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Old 09-01-2013, 14:13   #1
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It didnt smell that way when I bought it!?

Hello all,
I am new to the forum, this is my first post and really looking for some guidance on marine heads. Here goes: I just moved on to an ocean super sport with my two boys (5 & 8), we love it! What I DONT love so much is the odor coming from thier head! Through the course of buying the boat, I was able to see it a few times and NEVER noticed any foul smell from either head. *I understand the prior owner could very well have done something to temporarily cover the odor.* But, now we are living onboard, i notice the rotton egg/rotting something foul odor....only from thier head, not mine. Its a saltwater electric head that can either discharge overboard (i know, when far enough out) or to the holding tank. After reading a good bit, ive checked hoses, pumped and flushed the holding tank, used the blue holding tank cleaning/smell good stuff at WM, cleaned the toilets...all with no remedy. the only thing i have not been able to do yet is check the vent line. my next course of action will be to try the vinigar trick, but dont know exactly how much to use...is too much harmful? I am also tempted to buy the book i keep seeing everyone else refer to (the title escapes my memory at the moment) but want to exhaust my efforts here first. I also notice the smell disapates a good bit right after i flush it, but when left, say over night or when i return for lunch, the smell is back! what really baffels me is that only one head smells and i never smelled it before buying the boat...Any help would be great!
Thanks!
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Old 09-01-2013, 14:16   #2
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Re: It didnt smell that way when I bought it!?

if it smells like rotting eggs, is stagnant water sitting in the hoses. flush well daily to prevent this. is natural from having the water sit for a day.

you can also flush vinegar down and oil for lubing, but the smell will come back if you do not flush well and completely at least once per day.
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Old 09-01-2013, 14:31   #3
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Re: It didnt smell that way when I bought it!?

If you have the water tankage you might also flush with fresh water. Salt water is a lot stinkier than fresh. At least run some fresh through the hoses when you expect the head to sit idle for a while like overnight.
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Old 09-01-2013, 14:35   #4
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Re: It didnt smell that way when I bought it!?

Hoses may be going bad. Try wiping a damp cloth along the length of the discharge hose, then sniff the cloth. If its smells bad, then most likely the hose has become porous and the odors are in the hose material.
I think there is quick fix using a particular brand of cling wrap, but long term solution is new proper sanitation hose. (if the hose is the problem)
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Old 09-01-2013, 14:40   #5
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Re: It didnt smell that way when I bought it!?

Try shutting off the salt water intake and flush only using fresh water for a couple of days. Just pour the fresh water into the bowl from cup or something. If the odor goes away you have your answer. The algae and other marine life die in the hose and cause the smell. If that does not fix it check that the holding tank vent is not clogged. Let us know what you learn.
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Old 09-01-2013, 14:53   #6
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Re: It didnt smell that way when I bought it!?

If you have adequate tankage, it would be well worth your while to switch the heads over to freshwater flushing. I don't know anyone who has done this who hasn't greatly appreciated the results. Not only will you rid yourself of that rotten egg smell, but your sewage lines will suffer from significantly less calcification.

The reason you may be smelling the rotten egg smell more from one head than the other could simply because that head's intake line has a longer run. The longer the run, the more marine organisms will die in the hose in between flushes.
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Old 09-01-2013, 14:58   #7
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Re: It didnt smell that way when I bought it!?

Quote:
Originally Posted by sailvayu View Post
The algae and other marine life die in the hose and cause the smell.
Phytoplankton, mostly, but some zooplankton as well. Flush in the dark, and some marine heads will actually display phosphorescence.
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Old 09-01-2013, 15:02   #8
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Re: It didnt smell that way when I bought it!?

Easiest and simplest is to put two drops of Euclyptus oil into bowl water after flushing.
Smells will totally disappear BUT sometimes the pump housing will have a small crack in it OR a seal on the shaft will have a dribble causing a smell. It don't take much....

