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Author Topic: Black tank smell  (Read 221 times)

Blues Driver

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Black tank smell
« on: October 17, 2020, 05:58:24 PM »
I" new to RV ing with a 10 year old motor home and learning about use and  maintenance of the fresh water,  black and grey tanks.
I'm looking at  several products such as Kronen, Valterra Power Blue, Happy Camper, Roebic ( they make 3 or 4 products) .
I would appreciate your experiences if you've tried these or similar products. We've gone the deodorant route and that is not keeping DW happy.
What about the water supply tank and the grey tank?
Also the sensors are not accurate , probably due to a build up.
I know several of you use only water and I appreciate your explanations of how to drain, flush and keep enough water in the black tank. I have not been doing those right either but I'm learning. 
Thanks
Pat

8Muddypaws

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Re: Black tank smell
« Reply #1 on: October 17, 2020, 08:53:10 PM »
Usually if you're getting bad odors it comes from one or two primary causes.

1.  Your roof vent is clogged.  A plumping snake will probably unblock it.

2.  The bowl seal on the toilet lets water out of the bowl.  The water is what creates an order barrier.  Easy to replace on most toilets.

Level sensors are always a problem it seems.  Ha!  Don't need 'em.  I can tell when it's time to drain by how the toilet flushes.
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Tom55555

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Re: Black tank smell
« Reply #2 on: October 18, 2020, 03:50:32 AM »
It could be your vent but but it's normally just needs cleaning and deodorant. Always keep some water in your black tank and if your aren't going to dump in a week use something like Aqua-Kem.

Once a year when I'm not going to use my RV for a week or two I'll dump and put in twice the Aqua-Kem, then fill it with fresh water until I can see it coming up to the toilet valve then just let the chemical work.   

Lot's of you tube videos from ice cubes to spraying. I think internal sprayers are the best but I don't have one.

NOTE: Lot's of people say Dawn cleans sensors so understand there is difference between a deodorant verses a cleaner but Aqua-Kem does break down toilet paper.
« Last Edit: October 18, 2020, 04:00:15 AM by Tom55555 »
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Henry J Fate

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Re: Black tank smell
« Reply #3 on: October 18, 2020, 07:30:57 AM »
Most tank sensors never work correctly. Best approach is to keep track of where you are in your waste tank cycle using visual checks to see where things are. If you are a weekend RVer things are easy to keep track of and you should be dumping following each use. Full timing is a little different but working tank sensors are still not needed if you use common sense and visuals.

The gray tank water can be worse than the black tank. Many times this will happen. Most folks will worry about the black tank while the gray builds ungodly smells. The gray is easier to treat to keep the odor at a minimum. I carefully use pool shock for the gray tank. It is cheap, comes in a granular form, easy to store and need very little.

The black tank odor can never be fully eliminated. There are many products to add to the black tank but they all just mask the odor. I try to use camp facilities when possible so as to reduce the waste in the black tank. Dumping and flushing the black tank is important. Adding about 10 gallons of water in the empty black tank is enough. In that 10 gallons of water I add about 10 cups of the cheap wally world powder laundry detergent and as the waste accumulates, I will add a little pool shock in there to help out. I have tried everything in the black tank. Nothing works great so I decided not to waste dollars on the additives and manage the tank a little different.

Odors will come up from the toilet when flushing after using. This becomes worse if the bath fan is on. I usually flush immediately and sometimes multiple flushes then turn the fan on to clear out the bathroom.

In general, stay on top of the gray water odor, flush waste tanks after each weekend of use and try to use other facilities when possible. Just keeping the urine to a minimum makes a large difference.
« Last Edit: October 18, 2020, 08:05:27 AM by Henry J Fate »
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Gary RV_Wizard

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Re: Black tank smell
« Reply #4 on: October 18, 2020, 08:39:36 AM »
Some good advice from Henry, so I won't repeat it.

Tank odors will be worse if you are stingy with water.   The more liquid in the tank, the better & faster the crud dissolves and digest.   I realize that sometimes you have to conserve fresh water or allow for a delay before dumping tanks, but  to the extent practical you should pre-charge the black tank with a few gallons of water and flush generously.  Pretty much ditto for the gray tank, but showers usually provide plenty of water there.  Many of us find no need at all for tank chemicals in either black or gray, but an enzyme product like Happy Camper or Roebic Marine/RV may give more peace of mind.  You can use a chlorine-based chemical in the gray tank, e.g.plain old bleach or pool chemicals. I do  not recommend chlorine in the black tank, where natural microbe digestion is helpful (chlorine tends to kill that off).

