Cruisers Forum
 


Join CruisersForum Today

Reply
 
Thread Tools Rate Thread Display Modes
Old 27-04-2013, 21:52   #1
Registered User
 
djtopper's Avatar

Join Date: Mar 2013
Posts: 97
Why do so many Heads have that Musty Smell?

Been on a few catamrans which have had this issue. Ironically there was one at the boat show">Annapolis boat show today that suffered from it. I suspect that the problem is not just with multihulls though.

What causes this? Failure to properly and consistently pump out the holding tanks?

Perhaps most importantly, how can you get rid of it? Does it become difficult to eliminate as bacteria and mold are likely growing in hard-to-eliminate places?

Mainly just curious, but i could see remedies being useful when chartering a boat the suffers from "the stink" such as it is.

Also curious if its just inevitable?
__________________

__________________
djtopper is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 27-04-2013, 21:55   #2
Marine Service Provider
 
FLLCatsailor's Avatar

Join Date: Aug 2012
Location: Ft. Lauderdale, FL
Posts: 452
Re: Why do so many heads have that musty smell?

saltwater is the cause of the bad odor... When water sits stagnate in the plumbing all the little micro-organisms start dying off, and stinking...
__________________

__________________
FLLCatsailor is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 27-04-2013, 22:09   #3
cruiser

Join Date: Aug 2011
Location: Tampa Bay area
Boat: Hunter 31'
Posts: 5,731
Re: Why do so many heads have that musty smell?

Quote:
Originally Posted by djtopper View Post
Been on a few catamrans which have had this issue. Ironically there was one at the Annapolis boat show today that suffered from it. I suspect that the problem is not just with multihulls though.

What causes this? Failure to properly and consistently pump out the holding tanks?

Perhaps most importantly, how can you get rid of it? Does it become difficult to eliminate as bacteria and mold are likely growing in hard-to-eliminate places?

Mainly just curious, but i could see remedies being useful when chartering a boat the suffers from "the stink" such as it is.

Also curious if its just inevitable?

If its coming from the tank, it will smell like a sewer. If it's because of flushing with salt water, it will be more of an ammonia-like smell.

That "musty" smell is mildew. There just isn't good air circulation in the head. I would check in the back corners of any cabinets or storage areas. Mildew-type organisms love to grow in dark, moist places with poor air circulation. It's a real pain, because usually there's so little room, but I actually clean my head space with toothbrush and q-tips to get into some spots.

I'm not a perfect housekeeper, but my head doesn't smell.

You can also spray those dark corners periodically with bleach water. It doesn't take much to kill mildew.
__________________
Rakuflames is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 27-04-2013, 22:14   #4
Senior Cruiser
 
delmarrey's Avatar

Cruisers Forum Supporter

Join Date: Mar 2003
Location: Now in Blaine, WA
Boat: Modified Choate 40
Posts: 10,702
Images: 122
Re: Why do so many heads have that musty smell?

Quote:
Originally Posted by FLLCatsailor View Post
saltwater is the cause of the bad odor... When water sits stagnate in the plumbing all the little micro-organisms start dying off, and stinking...
Yep! And once the plastic (PVC) absorbs the odor it's almost impossible to get rid of in a short time. One has to start flushing vinegar in and let it set for a day and then do it again and again and again.

Another thing too is if there are ANY leaks that will cause odor as well. Then the spill area needs to be cleaned with bleach.

And I'm sure Peggy Hall has some answers too.
__________________
Faithful are the Wounds of a Friend, but the Kisses of the Enemy are Deceitful! ........
A nation of sheep breeds a government of wolves!

Unprepared boaters, end up as floatsum!.......
delmarrey is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 27-04-2013, 22:19   #5
cruiser

Join Date: Aug 2011
Location: Tampa Bay area
Boat: Hunter 31'
Posts: 5,731
Re: Why do so many heads have that musty smell?

Quote:
Originally Posted by delmarrey View Post
Yep! And once the plastic (PVC) absorbs the odor it's almost impossible to get rid of in a short time. One has to start flushing vinegar in and let it set for a day and then do it again and again and again.

Another thing too is if there are ANY leaks that will cause odor as well. Then the spill area needs to be cleaned with bleach.

And I'm sure Peggy Hall has some answers too.

I had that strong urine odor coming from my head. I just started flushing with buckets of fresh water -- problem solved.
__________________
Rakuflames is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 28-04-2013, 00:38   #6
Registered User

Join Date: Jun 2010
Location: Central California
Boat: Samson C Mist 32
Posts: 484
Re: Why do so many heads have that musty smell?

I like to keep the door to the head open all the time except when the head is in use. Also I almost always sit to use the head. It's easier and safer in a seaway.
__________________
Steve Bean is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 28-04-2013, 00:46   #7
Registered User

Join Date: Jun 2010
Location: Central California
Boat: Samson C Mist 32
Posts: 484
Re: Why do so many heads have that musty smell?

I like to keep the door to the head open to free ventilation all the time except when it's in use. Also I almost always sit when using the head. It's so much easier and safer in a seaway and no problem with aim. Speaking as a male...
__________________
Steve Bean is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 28-04-2013, 00:50   #8
Registered User

Join Date: Feb 2012
Posts: 2,441
Re: Why do so many heads have that musty smell?

Puts me in mind of a bumper sticker I once saw:

"REAL sailors do it in their seaboots"

(in the interests of inter-hull harmony, I won't offer any smart-arse speculations about whether the way male cats define their territory extends to male cat owners ;-)
__________________
Andrew Troup is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 28-04-2013, 03:13   #9
Registered User
 
TeddyDiver's Avatar

Join Date: Aug 2010
Location: Arctic Ocean
Boat: Under construction 35' ketch
Posts: 1,826
Images: 2
Re: Why do so many heads have that musty smell?

