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Old 02-07-2019, 12:44 PM   #1
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Natures Head bathroom smell

We have had our Natures Head toilet for about 3 years and occasionally we have had a mild but unacceptable smell in the bathroom. Here is what the situation is today:
- Down in Texas with the temperature from 56 - 64 degrees in the Airstream
- A few days it gets to 72 degrees with no wind
- Quite windy most days
- New batch of compost with about 3 weeks of use by 2 people
- The compost looks like it is just the right amount of moisture, maybe slightly dry if anything
- The smell comes and goes - sometimes within a couple of hours, sometimes a whole day with zero smell

I have replaced the rubber grommet around the base and removable top section. It appears to be sealing well. I checked that the fan is blowing out and that there is no leaks in the short flexible tube from the fan to the "T" I put into the plumbing stack vent pipe that exhausts out the top of the Airstream (25' FC 2017). When I strike a match and watch the smoke it is not being pulled into the intake vent on the opposite side from the fan. Neither is it being pulled into any other place around the toilet.

I have tried to open the bathroom ceiling vent, windows ,etc. in case this is the outside wind (10 to 18 MPH) overcoming the fan and pressurizing the compost bucket and forcing the slight smell back into the room.

Thinking maybe venting it out the side of the Airstream may help?

Any ideas would be most appreciated!
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Old 02-07-2019, 02:42 PM   #2
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Just got off the phone with Michael at Nature's Head. Good discussion and we are going to run a test from now until Monday where I have shut off the fan, disconnected the hose from the fan and plugged off both the hose and the fan output. We will see if the smell goes away. Michael believes that there is a good chance that the rain cap on the roof plumbing vent pipe is allowing excessive wind pressure to blow air back into the toilet and subsequently into the bathroom.
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Old 02-07-2019, 08:41 PM   #3
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Let us know if this works. I think most of us with black tanks have had sewer smells on windy days, or when the bathroom exhaust fan is running, when the toilet flush valve is opened.

Some Nature Head users talk about emptying the toilet every 2nd day or so. Would more frequent clean outs help?

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Old 02-07-2019, 09:17 PM   #4
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Maybe one of these would help?
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Old 02-08-2019, 08:07 AM   #5
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One empties the pee bucket every 2 days (for us). The compost bucket can take about 40 uses before it is full. The slight smell we have is that of the compost.

On the Nature’s Head website they have for sale a vent cover that is an anti-wind device. I’ll look at the one mentioned above to see how it would handle the wind - it looks much more streamlined than Nature’s Head’s version.
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Old 02-08-2019, 11:24 AM   #6
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I have a NH and interested in your experiment.
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Old 02-08-2019, 06:45 PM   #7
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Nature's Head owner for four years... We have found that if we start getting any kind of smell it's time to check the screen on the fan section. In normal use there is enough dust, etc. that while the fan is still working it isn't drawing enough air through to keep odors from building up. Our rule of thumb is that whenever we empty the Nature's Head and put in new coconut coir we clean the filter. You can get to it from the inside, and with an old (!) toothbrush can clear off the dust and stuff that clogs it up.
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Old 02-09-2019, 10:41 AM   #8
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Go point on the screen filter. I did check it and it was clean. I’ve had the hose disconnected for 24 hours and zero smell in the bathroom, except a very slight smell when I open the toilet seat. Which is to be expected as the fan is not running. I just put a 4” PVC pipe end cap over the Airstream’s vent fitting on the roof. It looks like it will block the wind and still allow the vent to work. I’ll report after a few days and hopefully some wind.
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Old 02-09-2019, 11:13 AM   #9
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Just a thought...Have you considered putting back the original Thetford porcelain toilet? (now don't go skewering me; I'm just making a logical comment!)
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Old 02-10-2019, 09:12 AM   #10
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We like going to state and federal parks with zero or only electrical hookups. Easy to get reservations and much more roomy and scenic campsites. With the composting toilet we can go one or even 2 weeks before needing to empty the tanks. Even then we can use my portable pump and tote to dump the grey water. Gives us more hiking, kayaking, photography time as we usually stay in one place for the whole 1 or 2 week vacation time.

90 percent of the time there is zero smell. I am pretty confident we will get this resolved to my wife’s satisfaction. Now I am waiting for the winds to pick up to test out the new vent cap.
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Old 02-10-2019, 09:49 AM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by BoscoMN View Post
We like going to state and federal parks with zero or only electrical hookups. Easy to get reservations and much more roomy and scenic campsites. With the composting toilet we can go one or even 2 weeks before needing to empty the tanks. Even then we can use my portable pump and tote to dump the grey water. Gives us more hiking, kayaking, photography time as we usually stay in one place for the whole 1 or 2 week vacation time.

90 percent of the time there is zero smell. I am pretty confident we will get this resolved to my wife’s satisfaction. Now I am waiting for the winds to pick up to test out the new vent cap.
I can understand the desire to stay off grid for longer periods of time that a 'composting' toilet offers, but they are expensive, can smell (as in your situation) and the liquid and solids still need to be gotten rid of. They may be a good solution in a country cabin where you have a place to actually compost the waste rather than just throwing it in the garbage. Great marketing by Natures Head and other composting toilet manufacturers to convince people that this is the only way to avoid filling up a black tank quickly. IMO, I think they would also decrease the resale desirability of a modified trailer.

There are other simpler solutions for keeping your black tank empty for long periods of time. We have used 'Wag Bags' in the past, but they are fairly expensive. Less expensive, but just as effective are commode liners. Either of these fit into your regular toilet bowl and are permitted to be disposed of in garbage bins. IMO the bags are less distasteful to use then stirring the solids or having to empty the liquids every day. The bag method of waste disposal is also very useful when travelling and your trailer is winterized or no water is available for your regular porcelain toilet.
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Old 02-10-2019, 09:53 AM   #12
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Maybe one of these would help?


We had a sewer smell in our bathroom and the Camco directional vent totally eliminated it. Easy install.
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Old 02-11-2019, 08:18 PM   #13
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I agree that "dry" toilets save water in the black tank and the need to empty it. Most of the state parks I've stayed in have a bath house with toilets reasonably close by. It isn't as handy or comfortable as our Airstreams, but it is an option for me to reduce water in the black tank when on extended stays without hookups.

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Old 02-11-2019, 09:29 PM   #14
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I don't get this. Not having camped someplace without services for two weeks, but at least one. The biggest problem first becomes lack of fresh water. About 55% might go to the gray tank. Maybe 20% tops to the black tank. The rest, is consumed. The blank tank is the least concern.

Fresh water is by far the biggest limiting factor.
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