The fresh water tank should need nothing as long as it was filled from a chlorinated water supply (about 70% of water sources in the US are chlorinated).  If you aren't sure about that, you can add a few drops of chlorine bleach (unscented variety) or buy an overpriced chlorine sanitizer at an RV store.   It doesn't take much - household bleach is 5.25% chlorine and one teaspoon of it (0.17 oz) will treat 5 gallons of water.
In-tank sensors (the most common type) soon get clogged and do not read correctly. Fortunately, a bit of experience will soon allow you to ignore the gauges. The toilet flush will sound subtly different as the tank approaches full, giving some warning. The gray water drains (sink & shower) may also begin to glug a bit when the tank reaches full, and it backs up into the shower before any place else anyway. Mostly, though, you learn how long you can go between dumps and plan accordingly.
There are sensors that work reliable, though, e.g. the Garnet See-Level external system  Most RVs can be uograded with this excellent system.
« Last Edit: October 18, 2020, 08:53:54 AM by Gary RV_Wizard »
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Re: Black tank smell
« Reply #5 on: October 18, 2020, 12:45:19 PM »
If you are smelling black or gray water you have a failure some place. One of the most common failures is the air admittance valve under the kitchen sink and the bathroom vanity.
We use no chemicals in either tank and have no odor problems other than under arm, some times. GRIN. The whole chemical thing is a scam. Get your system right and you'll have no smells.

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Henry J Fate

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Re: Black tank smell
« Reply #6 on: October 18, 2020, 04:46:32 PM »
If you are smelling black or gray water you have a failure some place. One of the most common failures is the air admittance valve under the kitchen sink and the bathroom vanity.
We use no chemicals in either tank and have no odor problems other than under arm, some times. GRIN. The whole chemical thing is a scam. Get your system right and you'll have no smells.

Richard

I think an occasional sponge bath or a shower will keep those under arm odors under control. Hot tubs, pools and right guard work well too.
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JudyJB

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Re: Black tank smell
« Reply #7 on: October 19, 2020, 12:15:12 AM »
I had a new toilet installed about four years ago while in Florida.  As I drove around the country, i kept getting a stronger and stronger black tank odor and tried everything.  Even had vent checked, and it was fine.

Finally, I went to a Camping World in Oregon 8 months later, and told them I wanted them to pull and reset the toilet.  They kept insisting this could not possibly cure my odor problem, but I told them to do it anyway.  Long story short, I don't know what the guy did right when he reset the toilet, but it worked and I have not had an odor problem since.  I suspect that the original install was somehow not right, but resetting it was the only thing left after I had had everything else checked.
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Bobtop46

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Re: Black tank smell
« Reply #8 on: October 19, 2020, 07:58:10 AM »
Use more water.  Water is your friend.  #1 3 second flush. #2 5 second flush.  Of course put lots of water in the bowl prior to #2.
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Domo

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Re: Black tank smell
« Reply #9 on: October 19, 2020, 08:11:53 AM »
Many have probably said (I didn't read all the replies) - the fancy name brand special miracle tank additives are simply emulsifiers and surfactants mixed with the smell of the day (lemon, pine, petunia).


We use Dawn to break up the oils and Calgon to soften the water and help emulsify in the black tank.


The gray tank gets plenty of soap from the kitchen sink and vanity sinks - so all we do is pour boiling hot water down those to dissolve any build up of soap crud.


On occasion (every six months or so) we'll sanitize the fresh water tank and plumbing system using bleach. When we drain the fresh tank we use that bleach/water mix into empty black and gray tanks to help kill stinkies in those.

After dumping the black we simply add about 3 gallons of water with the 1/4 cup of Dawn and splash of liquid Calgon - if we don't have them on hand we can skip a few cycles without any trouble.

Sensors are seldom reliable - but my wife's arm is thin enough to check the level in the black tank so we never have trouble... ;D

As I've often read, adding anything, such as Rid-X is not advisable - your tanks are "holding tanks" they are not septic tanks that process the waste. Flushing using a wand can help remove internal scum that might be blocking your sensor's ability to read levels...

If the smells continue you could consider a change of diet. (Kidding!) ;)
« Last Edit: October 19, 2020, 08:14:34 AM by Domo »
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lynnmor

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Re: Black tank smell
« Reply #10 on: October 19, 2020, 08:57:11 AM »