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Old 01-25-2013, 08:57 PM   #1
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Help! My grey water tank is stinking up my rv

even when empty, my grey water tank stinks, coming up through the kitch sink! it stinks more in certain cabinet areas too, that from what i can tell have no leaks. i know there is some cleaner i can get to put in there, which i will asap. is there anything else i can do?

please, if you're going to tell me it's a symptom of a larger problem, sugarcoat it
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Old 01-25-2013, 10:02 PM   #2
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The Happy Campers brand of holding tank treatment eliminated our tank odor problems... They even have a product called extreme cleaner... They work great!
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Old 01-26-2013, 06:22 AM   #3
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Traps full of water?
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Old 01-26-2013, 09:41 AM   #4
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I agree with both Mainah and EMD. If the camper has been sitting a long while the water in the traps of any drain (shower, sink kitchen and bath) can dry up and then tank gas can come up into the camper.

Next is what EMD was talking about. Happy Campers makes the Extreme Clean which is made for heavy cleanup. For the gray tank you fill the tank 1/2 to 3/4 full. Then put the ingredients in and keep filling until the water comes up into the shower basin. Then the system is totally full. Let is sit over night or an entire day. If yours is really bad then may have to do this twice. Drain the system and then use the normal Happy Campers in the tank as tank treatment while camping. What this is going after is the bacteria that have built up in the system and more so on the top of the gray tank. Flushing does not reach the top of the tank other than an internal tank sprayer.

A 3rd cause not yet mentioned is a clogged vent pipe. Up on the roof there is a vent cap for the gray tank. Insects can build a nest in the vent pipe and close it off or almost close it off. Or down at the tank, a scum bridge of sorts builds over the opening of the vent pipe to the tank. If that pipe is clogged off, then gas pressure can build and it wants to get out. We are not talking a lot of pressure but it is still lighter than air gas and wants to get out any way it can. Which at least has the opportunity to sneak past agasint the water traps. The Happy Campers extreme cleaner should eat up a scum bridge.

The vent is the last thing to do. You will need to take up the vent cap up on the roof, use a flash light to look in, if you see a clog, need a real long pole (broom handle) to go down in and break up the clog.

Then deal with the vent cap. I do not know what type of cap you have on your older one. On mine all the Dicro sealant has to come up and hopefully I can unscrew the flange and lift it off the butyl tape and not destroy it getting it off or buy a new vent cap which is not that expensive. I myself have never had to go this far. I have heard others dealing with insects nests. And I had a camping buddy of mine who had his vent pipe drop down into the tank a few inches and when his black tank was about 3/4 full the gas stink was really bad as it sealed off the pipe. He went in with a camera to see the pipe hanging down. His was not a Sunline and I have not heard of a dropped pipe on a Sunline. You can see a dropped pipe up on the roof as the vent stack would have to be lower.

Hope this helps and please let us know how this comes out.

John
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Old 01-26-2013, 10:29 AM   #5
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Sound like the answer is in above posts...but you can smell in side of cabinet,
the only other thing could be a defective vent check.
It's a one way air check valve under the sink, drain line will run into a tee, down to the tank, up to the vent check.
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Old 01-26-2013, 07:29 PM   #6
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I agree with WASA 1500, it happens and is a relatively easy fix I am told.

Here is a couple of pictures I took a while back for someone else with that problem.

.
Attached Images
File Type: jpg sinkvent1.jpg (158.3 KB, 94 views)
File Type: jpg sinkvent2.jpg (133.8 KB, 88 views)
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Old 01-26-2013, 08:08 PM   #7
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Good point and GREAT pics Gene and WASA 1500! I forgot about the flap vent.

Gene, you are "Da Man" with the cool pics tonight!
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Old 01-28-2013, 07:13 PM   #8
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Thanks John.
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Old 01-28-2013, 11:05 PM   #9
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I say Happy campers too.. It is some good stuff. We have been using it for awhile...
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Old 01-28-2013, 11:09 PM   #10
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thanks for these responses. i got some tank cleaner packets and in using that and flushing the tank, the smell in t he camper is gone. i was told to use the packets every couple weeks. is this normal? is it normal every couple weeks for it to stink up? i wouldn't say it's just sitting. i'm using the kitch sink daily.

the cabinet with smell is actually under the fridge (in the 1350, next to bathroom but far, relatively, from kitchen sink. i currently do not use any water from the bathroom.), above one end of the grey tank, but it's enclosed obviously from the tank...i haven't looked at the pipe flow under there. but i don't see what would be making it smell worse under there. will have to follow up after i check some more things out.
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Old 01-29-2013, 05:52 AM   #11
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pour water in bathroom sink. sounds like trap is dry allowing oder from tank enter trailer
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Old 01-30-2013, 04:58 PM   #12
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If it is some thing you don't use pour water in the trap then pour a little olive oil or the likes in, the oil will help the evaporation from the trap.
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Old 01-30-2013, 08:03 PM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by noralee View Post
i got some tank cleaner packets and in using that and flushing the tank, the smell in t he camper is gone. i was told to use the packets every couple weeks. is this normal? is it normal every couple weeks for it to stink up? i wouldn't say it's just sitting. i'm using the kitch sink daily.
I agree, pour some water in the bath room sink drain and if you have a shower, pour some water down that drain to refill the traps.

