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Old 09-25-2007, 01:20 PM   #1
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Mystery Stench

Disclaimer: I have used the search function before I started this thread and could not find a problem just like mine.

Airylle has developed a mystery stench that happens only when there is "stuff" in the black tank. Here's the weird part: The smell is in the closets and the bathroom storge areas and it is definitely a sewer smell. We'd put about 6000 miles on her before we noticed it on the way back from the Casini Rally in May. ONe suggestion was that the seal around the toilet was worn out and the black water soup was sloshing up and penetrating the plywood subfloor. Lewster put in a new toilet seal when he passed thru New Mexico, so I know that got put in correctly. The blade in the toilet does not keep water in the bowl, but it has never kept water in the bowl and the stench is a fairly recent development.

Before our most recent trip I reamed the vents with a snake and there did seem to be some sort of obstruction in both vents that got pushed down and into the tank. I know that the snake got all the way to the tank because I put some water in the tank and when I pulled the snake out the end was wet. The vent pipes that go down thru the wardrobe closet and the closet in the bathroom seem to be in excellent repair with no cracks and the joints are tight. I filled the black tank with water, added a whole bunch of the "green stuff" that is supposed to digest the solids as well as some mild detergent. The idea was to let that sit for several days. Then, driving the trailer out our dirt road would churn anything loose and we'd dump before the trip.

I had high hopes that this would solve the problem, but noooooo.... We still have stench. It's not as bad as it was but it is still noticable after about a day. As soon as the tank is empty the smell goes away. I always put the recommended amount of "green stuff" in the tank at the start of a trip and use RV toilet paper. Any suggestions?

BTW, what is the opinion about RV toilet paper. Is it really necessary? The PO had a case of it that came with the trailer and we're down to the last roll. The expression "rougher than a cob" comes to mind when I think about buying more. I'd much rather use the nice Cottonelle Aloe & E we use at home but I don't want to cause even more problems than the one I already have.
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Old 09-25-2007, 01:27 PM   #2
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Check for a cracked vent pipe - tough to do but on older moders I would lean towards a failed glue joint. If not properly cleaned and primed (or sanded) these joints have been known to fail over time. If that is it then it would allow sewer gasses to vent up under the subfloor and into the spaces you described. Maybe the pipe was pulled from the tank and disconnected.

As far as the t-paper - we use any ole brand that says "septic safe" on the label. I know what you mean about the John Wayne stuff - "Rough and Tough and don't take $h1T off anyone".
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Old 09-25-2007, 01:32 PM   #3
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Good one, Clancy

I've been told any single ply will do the same as RV paper - break down quickly so it's not going to clog anything up.

As for the stench, it sounds like you've already trouble-shot everything I could think of. I find a stench sneaks up through the flapper if there's no water in the bowl, but since you're specifically saying it's in the closets, and you've already checked the vents, you might want to consider there could be a crack in the actual tank itself.
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Old 09-25-2007, 01:39 PM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Blu_Hwy_Lady
Disclaimer: I have used the search function before I started this thread and could not find a problem just like mine.

Airylle has developed a mystery stench that happens only when there is "stuff" in the black tank. Here's the weird part: The smell is in the closets and the bathroom storge areas and it is definitely a sewer smell. We'd put about 6000 miles on her before we noticed it on the way back from the Casini Rally in May. ONe suggestion was that the seal around the toilet was worn out and the black water soup was sloshing up and penetrating the plywood subfloor. Lewster put in a new toilet seal when he passed thru New Mexico, so I know that got put in correctly. The blade in the toilet does not keep water in the bowl, but it has never kept water in the bowl and the stench is a fairly recent development.

Before our most recent trip I reamed the vents with a snake and there did seem to be some sort of obstruction in both vents that got pushed down and into the tank. I know that the snake got all the way to the tank because I put some water in the tank and when I pulled the snake out the end was wet. The vent pipes that go down thru the wardrobe closet and the closet in the bathroom seem to be in excellent repair with no cracks and the joints are tight. I filled the black tank with water, added a whole bunch of the "green stuff" that is supposed to digest the solids as well as some mild detergent. The idea was to let that sit for several days. Then, driving the trailer out our dirt road would churn anything loose and we'd dump before the trip.

I had high hopes that this would solve the problem, but noooooo.... We still have stench. It's not as bad as it was but it is still noticable after about a day. As soon as the tank is empty the smell goes away. I always put the recommended amount of "green stuff" in the tank at the start of a trip and use RV toilet paper. Any suggestions?

BTW, what is the opinion about RV toilet paper. Is it really necessary? The PO had a case of it that came with the trailer and we're down to the last roll. The expression "rougher than a cob" comes to mind when I think about buying more. I'd much rather use the nice Cottonelle Aloe & E we use at home but I don't want to cause even more problems than the one I already have.
According to the original drawings, your black water tank is on top of the floor. It sits it a corner and is square except for the part that is along the insided curved wall.

