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Old 03-01-2016, 06:03   #1
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Persistent odor even after removing sanitation system

Hello,

I had a foul odor problem on my new to me boat. For various reasons I decided I wanted to go with a porta-potti style head and I removed the holding tank, head, and all sanitation hoses. I thought the odor would then go away, but it didn't. Then I noticed that there was a lot of mold in the fresh water system and that those hoses smelled as well, so I removed those hoses and covered the water tank">fresh water tank fittings with zip lock bags secured with rubber bands, so that odor from the tank would largely be contained. I also pressure washed my bilge using a detergent/degreaser as well as bleach. However, the odor is still persisting.

The odor seems to primarily be coming from the area under the v-berth where the holding tank was and also the area behind the panels of the head against the hull, just aft of where the former holding tank was. I did pressure wash these areas and also have sprayed it with an ample amount of bleach.

I'm thinking that maybe the fiberglass in these areas have permeated? I haven't really heard of this happening though.

My next step is to try covering these areas with baking soda and letting it sit for a few days.

Anyone have any tips or thoughts?
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Old 03-01-2016, 07:28   #2
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Re: Persistent odor even after removing sanitation system

I had same problem with holding tank odor. I removed removed everything related to holding tank & head. After a month, odor was still strong in all areas where any plumbing/tanks were. The odor was in the wood.

I used a deodorizer called X-O, mixed slightly stronger than directions. Sprayed it on all surfaces until dripping wet, wiped surfaces with saturated rag, and closed the boat up for a few days. In a couple of areas, I had to apply twice.

The odor is now gone!

WWW.xocorp.com

The stuff has a perfume odor that would induce sea sickness if I were to use it underway, but that odor dissipates after a week or two.

Good luck
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Old 03-01-2016, 07:36   #3
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Re: Persistent odor even after removing sanitation system

You can try painting the bilge or former holding tank area with a quality oil based bilge paint after a good cleaning. This should seal the odor.

If there's mold actively growing in some hard to get at location, I've used an ozone machine successfully in the past on a prior boat, but the mold and odor will return if the source is not discovered and removed. The smell was so bad and persistent, it drove me off the boat and into the market for a different boat. I feel your pain.

You can't "clean" the smell out of wood, since the odor has soaked into the fibers. Sealing it with paint or a good polyurethane varnish should fix that sort of problem.
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Old 03-01-2016, 07:45   #4
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Re: Persistent odor even after removing sanitation system

I was going to mention the wood, too. Take a close look at any exposed wood in the vicinity of the holding tank. I ended up cutting out and replacing a ply locker floor that had a manual pump out Henderson on it, that had leaked over the years and completely saturated the surrounding wood each time. It was covered by carpet inside the locker, and it took me forever to find that. You may have to get in there with a scrub brush and go over it all, inch by inch, too. And even other hoses can pick up the smell just by being enclosed with the holding tank for years. It permeates some rubber, apparently.

The whole experience drove us to composting toilets. Different set of hassles, but oh so manageable and no bilge surprises any more. simple can be real good.
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Old 03-01-2016, 09:01   #5
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Re: Persistent odor even after removing sanitation system

scrub all that could have been in contact with the contents of an exploded holding tank. that **** happens. clean the boat from top of floorboards to under everything in bilges. use powerful strong scented soap. then rinse well then use bilge soap and scrub well. then rinse well more than once, and should gleam and be stink free.
yes it is work, ye thunk sailing was easy??
ha ha ha ha sadly it isnt. it is more maintenance and ridding new boats of old owner stink, and setting it up for your and engines own stink.
i learned the maintenance thing when i was a wee kidlet, so it wasnt a surprise to me. seems to be a surprise to others, however. hhmmmm....
also learned about leaky old rowboats when i was 7, but that is another story

i found natures miracle , bulk purchases, at a petstore to have been the best ever thing i did before leaving usa... stuff works on our stink also. is enzymatic and disappears it completely after cleaning. nothing returns. wood or otherwise surfaces.

and use odorlos in your holding tank. it actually works. btdt for over 20 years.
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Old 03-01-2016, 09:18   #6
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Re: Persistent odor even after removing sanitation system

Have you read Peggy Hall's book Get rid of boat odors?

Another approach I have used with success in the past is to use enzymes. [Remember they are live, so all traces of bleach and vinegar, etc. need to be removed first...]

You could start by wetting everything in the area [tank, hoses, hull, bulkheads, etc.] with spray enzyme like you can get in a pet store for controlling animal urine odors. Let it dry. If odors persist after a day or two, repeat. [We buy gallon size. Its handy to have around...]

It is relatively cheap and worth a try. If it doesn't work, either the odors are disseminating from a location you haven't hit with enzymes, or as others have mentioned, permeated deep into something porous (wood, etc.)

