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Topic: very bad sewer smell in travel trailer

Posted By: actionpacker16 on 05/09/11 06:18pm

Hi, any suggestion would be appreciated. I have a very bad sewer smell in my trailer. I have a Thetford Hifoot pedalflush toilet. The bowl holds water so the blade seal must be good. Could it be that it needs a new closet flange seal but when you flush it the toilet does not leak onto the floor. Very puzzled but the smell is very strong.
again, any help or ideas would be appreciated.


Posted By: AZ T&T on 05/09/11 06:24pm

Do you have enough chemical in the tank? I think even with everything operating correctly there will still be odors if there isn't the correct amount of chemical.

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Posted By: tvman44 on 05/09/11 06:25pm

we don't use any chemicals at all, never a smell problem.

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Posted By: patch13 on 05/09/11 06:32pm

Might want to check the vent to make sure it is clear. IF not, the only way out is through the toilet.

Posted By: actionpacker16 on 05/09/11 06:32pm

I never use chemicals. The travel trailer is about 4 years old. Never ever had a bad smell in the trailer.

Posted By: actionpacker16 on 05/09/11 06:34pm

How could the vent get clogged???

Posted By: clearnetedm on 05/09/11 06:51pm

In our previous trailer it turned out to be our grey water tank. It would happen right after travel or strong winds. It seemed the wind would have enough pressure on the tank that it would push smell into the trailer from the outside vent on the roof. We installed better roof vents and it cleared it right up. Only cost about $30 for the each of the vents.

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Posted By: JJBIRISH on 05/09/11 06:55pm

Does it smell all the time or just after flushing???

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Posted By: GrandpaDick on 05/09/11 06:58pm

Check the ball vent thats under the bathroom sink, if that is not working properly you get the same smell.

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Posted By: actionpacker16 on 05/09/11 06:58pm

My trailer is parked next to my garage with zero wind. Never had this problem before. If the vent was clogged, how could the smell enter the trailer? All the traps are full of water. It does not smell like the gray water. It definitly smells like the black tank.

Posted By: actionpacker16 on 05/09/11 07:00pm

It smells all the time....

Posted By: Cecilt on 05/09/11 07:07pm

actionpacker16 wrote:

It smells all the time....

Use chemicals. That is what they are meant to do. Get rid of the smell [emoticon]

Posted By: clearnetedm on 05/09/11 07:07pm

Hmm all the time smell. I would bet, like the other poster it's coming from the bathroom sink vent. I think he called it the ball vent but not sure what the true name is. It should look like a vent stack extending up but just ending. There is a value at the end that needs replacement once in a while. As for the smell I of course can't confirm yours but don't be too quick to right off the grey versus black as I had thought black for my issue at first but the grey turned out to smell just as bad or worse. Unless you are confident it's black you could tape down a garbage bag over the toilet and see if the smell goes away. Will at least tell you the source. Otherwise you can temp tape up the sink vent as above and see if this clears the smell.

Posted By: actionpacker16 on 05/09/11 07:18pm

That is a great idea to identify the smell, gray or black. I will give that a try. This just all of a sudden happened. We havev't even gone camping yet this year. Of course I would like to fix this ASAP. Thanks

Posted By: actionpacker16 on 05/09/11 08:00pm

I put plastic wrap and elastic over both sink vents. I got rid of the smell by lighting a match, opening the door, and putting the exhaust fan on. I turned off the fan, shut the door and returned to the camper in ten minutee and the smell returned and is real bad. I climbed on the roof to check the black water roof vent and I could smell the same smell. I am convinced the smell is from the black tank, but can't figure out how the smell is entering the camper....

Posted By: CanadianCampers on 05/09/11 08:19pm

It just happened all of a sudden but you haven't been camping yet? Do you have a dead rodent tucked away somewhere decaying in your unit?

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Posted By: kfc on 05/09/11 08:22pm

I would try flushing both the Black and grey tanks. If you don't have a tank rinser built in, then you could use a wand or a flush king. I would then add chemicals and see if that helped. Good luck.

Posted By: actionpacker16 on 05/09/11 08:37pm

There is no dead rodents anywhere in the camper. The tanks may need to be flushed but how could the smell get into the camper?? It does not make any sense. In any camper the black water tank could be almost full but you should never get a smell in the camper, ever. (unless you were flushing the toilet with the exhaust fan on which I would never do...)

Posted By: rbthom on 05/09/11 08:40pm

Some times while trailer is being towed the water in the traps on the sinks will loose water and allow oder to come up through the water in sinks and tub long enough to fill traps and of course a well maintained holding tank is a must and even though some don't use chemicals I always after dumping and rinsing add some clean water and chemicals this prevents lots of problems.

