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Old 11-11-2009, 08:42 AM   #1
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Bad smell coming from toilet... no, not the obvious! ;-)

Hello all,

Just when I thought that we would finally make it through a road trip with no issues to deal with regarding the Airstream, the toilet let me down.

Long story short, bad smells from the black tank are making their way into the Airstream. I will spare you the details of my investigation, but suffice it to say that the smells are coming out through the rear of the toilet housing.

Thankfully, the smell is only noticeable if I turn on one of the Fan-Tastic vents on the roof. It basically suctions the fumes out of the black tank, and into the Airstream. Even more thankfully, we are currently relying on our air conditioner for the next ten days anyway. So long as I don't run any of the venting fans, there is no issue.

I have a couple of questions. I am assuming that the seal between the toilet and the floor isn't tight enough and this is allowing odors back up. The actual flushing mechanism in the bowl is tight though.

My first question. Even at the best of times, will there always be some sort of airflow between the toilet and the black tank? We switched to a new septic treatment chemical, and maybe it's simply not up to the task.

My second question, how easy is the toilet to remove (Thetford toilet, 2008 Safari Special Edition AS0, and how potentially easy might the problem be for me to fix on my own assuming that there is something wrong with the seal between the toilet and the tank?

I have used the exterior water inlet to the black tank to flush it twice now. However, once we go back to using the black tank as usual, the problem returns. This is our second season in the Airstream, and we have never noticed this problem before... and we've used the toilet for "solids" right from the start.

We are presently at Fort Wilderness at Disney. There is a mobile repair guy that will come out to the AS, but that would require one of us to stay behind to wait for him. If this is something that I can take care of myself, I'd like to do so in the evening while the family is asleep (and after the black tank has been emptied and flushed!).

Any advice would be appreciated.
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Old 11-11-2009, 08:54 AM   #2
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Had the same thing last weekend, I just changed the chemical I was using to one that said deodorizes and the smell stopped. I am also jealous, we were supposed to go over to fort wilderness in Sept. but my wife decided that emergency surgery was more important ! I have not been able to book a weekend since, I wish you northerners would stay home once in a while. Only kidding
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Old 11-11-2009, 09:08 AM   #3
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Originally Posted by Toronto_Guy View Post
Hello all,

Just when I thought that we would finally make it through a road trip with no issues to deal with regarding the Airstream, the toilet let me down.

Long story short, bad smells from the black tank are making their way into the Airstream. I will spare you the details of my investigation, but suffice it to say that the smells are coming out through the rear of the toilet housing.

Thankfully, the smell is only noticeable if I turn on one of the Fan-Tastic vents on the roof. It basically suctions the fumes out of the black tank, and into the Airstream. Even more thankfully, we are currently relying on our air conditioner for the next ten days anyway. So long as I don't run any of the venting fans, there is no issue.

I have a couple of questions. I am assuming that the seal between the toilet and the floor isn't tight enough and this is allowing odors back up. The actual flushing mechanism in the bowl is tight though.

[deleted]Any advice would be appreciated.
The Vaccum break valve for the sink drain may have failed. You may be smelling the grey tank. Try treating the grey tank. The valve is behind your sink and easy to replace. You can find it any of the big box stores.
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Old 11-11-2009, 09:19 AM   #4
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Some black water tanks, such as the one in my Safari, are formed with a step toward the upper part of the tank to increase the holding capacity. When the tank is drained, objects may lie on that step and not flush out. My solution to this problem was to purchase a spray wand that fastens to the end of a water hose and give the tank a good rinse. Since doing this every time, no more bad smells. Also, leaving a little water in the bowl of the toilet helps to keep smells from coming up when the fan is turned on.
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Old 11-11-2009, 09:23 AM   #5
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We have switched to a "green" deodorizer and it doesn't work as well, so we use twice as much and that helps. Instead of using the Airstream flusher, we use a Flush King and that way you can see what's coming out and make sure you are getting clear water. This seems to flush better. The Airstream flusher is just a jet of water coming into the side of the tank, is kind of slow too. It takes about 6 or 7 flushes to get clear water and is a pain, but sewers are a pain that you have to live with.

If your fan is pulling in smells, you can get a switch (for free I think) from Fantastic Fan to make it an exhaust fan. The bathroom fan is an exhaust fan and can be used as well.

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Old 11-11-2009, 09:40 AM   #6
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Something has to give if the Fantastic Fan is on and there's no other way for air to enter the trailer. For humidity reasons I usually have at least one window unlatched to allow outside air into the trailer -- more so in winter but it wouldn't hurt to do this when the A/C is on either.

If the FF is on at one end of the trailer and a ceiling vent is passively open at the other, we have had quite a few reports of odors from the rooftop sewer vent being pulled into the open ceiling vent.

