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Old 12-22-2014, 10:03 AM   #1
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Major smell problem

Hi, I decided to re-submit this post with a new title.

I am having an odor issue. There was always a faint odor coming from under the shower/bathroom area (I assumed it was mildew/dead bugs and whatnot underneath the bathroom subfloor) and it was controllable for a long time, as I planned to replace the shower pan and was going to wait until then to clean out that area and remove whatever was mildewy. Lately in the last few weeks the smell has become out of control--have to keep the windows open and it's 25 degrees outside--and I've been investigating the cause.

I pulled up the shower pan and found nothing abnormal besides dust and bugs. But I did notice that the smell was coming from where the kitchen sink pipe meets the grey tank--from the hole itself where those two meet at the bottom of the camper--not the pipes. The odor wafted strongly from the hole, though the seal was intact, so I wondered if between the bottom skin and whatever is against that (where the insulation is) could an animal get trapped in there? Could moisture be trapped in there somehow that is rotting? If so, where would I look for this? Can it be seen from getting underneath the camper? The seals on both vents were secure however. So I don't see it as a tank/vent leak/crack. There are no spongy areas on the floor or walls.

There was also the possibility that it was a septic tank issue. The grey tank is always open to the septic tank and thought maybe it was a backing up issue. But I tried closing the tank off for several days and there was no difference in the smell.

I have been investigating around for the last week or so and am really bumming out that I can't find the source of this issue. I duct taped off the hole to reduce the smell and it is finding other ways to come up into the camper--under the bench perhaps from where the linoleum is coming up on the edge against the wall. This is another reason I think the problem is coming from underneath but inside the camper. The odor could escape from anywhere there is space to the bottom insulation area. There is no odor outside the camper from any piping or from a damaged septic tank.

I did also treat both tanks with happy camper which should have at least reduced the odor but there was no difference.

This is a major smell problem that has grown over time and I do not know what else to do. I fear there is no solution that won't be very costly and time consuming since I've looked in the most obvious places and it's causing a lot of distress.
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Old 12-24-2014, 05:30 AM   #2
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Not sure if this will help, or not, but you might check the roof vent. They can be damaged by animals or old age deterioration of the plasitc and let tank odors that would normally escape re-enter the camper by drifting down the wall the vent pipe rises through. It also could be snow on the roof blocking air flow. This would have you smelling septic odors inside when the real problem is on the outside. ....... This happened to our 2363 and I had to replace the roof vent fixtures. While up there I just replaced all fixtures since not especially costly.


Hope you find a easy solution.
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Old 12-24-2014, 07:55 AM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by noralee View Post

I pulled up the shower pan and found nothing abnormal besides dust and bugs. But I did notice that the smell was coming from where the kitchen sink pipe meets the grey tank--from the hole itself where those two meet at the bottom of the camper--not the pipes. The odor wafted strongly from the hole, though the seal was intact, so I wondered if between the bottom skin and whatever is against that (where the insulation is) could an animal get trapped in there? Could moisture be trapped in there somehow that is rotting? If so, where would I look for this? Can it be seen from getting underneath the camper? The seals on both vents were secure however. So I don't see it as a tank/vent leak/crack. There are no spongy areas on the floor or walls.

There was also the possibility that it was a septic tank issue. The grey tank is always open to the septic tank and thought maybe it was a backing up issue. But I tried closing the tank off for several days and there was no difference in the smell.

I have been investigating around for the last week or so and am really bumming out that I can't find the source of this issue. I duct taped off the hole to reduce the smell and it is finding other ways to come up into the camper--under the bench perhaps from where the linoleum is coming up on the edge against the wall. This is another reason I think the problem is coming from underneath but inside the camper. The odor could escape from anywhere there is space to the bottom insulation area. There is no odor outside the camper from any piping or from a damaged septic tank.

I did also treat both tanks with happy camper which should have at least reduced the odor but there was no difference.
Hi Noralee,

You have given us some good info to "think" on. Here are some thoughts.

Something with a smell this foul seems to point to 2 areas.

1. Holding tank gases getting up in the camper.

2. As you said, an animal decomposing.

To no. 1, do you have any pics of areas with the shower basin out? I do not know your older camper so it is hard to give specifics on how your model is made. You stated the " The odor wafted strongly from the hole, though the seal was intact,"

Explain what you mean by seal? I am after looking at the actual rubber (if that is what they used back then) seal rubber between the tank vent pipe and the actual top of the holding tank. This may not be able to be seen as it is under the floor outside the camper and on the top of the tank. If this seal is cracked or disturbed, tank gases will come up out of it and then they filter where ever they can find a small hole to get in the camper.

