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Yubariver 03-25-2011 08:18 AM

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.

jage 03-25-2011 08:27 AM

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.

BroncoHauler 03-25-2011 08:46 AM

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?


Herb

macmcintire 03-25-2011 08:58 AM

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.

TomH 03-25-2011 10:24 AM

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.

Yubariver 03-25-2011 12:20 PM

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

macmcintire 03-25-2011 03:25 PM

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.

oldfart3 03-25-2011 04:41 PM

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.
John T.

macmcintire 03-25-2011 04:47 PM

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.

Yubariver 03-26-2011 04:14 PM

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.

jage 03-26-2011 04:33 PM

Re: Terrible Smell - Dead Animal? - Please Help!
 
I've heard charcoal helps, I threw a couple of briquettes in my wall for a dead mouse issue. I've also heard using cups of vinegar will absorb some smell.

With the poor cuts can you correlate to anything a mouse could have gotten in but not out? Stuck under the gray water tank through the drain etc.?

Yubariver 03-26-2011 04:51 PM

Re: Terrible Smell - Dead Animal? - Please Help!
 
Like I said, its driving me crazy. I smell a bit of smell here, a bit there, but it goes away just as soon as it arrives. It seems to be collecting in the uppermost cavities under the van, generally in the center portion of the van between the two axles.

There's about a 1" gap between the floor-pan and the exhaust heat-shields, and I was really hoping/expecting that there would be something in that space, however I spent a lot of time with the cemera in those gaps and couldn't see anything. Its possible that there is some small corner that I missed or can never get to.

I tried getting my hunting-dog in and under the van to find it, but he just isn't interested unless it smells like a live bird or a tennis-ball.

I have the van highly positively pressurized, and I can feel the air escaping-out of the gaps around the gas/water/electrical connections, so I know its not completely sealed there. If I had to point to any area where a mouse could enter the interior, it would be there. However, I pulled the fridge and pulled the wall-panel back a bit and jammed my nose in that crack and there is no smell that I can discern. However, as soon as I turn the fan off, the smell fills the interior within 5 minutes, coming from....somewhere. I've confirmed that the area around the grey-water tank is clean.

My heater and furnace vents all smell OK, so probably nothing there.

From the lesson learned the hard-way department: Don't put your nose up close to one of the battery-compartment drain-holes and sniff hard -- one gets a snootfull of water & battery-acid solution, which is not pleasant!

Greggd 03-27-2011 06:52 AM

Re: Terrible Smell - Dead Animal? - Please Help!
 
Yubariver ,
Now that you have exhausted your search try purchasing several Large Boxes Of Baking Soda ,
Put them in a half dozen medium size Tupperware type Containers with the lids off and place them thru out the Van . Get a Large Bottle of Fabreze and Liberally Spray the inside of your Vans Fabric Surfaces to the point that you are able to Feel A Vey Light Mist on these Surfaces .
Close up your Van , preferably on a Dry and Sunny Day and let it sit . Change the Baking Soda every couple of Days . We keep three of these containers in use in between tips . On our last Quigley we had a Collared Ground Squirrel die between the Gas Tank and the floor and it was very much like what you described for about a month . I finally found the carcass when I was Pressure Washing the Under Carriage . Another little trick that we employ in between trips is to
Pour A Cup and a Half of Simple Green in the Sink Drain with about a Quart of Water , being of an Organic Nature it keeps the Sink system free from any residual oil or Grease building up .
Greggd

Yubariver 03-27-2011 10:53 AM

Re: Terrible Smell - Dead Animal? - Please Help!
 
I was lying awake at 4:00 am this morning, running through a mental checklist of all the possible places that I could look; I just expended my last chances this morning, with no luck. I pulled the entire utilities acces panel, drilling-out the pop-rivets, etc, and confirmed that there were plenty of access points that a herd of mice could have entered, but there was no evidence up in there of anything dead. That access panel was so poorly cut and then sealed, Sportsmobile should be ashamed of themselves. There were large gaps, jagged unpainted steel edges, and water hoses running through the wall cavities uninsulated. At least now when I replace the panel I can insulate those pipes and seal-it all up properly....yay, more work to do!

Unless someone has other suggestions of where to look, I now officially resign myself to accepting that something dead is in a cavity of my van somewhere, hope that this is the last of California's seasonal rains, and hope that it dessicates as quickly as possible. I briefly toyed with the idea of tearing-out those cabinets and opening-up that wall panel, but I just don't think I could live with the pain of finding that its not there after all that work. I will try the baking soda (Costco sells 13 Lb. bags cheaply), and charcoal, and coffee grounds, and cut apple, etc, coupled with keeping the fan running to try and kill the smell.

daveb 03-27-2011 11:23 AM

Re: Terrible Smell - Dead Animal? - Please Help!
 
