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Old 03-22-2012, 10:19 AM   #1
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Bathroom odor

I have the bathroom option with the marine toilet and the small sink. Lately I've had a recurring odor that I can't trace. I don't believe it's the toilet because it's just not that kind of smell so I suspect it's coming from the sink. I use those packet dropins for the black tank. I used some RV antifreeze this winter in the tank and trap but that's been long since flushed out. I've also tried some tank deodorizer but that doesn't seem to help. My next try will be an orange oil mixture. Is it possible that I've got something growing in the trap? Stinky in Dallas!
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Old 03-22-2012, 10:40 AM   #2
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Re: Bathroom odor

If any cooking oil or grease was washed down the drain in the past it can stick in the trap and get rancid. Use a little liquid drano (lye) and also check the outside vent for the grey and black water tanks to make sure they are not blocked by spider webs or debris (not likely).
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Old 03-22-2012, 10:51 AM   #3
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Re: Bathroom odor

Thanks, I forgot about the vents. I thought you weren't supposed to use things like Drano in the plastic pipes/tanks?????
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Old 03-23-2012, 12:10 AM   #4
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Re: Bathroom odor

hmmm, drano is packaged in a plastic bottle, and most residential homes now days have plastic plumbing, but read the label before purchase to see if it is suitable for your plumbing system.
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Old 03-23-2012, 07:27 AM   #5
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Re: Bathroom odor

Duh! Excuse me while I don my pointy hat.
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Old 03-23-2012, 11:46 AM   #6
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Re: Bathroom odor

I'm not sure how the "marine toilet" version is set up in SMB's, but often in boats there are certain chemicals that are not to be used. That's because there can be rubber (or rubber-like) joker valves in the toilets, gaskets in the pump, different types of flexible hose in the "pipes" and then also caulking in various places (through-hull fittings). Some or all of those may not have good resistance to various types of chemicals (of course if you know all of your components and seals, you can figure out what is okay and what is not okay).

Some boat installations use sections of PVC piping for it's superior odor-transfer resistance, but then there are usually still flexible-hose joints to account for shock loads/flex. SMB may be able to use all rigid piping.

I know you said it is not a "bathroom" type odor*, but, at least in boat systems, the most common smell issue is usually "piping" that has become odor permeable. This would be in the form of hoses (not PVC piping) - I'm not sure which SMB uses. If you have hoses, one way you can test them for odor permeation is to take a clean towel and wrap it around the hose, then pull/swipe it down the length of the hose. If the towel then has any odor, the hoses are a source of smell (this is quite common).

There are now hose types that will resist permeation for a very long time. They are not cheap (and so many people forego them), but in the typical lengths you should need in a van (if it even has hoses - it may not if it's only a short/straight run) I can't see cost being an issue.

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PS: *Can you say more what the smell is like? I mean, is it musty? Rancid oil like? Dead critter, etc.? That might help to track it down.
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Old 03-23-2012, 12:02 PM   #7
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Re: Bathroom odor

I have a rafting buddy who has a River Bank Groover like mine. They have some type of plastic holding tank. He was getting ready for a overnight trip on the river and dumped the packet of dry chemicals into the tank. He was going to wait till he got on the river to add water. Something happened and he didn't use the groover and decided to just leave the chemicals in it till next time. Big mistake. The chemicals had some type of reaction to the plastic and his groover is close to unusable due to the toxic chemical smell it has. He has tried everything to clean it but is getting ready to throw it away.

The moral to the story is do you think you might have used some type of blue room chemical that had a reaction to the plastic? Is the smell you're getting a chemical reaction type smell?
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Old 03-23-2012, 09:35 PM   #8
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Re: Bathroom odor

Great ideas and questions. I think I'm OK on the chemical part. I used some of those dry packs which are supposed to be eco friendly. I also make sure that there's some water in the tank(black tank). The odor is hard to describe but it's almost like a rotting vegetation thing or rancid algae. Also, I think it comes and goes, my wife says it's there all the time. Not entirely sure about the hoses, I'll check, but I'm pretty sure that all the piping is rigid. The roadkill idea is interesting, I really haven't checked under the van. I'll do that tomorrow. I went around the van sniffing at the gray water tank vents and they all smelled good which just perplexes me more. Thanks for the ideas.
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Old 03-24-2012, 09:57 AM   #9
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Re: Bathroom odor

By the way you explane the smell, I would take a flash light and check every crook and cranny inside for a dead critter. If one sneaks in and is either locked in or just gets stuck, you won't know it until it starts decomposing.

Goody luck.

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Old 03-24-2012, 11:00 AM   #10
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Re: Bathroom odor

OK I solved the odor problem or at least found the source. I filled up all the tanks( 2 grey, 1 black) to the tippy top and then dumped. It was very apparent that the problem was actually the toilet tank. Apparently the chemical pouch I was using masked the usual toilet odor. I swear I had my head so far down that toilet I could count thingys but I really couldn't smell them. BTW we have a TON of sinus problems here in North Texas. Anyhow here is my theory. The van is parked on a 15 degree angle. So even though there is chemical in the tank a portion of the tank is not covered by the chemically treated water when parked hence it is basically dry but not clean so bacteria could grow on the dry surface and smell. Or the chemical reaction is just the cause. In the future I will dump before I get home so that the chemical will have a chance to work on the tank during the ride home. Also I'm going to try a little bit of citrus oil instead of the store bought stuff, Sound halfway reasonable??????????????
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