RVs offer many modern conveniences of home like air conditioning, heat, electricity, and running water. However, the water system in recreational vehicles is different from that in homes.
Instead of draining into a municipal septic or sewer system, the wastewater in RVs drains into a holding tank. It is essential to empty the tank regularly to prevent it from overflowing and maintain it to keep it from developing offensive smells.
In order to stop your grey water tank from smelling, it is important to buy a sink strainer to prevent food particles from entering the tank. Also, avoid using too much soap while taking a shower as soap scum sticks to the side and clogs up the grey water tank. Regularly cleaning and emptying out your tank will help regulate smells as well.
I personally haven’t had to worry about grey water tank smell since I started using THIS holding tank treatment from Happy Camper (available on Amazon).
Why does my grey water tank smell?
Unlike in the home setting, the waste in an RV sticks around until it’s gotten rid of. Other factors that can make an RV have a bad odor include; hot weather, faults in the RV plumbing, unclean tanks, and bad habits. As an RV owner, you need to know why there is a bad odor and how to take care of it.
The grey water tank can also have a pungent smell because it could have mold in it. Since these tanks become warm and always moist or wet, they easily get moldy, causing a bad odor in your RV.
Even though most of the waste that goes to the grey water tank is water, there is also a combination of soap scum, hair, lint, and other substances that get into the tank causing the tank to smell bad. Grease, dirt, and food waste sticks to the sides of the grey water tank.
Even after emptying the grey tank regularly and most of the waste is flushed out, some remains still do not completely get out, and they start building up, and when the build-up gets worse, the smell gets stronger.
How to get rid of grey water tank smell
Getting rid of grey water smells is fairly easy and most people can do it themselves. However, if the plumbing is faulty, seek a plumber. They will be able to get down to the bottom of the issue far quicker, with minimal damage.
If your plumbing does not have any damage, here are a few ways to get rid of the smell:
1. Thoroughly clean the grey water tank
When cleaning your grey tank to prevent odors, it is vital to always check the necessary documentation on your grey tank to know which products are good for your tank and, if possible, use professional grey water tank treatment.
Buy products from a camping or outdoor shop and follow the bottle’s instructions on how to use it correctly. Avoid using any products without first doing some proper research. Some products can react harshly with your grey tank causing more problems.
I personally use Happy Camper’s Holding Tank Treatment. It’s gotten rid of ANY smells I’ve had in my RV, and I haven’t had any issues with it damaging my pipes.
Click here to check out how much it costs on Amazon.
If you don’t have access to specific treatment options, I recommend pouring vinegar down the sink to ensure that the drains are cleaned properly.
2. Get rid of the sink stink
Getting rid of odors from the kitchen sink and the bathroom will ensure that your grey tank does not smell. Pour half a can of orange soda down the kitchen and bathroom drains, and rinsing with water helps clean sludge from the sink.
The orange scent from the soda also helps in covering up any bad odors.
3. Ensure no food falls down the drain
Place a mesh strainer in the kitchen sink to prevent food particles from washing down the drain straight to the grey water tank. Food particles that go into the grey water tank cause it to smell because they rot in there. This should be totally avoided by the use of a strainer basket in the sink.
Eliminate all food particles in the sink because even something tiny as a pea can cause an odor if it passes through to the grey tank area.
4. Use baking soda to prevent odors in the grey water tank
After emptying your grey water tank, put two spoonfuls of baking soda in the kitchen sink and pour warm water down the sink. Baking soda helps get rid of odors, and you can easily get it from the stores.
5. Take your RV for a drive
If you have tried all the above procedures and there is still some bad smell, or the waste is still stuck in the tank, try filling up the tank with a garden hose and taking your RV for a drive before draining the grey tank again.
Going for a drive creates more agitation and helps loosen the remaining residues. The drive will ensure that when you are cleaning the grey tank, all residues get out easily.
How to prevent the grey tank from smelling in the future
Here are a few ways to prevent these awful smells in the future:
1. Don’t let food particles pass through the sink
Avoid bad habits like letting food particles pass through the kitchen sink because this is where all the trouble will begin.
2. Clean the tanks
Clean them once they are full and ensure that they are emptied after a certain period of time.
Thoroughly cleaning the grey tank of your RV may not be a glamorous job, but it is a great way to ensure that no bad smells are coming from it. When you clean your grey tank, you ensure that foul smells don’t come up through the shower drain or kitchen sink.
3. Mix equal parts soap and water
It is important to ensure that you mix dishwashing liquids and hot water and pour it into shower drains and the sink to clean the grey water tank. After pouring this mixture, pump out the tank’s waste to ensure that all the dirt and waste products are gotten rid of.
4. Empty out your tank
If you are parking your RV for some time, ensure that the grey tank is emptied so that when you will be using it next time, there will be no foul smell coming from the grey tank or black tank.
As you empty the grey water tank, put the vehicle horizontally and straight above the drainage point since the grey water tank has also been built horizontally.
Empty your grey water tank at only designated dumping points. Leaving the grey water tank open causes the water to seep out, and the solid waste and other stuff that has built up is left behind, causing the pungent smell.
To prevent the grey water tank from having a bad smell in the future is always to ensure that the waste in this tank is pumped out regularly. The greywater tank should be emptied at least every six months. Look for an expert to pump out your grey water tank regularly, if needed.
A professional will also schedule a servicing date, and you do not have to worry about remembering when the grey tank needs to be emptied next.
5. Mask the smell
If the grey water tank is regularly cleaned and pumped out, but there is still an odor coming from the shower drains, you need to mask the smell. Put a few drops of eucalyptus oil down the shower drain whenever you notice an odor coming from there.
Eucalyptus oil helps in getting rid of any unwanted smell.
6. Deal with the problem immediately
Many issues can cause the grey water tanks to smell, and you need to look for the source of the odor and narrow down the problem. Deal with the problem immediately because it will continue to become a huge problem if you ignore the slight odor.
7. Check your RV plumbing frequently
Ensure that your RV plumbing is checked periodically to ascertain that the vents, seals, and traps are all in good working order. Bad plumbing in an RV can cause foul odors, and other damages can crop up from faulty plumbing.
Treating and cleaning your RV’s grey water tank properly and disposing of the water regularly helps keep the odors at bay. Therefore, you will enjoy your time inside your RV without worrying about bad smells coming from the grey water tank.
Ensure that you follow the points listed above on how to properly maintain the grey tank to prevent pungent smells.