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Old 03-25-2011, 09:18 AM   #1
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Terrible Smell - Dead Animal? - Please Help!

I have a terrible smell in my 2006 EB50 Sportsmobile 4X4. It's hard to describe....kind of like a cross between dead animal and fetid swamp-water. The smell is so strong that it set-off my Carbon Monoxide alarm (I confirmed that the propane is shut-off and no systems are turned-on).

At first I thought it was my grey-water tank/piping, and after flushing that numerous times and filling it with gallons of bleach a couple of months ago, the smell seemed to go away. Now with all the rain/dampness, it has come back with a vengeance. I have re-flushed the grey-water tank and filled it up with bleach again, and yet the smell remains. This may mean that the grey-system can be eliminated as a source (though I'm not convinced yet).

The smell seems to permeate the interior of the van and within 20 feet around it, yet I cannot pinpoint it by putting my nose against any one area. Has anyone else experienced something like this and/or found a clever hiding spot for an animal to crawl-up and die?

The smell is so strong that the van is not currently habitable; I fear that it will permanently seep into the fabric if I don't solve it soon. Please help.
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Old 03-25-2011, 09:27 AM   #2
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Re: Terrible Smell - Dead Animal? - Please Help!

If it's not a sulfur smell, it's probably not the battery. Otherwise they can crawl up and die anywhere. Take everything out that's not bolted down, open everything else, and if you dont' have a clue by then, start taking things apart.

You'll be doing some of this to release the smell later anyway. Get under it with a creeper and rubber gloves + flashlight and reach around below from all the spots you can't see, look hard at all the spots you can. Even the tiny ones can smell bad.

Sorry, that's not much help. Depending on your build there are some hidden spaces, pulling the rear tail lights reveals two pretty big ones and it's an easy removal.
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Old 03-25-2011, 09:46 AM   #3
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Re: Terrible Smell - Dead Animal? - Please Help!

With all the rain lately, could you have stagnant water pooled up somewhere, or possibly something getting moldy if you have a leak?

Do you have a dog, which may be drawn to the source of the smell?


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Old 03-25-2011, 09:58 AM   #4
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Re: Terrible Smell - Dead Animal? - Please Help!

My guess is an animal crawled inside your van and died. Bring in the cadaver dog. Happy hunting.
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Old 03-25-2011, 11:24 AM   #5
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Re: Terrible Smell - Dead Animal? - Please Help!

It is amazing how many tiny places a mouse or rat will crawl into then die. I have had this happen I don't know how many times in the house and also in my tractor, which I keep in the garage. It is a sickening smell. The upside is that it's all organic, and after a week and a half, every bit of it should have rotted and oxidized away, leaving no residual odor.
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Old 03-25-2011, 01:20 PM   #6
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Re: Terrible Smell - Dead Animal? - Please Help!

Thanks for all your suggestions. We just tore-apart the van and looked in every nook and cranny we could think of. We didn't find any dead things. The smell was like a gas that permeated every space and thing in the van (bedding, space-foam mattress topper, etc). However once aired-out it mostly went away quickly. In any event, this is a good opportuniy to wash and clean everything completely.

I am about 90% sure that the source of the smell is the grey-water system, though it really doesn't make sense: There is a general amount of that skanky smell emanating from the tank/plumbing, but when I drain the water, the water just smells like bleach. The tank and piping does not appear to be leaking; it's dry down there. The P-trap was clean and fresh-smelling. The smell is not coming out of the vent-hole on the outside of the van. Its almost as if the smell is on the outside of the tank itself...perhaps trapped between the underside of the tank and the vinyl flooring?

To take the tank and plumbing out to clean or replace it would mean having to rip-apart the cabinetry/wiring/gas plumbing, etc. and require re-doing all the waste-water plumbing....which I am capable of but not looking forward to.

So, my question is, has anyone else ever encountered this sort of grey-water problem, and have a suggestion for some magical solution/product that I can add into or spray onto the tank surface that will neutralize the smell? thanks
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Old 03-25-2011, 04:25 PM   #7
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Re: Terrible Smell - Dead Animal? - Please Help!

For what it is worth: I had a really horrible smell in my gray water tank and after flushing it only once with bleach the smell went completely away. I seriously doubt the smell is coming from your water system.
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Old 03-25-2011, 05:41 PM   #8
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Re: Terrible Smell - Dead Animal? - Please Help!

We've had problems with an awful smell developing in the tank of our water heater when it was left full for a month or two between trips.
I think it has something to do with the CaCO3 in our hard well water interacting with the anode rod, as it didn't seem to be improved by sanitizing the system with bleach.
The last two trips, I've drained the entire system, including removing the anode from the heater tank to let it drain, and we haven't noticed the smell.
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Old 03-25-2011, 05:47 PM   #9
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Re: Terrible Smell - Dead Animal? - Please Help!

After seeing the comment above, I remembered we had a similar problem in our hot water tank of our trailer and that did require a lot of work to get the smell out. So if you have a hot water tank, check that out.
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Old 03-26-2011, 05:14 PM   #10
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Re: Terrible Smell - Dead Animal? - Please Help!

I was really, really hoping that it was the water heater, but alas, that water smells sweet. I bought one of those fiber-optic inspection cameras and just spent the last four hours on my back under the van inspecting every nook-and-cranny hoping to find a dead mouse or something. I get the occasional whiff of the smell under the van, but just can't pinpoint it. I've got a fan blowing into the van for positive air-pressure, and while it is running, it smells OK in the van. Within about 5 minutes of turning off the fan, the van starts to stink again. This is driving me crazy.

Incidentally, with that inspection camera, I'm finding all sorts of shoddy construction, both by Ford, and Sportsmobile. The most egregious Sportsmobile errors: 1) All the interior floor/wiring harness, etc. screws, fastened through the floor-pan and exposed underneath are mild-steel sheet-metal screws and rusting-terribly, 2) The area around the propane tank/electrical plug/water-spigot, etc. is a mess....poorly cut-open and, poorly sealed with numerous entryways into the interior, and 3) All the water bleed-valves are poor quality and corroding prematurely.

Has anyone ever used an ozone generator in their SMB?.....I expect that it could help kill the smell, but I worry that it would degrade all the interior fabrics.
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