Also remember there may have been a spill in the past, so get enough enzyme to pour on the tank itself and let it run its course through to the bilge [like a spill/overflow would have...] hopefully treating any pockets of leftovers along the way.

I hopes your boat smells better soon...

Bill
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Old 03-01-2016, 09:21   #7
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Re: Persistent odor even after removing sanitation system

I had a holding tank leak into the bilge under my master berth. We used a product called PureAyre. Bought a gallon of it on amazon and diluted it and scrubbed and let it sit. The problem with foul head odors is that they are caused by organic stuff. If you kill the organic stuff with bleach what's left over is bleachy smelling organic stuff that can continue to make foul smells. Using PureAyre it breaks down the smell causing stuff using enzymes to eliminate the odor.

The product looks similar to X-O odor eliminator since it's organic based too.

http://www.amazon.com/PureAyre-Home-...0Y9M6SYCSKMJ5H
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Old 03-01-2016, 09:51   #8
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Re: Persistent odor even after removing sanitation system

Instead of a port-a-potti I recommend a C-Head.
C-Head portable composting toilets
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Old 03-01-2016, 09:53   #9
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Re: Persistent odor even after removing sanitation system

Try an ozone machine. Leave it running for a few days with the area closed off.
You should do it when you aren't on the boat as breathing concentrated ozone for a period of time is not a good thing.
A friend had tried everything but as others have pointed out the wood work had been soaked from a holding tank leak. After 48 hours of an Ozone machine no odor at all.
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Old 03-01-2016, 10:02   #10
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Re: Persistent odor even after removing sanitation system

A good soaking with one of the products like XO, Odor-No, Odor Ban may improve or fix the issue. Does your anchor locker drain into the bilge? If so there can be really offensive smells getting into the boat that way also.
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Old 03-01-2016, 10:07   #11
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Re: Persistent odor even after removing sanitation system

Isn't odor primarily from bacteria, fungus, mold etc?

I would try a heavier spraying with bleach allowing it to stand on all surfaces for quite a while.
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Old 03-01-2016, 10:08   #12
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Re: Persistent odor even after removing sanitation system

Quote:
Originally Posted by Kenomac View Post
You can try painting the bilge or former holding tank area with a quality oil based bilge paint after a good cleaning. This should seal the odor.
Paint is a good idea. The interior glass of many boats is not as tight as the exterior and may let material pass to the core. I seal all interior hull surfaces with Sherwin Williams Tile Clad 2-part epoxy. It is stark white and is used to seal water tanks. It is very fast cure. You must keep well ventilated. Don't breathe this stuff. Use a window fan in a port to help exhaust. I usually make only abut a half cup at a time and apply with Home Depot throw away brushes. I think it is similar to epoxy pool paint but affordable. The white is nice to see when you open cabinets & lockers.
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Old 03-01-2016, 10:18   #13
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Re: Persistent odor even after removing sanitation system

I think your best bet is a biologically-based product that actually digests or decomposes the organic molecules. I would avoid treatments that have a masking odor. Peggy Hall built her business on offering chemicals from large sanitation systems that break down waste instead of killing the bugs: I think that's still the best option.

I presume KO is still on the market, and there are no doubt similar products available.

Chuck Hawley
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Old 03-01-2016, 11:35   #14
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Re: Persistent odor even after removing sanitation system

Been there, done that.

+1 on PureAyre (as advised by Peggy Hall)

+1 on C-Head, much better solution than a porta potty

-1 on ozone. That stuff is a serious carcinogen and will attack any rubber seals and wiring.

After removing all the head and holding tank and related stuff I still had the funky smell. 20% bleach saturation followed by vinegar rinse, still some smell. (Peggy said that would be a waste of time)
PureAyre spray, problem solved. (works on diesel odor too)
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Old 03-01-2016, 11:47   #15
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Re: Persistent odor even after removing sanitation system

Quote:
Originally Posted by bcboomer View Post
Been there, done that.

+1 on PureAyre (as advised by Peggy Hall)

+1 on C-Head, much better solution than a porta potty

-1 on ozone. That stuff is a serious carcinogen and will attack any rubber seals and wiring.

After removing all the head and holding tank and related stuff I still had the funky smell. 20% bleach saturation followed by vinegar rinse, still some smell. (Peggy said that would be a waste of time)
PureAyre spray, problem solved. (works on diesel odor too)
Good points. On the bleach, I have had success but I never dilute. Don't take a knife to a gun fight. Our boat came off the truck form Florida with 1/2-inch tall black fuzz in many places. We removed everything including floors & sprayed straight bleach with a pump sprayer. Closed up and left it to cook for a few hours. There have been no re-occurrences. Wear a respirator.
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