The decomposing animal. A small one, a mouse etc will stink when you are real close to it, (~ 4 to 6") however not normally many feet away. (~ 4 to 8 feet) There is not enough mass of the carcass. An large animal, a grown raccoon, or bigger can stink. However an animal that big needs a hole that big to get in and space that big to be there.

I "thought" your vintage camper had a sheet metal cover on the bottom, there would need to be a good sized hole (~ 3 to 4" dia) for a large animal to get in.

My thoughts are this is a tank gas issue. It would explain how it has been there a long time and then get worse as the seal deteriorates even that much more.

You mentioned you did the happy camper treatment, did you use the "extreme cleaner" or just the regular happy camper? And did you you fill the tank up to the very top so the chemical can get to the top of the tank?

Scum on top of the tank will only get eaten up when the cleaner can reach it. For the gray tank this mean let the tank water fill until it comes up in the shower and the black tank you can see it down through the flush valve. Then let it sit over night with the extreme cleaner in the tanks. This will de-scum the tanks however it will not fix the tank seal/crack etc on how the order is getting up in the camper.

A while ago in one of your other posts we talked about the air admittance valve which is normally under the sink. If this is leaking, it will let tank odor get in the camper. We need to rule this out. This is what a generic air admittance valve does. Lets air in when the drain water goes down. Also allows gases to come back up if it is leaking.

air admittance valve - Bing Images

Hope this helps. My thoughts go to tank gases. Jim's thought on the roof vent being plugged is good too and along the same lines of thinking. If the gases cannot get out, then they are going to put pressure in the tank and try to get out any little crack in the vent pipe seal in the top of the tank or in the gray tank in the air admittance valve. Spiders can make a nest over the entire hole under the vent cap. Had that happen on a buddies camper.

John
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Old 12-24-2014, 08:23 AM   #4
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I had a smell in my camper that I could not find tried the usual stuff till it got to the point of removing the toilet and try replacing the toilet seal and that is when I found the smell it was the inside of the toilet! I pressure wash it and treated it with chlorine and have had no problems since.
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Old 12-25-2014, 07:56 PM   #5
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Thank you all for your replies. I feel great relief that there are some new avenues to try out.

John,
I don't think a large animal could find any place to get inside. You are right, there is a large sheet metal underneath the camper.

The tank treatment: I did happy camper double dose since I use it regularly and filled the grey tank to the top. i didn't leave it overnight though. i treat the black tank regularly and don't see any signs that the smell is coming from the black tank. but i could be wrong. Any thoughts on grey tank cleaning since I always have this open to drain to the septic? ie, it never fills up/backs up into shower like you mentioned.

Unfortunately I did not take any photos of the space under the shower pan. The pan is about 21x22 and udnerneath was a piece of plywood resting on 2 other pieces of wood and The seal I referred to is the seal between what looks to me like the kitchen piping and the grey tank. The seal looked good to me and my helper. But the smell came from the hole that was made around that pipe joint. I could be wrong but it looked like it was the piping that went directly into the grey tank. the seal looked like it was a liquid/painted on with a brush--like that blue plumbers paint, but it was black.

I didn't realize that this type of pipe can get old and let gas escape even without cracks. I will have to think on this. I have wondered about this before since that makes the most sense to me with what i've seen and smelled--if the plastic deteriorated enough for the smell to just drift out. Initial thoughts: How do you test for this and how do you go about replacing these pipes when they run underneath the flooring but above the metal sheeting underneath the camper?

I did check the roof valves when I first arrived in NC, and they were fine. I have since put a screen around both openings because I had some wasps coming in that way. I could check these again.

I do know that the grey tank leaks at the top, but since I leave that open for draining I haven't done anything with it yet. So the happy camper gets that high, up to the 'roof' of the tank/bottom of the camper. I notice though that when the water overflows, i see it coming out of the top edge of the black tank. but that only happens when the grey tank gets full. i've doubled checked i have the right tank because it seems so weird. and i'm going to check again to make sure i don't have my tanks mixed up. i'm wondering if this is connected to the smell issue. when my black tank gets full it backs up into the toilet so I know to drain it. and it never drains from underneath the camper. it must be water overflowing from the grey tank and just looking like it comes out of the black tank. i can see the valves clearly and the tanks they lead to, so i don't have the tanks mixed up. But the black one doesn't have the leaking issue. It's definitely the grey tank. So, could the grey tank really smell that bad if it's always draining and was cleaned thoroughly with happy camper--after not being used for the 5 years before I bought it. A follow up question for this is what do I use to reseal the top of the tank on the underside of the camper? I do not have the resources right now to replace the tank.

