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Author Topic: Help identifying a smell  (Read 1160 times)

Ksummers

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Help identifying a smell
« on: October 17, 2019, 08:06:47 PM »
Hello Everyone,
I'm new and new to the camper life. Just bought a 2015 Jayco jayflight 26bhs. Been in it for about 3 weeks now and everything has been fine except for a new smell this evening.   I first smelled it walking outside around the backend where the bathroom is and the mini water heater. And I smell it inside in the bathroom as well.  Smells kind of like vicks vapor rub and tiger balm...hard to describe.  My husband says he's smelled it before but I haven't.  If anyone could shed some light on what it might be that would be great.
Thanks again
Ksummers

SeilerBird

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Re: Help identifying a smell
« Reply #1 on: October 17, 2019, 08:36:41 PM »
It is probably the smell make by the blue junk and a poop pyramid. Meaning the people you bough it from was hooking up to the sewer and then leaving both valves in the open position. The black tank should be closed until you have at least 3/4 of a tank full and then dump. Search the forum for poop pyramid and you can read all about it.
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IBTripping

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Re: Help identifying a smell
« Reply #2 on: October 17, 2019, 08:48:25 PM »
If it is a poop pyramid, there are ways to get rid of it. But, it may require a broom hand and/or lots of soap and Calgon along with running the RV on bumpy roads to get the black tank really sloshing.
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Ksummers

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Re: Help identifying a smell
« Reply #3 on: October 17, 2019, 10:28:12 PM »
We are tied into sewer, so no tank to empty.
It doesn't quiet smell like the blue stuff you put in the toilet.
Smells sort of like a bengay, sports pain creamer something.

Thank you for the suggestions. I will check out the poop pyramid.
I just really want to know what the cause is so I can not worry.
Thanks again!
Ksummers

Arch Hoagland

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Re: Help identifying a smell
« Reply #4 on: October 17, 2019, 11:11:48 PM »
OP said: "We are tied into sewer, so no tank to empty."

You shouldn't leave the black and gray tank valves open when tied into a sewer system. You need to close the tanks, let them fill and then drain.

Otherwise the effluent will build up into pyramids and you'll have problems.
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SeilerBird

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Re: Help identifying a smell
« Reply #5 on: October 18, 2019, 04:11:04 AM »
Yep, it is a poop pyramid. I have never heard of anyone who was successful using the ice cubes and driving bumpy roads method. PP is as hard as concrete and it would take about a 1000 miles of bad road and many bags of ice to work. You need to buy one of these.

https://www.amazon.com/Camco-Flexible-Powerful-Dislodges-40074/dp/B0006IX7YC/ref=sr_1_4?crid=16RMRP8764EA0&keywords=rv+black+tank+wand&qid=1571389732&sprefix=rv+black%2Caps%2C182&sr=8-4
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Ksummers

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Re: Help identifying a smell
« Reply #6 on: October 18, 2019, 08:11:33 AM »
Thanks everyone,
I will make sure both are closed
Ksummers

Gary RV_Wizard

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Re: Help identifying a smell
« Reply #7 on: October 18, 2019, 08:45:36 AM »
Most of us leave the gray tank drain open, closing it a day or so before it's time to drain the black tank. That way it builds up enough gray water volume to flush the more yucky black stuff from the hose when the black gets emptied. At the same time, it carries away any residual food waste from the gray tank. That technique combines the convenience of an open gray drain with the need to give the black tank a strong flushing action.

I don't see anything in your initial aroma description that suggests [to me] a "poop pyramid" - they rarely have any smell at all.  However, leaving the lack drain open as you have been doing is a sure-fire way to build one and that will soon lead to a tank clog.

Gray water waste can have an amazing variety of odd smells, depending on what you've been eating lately, brand of shampoo & soap, etc.   I'd let the gray tank fill to at least half and then open the drain, flushing out whatever may have settled to the bottom of the tank in the last 3 weeks. See if that solves the aroma problem.
« Last Edit: October 18, 2019, 08:48:41 AM by Gary RV_Wizard »
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Lou Schneider

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Re: Help identifying a smell
« Reply #8 on: October 18, 2019, 02:27:02 PM »
We are tied into sewer, so no tank to empty.