When I was in Wyoming heavy rains cause an invasion of mice into my van. I even had mice coming out of the electric top lift rails. I'm thinking that they were in the walls of the van. I'm using "Fresh Cab" now but can't say if it works. I think mice leave a scent trail and follow each other around...once they find a way in, their little door is wide open.
Hopefully your smell isn't a dead animal and is their scent trail. My van smelled for several months and it still doesn't have that new car smell like it did before the invasion. The Fresh Cab pouches have a wood like smell and has helped with the problem. It is supposed to repel mice as well.

Good luck.

BroncoHauler 03-27-2011 11:57 AM

Re: Terrible Smell - Dead Animal? - Please Help!
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by daveb
When I was in Wyoming heavy rains cause an invasion of mice into my van. I even had mice coming out of the electric top lift rails. I'm thinking that they were in the walls of the van. I'm using "Fresh Cab" now but can't say if it works. I think mice leave a scent trail and follow each other around...once they find a way in, their little door is wide open.
Hopefully your smell isn't a dead animal and is their scent trail. My van smelled for several months and it still doesn't have that new car smell like it did before the invasion. The Fresh Cab pouches have a wood like smell and has helped with the problem. It is supposed to repel mice as well.

Good luck.

Dave,

Interesting product. How many do you use in your SMB at a time?

Definitely has mixed reviews on Amazon, but if it even prevents one infestation, it's worth trying. I think prevention is much easier than recovering from an invasion, and I'm planning on some camping in May, so I think I'll order some.


Herb

twogone 03-27-2011 01:35 PM

Re: Terrible Smell - Dead Animal? - Please Help!
 
Fascinating thread. I don't have a SMB, but had a rodent chew through several wires at the firewall of my, then, 10 day old YukonXL Had it towed from my driveway and cussed GMC under my breath 'til the mechanic showed me the damage. Once had to tear out a bedroom wall of sheetrock to find a dead gray squirrel that had reeked for 90 days and effectively moved me out of my house... never found how it got there. So:

When I get a SMB I've decided to add "NITE GUARD tm" under the van. Available thru https://www.mcmurrayhatchery.com and reputed to repel all mammals... might hang one inside to repel unwelcome humans if they scare off bad elements. Take a look at them.

Worked in the food production industry many years ago. Pest control critical. Blacklight shows rodent urine like neon, even in daylight, so you might look for accumulated urine or trail of urine w/ blacklight and find source or access. Rats and mice leave a constant scent trail w/urine.

Sorry to hear about your troubles, but all of us have learned a bit from this and craftsmanship issues are revealing to me, a noob.

daveb 03-27-2011 06:27 PM

Re: Terrible Smell - Dead Animal? - Please Help!
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by BroncoHauler

Interesting product. How many do you use in your SMB at a time?

Definitely has mixed reviews on Amazon, but if it even prevents one infestation, it's worth trying. I think prevention is much easier than recovering from an invasion, and I'm planning on some camping in May, so I think I'll order some.


Herb

I'm using two right now, one where I think they might be coming in and one in the pantry. SMB just closed up the pantry (the top was open) so I'll move that one. Some folks might not like the smell of these packets but I don't have a problem with them. They are supposed to be replace every 3 months or so. It was worth a try and so far I havent had any critters yet but I can't say that it works, only that it smells better. I know guys who use them in their tractors and they claim it works...but who knows.

After I got back from Wyoming I pulled everything I could out, washed the floors and carpet down, and sprayed fabreeze everywhere and it still had a slight smell. Little bastards. It took several months for the smell to go away. It didn't smell like mice in a barn, rather a strange musky moldy smell.
Something dead in an area where there isn't any access to would suck.

jage 03-27-2011 06:38 PM

Re: Terrible Smell - Dead Animal? - Please Help!
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by twogone
Blacklight shows rodent urine like neon, even in daylight, so you might look for accumulated urine or trail of urine w/ blacklight and find source or access. Rats and mice leave a constant scent trail w/urine.

Oh I am so doing this to figure out how they are coming in the house!

Also, tried every plug in noise device together and independently and proved they are wholly ineffective on domestic mice. I'd intended to put one in the fridge plug so when I was on 110... but alas, no effect on the miceses.

NRL 03-28-2011 02:12 AM

Re: Terrible Smell - Dead Animal? - Please Help!
 
I had a chipmunk find it's way from underneath and slip into the area between the SMB white board wall and the van skin.. Somehow he came up from the rear wheel and popped out of a hole on the inner back corner of the van, found his way to the inner wall by climbin up and over to the inner space..

He decided to stay for a while and eventually died from starvation or suffication in the heat. It took about 2 days to smell him dead.

By the time I found his body it was only fur and seeds and maggots done with a good job. I just had to vacuum it all away..

