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Old 06-06-2012, 07:45   #1
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Why, why, does my head smell so bad while sailing?

Boat: 1984 S2 11.0 36 ft
Head: manual Lever type, on the port side.


So, here's an interesting one. Everytime i flush the head, there is a bit of a bad odor. I am going to flush it with a vinegar and fresh water solution to hopefully alleviate that.

What i cannot account for, is the fact that whenever i take her out, especially with higher winds and in waves, the head just reeks. It fills the entire cabin with an awful smell, so pungent you get wiffs of it aft of the dodger.

I cannot account for it.

Interestingly enough, the smell seems worse on starboard tack, when the head is low.

as soon as she's level, the smell vanishes.

Ideas????
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Old 06-06-2012, 08:03   #2
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Re: Why, why, does my head smell so bad while sailing?

Your vent is probably clogged or your vent hose is collapsed. The toilet is acting as the vent, and the air in the tank is escaping back up through it.
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Old 06-06-2012, 08:24   #3
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Re: Why, why, does my head smell so bad while sailing?

could be you are not flushing thru the stagnant sea water which will smell like rottted eggies. flush for at least 5 gallons worth before stopping. then you will have a sweet head. vinegar wont hurt either.....will negate3 the salt build up in the outflowing hoses.

many folks do not realize that a not frequently used head will make stinkies until the fresh seawater is completely flushed thru. this stinky is more common in boats that are not lived aboard or used frequently.
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Old 06-06-2012, 08:31   #4
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Re: Why, why, does my head smell so bad while sailing?

My vote is also that the vent is clogged, forcing the expanding air to go through the toilet instead of the vent when you flush, and when the tank gets agitated. The vent may also be under water when you are on a starboard tack (you can probably tell that by where it's located).
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Old 06-06-2012, 09:12   #5
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Re: Why, why, does my head smell so bad while sailing?

Quote:
Originally Posted by ileestma View Post
Boat: 1984 S2 11.0 36 ft
Head: manual Lever type, on the port side.


So, here's an interesting one. Everytime i flush the head, there is a bit of a bad odor. I am going to flush it with a vinegar and fresh water solution to hopefully alleviate that.

What i cannot account for, is the fact that whenever i take her out, especially with higher winds and in waves, the head just reeks. It fills the entire cabin with an awful smell, so pungent you get wiffs of it aft of the dodger.

I cannot account for it.

Interestingly enough, the smell seems worse on starboard tack, when the head is low.

as soon as she's level, the smell vanishes.

Ideas????
Do you have a holding tank? If so, are you pumping into the tank, or direct overboard?

You need to tell us that before we can know whether the above theories are applicable or not.

If you are pumping direct overboard, then obviously the problem can't be the tank venting through the toilet. And if you are pumping into a holding tank, a good test might be to switch to direct and sail a bit, and see if you get the same effect.

As others have said, if you are using a holding tank, check the vent filter first -- if it is clogged you will have all kinds of problems, the stench is only one of them.
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Old 06-06-2012, 09:34   #6
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Re: Why, why, does my head smell so bad while sailing?

I had a problem, although not as severe as to bring it out to the dodger area, in my 40'Ted Hood Gulf Star...we had replaced the head when we got her, but there was a residual odor issue...somewhere, I found a recipe for a "head salad dressing" ...you mix white vinegar with a small amount of vegetable oil, about 3 parts white vinegar to 1 part oil and pour it into the head and flush through thoroughly, (Zee's post about flushing/pumping through thoroughly is so true...I give it at least 15 pumps at the minimum...no matter (pun) what.. The suggested use of the "head salad dressing was at leaast once a week...this keeps and did keep the plumbing lubricated( veg.oil) and clean (vinegar)....it did work wonders...no more head odor. Give it a shot, its a cheap and easy way to handle this...I mixed it up in spray bottle and kept it in the head...for regular usage...
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Old 06-06-2012, 10:36   #7
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Re: Why, why, does my head smell so bad while sailing?

The majority of head odor problems start with poor ventilation of the holding tank. Unless you aren't using a holding tank, that is always the first thing to check.
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Old 06-06-2012, 21:26   #8
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Re: Why, why, does my head smell so bad while sailing?

So, I'm thinking its related to the waste sloshing back and forth and location of the holding tank and relation to the head location. A clogged vent would smell on either tack.

I'm betting your getting a little back flow (fluid / air) to the head, which goes away on on a level keel. The motion of the boat is sloshing da stuff back and forth and creating a little dynamic pressure which when on starboard tack is sending that lovely aroma back to the head. Putting a trap in the hose from the head to the holding tank might help some. So would changing where the hose connects to the tank, which is probably not possible Making the vent hose bigger might help too..

Do you have a anti syphon thingy on the hose to the tank from the head. Check that the valve in the top is working. Also check the joker valve in the head..
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Old 07-06-2012, 11:06   #9
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Re: Why, why, does my head smell so bad while sailing?

Agree with vent - ours was blocked. Cleared vent and no stink! It has also been suggested that a larger vent opening be installed. Our vent uses 5/8" hose, ending on a vent with two 1/4" screened openings. This is significant reduction in size and is easily blocked. I'm thinking about replacing with an open vent.
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Old 07-06-2012, 12:16   #10
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Re: Why, why, does my head smell so bad while sailing?

each time on my boat when odor increases due to heel it has to do with water etc in the bilge, not the holding tank
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Old 07-06-2012, 13:04   #11
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Re: Why, why, does my head smell so bad while sailing?

Get a Lavac..
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Old 09-06-2012, 20:06   #12
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Re: Why, why, does my head smell so bad while sailing?

Sometimes it is the inlet hose that smells due to the build up of marine organisms yet most people always look to the outlet side...
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Old 09-06-2012, 20:17   #13
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Re: Why, why, does my head smell so bad while sailing?

Quote:
Originally Posted by ileestma View Post
Boat: 1984 S2 11.0 36 ft
Head: manual Lever type, on the port side.


So, here's an interesting one. Everytime i flush the head, there is a bit of a bad odor. I am going to flush it with a vinegar and fresh water solution to hopefully alleviate that.

What i cannot account for, is the fact that whenever i take her out, especially with higher winds and in waves, the head just reeks. It fills the entire cabin with an awful smell, so pungent you get wiffs of it aft of the dodger.

I cannot account for it.

Interestingly enough, the smell seems worse on starboard tack, when the head is low.

as soon as she's level, the smell vanishes.

Ideas????

I was developing an odor problem after I flushed. I couldn't possibly do what Zee recommends; my holding tank just isn't big enough.

I live in a marina, and they pump me out each week. However, they never flush the tank with fresh water and pump again. I'm temporarily at a different location, and I pumped it out myself. The odor was significant. I flushed it three times with fresh water.

Now when I use the head, all the odor is gone.

Your problem could be as simple as not emptying your holding tank often enough or completely enough.
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