Unless your trailer has been modified with a residential style toilet, you do have a tank under the toilet where solids can gather if you leave the dump valve open all the time.  An RV style toilet doesn't move enough water to carry solids through the black tank so unless you leave the valve closed until you have enough volume in the tank, the liquids in the waste will trickle out and leave the solids behind to create the "poop pyramid".
« Last Edit: October 18, 2019, 02:35:10 PM by Lou Schneider »

Ksummers

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Re: Help identifying a smell
« Reply #9 on: October 18, 2019, 09:38:03 PM »
Thank you Gary and Lou!

My husband closed them both today.  When he checked the gauges to see how full the tanks were the Black water is saying full when it shouldn't be (guess that means poop pyramid?)?

We'll probably need to invest in one of those Flexible hoses that SeilerBird suggested, thank you SB.

I will share all this with my husband...I wished I'd found you guys 3 weeks ago
Ksummers

SeilerBird

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Re: Help identifying a smell
« Reply #10 on: October 19, 2019, 04:28:31 AM »
You are welcome. Those gauges are pretty worthless. Just because it says full does not mean a poop pyramid. If your toilet has a straight shot at the holding tank you can turn off the water, prop open the flush valve and use a flashlight to check for a poop pyramid. If there is a 90 degree bend in the pipe then you cannot do that. However you could buy an endoscope camera to check it out.

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Gary RV_Wizard

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Re: Help identifying a smell
« Reply #11 on: October 19, 2019, 10:21:27 AM »
Quote
When he checked the gauges to see how full the tanks were the Black water is saying full when it shouldn't be (guess that means poop pyramid?)?
No, it merely means the sensor pins in the tank have toilet crud on them, causing the readings to be in error. Pretty much standard problem on the cheap level sensors that have pins sticking into the tank.  Ignore it - you will know when its really full.  We can discuss ways to clean the sensors or a better system to replace them, but let's save that for another day.
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Ksummers

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Re: Help identifying a smell
« Reply #12 on: October 19, 2019, 10:49:07 PM »
Got it, Thanks Gary
Ksummers

Ksummers

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Re: Help identifying a smell
« Reply #13 on: October 19, 2019, 10:51:00 PM »
Ok. Thanks again SeilerBird
Ksummers

cavie

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Re: Help identifying a smell
« Reply #14 on: October 27, 2019, 05:13:31 AM »
OP said: "We are tied into sewer, so no tank to empty."

You shouldn't leave the black and gray tank valves open when tied into a sewer system. You need to close the tanks, let them fill and then drain.

Otherwise the effluent will build up into pyramids and you'll have problems.

You can leave the gray open. Never the black. I am on  seasonal site and the gray has been open for 4 years.
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PancakeBill

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Re: Help identifying a smell
« Reply #15 on: October 27, 2019, 08:08:41 AM »
Glad we have cleared this up, but going forward, there are so many warning stickers everywhere on a new RV, I think maybe there should be a ytag on the black tank valve explaining this.  Last year I was a new owner instructor of RV place, and I always spent time on this.  Hopefully those words stuck. 
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Larry N.

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Re: Help identifying a smell
« Reply #16 on: October 27, 2019, 09:02:11 AM »
The OP was originally asking about a smell, described thusly:
Quote
Smells kind of like vicks vapor rub and tiger balm...hard to describe.
I can't quite associate that with sewage tanks.

I didn't think much about it until I winterized my coach the other day, then later went inside. At that point I smelled a light trace of the RV pink antifreeze. This got me to wondering if that could be the OP's smell, though I'm not sure I can associate it that way either, just closer than sewage.

Or not.
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cavie

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Re: Help identifying a smell
« Reply #17 on: October 29, 2019, 10:29:06 AM »
We are tied into sewer, so no tank to empty.
It doesn't quiet smell like the blue stuff you put in the toilet.
Smells sort of like a bengay, sports pain creamer something.

Thank you for the suggestions. I will check out the poop pyramid.
I just really want to know what the cause is so I can not worry.
Thanks again!

ALWAYS keep the gate valve closed unless emptying tank. You will build a poo pile it you don't. Water will run out leaving poo in the tank. Open tank, drain, close valve , put at least 5 gal of water thru toilet. Use lots of water when flushing.
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blw2

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Re: Help identifying a smell
« Reply #18 on: November 01, 2019, 07:37:48 PM »
The OP was originally asking about a smell, described thusly:I can't quite associate that with sewage tanks.


