. You're correct regarding the wardrobe location, but it is a single wall that is behind the toilet and vent chase and the folding door, so no space for odor migration, otherwise we'd have smelled it by the folding door. We upgraded from an 04 red Tundra and 07 23' Safari to our current set-up - we agree, really nice, except for this pesky smell issue.

Kay & Carol: Thanks as well. We will check out the propane possibility, though it doesn't smell like propane. Again, any ideas are worth investigating.

Hugh
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Old 08-28-2009, 10:17 PM   #10
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Hugh, I know there's a wall or two between the bedroom and bathroom and the pipe chase should be enclosed, but I was wondering if there's an opening in there, perhaps a mistake in construction. There may be more space between the cabinet and toilet wall than is apparent—it's late and I'm not about to go out to the trailer and check. My memory is that the chase is built into the bathroom, but the space for the folding door is a few inches and may create some sort of space all the way back to the outside wall—maybe I'm imagining this. Tomorrow I'll get the tape measure and see if there is a void there, maybe for wiring and dead cats. Something's wrong, so don't assume anything.

I know people describe the odorant in propane as smelling like rotten eggs, but I never thought that was entirely accurate and I never thought it was like sewer either. But… people perceive odors differently, so it could be propane. We had a leak in one of the lines under the trailer the first winter—it was very, very small and couldn't be detected with soapy water, but I could smell it. I tightened the connection and it went away, but not before it emptied one propane tank over winter, molecule by molecule. Yet, propane up that high would be very unusual unless a draft was carrying it upward.

By the way, we upgraded from a 2002 red Tundra to the 2007 blue one. No previous Airstream though. And of course, you live in a town named after me, but I've never been there, although all around it.

Gene
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Old 08-28-2009, 10:47 PM   #11
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Gene: We will check out the wall as well, since its at the shop. The pipe chase is a little triangle enclosure behind the toilet and shares the 'hall' wall and the wall which the folding door hides.

Like you, I've been around Crawford, but never there. Lived in GJ for 2 years during the oil shale boom in 80-82. Love that part of the US, best peaches in the world are from Fruita. Last time I was in the GJ area was in about 1990 working on a couple of the UMTRA projects. Which reminds me, I have to take Sandy up and over Grand Mesa. Hmmm, sounds like a coffee stop at your place one of these trips.

Hugh
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Old 08-29-2009, 04:49 PM   #12
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Hugh, I finally investigated. You've probably done the same by now. The wall between bedroom and bathroom is the thickness of the fiberboard. The bottom compartment below the bedroom wardrobe is directly in front of the water heater and I could see 2 water lines running above it to the bathroom—one red and one white. There's a space above the divider of about 4" to get your hand in there. The water lines go through a hole about 4" in diameter and emerge behind the backing in the bathroom cabinet. There's a space at the top of that divider. The vent pipe chase is, as you say, triangular and also provides a space for the folding door. All the partitions are not fit well to the exterior aluminum walls.

Thus, there are plenty of spaces for odors to migrate in strange and frustrating ways. Our Safari has been closed up for almost a week except for running the fan, but the bathroom door has been closed all the time. When I opened it, that damn chemical smell was there. It may be formaldehyde in the fiberboard, stuff in the glues, or who knows what they use? I don't know how long it will last and am glad not to be allergic to it. I take comfort in knowing that two heads are better than one and the head growing out of my side is a good thing. It does scare my wife though.

Gene
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Old 08-29-2009, 09:51 PM   #13
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We had a smell develop this spring in our 2002 Safari. It turned out to be the vent by the kitchen sink. Airstream calls this vent 1.50 Vent V-200 Automatic. There is also one in the bathroom sink plumbing.
We purchased one from a plumbing supply for under $5.00

Name:   auto_trap_vent.jpg
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Auto trap vent features:
  • Generally used in mobile homes, rv's, and trailers (not code in many areas for homes)
  • Used in places where non-mechanical venting is impossible to install
  • Operates mechanically with a spring and rubber diaphragm
Some call this mechanical vent a "check vent."

Larry Ruebel
Bismarck ND
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Old 08-29-2009, 10:06 PM   #14
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The vent pipe is called a soil stack in household plumbing—you see 3 or 4" black pipe sticking out the roof, that's probably it. It both vents odors and equalizes pressure in the drain pipes. European plumbing has used vents on pipes such as in the above picture for years and they are available at Lowe's, etc., though usually white. When you have a long run of drain pipes between soil stacks, they are useful to allow the pipe to drain well. That can reduce odors by allowing the quick draining of waste—as grey or black water goes down the pipe, air pressure builds up ahead of it and needs to escape somehow. It does not sound like Hugh's problem because there's a vent right next to the toilet and it goes directly to the black tank. It could be useful in the kitchen.

Gene
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