That tank is famous for cracking at the floor flange fitting as well as the vent pipe fitting. It could also be cracked at the bottom, near or at the outlet.

The original tank has not been available for many years.


Andy
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Old 09-25-2007, 04:40 PM   #5
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Also get onto roof and eyeball the plumbing vents to ensure the pipe actually extends past the membrane seal, on my '73 the bathroom vent pipe was supported by steel band clamps that sagged from fasteners backing out and allowed the vent to receed under the roof, then naturally it flopped to one side so was 90% venting into interior space. Another 'running gear out-of-balance' nightmare...
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Old 09-26-2007, 03:15 PM   #6
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Andy— the toilet does sit atop a "throne" so you must be right when you said

"According to the original drawings, your black water tank is on top of the floor. It sits it a corner and is square except for the part that is along the insided curved wall."

It also makes sense that a crack in it somewhere could be causing the odor. Does than mean taking off the belly pan to check? Geez, that seems like a nightmare! Disgusting as it sounds, would I be able to see anything with a mechanic's mirror and a flashlight? Also, if there was a leak in the tank, wouldn't there be some sort of drippiness from the edge of the belly pan? I haven't seen any indication of anything disgusing leaking out.
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Old 09-26-2007, 03:50 PM   #7
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Since the tank is above the floor, you can't access it from the belly pan - the plywood floor is in the way. You might be able to see if there's wetness and rot being caused by a leak. I was able to see a bit of my tank using a mirror and flashlight, but much of it is hidden. I don't know what kind of access you'll find in your trailer.
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Old 09-26-2007, 04:02 PM   #8
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Hi, Susan; All of the 'stench' suggested causes I would have mentioned have been. I will address the RV TP question. We have a septic tank for our rural home so we use septic grade TP. Seems to me that would be okay for RV's too. Our RV TP supply is adequate so we wil not need any soon. Hope someone out there can verify for us that the expensive RV TP isn't necessary.
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Old 09-26-2007, 04:18 PM   #9
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I am sure that your AS is plumbed differently than ours but we had a air access valve on top of our grey tank vent that exited into the wardrobe. I found that someone had either not installed it in the first place or took it off at the dealer and didn't reinstall it. When I had the fan on "exit" it pulled air from the open vents AND the grey tank giving us this wonderful stench that had us pointing to each other. AS factory sent me out another one which screwed into the vent pipe and all was well. It allow air to enter so the water will drain but can't be pulled out. Maybe not your issue but worth looking into.
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Old 09-26-2007, 07:13 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Blu_Hwy_Lady
AndyŚ the toilet does sit atop a "throne" so you must be right when you said

"According to the original drawings, your black water tank is on top of the floor. It sits it a corner and is square except for the part that is along the insided curved wall."

It also makes sense that a crack in it somewhere could be causing the odor. Does than mean taking off the belly pan to check? Geez, that seems like a nightmare! Disgusting as it sounds, would I be able to see anything with a mechanic's mirror and a flashlight? Also, if there was a leak in the tank, wouldn't there be some sort of drippiness from the edge of the belly pan? I haven't seen any indication of anything disgusing leaking out.
You do not have to take anything apart to check a black tank in your trailer.

Make sure the black tank has been emptied, then lower the back end of the trailer so that it's lower than the front of the trailer.

Then fill the black tank with just water, so that the water actually comes up into the bowl, and inch or two.

Now, just sit back and see what happens.

That test should provide an answer for you.

Andy
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Old 09-26-2007, 08:23 PM   #11
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I believe all modern TP is safe for septic systems, and therefore, probably for RVs as well. We have never had an issue using any off-the-shelf brand of TP with our RVs.

Susan
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Old 09-26-2007, 08:37 PM   #12
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One other thing to check is your bathroom sink p-trap. If your sink stopper is not closed and you have no water in your p-trap then the smells from the black water tank, assuming your bath sink drains into the black water tank like ours, will make their way up through the p-trap into the trailer/motorhome.

We found this out the hard way

Brad
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Old 09-26-2007, 11:51 PM   #13
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The sink will not drain into the black on a vintage unit, but the gray water tank can have a nasty oder to it also. You stated that the smell comes from the storage area in the bathroom. If your unit is the same as mine, the battery is located just below that area. Open the battery door and see if it stinks in there. Maybe the battery is cooking. That might smell like sewer also.
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Old 09-28-2007, 06:33 AM   #14
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Balck water tank blues

Andy's Comment "The original tank has not been available for many years"...
..is not what I wanted to hear this morning. I also have a 23' safari, 1970, and am looking for a black water tank. I took mine out to replace some floor and found it had a crack around the ring where the toilet collar screws into it and also where the vent pipe fitting comes out of the tank.

So where can I find a replacement tank?

Any help would be appreciated.

Doug
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