I believe I checked the air admittance valve, but I will check again to make sure it's ok. when you say 'leaking' do you mean gas or water? there is definitely not a water leak under the kitchen sink. it is dry there. the smell does not originate there, however. So i think we can rule this out as the source. The smell seems to originate under the floorboards, so John your thoughts on tank gas seems like the right direction. If the seals are good, and they looked good to us, it would make sense it is a deteriorating pipe issue. --After I check the roof vents.

Thanks for your thoughts. I'm always so grateful when I see replies to my posts trying to resolve the issues I'm facing.


Quote:
Originally Posted by JohnB View Post
Hi Noralee,

You have given us some good info to "think" on. Here are some thoughts.

Something with a smell this foul seems to point to 2 areas.

1. Holding tank gases getting up in the camper.

2. As you said, an animal decomposing.

To no. 1, do you have any pics of areas with the shower basin out? I do not know your older camper so it is hard to give specifics on how your model is made. You stated the " The odor wafted strongly from the hole, though the seal was intact,"

Explain what you mean by seal? I am after looking at the actual rubber (if that is what they used back then) seal rubber between the tank vent pipe and the actual top of the holding tank. This may not be able to be seen as it is under the floor outside the camper and on the top of the tank. If this seal is cracked or disturbed, tank gases will come up out of it and then they filter where ever they can find a small hole to get in the camper.

The decomposing animal. A small one, a mouse etc will stink when you are real close to it, (~ 4 to 6") however not normally many feet away. (~ 4 to 8 feet) There is not enough mass of the carcass. An large animal, a grown raccoon, or bigger can stink. However an animal that big needs a hole that big to get in and space that big to be there.

I "thought" your vintage camper had a sheet metal cover on the bottom, there would need to be a good sized hole (~ 3 to 4" dia) for a large animal to get in.

My thoughts are this is a tank gas issue. It would explain how it has been there a long time and then get worse as the seal deteriorates even that much more.

You mentioned you did the happy camper treatment, did you use the "extreme cleaner" or just the regular happy camper? And did you you fill the tank up to the very top so the chemical can get to the top of the tank?

Scum on top of the tank will only get eaten up when the cleaner can reach it. For the gray tank this mean let the tank water fill until it comes up in the shower and the black tank you can see it down through the flush valve. Then let it sit over night with the extreme cleaner in the tanks. This will de-scum the tanks however it will not fix the tank seal/crack etc on how the order is getting up in the camper.

A while ago in one of your other posts we talked about the air admittance valve which is normally under the sink. If this is leaking, it will let tank odor get in the camper. We need to rule this out. This is what a generic air admittance valve does. Lets air in when the drain water goes down. Also allows gases to come back up if it is leaking.

air admittance valve - Bing Images

Hope this helps. My thoughts go to tank gases. Jim's thought on the roof vent being plugged is good too and along the same lines of thinking. If the gases cannot get out, then they are going to put pressure in the tank and try to get out any little crack in the vent pipe seal in the top of the tank or in the gray tank in the air admittance valve. Spiders can make a nest over the entire hole under the vent cap. Had that happen on a buddies camper.

John
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Old 12-25-2014, 08:12 PM   #6
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Thanks Mainah, I have a new toilet and seal so I don't think this could be the source of my problem.

Quote:
Originally Posted by mainah View Post
I had a smell in my camper that I could not find tried the usual stuff till it got to the point of removing the toilet and try replacing the toilet seal and that is when I found the smell it was the inside of the toilet! I pressure wash it and treated it with chlorine and have had no problems since.
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Old 12-26-2014, 08:06 AM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by noralee View Post
snip.. The seal I referred to is the seal between what looks to me like the kitchen piping and the grey tank. The seal looked good to me and my helper. But the smell came from the hole that was made around that pipe joint. I could be wrong but it looked like it was the piping that went directly into the grey tank. the seal looked like it was a liquid/painted on with a brush--like that blue plumbers paint, but it was black.

I didn't realize that this type of pipe can get old and let gas escape even without cracks. I will have to think on this. I have wondered about this before since that makes the most sense to me with what i've seen and smelled--if the plastic deteriorated enough for the smell to just drift out. Initial thoughts: How do you test for this and how do you go about replacing these pipes when they run underneath the flooring but above the metal sheeting underneath the camper?

snip..

