Student RVer in Hattiesburg Mississippi

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Will

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Jul 30, 2006
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202
Location
Mississippi
Hello, My name is Will
I just bought a 1990 Toyota Class C RV to stay in while I finish up my bachelor's degree at Southern Miss.  With the recent distruction of Katrina rental properties in Hattieburg all the way down to the coast are few and prices are high so I bought the RV instead.  This works to my advantage as I am also have seasonal employment in Florida and occasionally have to pack up everything I own to work a few weeks.

The RV seems fine, but I admit that this is my first RV (hey, I'm 23, I haven't even been driving all that long) and have no experience with this.

I hope to learn alot from you guys.  I've only had it a week and haven't moved in yet.  When I do you can expect a flood of questions.

First newbie question is: When the RV is in motion, I sometimes get an odor in the RV that flat out burns my eyes, though I can't really smell it enough to pin it down.  I think it might be coming from the greywater tank through the drain in the shower (which doesn't close.)  Would that be right and how could I stop it?
 

Tom

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Jan 13, 2005
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Hi WIll and welcome.

Do you know for sure that you have separate black and grey tanks? Some friends who had a Toyota class C once told me that, on theirs, everything went into the same tank.

If the tank is full it's possible that a vent is blocked and you can get odors in the motorhome. Since the odor burns your eyes, do you use any treatment in the tank such as they sell at Camping World and other RV stores? This stuff often contains formaldehyde and will burn and irritate the eyes. Most RVers don't add any chemicals to their holding tanks, preferring to let nature take it course.
 

Will

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Joined
Jul 30, 2006
Posts
202
Location
Mississippi
Heh, good to see I'm not the only insomniac.

The guy I bought it from mentioned "Smell good stuff" in the tank.  I'm not sure what it was but I wouldn't have thought they would put something in the tanks that was that aweful.  I haven't had a chance to flush them yet but I'm gonna get to it soon.

There are two tanks under the truck, I'm assuming they are seperate Grey and Black water tanks.
 

Jim Dick

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Hi Will,

Welcome to the forum. Ask your questions and you'll get answers.

Normally odor from either holding tank isn't goiing to burn your eyes but it can smell very bad. An eye burning sensation is usually formaldehyde used in the construction of the rig but yours is old enough that you shouldn't experience that any longer. Some holding tank deoderant uses formaldehyde as well. This might be the problem. I'd dump the tanks and flush them by filliing and dumping again. See if that doesn't fix the problem. If you chose to use chemicals in your tanks there are many that are environmentally safe and do not contain formaldehyde.
 

Ron

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Jan 29, 2005
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18,082
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Home is where we park it
Hi Will,

Welcome to the RV Forum.  Odor from the black or grey water tank can be caused by several things including use of products containing Formaldehyde.  If it is burning your eyes it might be that the previous owner attempted to clean the tanks with chlorine bleach which is a no no.  As dick suggested you might try flusing them with clean water several times then use a product called purepower for a while.  Actually several of the members do not use any chemicals in the waste tanks.
 

Will

Well-known member
Joined
Jul 30, 2006
Posts
202
Location
Mississippi
Alright, I haven't used the tanks yet because I only just found a nearby place to drain the tanks (thanks to this site)  Not knowing what all was in there I really didn't want to drain them into the driveway (eww.)

I Found some nice bathtub drains that can be closed off at Lowes the other day.  It just bothers me that the shower drain is the only one that wont close.
 

Carl L

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Joined
Mar 14, 2005
Posts
7,239
Location
west Los Angeles
First newbie question is: When the RV is in motion, I sometimes get an odor in the RV that flat out burns my eyes, though I can't really smell it enough to pin it down.  I think it might be coming from the greywater tank through the drain in the shower (which doesn't close.)  Would that be right and how could I stop it?

Even gray water tanks can go sour.  One solution is to make sure that the P-traps in the lavatory, shower, and kitchen sink have water in them to seal the tank off.  The shower drain is the worst offender, the water evaporates in storage or between uses.  Just pour a cup of water down them.

When you have access to a dumpstation or a sewer hookup dump both tanks.  Use a spray wand to wash out the black tank.  Check the tank vent on the roof to insure that it is clear of critter nests or gunk. 
 

Gary RV_Wizard

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Feb 2, 2005
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74,305
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At our Silver Springs FL home
None of the drains except the toilet "close".  Instead, they have a "P trap", a low area of the pipe, which stays full of water and thus bloclks odors and such from coming back up the pipe.  Sometimes the water sloshes out of the drain while driving and sometimes the water just evaporates if it hasn't been used in awhile.

Is your odor a sort of sulphur smell?  There is a bacteria that can grow in water tanks, especially the hot water tank, that emits a sulphurous smell that could be irriatting in an enclosed space.  You may smell it in the drains after running some water. If you think that may be it, drain and flush the fresh water tank, the water heater and all water lines. I would sugest sanitizing them with a bleach solution at the same time. Actually, periodic flushing is a good idea with any RV and many of us do it annually.

Sanitizing water tanks
 

Will

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Joined
Jul 30, 2006
Posts
202
Location
Mississippi
Nah, the odor isn't really a smell so much as a burn the nosehairs feeling you get when it is really strong.  It is most noticable by the burning eyes.

This RV came with little caps that screw into each of the sink drains and does seem to seal them up rather well, which leaves only the shower drain open.
 

Carl L

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Mar 14, 2005
Posts
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Location
west Los Angeles
Nah, the odor isn't really a smell so much as a burn the nosehairs feeling you get when it is really strong.  It is most noticable by the burning eyes.

An allergy to something in the RV?  Or some chemistry in the tanks?
 

Will

Well-known member
Joined
Jul 30, 2006
Posts
202
Location
Mississippi
Well, I intalled a nice closable drain in the shower today.  Even looks better than the cheap thing that was in there.  I flushed out both tanks and noticed that when I was filling up the greywater tank that the water was moving really slow when I only had one drain open.  A dirt dawber nest had been built in the top of the vent of the greywater tank.  This tank, however did not seem to contain any offending odors or eye-burning chemicals.

The blackwater tank drained out a thick blue liquid that smelled like the stuff they put in portapotties.  I dug around through the RV and in the back of a cabinet buried under stuff was the answer to my questions. 

Campa-Chem
"contains Meythyl Alcohol and Formaldahyde... Avoid prolonged or repeated exposure to vapor... May cause allergic reaction."

It also claims:
"100% Biodegradable" and "Cannot be made non-poisonous"

I guess he poured out a whole bottle down the toilet, because it came out strong even after several flushes of the tank.  The bottles are rated for a 40 gallon tank but I only have about a 25 gallon tank.

Next project (for another thread):  Modify the roof AC to work with a normal Thermostat so as to shut off the fan when the compressor isn't running.
 

Jim Dick

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Feb 11, 2005
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7,651
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Titusville, FL
Will,

Check your A/C control. If there is a fan switch that says auto/on then turn it to auto. That will shut down the fan when the compressor shuts down.
 
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