Now to the packets and the tank. What brand packets did you get and did you fill the tank totally full to have it back up in the shower, that is if you have a shower? We can look up the packets to see what kind they are.

Tell us about the kitchen sink you use every day. What is going down the drain? It is dish water from washing dishes or something else?

Is it hot water or cold or both?

And, do you have the gray tank drain valve open all the time to let the water run through the tank and out the dump hose OR do you let the tank fill almost full then dump it?

Reason for asking all this is, the stink comes from certian bacteria build that produces the smell and then the gases needs a way into the camper. You may have inherited a bunch of stinky bacteria in your tank from the previous owner. It sounds like your packets helped get ride of some of the problem. Pending the answers above may help explain some things to help keep it cleaned up and not stink.

John
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Old 02-19-2013, 10:53 PM   #14
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oh, my detailed response was erased!! this will be briefer.

stinks again now. the brand of packets i use is 'odorlos.' it says use a gallon. so when empty, i put in the packet with a gallon of water, then the tank fills with the packet in there. been ok for a while. i put water in the bathroom sink, but not the shower yet. next i still have to check the valve on the roof.

to answer some questions above:
both hot and cold water.
the tank fills then i dump it. the valve is always closed unless i'm dumping.
the smell is coming from the sink a little, but it's mostly from the closet. not the closet like the one in the pics-under the kitchen sink. but the small closet under the fridge, adjacent the bathroom.
in the kitchen drain is only dishwater, toothpaste, soap. food particles are kept out of the drain pretty well i think. my bathroom is under construction right now, so only use kitchen sink.

will check roof valve to be sure it's not obstructed and check back. this problem comes suddenly too. i will wake up and it smacks me in the face with stink.
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Old 02-19-2013, 11:12 PM   #15
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*roof vent* not valve
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Old 02-20-2013, 01:51 PM   #16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by WASA 1500 View Post
Sound like the answer is in above posts...but you can smell in side of cabinet,
the only other thing could be a defective vent check.
It's a one way air check valve under the sink, drain line will run into a tee, down to the tank, up to the vent check.
wasa, what am i checking this vent for? and how do i check it? take it apart? is there another vent in the small closet under the fridge? i see a black pipe, similar, but think it goes up through the roof.

on the roof there are 2 vents, one from the bathroom and one from, i think this black pipe, explained above, from underneath the fridge. since this is adjacent the bathroom though, i can't imagine why there'd be 2 pipes/vents from the Bathrm...so i''m not sure what this second one is from/for. it start from the floor and i'm pretty sure up to the roof, though i can't see through the wall on the side of the fridge.

today i flushed the tank and then 2x with water. i'll put in a new pack with 1 gallon water. it's been a few weeks, so it could just be a timing thing, and it's normal for some smell to happen 1x/month and then use a packet...? is this possible?
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Old 02-20-2013, 05:37 PM   #17
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Hey Noralee,
The gray and black tanks vent thru the roof. They let air in and out of the tanks so they can accept or drain the water.
The vent check under the sinks are to allow air to flow in the drain after a sink bowl full is draining, breaks vacuum. Testing, well, I would remove it, it's threaded, then look at the seal , must not PASS GAS!!

It's a one way, light sprung check valve.
On my 81 one vent is IN the bath/refer wall, about 2' inboard. The other is rear of bath in a closet. They go straight up thru the roof.
The timing on chemical use varies. A dose should last a week or two, four may be a bit long. Make sure the traps stay wet, wait ,,

If the odor shows up after dumping the tank, a blocked vent will pull air thru the drain and evacuate the traps.
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Old 02-21-2013, 08:12 AM   #18
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The ideal with the vacuum breakers on the sewer pipe is to allow the dump tank to drain with out sucking all the water out of the traps I suppose it's possible for them to be shot but it's a pretty simple device. The stink pipe on the roof should take care of the problem if the traps are full. One of the best things I have added to my RV's is a weather vane on the stink pipes. Gray tanks usually are not too stinky are you sure it's coming from the gray tank? Any chance of mold or some other smell?
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Old 03-05-2013, 07:22 AM   #19
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hi again,
i was away a few days and when i came back the cabinet under the fridge stinks really bad. before i left i ran water in the bathroom drains. and the tank was empty. it's been cold, so there's nothing that heat would have exacerbated. i checked the roof valves but couldn't see anything without unscrewing it from the roof, so i'll have to do that tomorrow to check and see if it's obstructed. but without anything in the tank, how could there be a smell? when i drained the tank i flushed it with water after, so i don't understand what could be smelling. i've been using the tank treatment described above.

any ideas are appreciated. it's unbearable and i'm getting worried.
thanks,
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Old 03-05-2013, 07:26 AM   #20
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Quote:
Originally Posted by WASA 1500 View Post

If the odor shows up after dumping the tank, a blocked vent will pull air thru the drain and evacuate the traps.
GL
could you explain what you mean by "evacuate the traps?" i reread this post and perhaps this is what is happening, but i'm not quite sure what it means.

you also mentioned that the vents are threaded, but i don't think mine are (1983). does anyone know? i don't want to unscrew it from the roof if i don't need to and break the sealant.
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