I do know that the grey tank leaks at the top, but since I leave that open for draining I haven't done anything with it yet. So the happy camper gets that high, up to the 'roof' of the tank/bottom of the camper. I notice though that when the water overflows, i see it coming out of the top edge of the black tank. but that only happens when the grey tank gets full. i've doubled checked i have the right tank because it seems so weird. and i'm going to check again to make sure i don't have my tanks mixed up. i'm wondering if this is connected to the smell issue. when my black tank gets full it backs up into the toilet so I know to drain it. and it never drains from underneath the camper. it must be water overflowing from the grey tank and just looking like it comes out of the black tank. i can see the valves clearly and the tanks they lead to, so i don't have the tanks mixed up. But the black one doesn't have the leaking issue. It's definitely the grey tank. So, could the grey tank really smell that bad if it's always draining and was cleaned thoroughly with happy camper--after not being used for the 5 years before I bought it. A follow up question for this is what do I use to reseal the top of the tank on the underside of the camper? I do not have the resources right now to replace the tank.

I believe I checked the air admittance valve, but I will check again to make sure it's ok. when you say 'leaking' do you mean gas or water? there is definitely not a water leak under the kitchen sink. it is dry there. the smell does not originate there, however. So i think we can rule this out as the source. The smell seems to originate under the floorboards, so John your thoughts on tank gas seems like the right direction. If the seals are good, and they looked good to us, it would make sense it is a deteriorating pipe issue. --After I check the roof vents.
Noralee,

I "think" you have discovered your problem. Just may not have realized it.

If your gray tank has a "water" leak on the top of it when the tank gets full, then there is a hole, a crack, something that is letting the water get out. Well, think about this for a moment, if water can get out, why can't a gas get out? air is lighter than water. If you have a tank that can leak water, it can leak air/gas. The gas will float "up"

The gray water tank can get really nasty in stench. Scum at or above the water line is growing bacteria. While you are using Happy Camper, this can only treat the area's it touches. And since you have the grey dump valve open all the time, anything above the top of what ever water line is in the tank is growing. And that grey dump valve being open allows a direct path to the main sewer system gases up into the grey tank. (we will talk more on this in a moment)

The seal you are referring to that looked like something painted on, this is where a pic would help me and others understand if this is original or something a prior owner was trying do to fix the tank issue. An ABS solvent weld of piping looks nice and shinny sometimes and might look like paint. But then again, not knowing what you are looking at this might be some kind of attempt to seal the pipe to the tank by a prior owner.

Question: Did you see the actual top of the tank and then this pipe with the paint like looking stuff right at that joint between the top of tank and the pipe going into it?

The air admittance valve, that valve should be high up enough that no water would come out of it, just that gas could float up out of it if the flapper inside was bad.

Piping leaking over time. You where talking about the piping having leaks over time. Well, not normally unless something attacked the piping, like a UV sun rays or some other outside influence to break down the plastic. Heavy acid drain cleaners may be a issue if they were using hydrochloric acid cleaners trying to boil out a clog. From this, high heat comes and can attack a suspect piece of plastic piping. My 2 cents on these kinds of drain cleaners on plastic piping is, forget it, do it the old way and snake out the clog with a wire etc, take the trap apart manually or other mechanical means. Bacteria like Happy Campers etc to eat out a clog I'm OK with, but the high acid type I myself am not a fan of. Unless something attacked the piping, the pipes should be good.

Right now after seeing your last reply, the tank leak where water can come out is an issue that has to be eliminated to get it off the list of suspects. It for sure can be a source of the stink.

Here is something you can try to confirm if it is the grey tank crack/leak. Do the double happy camper (extreme cleaner is better but this is a start) treatment and fill the tank up until your leak starts. Let is a day or more full. Drain and flush with clean water. The tank should now be a lot cleaner then it has been and the bacteria causing the stink in the tank, greatly reduced or gone.

Then leave the tank dump valve "closed". You are now sealing off the main sewer gas coming back into the tank with the valve closed. Ideally you can leave it closed for a few days until you know the stink has stopped.

BUT you want to use the camper and the water, so try this after cleaning out the tank like stated above.

Treat tank normally with happy camper and have some water (1 to 3 gallon in it) "leave the valve closed". Use the system like this until it needs to be dumped. Dump and do this again for a few days with the tank valve closed. You may have to dump often as this is a small tank.

If the smell is less, (may not be gone) then open the tank dump valve and do it the way you are now and see if the stink comes back. The problem with leaving the valve open "in your case" is the cracked grey tank. Sewer gas will back up from the sewer and can vent out through the tank crack and then up into the camper. There is no trap in line with main septic system to prevent this.

If this helps pin point the issue, long term the tank needs to be fixed. If it is ABS plastic like many are, then the tank can be solvent welded to repair and be a sound repair. Many on the forum have done this and it is not expensive. You will need help to get the tank down, welded and then put back up. This may be the biggest job of all and have to wait until better weather comes. If you can actually see the crack/leak, let us know, a short term band aid might help.

