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Old 02-04-2016, 05:04 PM   #1
PSU1981
 
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Black Tank Smell

We have not camped for about a month & when I got it out of storage I've got a horrible smell coming from the black tank. I know I emptied it before storage - but tank monitor says black is 20% full?? I will not be near a place to dump until tomorrow. I have put in 2 TST RV toilet treatment drop ins & ran some water thru the toilet. Anyone have any other cure for this smell.

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Old 02-04-2016, 05:29 PM   #2
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It's possible that the tank wasn't completely empty. RV tanks tend to be wide and flat, and dump best if the trailer is tilted so that the street side is higher than the curb side, so that everything in the tank runs to the side with the drain. If the trailer was level when you dumped it, some of the liquid and/or solids might not have drained.

Clean water will not stagnate, but water that contains organic material— such as in a black tank— can stagnate if left undisturbed.

If you can dump it tomorrow, fill the tank close to full, and make sure the trailer is tilted slightly to the street side when you dump.
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Old 02-04-2016, 06:11 PM   #3
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add some ice cubes in morning before you go, drive around and let them scrub around as the melt to help get a good cleanout.
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Old 02-04-2016, 08:04 PM   #4
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Assuming you are not talking about a bad smell when you flush the toilet; There should be no smell inside if everything is working properly, even if there is stinky stuff in the black tank.

If you are talking about smell when you open the valve in the base of the toilet to flush, make sure the vent fans are turned off, or are blowing inward. Exhaust fans blowing inward push the fumes back through bowl and out the roof vent instead of letting it escape inside. Fans turned on exhaust, blowing outward, can pull those fumes up through the toilet into the interior.

One test to find a leaking problem with the toilet bowl is to pour some liquid in the bottom of the bowl. If the liquid remains in the bowl, you know no foul fumes are escaping through there. (one of my toilets has a worn seal, so I deal with this occasionally)

I know some bathroom sinks dump into the black water tank instead of the gray water tank, but I'm not sure which Airstreams are built this way. If the liquid in your sink trap has evaporated fumes might come inside through the sink trap. You can put your nose close to the bathroom sink drain to sniff at that specific location. If that is the issue, just add some liquid to the sink to fill the trap. A foul smell could come from the gray tank, so check the kitchen sink trap and the shower trap.

Look for open exhaust vents near the black tank vent where it penetrates the roof. If there is an open vent and wind is blowing just right to create a slight negative pressure inside, those vented fumes can come inside through the vent.

If one of the above is not found, there could be an improperly sealed sewer pipe or the foam gasket between the toilet bowl and toilet flange could be improperly installed.

I'm betting one of the traps is dry, letting foul fumes pass.
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Old 02-04-2016, 08:32 PM   #5
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Dump in a cup of bleach. Drain at your next stop.


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Old 02-05-2016, 01:12 AM   #6
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X2 on bleach
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Old 02-05-2016, 05:26 AM   #7
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Actually it helps if the trailer is higher on the PASSENGER side and most dumps are set up that way. The dump connection is on the STREET side.

As suggested put a LOT of ice cubes in the toilet, drive to your next location and get a full hook up site. Then hook up sewer connection, fill the black tank all the way until you see water in the toilet coming up from the tank. Then start dumping and as you dump with the black tank washout hose hooked turn it on and let it run for a while. I let ours run for half an hour before I put it away for the winter. Then once all completed, close her up and add a couple of bottles of blue stuff. They also sell a long term storage solution you can add before putting it into storage. I've used it, never had a smell so I'm guessing it works.
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Old 02-05-2016, 05:37 AM   #8
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There is a pretty good video on YouTube regarding the ice cube cleaning method.
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Old 02-05-2016, 06:49 AM   #9
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Actually it helps if the trailer is higher on the PASSENGER side and most dumps are set up that way. The dump connection is on the STREET side.
Thank you for the correction. Another senior moment!
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Old 02-05-2016, 07:02 AM   #10
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Thank you for the correction. Another senior moment!
Ha, daily occurrence-multiple times.

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Old 02-05-2016, 08:58 AM   #11
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There is a pretty good video on YouTube regarding the ice cube cleaning method.

The ice cube cleaning method is pretty well shot down in this well done You Tube video showing a test with a clear plastic tank.

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Old 02-05-2016, 09:36 AM   #12
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Thanks everyone !!
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Old 02-05-2016, 09:50 AM   #13
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The ice cube cleaning method is pretty well shot down in this well done You Tube video showing a test with a clear plastic tank.
Intuitively, it's like a washing machine. Or should be.

It works better if you add detergent to reduce the surface tension of the water so it can soak in better. He didn't add detergent.

It works better if you add enough water during the wash cycle to cover everything that's dirty. He didn't add water until the rinse cycle.

It works better with an agitator than without one. Well, he had an agitator, in the form of ice.

Which means that the test in the video is not exactly conclusive evidence that the ice cube method is a myth. He could have added more water, added soap, and even more ice. (And he could have driven on bumpy, potholed New Orleans streets rather than a parking lot, to really churn up the water!) If he had, he might have gotten different results. Or he might not have. More testing is required. Accepted scientific and engineering practice suggests that a single test does not prove or disprove a hypothesis.
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Old 02-05-2016, 10:11 AM   #14
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Don't forget the GRAY tank while you're cleaning up either. There are always bits of food waste, dead skin cells, hair, and soap in the gray tank - and it can get it's own particular variety of "Whew factor"... that's as bad as the black tank in it's own way.

I full-time and don't have to consider the fermentation process that can grow and continue in the tanks. But I did go on a trip leaving the trailer hooked up for a week and even with the A/C on at a minimal level (set at 80 while gone) when I came back, the first use of the facilities was beyond unpleasant.

When storing for a week or longer, I second the idea of draining the tanks, rinsing them, then filling them adding some bleach, letting them stand for an hour or so, and then draining them dry. If you store for a long period, the toilet seal WILL dry out and so will the traps in the sink and shower. If you check them 3-4 times a month and add water the seal in the toilet will last a lot longer.

BTW, If you want to create "agitation" while draining the tanks why not use the electric tongue jack and create some wave action? Especially good if you use dish detergent in the rinsing process. Grease stinks badly too, and there are no sprayers in my gray tank, so two or three times a year I fill the tank 3/4 full of warm while squeezing in some Dawn, then create a sloshing motion and drain.

Paula
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