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Posted By: actionpacker16 on 05/09/11 08:44pm

Thanks for the advice. all traps are full, and both sink vent are covered right now. Still can't figure out where the smell coud possibly enter the camper????

Posted By: clearnetedm on 05/09/11 08:48pm

Could be the gasket for the toilet as you mentioned. You likely wouldn't see any water leak going down but gas could escape coming up, if it went bad. Might also just be a very bad combo of nutrients and bacteria causing an abnormal strong smell. Maybe the flush will resolve this. But I suspect if you've never had this bad amell before something not not be right.

Posted By: clearnetedm on 05/09/11 08:48pm

Could be the gasket for the toilet as you mentioned. You likely wouldn't see any water leak going down but gas could escape coming up, if it went bad. Might also just be a very bad combo of nutrients and bacteria causing an abnormal strong smell. Maybe the flush will resolve this. But I suspect if you've never had this bad amell before something not not be right.

Posted By: a1albert on 05/09/11 08:53pm

How far is the black tank roof vent away from your bathroon sealing vent? Is your sealing vent open a little Bit?

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Posted By: actionpacker16 on 05/09/11 08:54pm

I think I will cover the toilet with a trash bag real tight tonight. See if the smell is there in the morning. If there is no smell then it must be the toilet gasket. I should change the gasket anyway. It probably short money anyway. Thanks for the advice.

Posted By: actionpacker16 on 05/09/11 08:58pm

The vent is very close to the roof vent. Maybe 18 inches. Good point. I better shut the vent tonite also. (i always leave the roof vent slightly open and never had a problem) ???

Posted By: isaacd on 05/09/11 09:00pm

DISCLAIMER I know next to nothing about TTs.

However, I am a plumber. The vent under your sink is called a studor vent or air admittance valve if you want to be technical.
The toilet will have a wax ring or a rubber ring compressed under it to form a seal, it is possible for the seal to be compromised enough to allow air out without water showing at base of toilet. I have seen this occur many times in a home.
I would try resetting the toilet, the seal is $5 and it takes well less than an hour.

Posted By: actionpacker16 on 05/09/11 09:05pm

Thanks, I am definitly going to change that gasket...

Posted By: W4RLR on 05/09/11 09:35pm

Try pulling up on your vent pipe. I'll bet it's loose and leaking gas inside the rig.

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Posted By: Sigepsb on 05/09/11 09:49pm

actionpacker16 wrote:

(unless you were flushing the toilet with the exhaust fan on which I would never do...)

Learned that one the hard way.

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Posted By: #40Fan on 05/09/11 10:39pm

If you think it might be the black tank, and you are going to pull the toilet, flush the tank first. You will go from a small leak to a big one and you will have your nose right next to it.

I didn't do this before installing our allure flooring, even though I had flushed it a few weeks before, and as soon as I popped the toilet off of the floor, I almost gaged.

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Posted By: bdpreece on 05/09/11 11:08pm

On my last motorhome the manufacturer cut the vent pipe too short, Everything looked good from the outside but the pipe was short enough that it was venting into my ceiling. I only found it when I went to install a rotating type vent and removed the factory installed vent cover. The pipe should have been long enough to reach above the roof but did not.

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Posted By: bobcouch on 05/10/11 08:51am

I mentioned this in a similar thread yesterday, but:
Before you tear into your plumbing, check your battery(s)!!!
I learned the hard way that a battery that is going dry will emit a strong sulfurous odor that smells an awful lot like sewage.
It'll just take a minute or two to check water levels in your batteries, and you ought to do that once in a while anyway.

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Posted By: actionpacker16 on 05/10/11 04:38pm

Thanks everybody for your advice. The toilet was a little loose. I pulled the toilet, replaced the gasket making sure it was on perfect.(not much room for error)Tighten the bolts and the smell is gone. My daughter had a tenth birthday party campout a few weeks ago and all that I could think of is that they were standing on the toilet and looking in the mirror brushing there hair,etc.
I should of checked the bolts first. The gasket was only 5 bucks and it is made out of some kind of hard foam not wax. I was afraid to just tighten the bolts without a new gasket because it might not seal correctly.
Again thanks everybody for all your advice.

Posted By: woolznaz on 05/11/11 11:49am

Thanks for coming back on line to tell what you found. These threads are so much more valuable to everyone when the original poster takes the time to come back and tell how the problem was resolved. Glad you have a fresh smelling trailer again!

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Posted By: PUCampin on 05/11/11 01:37pm

Glad it turned out simple. I had a similar problem, and after a long time of trying different stuff, figured out the seal around the flush handle of the aquamagic V had gone bad and was letting odor in. A uncomon failure, no one I talked to had heard of it. The aquamagic V is essentially disposable, almost no replaceable parts, so I bought a different toilet.

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