If you find by closing the grey tank dump valve and using the tank like mentioned above helps lower the stink, then go out every 1 to 2 days, dump and close the valve again and happy camper treat it. This can buy you time until the tank can be fixed. I know it not the most convenient way, but it may be better then dealing with the stink.

Hope this helps

John
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Old 12-27-2014, 01:29 PM   #8
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John,

The seal on the piping is original. The PO repairs were all sloppy and this was clearly original. I don't remember if I saw the top of the tank where the piping 'met' but my first instinct is to say yes.

I did think of the possibility that the grey tank leak could potentially be the source of this problem. My main reason to doubt this though is that there is no odor outside or under the camper. I would think that with odor that strong, it would be detectable outside if that were the origin of the smell. And, if the odor were drifting up from the main septic line, I would also smell it outside, perhaps stronger.

The piping leaking: I was referring to air escaping only, not water. There are no discernible water leaks in the piping. But it sounds like the piping which was used minimally by PO's has not been damaged or corroded.

I did cover the hole under the shower pan and since the smell has found a new way to come up into the camper, I was thinking of the possibility that the pipes were not working properly in some way and letting gas/air leak out. If the smell were coming from the grey tank or main septic, wouldn't blocking off that hole-directly leading to the tank-reduce the smell? It has not. It has traveled to other areas of the camper and risen up.

I like your plan to rule out the possibility we've been discussing. I have however, already tried this only for a shorter time and did not notice a difference. I left the grey tank valve closed for a few days and there was no difference. That would mean that in this scenario the grey tank would have to be the issue. But I did happy camper it and fill the tank before closing the valve and there was still no difference. I feel like if the main septic tank was the problem I would have at least noticed some reduction over the few days I had the tank closed. If it is the grey tank, perhaps I did not leave the happy camper in for long enough and a retry of this would help to know more.

My black and grey tanks are ABS and there are no visible cracks to fix.

My thoughts after I tried the happy camper went to that it was an inside issue, something inside the camper, but below the subfloor.

After reading your suggestions, I am planning to re-treat the grey tank and leave the happy camper in longer while it is filled and with the valve closed. Well, overnight will be the longest since I have to use the tank daily. but then I can re-happy camper it each day. If after a few days there is no obvious reduction, I think we can rule out the grey tank and the tank leak being the source of the odor. I do think though that it will prove to be another source since I tried a shorter version of this already. But perhaps a stronger treatment will prove me wrong.

Just to keep me thinking, what would be your next suggestion? I have a helper who is only available a limited number of days and if I have a plan ahead of time I will be able to get his help more quickly if needed.

Thank you for your time and thoughts,
Noralee

Quote:
Originally Posted by JohnB View Post
Noralee,

I "think" you have discovered your problem. Just may not have realized it.

If your gray tank has a "water" leak on the top of it when the tank gets full, then there is a hole, a crack, something that is letting the water get out. Well, think about this for a moment, if water can get out, why can't a gas get out? air is lighter than water. If you have a tank that can leak water, it can leak air/gas. The gas will float "up"

The gray water tank can get really nasty in stench. Scum at or above the water line is growing bacteria. While you are using Happy Camper, this can only treat the area's it touches. And since you have the grey dump valve open all the time, anything above the top of what ever water line is in the tank is growing. And that grey dump valve being open allows a direct path to the main sewer system gases up into the grey tank. (we will talk more on this in a moment)

The seal you are referring to that looked like something painted on, this is where a pic would help me and others understand if this is original or something a prior owner was trying do to fix the tank issue. An ABS solvent weld of piping looks nice and shinny sometimes and might look like paint. But then again, not knowing what you are looking at this might be some kind of attempt to seal the pipe to the tank by a prior owner.

Question: Did you see the actual top of the tank and then this pipe with the paint like looking stuff right at that joint between the top of tank and the pipe going into it?

The air admittance valve, that valve should be high up enough that no water would come out of it, just that gas could float up out of it if the flapper inside was bad.

Piping leaking over time. You where talking about the piping having leaks over time. Well, not normally unless something attacked the piping, like a UV sun rays or some other outside influence to break down the plastic. Heavy acid drain cleaners may be a issue if they were using hydrochloric acid cleaners trying to boil out a clog. From this, high heat comes and can attack a suspect piece of plastic piping. My 2 cents on these kinds of drain cleaners on plastic piping is, forget it, do it the old way and snake out the clog with a wire etc, take the trap apart manually or other mechanical means. Bacteria like Happy Campers etc to eat out a clog I'm OK with, but the high acid type I myself am not a fan of. Unless something attacked the piping, the pipes should be good.