I was kinda thinking the same thing.... unless there was some sort of menthol based tank treatment in play....


Maybe some vicks vapo rub spilled in the medicine cabinet??
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SeilerBird

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Re: Help identifying a smell
« Reply #19 on: November 02, 2019, 04:18:32 AM »
There are many different tank treatments besides the blue junk. I don't know what all of them smell like.
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Peggyy

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Re: Help identifying a smell
« Reply #20 on: November 02, 2019, 06:06:03 AM »
We leave both our tanks closed until time to drain because we were told varmints can come into the rv up the hoses.  Also birds will peck holes in the drain hoses.  Is this correct?
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SeilerBird

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Re: Help identifying a smell
« Reply #21 on: November 02, 2019, 07:01:18 AM »
We leave both our tanks closed until time to drain because we were told varmints can come into the rv up the hoses.  Also birds will peck holes in the drain hoses.  Is this correct?
I don't know about birds pecking holes but my drain hoses usually lasted a year before it started to rot and leak. Even the expensive ones.
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Rene T

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Re: Help identifying a smell
« Reply #22 on: November 02, 2019, 07:43:46 AM »
We leave both our tanks closed until time to drain because we were told varmints can come into the rv up the hoses.  Also birds will peck holes in the drain hoses.  Is this correct?

I don't know if I'm just lucky or what because I never close my gray valves and never had any issues. Knock on wood.
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Rene T

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Re: Help identifying a smell
« Reply #23 on: November 02, 2019, 07:45:23 AM »
I don't know about birds pecking holes but my drain hoses usually lasted a year before it started to rot and leak. Even the expensive ones.

Tom is your hose right out in the sun?  If it is, how about buying a 10' length of PVC gutter and place it over the hose so the sun doesn't cook it.
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SeilerBird

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Re: Help identifying a smell
« Reply #24 on: November 02, 2019, 08:00:54 AM »
Tom is your hose right out in the sun?  If it is, how about buying a 10' length of PVC gutter and place it over the hose so the sun doesn't cook it.
I was talking about when I was traveling the country staying in the National Parks. Now that I am parked permanently I have both tanks hard plumbed into the sewer.
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Rene T

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Re: Help identifying a smell
« Reply #25 on: November 02, 2019, 08:16:15 AM »
I was talking about when I was traveling the country staying in the National Parks. Now that I am parked permanently I have both tanks hard plumbed into the sewer.

Got it.
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SeilerBird

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Re: Help identifying a smell
« Reply #26 on: November 02, 2019, 08:33:18 AM »
Catblaster did it for me. The drain handles didn't work and it was too much of a pain to change them, easier to hard plumb.
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Gary RV_Wizard

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Re: Help identifying a smell
« Reply #27 on: November 02, 2019, 10:09:13 AM »
Quote
We leave both our tanks closed until time to drain because we were told varmints can come into the rv up the hoses.  Also birds will peck holes in the drain hoses.  Is this correct?
Bugs, e.g. sewer flies are the most likely things to enter via the drain hoses, and they only get as far as the waste tanks.  However, with an RV gravity flush toilet, you open the valve to the waste tank for each flush and flies can get in then.  We traveled for 20 years and never worried about critters entering via the gray tank, even when we spent 3-4 months at a time in one place with the gray drain open.
We've had sewer flies get into the black waste tank a couple times over 20 years and our black valve is never open except during actual dumping. If the little suckers are in the campground septic system, they seem to scoot right up the line even during that brief time.
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lynnmor

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Re: Help identifying a smell
« Reply #28 on: November 02, 2019, 12:47:22 PM »

We've had sewer flies get into the black waste tank a couple times over 20 years and our black valve is never open except during actual dumping. If the little suckers are in the campground septic system, they seem to scoot right up the line even during that brief time.

Or they can come down the vent at any time.  Just one more reason to put some kind of chemical in the tank.

Lou Schneider

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Re: Help identifying a smell
« Reply #29 on: November 02, 2019, 01:50:31 PM »
We've had sewer flies get into the black waste tank a couple times over 20 years and our black valve is never open except during actual dumping. If the little suckers are in the campground septic system, they seem to scoot right up the line even during that brief time.

I had that happen once, too.  Once they're in the tank it's very hard to get rid of them.  When I connect my sewer hose I leave a low spot in the hose to create a P-trap type water seal and keep them out.