[Guest Post from Tiny Living Life] Have you noticed an odor coming from your RV holding tank? There’s a variety of causes for this problem, one of which is the growth of germs known as anaerobic bacteria.
What you want is aerobic bacteria, which are the good guys that help to keep your tank smelling fresh.
Unfortunately, the anaerobic bacteria that ends up in the tank comes from your body where they help to break down and digest the food you eat. Because the food you eat ends up going down the crapper, it’s no surprise that the bacteria in your gut inevitably ends up contaminating your toilet—if not managed properly that is!
Other common causes of a smelly RV holding tank include:
- Accumulation of debris in tank
- A leaky toilet seat
- Vent blockages
- A full tank
It’s not surprising that nefarious smelling odors would come from your tank, considering all the stuff you put into it. The good better news is that the solution doesn’t involve the avoidance of your RV potty because that wouldn’t help the situation.
The even better news is that these blockages happen to almost every RV owner at some point which means someone has already figured out how to combat the problem.
6 Essential Steps To Getting Rid Of Holding Tank Odor
We’re glad to say that all of these odor-causing issues have workable solutions. One of these solutions is to simply empty the tank, while making sure to maintain a liberal distance between you and it to avoid getting the worst of the deplorable odor.
Contrary to popular belief, you don’t have to wait for the tank to get full before you empty it. That’s because the smell can be caused by issues other than overfill, such as a change in outdoor temperature, as well as the contents of the tank itself.
Here are some other useful solutions that you can apply to get rid of the odor coming from your RVs holding tank:
Clean the tank
Once you’ve emptied it, it’s important to thoroughly clean the tank to remove odors from the source. We can admit that this is not the most pleasant activity, but you’d be surprised at all the residue that might be stuck onto it, causing unpleasant smells and odors.
Luckily, you don’t have to do this often and it’s sufficient to deeply clean your tank maybe once every three months.
Clean out the tank vent
Another solution you can apply is to clean the tank vent which you’ll see on the roof of your RV. As you can imagine, a backed-up vent blocks the fan’s ability to release a lot of the smells coming from the RV.
The easiest way to check the vent for clogging is to get a garden hose and put it through the vent. Open the water flow to see what happens. If the water flows through without any problems, then the tank is working just fine. If not, then you’ll need to clean it out.
Check the toilet seat
The next port of call would be to check your toilet bowl for any possible leaks. You’ll know your toilet bowl is leaking if it’s dry, and the best way to combat this issue is to seal it up with a generous amount of petroleum jelly.
Keep in mind that this is a temporary solution and you’ll eventually need to replace the seal. One way to avoid the toilet bowl from leaking in the first place, is to buy a good quality composting toilet that’ll help to reduce your chances of experiencing buildup, blockages and dryness. The composting toilet completely avoids the use of liquids and a black water tank. This avoids any chance of holding tank odor.
Clean the toilet and flapper
Once you’ve emptied the holding tank, thoroughly clean the toilet as well as the flapper. This will help to get rid of any stubborn scum and deposit that might cause odor. Remember that a dirty flapper makes it pretty difficult to close your toilet at all, so it’s important to wipe it clean using warm water and a sufficiently clean rag.
Get rid of the bacteria
As mentioned, one of the leading causes of tank odor is anaerobic bacteria. The most common way to get rid of this bacteria is through the use of mineral and chemical treatments.
The problem with these types of treatments is that they work by killing ALL of the bacteria in your tank. They don’t discriminate between good and bad bacteria. Plus, they replace the bad odor with a chemical smell that can be just as harmful for your health.
Instead, it’s better to treat the situation with aerobic bacteria which will naturally break down the waste and liquefy the contents of your tank.
This is a less-invasive alternative that comes with the added benefit of helping you to maintain the beneficial bacteria and get rid of the stink at the same time.
Take preventative measures
Prevention is better than cure, right? So, why not apply the same principle when dealing with your RV sanitation?
It’s important to look out for preventable causes of clogging, such as toilet paper build up. That’s why RV owners are advised to only use biodegradable toilet paper, especially if you use a compost toilet.
You’ll know your RV toilet is clogged when it becomes impossible to empty the reservoir. If this happens, then you’ll need to roll up your sleeves and clean up the clog.
Eliminating Holding Tank Odors
Once you’ve gotten rid of the odor-causing problems, you might want to apply the following tips to keep things fresh and dandy inside your RV holding tank:
- Don’t skimp on the water when flushing your RV toilet
- Whenever you dump your black tank, run water through it several times until you get the all-clear
- Use petroleum jelly to seal your toilet seat as often as possible
- Add lots of water to your black water tank to prevent it from becoming dry
There’s many things in life that can go unnoticed—the smell from your RV holding tank is not one of them.
But as we discussed above, not to worry.
If you follow the fool-proof 6-step plan above, you will be able to easily diagnose the problem, eliminate the less-than-pleasant odors, and enjoy your time in your RV significantly more.
Ready to learn more? Check out our blog post below about composting toilets:
If you have any questions or comments, please let us know by commenting below!