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Old 07-11-2012, 07:16 PM   #1
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Chemical Outgassing in New Airstream

Our first hot weather has hit here in Oregon, and I was surprised by the amount of outgassing (formaldehyde I assume) in our new Flying Cloud. The trailer had been closed for several weeks, with little ventilation, and when I opened it and started working inside, my eyes and nostrils started burning. I got the fans going with some open windows, and all seemed OK after about 30 minutes.

My assumption is that this is coming out of the foam and other construction materials, and perhaps even the deodorizer for the black water tank. Does anyone know if this is the norm?
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Old 07-12-2012, 12:13 AM   #2
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If it smells like formaldehyde, it probably is the toilet tank deodorant. One brand frequently used in RVs and boats is made by Thetford. It is dark blue (and makes a permanent stain on skin and clothing) and has a strong formaldehyde smell, especially in an empty tank, in an RV that has been closed up for more than a couple of days. A burning sensation in eyes and nostrils is common.

Opening a window and turning on the bathroom vent and/or FantasticFan (or other vent fan) will remove the smell quickly, and it has no lasting effect.

If you are new to RVs, as pungent as this smell is, it is more desirable than the other smells that come from aged black-tank contents, especially in the summer months.
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Old 07-12-2012, 06:21 AM   #3
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Outgassing is common in ANY new vehicle; that's the source of the famous "new car smell." RVs, whether trailers or motorhomes, use a lot of glued laminates in their construction, and glue does outgas for a while. So does most paint, and most plastic.

However, as stated by Phoenix, the odor could be caused by the chemicals used to clean and deodorize the toilet and black tank. I've never personally had a problem with toilet tank deodorant haing an unpleasant odor, but I don't use Thetford chemicals, either. I use Sealand Clean'n'Green, that I pick up at the local West Marine (for me, West Marine is only two miles from home; Camping World is 40 miles away).

AND I leave the Airstream stored with the bathroom vent open; since it's a wet bath, it wouldn't matter if a little bit of rainwater gets in; the rainwater would just drain into the gray tank through the shower drain anyway. Leaving the bathroom vented while in storage definitely helps control odors (and heat). Depending on where your bathroom vent is located, you might be able to do the same.
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Old 07-12-2012, 09:39 AM   #4
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Probably black or grey tank deodorizer. It could be the sink traps are dry or never used, and the odor is coming up from there. The bathroom sink drains into the black tank, not the grey tank. Pour some water into the sinks, shower, and toilet to seal the traps. I would flush those tanks and put a deodorizer in there that you choose when you need it if still troublesome.

We bought a new Flying Cloud last fall fresh from the factory. I am extremely sensitive to chemical odors. There was some, but I was surprised how little "new Car" smell was there. We aired it out with vents open a few sunny days and have had no problem at all.

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Old 07-12-2012, 10:40 AM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Drathaar View Post
Our first hot weather has hit here in Oregon, and I was surprised by the amount of outgassing (formaldehyde I assume) in our new Flying Cloud. The trailer had been closed for several weeks, with little ventilation, and when I opened it and started working inside, my eyes and nostrils started burning. I got the fans going with some open windows, and all seemed OK after about 30 minutes.

My assumption is that this is coming out of the foam and other construction materials, and perhaps even the deodorizer for the black water tank. Does anyone know if this is the norm?
When my trailer was new I found that there was an objectionable chemical odor when it was hot and it had been closed up. I turned up the heat as far as it would go and let the trailer warm up to 95 or so for an hour and then opened the windows and turned on the fans. I think I did that a few times over several days before the situation improved to my satisfaction.
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Old 07-12-2012, 09:49 PM   #6
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Thanks All,

I suspect that it is the Thetford chemical treatment for the blackwater tank. Empty tank with a good amount of chemical added. Hmmmm, I may change to a different brand.
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Old 07-13-2012, 12:33 AM   #7
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Remember without water in the sink/shower traps there is a direct path for odors from both grey and black tanks into the trailer. The traps can also dry out if unused for a long time.

doug k
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Old 07-13-2012, 02:54 AM   #8
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Thetford with formaldehyde is one of the few toilet chemicals that controls odors in extreme heat. Others containing quaternary ammonium salts also work well. However, they have a distinctly different odor that our family finds extremely objectionable.

In the interest of going green, we recently tried the "Geo Method". However, in the desert heat, steadily ripening toilet odors were uncontrolled, even with several additional doses of the various laundry chemicals. Too bad, as the Geo Method seemed to work, at first; and it may be effective in cooler climates/seasons.

We finally returned to Thetford "blue", which seems to be able to control odors under about any conditions. I suspect Thetford toilet deodorant (or some similar formula/brand) is used in commercial airline toilets.
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