When trips rely more on commercial or developed state park campgrounds, we have gone through couple-week stretches of not using our shower. The P trap has gone dry twice, allowing gray tank smell directly into the shower. Now that really smells! A cup of water into the drain and it's all fixed.
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Old 11-11-2009, 10:21 AM   #7
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Are you leaving the valve to the black tank open while hooked up to your site or do you leave it closed except for when you go to empty the tank? Sometimes sewer gas can enter the trailer if your tank valve is left open, especially if the Fantastic Fan is drawing air in - it's gotta come from somewhere...just a thought.

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Old 11-11-2009, 10:24 AM   #8
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We have switched to a "green" deodorizer and it doesn't work as well, so we use twice as much and that helps. Instead of using the Airstream flusher, we use a Flush King and that way you can see what's coming out and make sure you are getting clear water. Gene
I have been using 3R Odor Con in my black tank for a couple years. There is no chemical smell at all to this clear liquid and I have no oder in the trailer.

I like the idea of the Flush King, I might give that a try for back washing the holding tanks.

Don
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Old 11-11-2009, 10:33 AM   #9
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Have you checked to see if the Leafs are in there?Or possibly the Argos?
Kim
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Old 11-11-2009, 11:16 AM   #10
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I use the built in flush and the Sewer Solution instead of the conventional slinky. The SS has a mascerator/backflush thingy too.

In spite of flushing with both I always find that if I partly fill the black tank with 5-10 gallons of clean water and then drive to my next destination and IMMEDIATELY hook up the SS and dump the black tank I get brown water. Agitation due to driving is a real scrubdown. If you have a clear view port as provided by the SS, be prepared to be disgusted at how mush remains behind when you think your tanks is clean as a whistle.

If you've only got one fantastic fan and it draws out, you've got to open your bath and shower vent or a window, or you are going to create a vacuum. Most people also don't realize that some sewers have partial blockages and can "Burp" gasses back up the drain hose.

As for my choice of chemical, the best I've found for odor control are Oxy-Chem I think. I did try an Orange oil based chemical which said it formed an oily barrier between the air above and the water below. It absolutely cut off any fermentation and DID prevent smells from forming, however, every sheet of toilet paper that hit it turned into a sort of leathery parchment instead of dissolving. Boy that was tough sh** to get to flush.
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Old 11-11-2009, 11:26 AM   #11
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Also, leaving a little water in the bowl of the toilet helps to keep smells from coming up when the fan is turned on.
I found out this to be very important to keep the aroma at bay When we purchased the trailer, the toilet would not hold water due to the po not ever leaving any water stay in it. The seal had dried out. I finally after many times adding water got it to seal. Now I always leave some water in even when traveling and no more aroma!

Bob
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Old 11-11-2009, 12:29 PM   #12
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Besides trying all of the above. Try buying 10 lbs of ice and dumping down the toilet just before departing on a trip, add some water so you get movement of the ice. Upon arrivial at destination immediatley dump black tank. Id bet you get dirty stinky water. Also when on a full hookup site keep the black and grey valves closed.Then dump daily as if you were leaving. This stops the build up of solids in the tank.
Just food for thought.
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Old 11-11-2009, 12:38 PM   #13
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We were just at Fort Wilderness at couple weeks ago.
I had this problem once and determined that the sewer gases from the campground's sewer system were coming in through the slinky, into the black tank, then into the camper in very small doses (think the toilet gasket was dried out and allowing a little bit by). Our permanent solution is to keep a little water in the toilet and the valves shut on the tanks at all times (to block gases from entering the tank) and just open the tanks once a day to empty into the sewer system, doing black first and then flushing out the slinky with the gray. Haven't had this issue since.
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Old 11-11-2009, 12:49 PM   #14
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Hello all,

.................................................. ..
My first question. Even at the best of times, will there always be some sort of airflow between the toilet and the black tank? We switched to a new septic treatment chemical, and maybe it's simply not up to the task.

My second question, how easy is the toilet to remove (Thetford toilet, 2008 Safari Special Edition AS0, and how potentially easy might the problem be for me to fix on my own assuming that there is something wrong with the seal between the toilet and the tank?
.................................................. ......................................

Any advice would be appreciated.
Hi, I don't think anyone has addressed your two questions yet, so I will tell you what I know.
It is not normal for there to be air flow between the black tank and the toilet when the valve is not open. I think it is likely however that the leak has been there for a while and the new deodorant makes it more noticeable.
I have changed the toilet (Thetford) in a non airstream trailer. It was much like changing one in a house except for less room to work. However it doesn't sound like a fun thing to do on vacation. I would recommend changing back to your previous chemical. Think about putting a bead of some easy to remove later sealant around the base of the toilet and then tackle the real problem when you get home.
Enjoy your trip,
Ken
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