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Holding tank chemicals - safety


TTgal

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We used our travel trailer on labor day weekend. Whenever my husband would turn on the bathroom exhaust the smell was terrible. He dumped two bottles of Campa Chem into the tank. After the fact, I realized it has formaldehyde in it. We have a soon to be two year old and I am concerned about the fumes harming him. The trailer has been sitting in a campground as we will be going back this week for five days. There are no sewer hookups and the dump station is in another camp ground so its not feasible to dump until we leave.

 

Are the fumes enclosed, or will they escape into the trailer? My son sleeps right next to the toilet. I'm considering not even going on the trip!

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Under the sink, there should be a static or cheater vent. It looks like a black plastic cap. These do go bad or get hung open. You can temporarily tape this over to stop the smell. There is also the possibility of a leaking seal at the toilet. This will require pulling the toilet and installing a new seal. Thes

 

These are generally NOT like the home toilet seal.

 

Ken

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Why are you pouring anything besides water into the holding tank? You don't need anything else, just plenty of water. If the toilet is holding water, then the smell comes by being sucked in because of the exhaust fan running while flushing the toilet. If the toilet isn't holding water, then the exhaust fan is pulling odors up from the tank. So (1) make sure the toilet is holding water after it has been flushed and (2) turn off the exhaust fan while flushing!

 

As to the smell under the cabinet - that is the cheater vent that was mentioned. You can get a new one at Lowes, Home Depot, and replace the one under the sink. BTW - it may be from the grey tank - often it will actually smell worse than the black tank. And if that valve has gone bad, then the exhaust fan (because it creates a negative air flow out of the rig) will pull the fumes through that valve out into the whole trailer.

 

Barb

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The smell is gone for now so that's not my concern. I'm mainly wondering if the formaldehyde would be dangerous for us to occupy the trailer since he dumped two bottles in.

 

I think if you flushed your tanks with fresh water a few times, you would be ok. The bigger danger appears to be RV manufacturers that used formaldehyde in their construction materials.

 

If you must used chemicals, use bleach. It's effective and breaks down fairly rapidly.

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Well the issue is, that we aren't going to be able to dump the tank until we finish camping this week so I CAN'T flush it with fresh water. It's almost ten years old so I'm honestly not worried about the construction materials. I don't know who to ask about this. Thanks for your help!

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I would say that there shouldn't be any fumes to worry about in the sleeping area. If you're concerned, let your hubby sleep where your son does and your son in bed with you. :) Really....I don't think there will be a problem.

 

In the future, plenty of water is all you need when flushing the toilet. You don't need to add any chemicals. If you had a smell previously, you have a venting issue or else you had a exhaust fan running which sometimes brings in toilet odors.

 

Go camping next weekend and have a great time!

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The holding tanks are all vented above the roof and the small amount of formaldehyde in the treatment is not likely a problem. The toilet seal should seal the fumes out except the short time of flushing. Some toilets have an overflow built in. These need water to seal like a P trap. If the toilet has this I like to fill the toilet to overflow into these holes after each tank dump. The holes are visible near the top of the toilet. I wouldn't worry about the formaldehyde fumes but turn off the fan during flushing. I also like to leave the vent in the bathroom at least partially open all of the time.

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So it smells like perfume nastiness under the sink. Is that coming from the black water tank? It doesn't smell like waste but its not a pleasant odor. It's only in the bathroom. I'm overly paranoid its formaldehyde. I don't want to take the baby in there at all but he has to have a bath. Could the fumes be coming from the cheater vent? What exactly does that look like?

 

In general, is it normal for the bath room to have a mild odor in all campers or does this indicate we have a problem?

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FWIW, here is the holding tank solution we use (Both Black & Gray)

Equal parts of:

SuperClean

PineSol

Liquid Calgon water softener

Water

 

Mix in a 2 gallon water bottle and use @ 4OZ in the tank after dumping. Zero bad smells - occasional wiff of Pine :)

 

The Calgon softens the water and makes it difficult for things to cling to the tnk sides. The Superclean is just about the best degreaser out there!

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The exhaust fan being on caused the problem when flushing the toilet. Don't do that again. As Barb said, if your toilet seal is not holding water in the toilet when not in use, then fumes are being sucked into the living area by your exhaust fan. The undersink vent thing is easy to change, and they do wear out letting grey water smell in, which is as bad or worse than the black tank.

 

We have been fulltime 4 1/2 yrs and use nothing other than water in our tank. We do not have odor, and no need to worry about any chemical fumes.

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Thanks everyone! At least I know the stink is the gray water. The toilet is holding water fine so the exhaust must have been the issue. I've told my husband not to turn the exhaust on so hopefully no black water odors.

 

I've also got the vent open.

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