I had to tear apart the driver side SMB back cabinet (wasn't too bad), and then the side gaucho wall(this was tricky, I had to take the inner window frame off!)

That reminds me, your spot on the quality of work found when I took it apart. I wonder if there is a check mark to critter proof your new SMB..

The Good side was I found the body, and it gave me a chance to re-insulate everything and plug up(epoxy filler) every friggin hole that a critter(s) might use. :c1:

And then put everything back, better sealed and insulated.

So folks, check for possible critter entrances on your van..

Advanturetrek 03-28-2011 10:36 AM

Re: Terrible Smell - Dead Animal? - Please Help!
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by twogone

When I get a SMB I've decided to add "NITE GUARD tm" under the van. Available thru https://www.mcmurrayhatchery.com and reputed to repel all mammals... might hang one inside to repel unwelcome humans if they scare off bad elements. Take a look at them.

So, the theory on this is that critters don't like flashing red lights. It would seem like you'd have to install a bunch to get the light shining in each curve and cranny. Is that correct?

I agree with the statement about the electrical deterrents. Useless. Tried the ultrasonic deterrent. Mice were unperturbed but it drove our dog nuts.

Comments re underbelly workmanship are helpful for us newbies. So, what exactly do we need to specify to SMB to get them to critter proof the rig?

NRL 03-28-2011 11:12 AM

Re: Terrible Smell - Dead Animal? - Please Help!
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by Okie
Quote:

Originally Posted by twogone

Comments re underbelly workmanship are helpful for us newbies. So, what exactly do we need to specify to SMB to get them to critter proof the rig?


I dont' think you can 100%. In my case, they got far, those little chicky chipmunks.
They made it to the inner wall, and then proceeded to dig past the carpet and enter the battery, underneath the gaucho area. Then they proceeded to find a way out of that. I woke up that morning camped North of Owens Lake to the sounds of something scurrying withing the inner cavities past the wallboard, looked down from the penthouse bed looking at the chipmunk who broke in.. it's like they tell their buddies and they did it too, and one got left behind..

Best advice is to somehow make it difficult for them to reach all the way, epoxy filler, mesh, re-enforced wallboard, etc..

twogone 03-28-2011 04:03 PM

Re: Terrible Smell - Dead Animal? - Please Help!
 
My "scheme" on the "NITE GUARD tm" is to use it when the vehicle is parked and put in on the ground under the van to prevent approaching rodents... not many ways to repel them once they get off the ground. I think this would be especially useful if the vehicle sits in one place for extended time. It generates no sound, but apparently the red lite on all 4 sides spooks mammals and it has it's own solar charger so could prolly be hardwired to 12v system. I have read comments thru a magazine I take that say it works really well. $30 trumps that rotten odor if it only works once. 'Course how would you ever know you don't have mice just because of the device? :={)}

I don't have one currently 'cause my "BIG FAT DOG tm" sleeps under the Yukon day and night and I'm assuming rodents are repelled by her. Some day I'll tell y'all a funny story about that.

jage 03-28-2011 07:43 PM

Re: Terrible Smell - Dead Animal? - Please Help!
 
Smells like BS. Keeping in mind that I got burned on the sonic, I don't see anything about red light and mice, mice aren't mentioned on the mfg website, and I can't find anything independent that say's "This works!"

Strobes are one thing, but a light clicking on is something mice should get used to and ignore. Normal mice can't even distinguish red as a color. Heck they've learned to run across our light fixtures while we're watching TV underneath. Yarg.

Anyway, most things refer back to the manufacturers claims, and I found one site selling that had no other products (fishy). I'm thinking this is like the sonics, preying on people's fear and the fact that it's really hard to prove it's working vs. not.

twogone 03-28-2011 10:11 PM

Re: Terrible Smell - Dead Animal? - Please Help!
 
Jage, You gotta point... something that deterred mice would be among the most widely used and profitable consumer products in history. Guess I'll be keeping my $30 to buy traps et al. Thanks for another eye-opener from Sportsmobile Forum :={)}

Ford_6L_E350 03-29-2011 10:34 AM

Re: Terrible Smell - Dead Animal? - Please Help!
 
Jage, doesn't Scribbles keep the mice away?

Mike

jage 03-29-2011 10:58 AM

Re: Terrible Smell - Dead Animal? - Please Help!
 
She has brought more into the house (2) than killed (1)... so no, she's ineffectual as a mouser.

Ordered this:
https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B0002XAIP2

And this:
https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B001XJQ2G8

Will report on effectiveness. I'm hoping the flashlight can dual purpose as a gem hunter for camping fun.

Bigduke6 03-30-2011 06:03 PM

Re: Terrible Smell - Dead Animal? - Please Help!
 
