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Old 12-02-2010, 08:22   #1
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Question Stink from Holding Tank!

We have a 2003 Chaparral260 Signature that we trailer and its an amazing boat for me and my wife. We only have one problem and it stinks!

Can anyone tell me why there is such a smell coming from the head??

Its a manual raw water flush into the holding tank. We pumped out the holding tank, filled it with water and pumped it out again, we threw holding tank chemicals in there, pumped it out again and there is still a smell in the head and outside through the vent Help!!

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Old 12-02-2010, 08:26   #2
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It is possible that the hoses that plumb your marine sanitation system are permeated with the waste smell. They do not last forever. To test if the smell is coming from the hoses; wet a towel in hot wat and wrap the suspect hose with it. Let it sit for 5 or 10 minutes, take it off and sniff the towel. If you smell waste, the hoses need repalcement.

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Old 12-02-2010, 08:31   #3
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wow very nice tip

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Old 12-02-2010, 08:34   #4
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you can't just throw holding tank chemicals in there. you've got to use the right ones. the best results come from biologic enzyme treatments that promote growth of aerobic bacteria (as opposed to the anaerobic bacteria that grow in the tank when it goes septic.)

It's fairly easy to find the enzyme treatments in your chandlery: they'll be the most expensive ones on the shelf. pay close instructions to how you'll switch your tank over from the use of other types of chemicals.
cruising is entirely about showing up--in boat shoes.
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Old 12-02-2010, 08:35   #5
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fstbttms is absolutely correct about the hoses. Most factory hoses are only good for a couple of years before they permeate. If it is the hoses, and you decide to replace them, get ready for a nasty, difficult job, depending on how they are routed. Do yourself a long-term favor though and replace them with "the good stuff". "Green Stripe" and similar sanitation hose will be expensive, but the less often you do this job, you'll agree, the better.

There is another thing you should check, though, and that is the vent tube. Your holding tank should be vented and this is very important to keep the aerobic bacteria happy. Those vents can become easily clogged, air supply stops, and stink increases dramatically.

By the way, most of the holding tank chemicals really aren't all that helpful. An organic solution to get the bacteria started (in case you've killed them with the chemicals) might be needed. Flushing with enough water is important, too, to get the flush to your tank and not sitting in the hose.

For an exhaustive, and very helpful, authority on all matters septic, check out Peggy Hall's book. Search for Peggy Hall and "headmistress".

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Old 12-02-2010, 08:51   #6
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many manufactures put the vented loop before the holding tank which means more pumping is needed to get the waste into the tank. ask me how i know: there should be a short and direct line into the tank. any overboard hoses require a vented loop. FYI only.

some of the best times of my life were spent on a boat. it just took a long time to realize it

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Old 12-02-2010, 09:40   #7
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Thanks for the tips. I had no idea about the hoses but I will check. As far as the vent tube, there may be partial blockage but I know that when I am washing the boat from the outside, I smell the sewage stink from the tube. Could it be that with the stuff my wife put in the tank via toilet, has started to break down the waste at the bottom of the tank and therefore what we smell is the chemicals working or is there no smell from the head due to the vent?
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Old 12-02-2010, 09:49   #8
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You could have a partial blockage of the vent. The smell will still escape but not enough air will get in to help.

The best solution is 2 vents, one on each end of the tank. But that does require more holes in the boat.

I had very good results installing Trident 101 vs Sealand Odorsafe. Much easier. Both are similarly priced. Don't settle for anything less than one of those 2.

Peggy (princess of poop) Hall's book is very good.
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Old 12-02-2010, 10:39   #9
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This a subject of sincere interest to me. I recently replaced the entire black water and grey water system in my Ingrid Ketch.

The grey water system was easy. I built an 1.5" pvc manifold equiped with small float switch. The manifold is angled to assist the whale pump in evacuating the grey water to a thimble full remaining. A check valve prevents back flow after pump shutoff. Whatever is caught in the line will be pumped out first when the pump is re-activated. Allowing waste water to accumulate in a grey water tank generates smell. Will the check valve clog? We shall see, and I will report.

