Dave Solberg

Diagnosing Wastewater Odor in Your RV

Dave Solberg
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Duration:   1  mins

If you notice a strange odor in your motor-home, it’s important to know what to do to diagnose the smell and attribute it to a specific part of the vehicle. In this RV tips demonstration, Dave Solberg teaches you how to determine whether an odor is due to an issue with the propane, grey water or black water tanks.

Dave uses some simple RV tips to solve the problem. Step one to diagnosis wastewater odor in your RV is deciding whether it might be caused by a propane leak. Propane has a very distinct, powerful smell but faint amounts can be confused with a black water or sewage tank odor. Either way, if you smell the distinctive “rotten egg” smell and are not sure, play it safe, get out of the rig and shut off the propane at the tank. Let the unit sit for a while and if the odor is gone, you should take the unit into a certified RV propane specialist to have the system inspected.

Most of the time with RV tips and techniques for maintenance it’s a game of one or the other. If you decide that the smell is not propane, you can narrow it down to either the black water or grey water tank. Even with the RV tank treatment and deodorizer products available, black water tends to have a much more potent odor than grey since it is mostly sewage. Grey water is typically shower and faucet drainage, however dumping cooking waste such as grease, milk, or other spoiled liquids down the drain can cause some rotten smells as well. Even fairly clean shower water left in a grey water tank for an extended period of time will develop a rotten smell of it’s own.

Both grey and black water tanks require a venting system that is plumbed up to the roof of the RV. This eliminates a vacuum and provides proper drainage. An annual inspection of the roof vent or vents is a an essential part of RV tips and should be done any time you experience this type of odor inside your RV. During inspection, check to make sure the vent cover is in tack, nothing is clogging the opening, and there is no gap around the vent pipe allowing air to circulate back down inside the coach.

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4 Responses to “Diagnosing Wastewater Odor in Your RV”

  1. LEO

    I have a 2017 Thor Hurricane 29M and when driving if there is any waste in the black tank, I get smells in the coach. Lately, it was so bad our eyes were burning from amonia odors. It was worse than a Honey Bucket after a week of use in the hot Texas sun. I gave tried different overhead vent combinations open and closed. I keep water over the flush ball valve. I keep the bathroom door closed to keep the smell out of the coach, but open the door, and its a gagging event. It us getting old.

  2. Sylvia Rutherford

    <strong> Ticket#20166 Both kitchen sinks have stopped draining. Noticed an "off" odor yesterday before clog occurred RV new to us and not sure where to start. Added baking soda to drains, let it sit for a while, then added white vinegar. Can still see water in drain, and its still "working".

  3. John jones

    What if your rv has no toilet vent?

  4. Stevanna

    When I flush the toilet there is a rotten cabbage smell. I have cleaned the tank as thoroughly as I can with a wand and a spray into the tank. I use tank deodorizers. The tank is a 50 gallon tank on a Class A.

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