I found a dead animal inside the wall of our metal building once. Look for green bottle flies. They eat dead things. Saw one go under the baseboard, tore out that section of wall and found a slimy dead raccoon or possum. Hard to tell. Solved a 2 week mystery. Very gross.
Good luck

Toolman 03-31-2011 11:18 PM

Re: Terrible Smell - Dead Animal? - Please Help!
 
YUCK. YUCK .. I hate rodents. did I say YUCK...

This thread brought back some terrible memories of having to tear my bathroom out 5 years ago. Old rats nest from the 80's under the bathtub. There were shredded shopping bags in the nest from a local market that closed in 1985. Yes they will catch an old scent and follow it, make themselves at home in a nest left by ancestors. YUCK !!!
I have heard of rats moving into exhaust pipes of sitting vehicles. It's going to be a ton of work but it sounds like you need to remove the walls and floor. I bet its between the wood floor and the sheet metal, or dead stuck to the insulation in the wall.. I do know that eventually it will go away. There are 1 1/2" plastic plugs all along the bottom of the body, a quick nibble and they are in the van wall check those plugs and make sure they aren't missing or chewed through.

Whatever you do DO NOT USE GREEN RAT POISON. They eat it and then go home and die in your walls. The glue traps are good but you have to kill the SOBs when they wake you in the middle of the night screaming because they are stuck.. just ask.. O ya.. squash.

It's too bad SMB doesn't spend more time doing things right. Quality control is gone.

Good luck with your search I'll be looking forward to the resolution.

jage 04-01-2011 02:53 PM

Re: Terrible Smell - Dead Animal? - Please Help!
 
Glue traps are about the cruelest thing going, as indicated by the animal's screams in the middle of the night. But I agree with you about green poison, not only did I find several cans of it from the last owners of the house, both full and empty, but a number of carcasses (including a full nest in one wall) that didn't make it outside.

daveb 04-01-2011 03:13 PM

Re: Terrible Smell - Dead Animal? - Please Help!
 
I bought a Rat Zapper...works well but not the most nice way to die. I have some of those live traps but they come right back after letting them go even if you take them hundreds of feet away so those are worthless.

jage 04-06-2011 11:02 AM

Re: Terrible Smell - Dead Animal? - Please Help!
 
100s of feet isn't gonna do it. I grab the live trap with a plastic bag, drive about a mile and throw them where there is a field and abandoned buildings... dropping them on my neighbors or anywhere they'll just get poisoned/killed just defeats the purpose.

My father-in-law used to spray paint the tails of things he caught with bright blue paint. If they came back, he doubled the dump distance.

Got my blacklights, they're everything I expected. The fluorescent is good for sweeping and the flashlight serves it's purpose. They illuminate slightly differently and I'm looking forward to nighttime gem hunting with the flashlight. Too wet yet to go around the house seeking mouse sign.

Viejo 04-06-2011 11:24 AM

Re: Terrible Smell - Dead Animal? - Please Help!
 
Quote:

and I'm looking forward to nighttime gem hunting with the flashlight.
Good for catching scorpions too!

Greggd 04-06-2011 12:01 PM

Re: Terrible Smell - Dead Animal? - Please Help!
 
Dave ,
You are supposed to Bite Their Heads Off , just prior to release !
Greggd

macmcintire 04-06-2011 04:04 PM

Re: Terrible Smell - Dead Animal? - Please Help!
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by jage
Glue traps are about the cruelest thing going, as indicated by the animal's screams in the middle of the night. But I agree with you about green poison, not only did I find several cans of it from the last owners of the house, both full and empty, but a number of carcasses (including a full nest in one wall) that didn't make it outside.

Jeremiah:

Now I'm really interested in seeing a picture of your house. Where is this place? I went camping Monday and was surprised when a fly got into my Sportsmobile. I'm so used to living in the desert where there are no bugs, no mosquitoes, very few flies and not much real wildlife. I've lived here 21 years, have camped and geocached in the desert several times per month during that time and have yet to see a rattle snake or anything scary. My son had a scorpion in his bedroom once, but it was very small and dead. Now I'm rethinking my desire to leave Las Vegas and move into the green, wet mountains somewhere. I prefer roadkill to be on the road rather than within the walls of my home.

Mac

daveb 04-06-2011 08:57 PM

Re: Terrible Smell - Dead Animal? - Please Help!
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by Greggd
Dave ,
You are supposed to Bite Their Heads Off , just prior to release !
Greggd

Just because I have all the Black Sabbath albums doesn't mean I act like Ozzy.

jage 04-15-2011 08:25 PM

Re: Terrible Smell - Dead Animal? - Please Help!
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by macmcintire
Now I'm really interested in seeing a picture of your house.

Mice, flies, and wind. And flies. Not wet though, I think we're "high desert".

https://jage.com/offsite/random/DSCF5129-1.JPG

You're invited you know. :b5:


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