Right now after seeing your last reply, the tank leak where water can come out is an issue that has to be eliminated to get it off the list of suspects. It for sure can be a source of the stink.

Here is something you can try to confirm if it is the grey tank crack/leak. Do the double happy camper (extreme cleaner is better but this is a start) treatment and fill the tank up until your leak starts. Let is a day or more full. Drain and flush with clean water. The tank should now be a lot cleaner then it has been and the bacteria causing the stink in the tank, greatly reduced or gone.

Then leave the tank dump valve "closed". You are now sealing off the main sewer gas coming back into the tank with the valve closed. Ideally you can leave it closed for a few days until you know the stink has stopped.

BUT you want to use the camper and the water, so try this after cleaning out the tank like stated above.

Treat tank normally with happy camper and have some water (1 to 3 gallon in it) "leave the valve closed". Use the system like this until it needs to be dumped. Dump and do this again for a few days with the tank valve closed. You may have to dump often as this is a small tank.

If the smell is less, (may not be gone) then open the tank dump valve and do it the way you are now and see if the stink comes back. The problem with leaving the valve open "in your case" is the cracked grey tank. Sewer gas will back up from the sewer and can vent out through the tank crack and then up into the camper. There is no trap in line with main septic system to prevent this.

If this helps pin point the issue, long term the tank needs to be fixed. If it is ABS plastic like many are, then the tank can be solvent welded to repair and be a sound repair. Many on the forum have done this and it is not expensive. You will need help to get the tank down, welded and then put back up. This may be the biggest job of all and have to wait until better weather comes. If you can actually see the crack/leak, let us know, a short term band aid might help.

If you find by closing the grey tank dump valve and using the tank like mentioned above helps lower the stink, then go out every 1 to 2 days, dump and close the valve again and happy camper treat it. This can buy you time until the tank can be fixed. I know it not the most convenient way, but it may be better then dealing with the stink.

Hope this helps

John
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Old 12-28-2014, 09:20 AM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by noralee View Post
Snip...

0. I tried closing the tank off for several days and there was no difference in the smell.

1. I have been investigating around for the last week or so and am really bumming out that I can't find the source of this issue. I duct taped off the hole to reduce the smell and it is finding other ways to come up into the camper--under the bench perhaps from where the linoleum is coming up on the edge against the wall. This is another reason I think the problem is coming from underneath but inside the camper. The odor could escape from anywhere there is space to the bottom insulation area. There is no odor outside the camper from any piping or from a damaged septic tank.
Quote:
Originally Posted by noralee View Post

2. I do know that the grey tank leaks at the top, but since I leave that open for draining I haven't done anything with it yet.

3. So the happy camper gets that high, up to the 'roof' of the tank/bottom of the camper. I notice though that when the water overflows, i see it coming out of the top edge of the black tank. but that only happens when the grey tank gets full.

4. i've doubled checked i have the right tank because it seems so weird. and i'm going to check again to make sure i don't have my tanks mixed up. i'm wondering if this is connected to the smell issue. when my black tank gets full it backs up into the toilet so I know to drain it. and it never drains from underneath the camper. it must be water overflowing from the grey tank and just looking like it comes out of the black tank.

5. i can see the valves clearly and the tanks they lead to, so i don't have the tanks mixed up. But the black one doesn't have the leaking issue. It's definitely the grey tank. So, could the grey tank really smell that bad if it's always draining and was cleaned thoroughly with happy camper--after not being used for the 5 years before I bought it.

Hi Noralee,

H'mm, OK I went back through your replies and put them in this note to get a better understanding. I numbered the areas to talk to.

0. It looks like you tried the gray tank valve being off before and did not notice a difference. The gray being open to the main tank can for sure let sewer system gas up into the tank. While you do not smell it outside the camper, it may be somewhat more staying captive under the camper under the metal cover. Please confrim your camper has the metal cover, yes/no?

To rule this out off the list, try the double dose Happy camper and fill the tank full and let it sit over night. Flush with fresh water after the dumping and Happy camper treat with a gallon or 2 of water with the grey tank valve closed for a few days. This will help or at least reduce the issue of the crack in the grey tank is not adding to the problem.

No 4 above, need more explanation on, "when my black tank gets full it backs up into the toilet so I know to drain it. and it never drains from underneath the camper. it must be water overflowing from the grey tank and just looking like it comes out of the black tank."

Explain"it never drains under the camper"

Explain "it must be water over flowing from the grey"

Does the never drains and must be coming from the grey wetness happen every time to dump the black tank?

Trying to connect the dots as much as we can on what is going on. I agree if the grey tank valve is closed, it will stop the sewer gas from coming up, however if the gray leaks often it make have created a large bacteria growth issue under the camper.