Get Lavac toilet, it's with vacuum flush..
__________________
TeddyDiver is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 28-04-2013, 03:40   #10
Registered User
 
endoftheroad's Avatar

Join Date: Dec 2008
Location: Key West
Boat: Westsail 32 and Herreshoff 28
Posts: 1,159
Re: Why do so many heads have that musty smell?

Quote:
Originally Posted by FLLCatsailor View Post
saltwater is the cause of the bad odor... When water sits stagnate in the plumbing all the little micro-organisms start dying off, and stinking...

Thanks for the correction as I always thought the odor when using saltwater was from micro organisms breeding in there and not dying off.
__________________
endoftheroad is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 28-04-2013, 05:06   #11
cruiser

Join Date: Aug 2011
Location: Tampa Bay area
Boat: Hunter 31'
Posts: 5,731
Re: Why do so many heads have that musty smell?

Quote:
Originally Posted by endoftheroad View Post
Thanks for the correction as I always thought the odor when using saltwater was from micro organisms breeding in there and not dying off.

Could well be, but it's a distinctive (and harsh) smell. And, if that's what it is, it doesn't happen if you flush with fresh water.

I had one know-it-all (whose boat had a porta-potty, so he really didn't realize the potential issues of screwing up your head system). Told everyone to use one bucket of water to flush -- because *I* wanted everything to make it to the head.

He came back and bragged that he was getting away with 1/3 of a bucket.

"Great. When it clogs, you're the one who has to clean it out."

You should have seen the look on his face! He was the one I would have put off. Directions weren't directions to him but an opportunity to do things any other way possible.
__________________
Rakuflames is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 28-04-2013, 06:19   #12
Registered User

Join Date: Apr 2013
Posts: 4,877
Re: Why do so many heads have that musty smell?

Lots of sources. It's the rare boat that doesn't have the smell.

Our solution was a composting toilet. Solves the issue pretty well. As a side benefit it included installing a solar vent as composting likes lots of oxygen, so any smells that do form are constantly vented outside of the boat.
__________________
valhalla360 is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 28-04-2013, 06:27   #13
Registered User

Join Date: Jul 2006
Posts: 3,949
Re: Why do so many heads have that musty smell?

Practically every boat with a holding tank system smells--I know Peggy and others claim they can create a system that doesn't stink, but in practice they are pretty rare. There are just too many joints, too much piping, too many leak points and too many things that are supposed to be impermeable but aren't in the typical holding tank system. You can smell some boats as you dinghy by! Composting head eliminates the smell, and with its constantly running vent sucks air through the head area keeping it drier helping to reduce mold and mildew too.
__________________
Kettlewell Cruising
Kettlewell is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 28-04-2013, 06:43   #14
cruiser

Join Date: Aug 2011
Location: Tampa Bay area
Boat: Hunter 31'
Posts: 5,731
Re: Why do so many heads have that musty smell?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Kettlewell View Post
Practically every boat with a holding tank system smells--I know Peggy and others claim they can create a system that doesn't stink, but in practice they are pretty rare. There are just too many joints, too much piping, too many leak points and too many things that are supposed to be impermeable but aren't in the typical holding tank system. You can smell some boats as you dinghy by! Composting head eliminates the smell, and with its constantly running vent sucks air through the head area keeping it drier helping to reduce mold and mildew too.

I guess I'm just lucky -- mine doesn't smell. I wouldn't be able to stand that sewer/urine smell and I'm not fond of mildew either although it's easier to deal with. It is possible to eliminate the smells, and really worth the effort.
__________________
Rakuflames is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 28-04-2013, 07:41   #15
Registered User

Join Date: Dec 2007
Location: Duluth,Minnesota
Boat: Lindenberg 26 & Aloha 8.2
Posts: 984
Re: Why do so many heads have that musty smell?

Im with Ketterwell on this, im a boatbuilder and have been working around marinas for over 30 years, most boats stink, ive also noticed that a lot of owners say their boat doesn't smell when in fact they do. We have built odor free systems using common sched 40 pvc pipe from home depot, with either off the shelf plastic or custom fitted plywood/epoxy/glass tanks but I will be installing an Airhead composting toilet on my Gemini cat next month, partly for the lack of stink but also for a lighter, simpler system.

Steve.
__________________

__________________
clockwork orange is offline   Reply With Quote
Reply

Thread Tools
Display Modes Rate This Thread
Rate This Thread:

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off
Trackbacks are Off
Pingbacks are Off
Refbacks are Off


Similar Threads
Thread Thread Starter Forum Replies Last Post
Air Conditioning Smell edbulmer Plumbing Systems and Fixtures 12 03-06-2014 21:10
Heads problem - fills up to brim Revelations Construction, Maintenance & Refit 8 16-05-2012 09:01
Bigger Galley / Heads - Smaller Salon Please - Does It Exist ? shantycrew Monohull Sailboats 9 05-02-2012 15:57
Musty Mattress Condensation cameron forsyth General Sailing Forum 14 23-12-2011 01:35
I Can't Smell, So How Can I Detect Gas ? SaucySailoress Plumbing Systems and Fixtures 26 21-08-2011 21:11



Copyright 2002- Social Knowledge, LLC All Rights Reserved.

All times are GMT -7. The time now is 06:46.


Google+
Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.8.8 Beta 1
Copyright ©2000 - 2017, vBulletin Solutions, Inc.
Social Knowledge Networks
Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.8.8 Beta 1
Copyright ©2000 - 2017, vBulletin Solutions, Inc.

ShowCase vBulletin Plugins by Drive Thru Online, Inc.