The black water system is more difficult. The best hose in the world is tested using an amonia compound and a electro mechanical snifer. It only contains the test odor for a very short period of time. I elected to re-engineer the system. The system is now pvc pipe isolated on each end with good hose. System evacuation is critical, so I installed an electric macerating head, a positive flush for the holding tank and an evacuation pump to aid in moving sludge. If you get it off the boat it's smelling up the pumpout, not your boat. Don't forget the necessary vented loops. Will there be problems with the pvc? I don't think so and sofar there is neither smell nor leaks. It's an experiment and I will report the results.

The replacment of these systems was not pleasant and I hope this will be a long term fix.

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Old 12-02-2010, 12:31   #10
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If it's not the hoses, it's usually the vent as most tanks are "under-vented". Our set up has worked well- 2 vents: Port side of tank to stbd gunwale and stbd side of tank to port side gunwale. That way there's always air going in and out of the tank. The long runs are 2" PVC going to sanitation hose- it's worked well, No stinkies after 8 years.
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Old 12-02-2010, 12:41   #11
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Our Westsail 28 stunk to high heaven when we bought her. Ended up replacing the holding tank and all the hoses. Still a residual smell. It wasn't until we basically scrubbed everything down and then removed all the cushions and washed the covers that the smell finally went away. We have since opted for a composting head since, to us, even e decently-operating holding tank system tends to smell.

The original problem on our boat seemed to be that one of the owners had installed a 5-gal. holding tank in the lazarette. About as far from the head as he could get. Since it was only 5 gallons, he was apparently loathe to pump enough water to actually empty all those miles of hose of waste. There it sat getting funkier and funkier.

When we looked at the boat (when it was for sale) it smelled a little but I suspect it had been thoroughly aired out before we got there. Still, the scented candle sitting on the dinette table should have told us something.

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Old 12-02-2010, 13:06   #12
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Hate to sound like a Luddite, but I use household bleach poured right down the toilet and then flushed, about a cup will do it. Repeat as needed. I have a 225 gal plastic farm tank with one 1 inch vent and it all works fine. I pump out at sea every three months or so. The tank is in the engine room with pretty good ventilation and separate from the living quarters.
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Old 12-02-2010, 13:32   #13
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Originally Posted by syoder View Post
Our Westsail 28 stunk to high heaven ...
surely you should change your name to s/y odour?

Sorry, I'll get my coat.
John Perry
Stingo: n. (old English slang) strong or well fermented (Yorkshire) ale or barley wine.
Anecdotes From Stingo
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Old 13-02-2010, 03:48   #14
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A few points to add to other posts:

1) Anyone who has an issue with this should spend $20 and get the book Get Rid of Boat Odors by Peggie Hall Get Rid of Boat Odors. It is the bible of boat odors.

2) Vented loops are needed between tank and overboard discharge when the tank is below waterline, or between head pump and bowl when the bowl is below waterline, or between the toilet and direct-overboard discharge when the bowl is below waterline.

3) The enzyme-based anti-oder agents referred to above (by name) are Odor-Los and Raritan KO. Neither will be effective unless you have good tank ventilation. The 5/8" or smaller vents on most tanks are inadequate and may need to be replaced by larger vents, or additional vents. Odor Los contains helps create beneficial oxygen in the tank, and KO contains active bacteria and enzymes that break down the bad stuff in the presence of adequate ventilation. I have had better luck with Odor Los. Follow directions with each. They need to be added at regular intervals.

4) NEVER use bleach or other antiseptics in the toilet or holding tank. They kill aerobic bacteria that break down the odor-causing wastes, and will result in a septic condition that has stronger odors. For cleaning bowls Peggie Hall recommends Raritan CP (Cleans Potties) which also contains enzymes that will break down odors.
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Old 13-02-2010, 05:13   #15
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I dont know how most boats work but on our boat, while we are pumping out we hold a water hose to the vent and let the water get sucked in and it washes out and nasty stuff in there, then we also use a lot of vinegar that breaks down stuff.
We then use Champ Chem treatment we get from Walmart RV/marine section. Solved our problem completely.

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