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Old 21-06-2013, 08:37   #1
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Another Head Odor Problem.....HELP!

We have completed the process of installing new sanitation hoses and a new head on our recently acquired Island Packet 370. The PO had not used the boat for the last few years and apparently left the holding tank about three fourths full. At survey the boat had head odor and it was decided that the hoses had permeated and needed replaced. Our boat being a later model Island Packet has a fiberglass holding tank. (not the problematic Aluminum tank they had been using)

At this point all of the hoses have been replaced with Sealand OdorSafe Sanitation hose. All connections are secured with two hose clamps. The holding tank has been emptied and filled with fresh water numerous times. The vent line appears open, when flushing the new head you get a small amount of gas out of it, as I would expect.

Our problem is that we are still getting a VERY strong odor from the bilge area where the tank and hoses are located. It fills the head and if head door is open the forward cabin. If hatches are open you can even smell it outside the boat near the hatch.

The tank, hoses ,Y Valves, macerator and thru hulls for sanitation are all in one bilge compartment. This is the only area of the bilge that has the odor. It is a rather small area and appears very clean no standing water we have wiped much of the area down with soap and water. It appears sparkling clean. But a very strong gassy head smell reeks from it. There is a opening from this compartment to the under side of the vanity in head for the hoses to go thru. I think this is how the smell is getting topside into the head.

My question is how is this gas smell getting out of the tank into the boat. We have done the wet warm rag test around all of the connections and around the Y-valves with no odor on the rag. In my opinion it would take a large leak to get the amount of gas odor we are experiencing.

We just finished the project a few days ago. The hoses that came out were very smelly and showed signs of crystallization. Could the area in that bilge just need time to air out? We have seen no improvement and are getting very frustrated. Any ideas on what is going on would be greatly appreciated.

Bob and Cathy
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Old 21-06-2013, 08:46   #2
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Welcome to boats ;0) every boat i have owned had so.e ki d of head smell. I saw you flushed it out with fresh water but are you only using fresh water to flush when using it? It helps alot. , could the holding tank itself have a crack or leak etc on it? Can you seal the hoses where they go thru and u think the odor is coming in at?
Ive often thought about a solar vent for the bilge areas would be a good idea.
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Old 21-06-2013, 09:16   #3
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Re: Another Head Odor Problem.....HELP!

You might want to try this

Odor eliminator PureAyre eliminates cat, pet, smoke, skunk, cigars, gasoline, cooking and musty odors.

Also confirm that the vent is clear. You shouldn't get any back gassing.
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Old 21-06-2013, 12:55   #4
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Re: Another Head Odor Problem.....HELP!

We are fresh water flush. I have thought I would seal around the opening that the hoses pass thru, but want to stop the smell at the force if possible. We have checked vent line is clear. Thanks!
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Old 21-06-2013, 13:09   #5
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Re: Another Head Odor Problem.....HELP!

Gas indicates that the tank has gone anaerobic. Run a load of bleach into the tank and then flush it after allowing the bleach to work. I installed an anti stink valve on the output of my head..the joker valve can't do the job. Regular flushing will help to change out the air in the tank along with a boat load of chemicals. Bacteria will always be there....you just need to kill off the really stinky ones.
I tired of stinky hoses..most of my system is now PVC pipe...it helps a lot.

Todd
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Old 21-06-2013, 13:40   #6
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Re: Another Head Odor Problem.....HELP!

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Gas indicates that the tank has gone anaerobic. Run a load of bleach into the tank and then flush it after allowing the bleach to work....Todd
This is what I would do. Also, be sure and Clorox your lines. We are also in the process of taking out those stinky black hoses and putting in the OdorSafe ones. Unfortunately, we have one of those aluminum tanks, so we don't dare use the Clorox. Planning to change the tank next year....along with a million other things.
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Old 21-06-2013, 13:55   #7
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Re: Another Head Odor Problem.....HELP!

No, do not use bleach. You need to add bacteria not remove it. Use some Odorlos in that tank.
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Old 21-06-2013, 14:07   #8
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Re: Another Head Odor Problem.....HELP!

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No, do not use bleach. You need to add bacteria not remove it. Use some Odorlos in that tank.
Really? I wouldn't have thought of that. Perhaps wiping all the outside of the hoses, connections, and the bilge where they are located with a soapy/Clorox-y mix?
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Old 21-06-2013, 14:08   #9
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Hang in there, if you can, flush your tank out w/ bleach as many times as you can. Fill it up full, leave it sit over the weekends, run it out the deck fitting and the macerator. Also replace or clean your vent hose; the previous owner may have over flowed the tank into the vent hose. I have bought a used boat w/ a bad head odor and it took a month but I got it fresh. If you head to the Bahamas, Caribbean or Mexico leave your head full of tank treatment for a month or two. Good luck, you can do this. Rich
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Old 21-06-2013, 23:36   #10
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There is a tank rinse stick that is sold at RV stores that is used to clean out holding tanks. Camco 40094

Also the fellow who stated beach will kill the good bacteria is right, but to remove the really bad odor you will probably have to use it. After the problem is resolved rinse tank with plenty of freshwater and put good bacteria additive in tank. Rich
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Old 22-06-2013, 09:39   #11
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Re: Another Head Odor Problem.....HELP!

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Old 24-06-2013, 14:27   #12
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Re: Another Head Odor Problem.....HELP!

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Really? I wouldn't have thought of that. Perhaps wiping all the outside of the hoses, connections, and the bilge where they are located with a soapy/Clorox-y mix?
Yes, that is fine for the outside of surfaces but you want to promote aerobic bacteria in the tank itself. Air is the best way to do this. Additives like Odorlos that promote aerobic bacteria is even better. It is not an overnight solution. Start using Odorlos now and within a couple of weeks your tank will be virtually odor free. Also make sure your vent is not clogged.
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Old 24-06-2013, 15:23   #13
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Re: Another Head Odor Problem.....HELP!

if the ordor is already getting out of the tank, it doesn't matter what you add to it to treat the inside

Start by giving the tank and bildge a ready good cleaning! The smell is probably in something other than the tank now.
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Old 24-06-2013, 21:20   #14
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Re: Another Head Odor Problem.....HELP!

1) Don't treat with bleach. It's a bandaide.

2) There's nothing magic about this problem.

3) If you have odor in the bilge, clean the bilge. It probably has residual matter in it.

4) Your holding tank needs to be AEROBIC, not anaerobic. It needs a good source of oxygen, or else it WILL stink. Make sure the vent is clean, and stays clear. This is the number 1 problem with stinky tanks.

5) We use a product that adds bacteria to the holding tank. It used to be sold by some marine companies, but it's kind of disappeared. It was developed as an oil-eating product, and works well for that. But it also works VERY well for holding tanks. I think this is their new website: Microbes | UltraTech International Inc.

I'll check the bottles we have on the boat, this weekend.

Our boat NEVER stinks. Yours shouldn't either.
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Old 24-06-2013, 21:38   #15
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Re: Another Head Odor Problem.....HELP!

Dumb question: Are you using fresh water or sea water to flush the tank? Warm sea water in your bowl will smell very similar to human waste and many times, the odor will be very strong. seawater only takes an hour or 2 to start to smell.
If you are using sea water, shut off the sea cock sea water inlet and try pouring fresh water in there from a hose and flush using fresh water.
If at the end of the day there is no odor, you have found the problem. There are lots of ways to permanently or semi-permanently set up for fresh water flush. For years, we used the flexible shower hose in the head for flushing.
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