Does any one of your helpers have an inspection camera? (bore scope) These kind of things. They come on all price ranges
Inspection Cameras - Power Tools -*The Home Depot

If your camper has the metal cover on the bottom, before all is said and done, the cover will need to come down and get a better look. The grey tank needs to be fixed for sure. Hopefully we can find something to help ease some of the stink until the weather gets better to go under the camper.

If you can get the inspection camera (or rent one) and see in there you can see possibly more what is going on and if a temporary patch may help or not.

What you seem to know for sure is, the stink is coming up from the bottom of the camper. It can be easier to get to that area from the bottom up verses the top down.

Hope this helps. Maybe from more explanation on item 4, something new may come up to look at.

John
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Old 12-29-2014, 12:17 AM   #10
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John,

To the numbers:
0) yes, I do have the metal cover. I did try the grey tank but perhaps I didn't let things "work" long enough, or closed the valve long enough to make a real difference. I"m in the process of trying your suggestion right now and will keep the valve closed after tank is happy campered longer and see again if there is a difference. I still don't see how even if I stick my head under the camper i wouldn't smell anything outside if the source was from outside.

I did check the leak from the tank below and it is definitely from the grey tank. there is a crack on the top of the tank (not visible obviously but can see that's where the water is coming from). This is what I was referring to in #4. It looked like water was leaking ('overflowing') to the ground from the black tank but I have confirmed it is from the grey tank only. I was explaining that the black tank does back up when the tank is full-remember the 1350 doesn't have a tank sensor, so sometimes it will visibly back up towards the toilet bowl if I don't dump- whereas the grey tank, since there is a leak never backs up (and because the valve to the septic is open here). Right now, I have the double dose of Hap Camp in the grey tank with the valve closed. I've even rustled the camper a bit to slosh the cleaner around.

Not sure what you mean with this question, but I may have already explained it above and just ignore if so:
Does the never drains and must be coming from the grey wetness happen every time to dump the black tank?

It makes sense that the valve being open to the septic as well as the crack in the grey tank would lead to increased bacteria growth. But I still don't see how that smell would be getting inside the camper, even though you've explained it a bit. i can't get my head around that.

In regards to this quote: "Trying to connect the dots as much as we can on what is going on. I agree if the grey tank valve is closed, it will stop the sewer gas from coming up, however if the gray leaks often it make have created a large bacteria growth issue under the camper."
--I see what you're saying after reading this a couple times and since the grey tank valve has always been open here and thus not leaking there has not been an opportunity for bacterial growth underneath the camper-I read this as on the ground itself. growth is possible on the underside of the camper however, where the grey tank is-where it's cracked. But again, I don't see how the smell could carry inside the camper since it is a closed system down there.

My helper does have a camera, he says. But I'm unclear about where you suggest I look. In the grey tank? Isn't it too dark to see anything? beneath the shower pan in the original hole I explained where the smell seemed to originate? that would be the space where the insulation is.

It does seem clear that the smell is originating from the bottom somewhere. Isn't removing that metal piece a huge and difficult procedure? I'm sure it would lead to a better viewing of what is going on in the insulated space, but it seems like a huge job.


Quote:
Originally Posted by JohnB View Post
Hi Noralee,

H'mm, OK I went back through your replies and put them in this note to get a better understanding. I numbered the areas to talk to.

0. It looks like you tried the gray tank valve being off before and did not notice a difference. The gray being open to the main tank can for sure let sewer system gas up into the tank. While you do not smell it outside the camper, it may be somewhat more staying captive under the camper under the metal cover. Please confrim your camper has the metal cover, yes/no?

To rule this out off the list, try the double dose Happy camper and fill the tank full and let it sit over night. Flush with fresh water after the dumping and Happy camper treat with a gallon or 2 of water with the grey tank valve closed for a few days. This will help or at least reduce the issue of the crack in the grey tank is not adding to the problem.

No 4 above, need more explanation on, "when my black tank gets full it backs up into the toilet so I know to drain it. and it never drains from underneath the camper. it must be water overflowing from the grey tank and just looking like it comes out of the black tank."

Explain"it never drains under the camper"

Explain "it must be water over flowing from the grey"

Does the never drains and must be coming from the grey wetness happen every time to dump the black tank?

Trying to connect the dots as much as we can on what is going on. I agree if the grey tank valve is closed, it will stop the sewer gas from coming up, however if the gray leaks often it make have created a large bacteria growth issue under the camper.