Really think it's good practice to simply overhaul each toilet when you buy a secondhand boat for two reasons 1 You know they won't break-down when Murphy pleases ie worst possible time 2 You will have intimate knowledge of the workings in your own time/the cleanest time.

This rule applies to all systems, it's good practice to get familiar with the boat.

Cheers and good luck.
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Old 09-01-2013, 15:11   #9
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Re: It didnt smell that way when I bought it!?

On our boat the rotten egg (hydrogen sulphide ) smell often comes from biota living in the hose between the salt water intake for the head and the pump. Thus, putting stuff in the bowl and flushing won't help the problem. To cure, close the seacock, remove the hose, dip it into a bucket with a fairly strong water plus chlorine bleach mixture (say 4:1) and pump enough to fill the hose and inlet side of the pump. LEt it stand for an hour or so, and then flush with seawater. It works for us...

Cheers,

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Old 09-01-2013, 15:27   #10
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Re: It didnt smell that way when I bought it!?

This may be the book you are thinking of

Get Rid of Boat Odors: A Boat Owner's Guide to Marine Sanitation Systems and Other Sources of Aggravation and Odor: Peggie Hall: 9781892399151: Amazon.com: Books
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Old 09-01-2013, 16:37   #11
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Re: It didnt smell that way when I bought it!?

All good suggestions so far. I'd like to also add that not all harbor water smells the same; some can be quite foul smelling. When our boat was located in Los Angeles harbor, the salt water stunk most of the year and was especially bad when the red tide was present during the summer. Where our boat is located now in the Med., no odor.

Another issue to consider, is that there can be solids stuck to the bottom of the holding tank from the prior owner giving the holding tank and hoses a foul odor. To correct this, you'll need to repeatedly flush and dump the holding tank a number of times, then add digestive enzymes to the holding tank, basically a holding tank treatment. Medically speaking, What you'll be doing is giving your holding tank system enemas until clear.

Clean out your system, then try the damp cloth on the hoses trick to find out if the hoses have permiated with odor. If this has happened, then you'll need to have them changed.
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Old 09-01-2013, 16:46   #12
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Re: It didnt smell that way when I bought it!?

Do yourself a favor and buy Peggie's book. Use a solution of vinegar instead of bleach for the procedure in post #9. Sorry I can't answer your question that no else has either; I don't know what solution strength to use for the white vinegar. Do a search on user name "peghall" and I'm sure you will find the info.
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Old 09-01-2013, 16:50   #13
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Re: It didnt smell that way when I bought it!?

As mentioned, the hoses could be saturated and have to be changed. But also, even fairly new hoses can start smelling like rotten eggs soon. It's the living organisms in the sea water. Pour a gallon of white vinegar in and partially flush it thru let it sit overnight if possible. But as mentioned, flush daily and well. underflushing tends to cause clogs anyway. Mineral oil for lubing the head. If you are using a holding tank, you can mix some of that blue porta potty stuff in a squirt bottle and put a little in every day or two. The main thing is not let the water sit in the inlet hose long. usually it's the culprit if the big hose is good. You could try just replacing th small inlet hose.
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Old 09-01-2013, 16:51   #14
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Re: It didnt smell that way when I bought it!?

On a used boat it may very well be time to replace the hoses too. They are somewhat permeable and after awhile they absorb odors and forever after smell a bit. But, I would second or third the suggestion that you focus on the saltwater intake as the source of your problems. If you're at a dock, flush with freshwater if possible.
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Old 10-01-2013, 11:34   #15
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Re: It didnt smell that way when I bought it!?

fresh water plus salt water yields brackish water, which stinks worse than rotting eggy sea water when stagnant.
flush well with sea water..you can throw in a cup of vinegar if you wish, just make sure you flush enough water thru so it doesnt have old water sitting in the hoses. is a simple problem. happens to all boats. even new ones. (ask me how i know)
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