Does any one of your helpers have an inspection camera? (bore scope) These kind of things. They come on all price ranges
Inspection Cameras - Power Tools -*The Home Depot

If your camper has the metal cover on the bottom, before all is said and done, the cover will need to come down and get a better look. The grey tank needs to be fixed for sure. Hopefully we can find something to help ease some of the stink until the weather gets better to go under the camper.

If you can get the inspection camera (or rent one) and see in there you can see possibly more what is going on and if a temporary patch may help or not.

What you seem to know for sure is, the stink is coming up from the bottom of the camper. It can be easier to get to that area from the bottom up verses the top down.

Hope this helps. Maybe from more explanation on item 4, something new may come up to look at.

John
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Old 12-29-2014, 06:06 PM   #11
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John,
I have treated and flushed the grey tank as you suggested and the valve has been closed for 2 days, but unfortunately there is no reduction in odor Perhaps it needs more time to air out, but I don't feel optimistic that we have solved this.
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Old 12-29-2014, 06:24 PM   #12
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when my daughter lived in a trailer park and the sewer backed up under her trailer that smell would stay under there forever. They told us to spread lime (50 lb. bags) on the ground under the trailer to kill the odors. That seemed to work killing sewer smells.
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Old 12-29-2014, 06:24 PM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by noralee View Post
John,
I have treated and flushed the grey tank as you suggested and the valve has been closed for 2 days, but unfortunately there is no reduction in odor Perhaps it needs more time to air out, but I don't feel optimistic that we have solved this.

John said it earlier, but I will repeat it. The gray tank can have a worse odor than the black tank. Don't ask me how I know.. The following is quoted directly from the Happy Camper website:

  • Cleaning gray water holding tanks when hooked to full hookups:
    • Empty gray holding tank and close tank
    • Then mix a double dose of Happy Campers Tank Treatment and a gallon of water. Drain mix into tank.
    • Finish filling with fresh water until you see it coming up into the shower drain.
    • Let it sit overnight.
    • Empty in the morning
    • We tend to grow very smelly stuff on the tops of our tanks and this will clean it off

I think your odor problem could be coming from not only the "Stuff" at the top INSIDE of your tank, but also from the bacterial/fungus growth on the top OUTSIDE of your gray tank. Wherever that gray water has been on the outside of your tank, you could have a lot of smelly growth occurring. As long as it is even damp, it will continue to grow and smell. There are enough air gaps under your camper, that the smell can always find a way in the coach. It is not the "Closed system" that you think it is. If the bacterial/fungal growth has gotten into the wood your floor is made from, it would be very difficult to remove.

When I replaced the floor of the T-2653, I had to deal with a lot of wood that had started rotting. I had to treat it all, to kill all the bacteria and prevent it from happening again.



This is some of what I found in the 2653. I couldn't replace it all, so I treated everything that was still solid.


Gary
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Old 12-30-2014, 03:25 AM   #14
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Gary, thanks for your info and picture. I think I am starting to understand. I did clean the grey tank as described. Just to be clear, my grey tank is always open to the septic tank so there is never overflow on the outside of the tank. Well, a little over the last couple days as I was doing this cleanse. But you say it can just be from the gas escaping from the crack causing this growth.

Can you also clarify, you're saying that because my grey tank has a crack in the top (but is never able to overflow), i could still be having bacterial growth INSIDE the camper from the gases escaping from the crack, coming through air gaps underneath the camper. This growth could have infested the wood around this area INSIDE and that is what is causing the odor...? Am I understanding correctly?

If so, how do I go about investigating this? There are no soft spots that I can tell. Also nothing looking suspicious underneath the shower pan which is right over a part of the grey tank. I did look around for damaged wood. Where can I explore the wood/floor, where do you start? Obviously if this turns out to be the cause it would be crucial to replace the grey tank to prevent further damage.

I hate this possibility, but I do like having another theory to work with. This would be a difficult project for me to have to take on. John mentioned that it's easier to take off the metal underneath, but I don't know if that's an option for me.

Quote:
Originally Posted by EMD_Driver View Post
I think your odor problem could be coming from not only the "Stuff" at the top INSIDE of your tank, but also from the bacterial/fungus growth on the top OUTSIDE of your gray tank. Wherever that gray water has been on the outside of your tank, you could have a lot of smelly growth occurring. As long as it is even damp, it will continue to grow and smell. There are enough air gaps under your camper, that the smell can always find a way in the coach. It is not the "Closed system" that you think it is. If the bacterial/fungal growth has gotten into the wood your floor is made from, it would be very difficult to remove.

When I replaced the floor of the T-2653, I had to deal with a lot of wood that had started rotting. I had to treat it all, to kill all the bacteria and prevent it from happening again.

This is some of what I found in the 2653. I couldn't replace it all, so I treated everything that was still solid.


Gary
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