Smelly Motorhome Waste Tank

Motorhome waste tank smells
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Smelly Motorhome Waste Tank

How is it that every time you drive off into the sunset, the freshly disinfected waste tank soon smells like rotten eggs? Well, if you’re also one of those long-suffering people, then maybe this is the read for you! Because finally we’ve found a solution to the smelly motorhome waste tank problem.

Yes, I know, how have we managed that I hear you ask! Over the years we have tried every conceivable product to clean those tanks and nothing has solved the problem. Even a change of motorhome hadn’t helped the mystery of the smelly whiff’s lingering through the van, despite having numerous vans over a couple of decades!

Soaking in Milton Smelly motorhome waste tank

So, what did we used to do to clean the tanks? To start we’d buy a bottle of Milton (baby bottle sterilising fluid). Then, we’d pour this down each waste outlet. For example, in the shower tray, bathroom and kitchen sink before leaving it to soak overnight.

Next, came a thorough rinse with a full tank of fresh water. Basically, opening each tap and letting it flow into the waste tank. When the fresh tank ran out of water, we’d then open the waste to get rid of the Milton filled water in the waste tank.

Now, this is all very well and good if we are at home, without having to use the van. Also, although the tanks would be super fresh, this wouldn’t last for very long. So within a couple of weeks of travels, especially in hot weather, those stomach-churning smells would soon return with a vengeance.

Disinfecting, bleach and elbow grease

Once we realised the problem would never go away, we began to take a bottle of Milton away with us. Ready and waiting for those smelly moments and a chance to give the waste a good rinse through.

Firstly, sometimes it’s difficult to buy the equivalent to Milton abroad, hence us taking our own. Secondly, if you use Aires, it’s not always easy to spend time at the dump trying to clean out the system.

You can imagine the usual queue for water and the problem of not being able to leave it to soak, due to using the van all the time.

So, in recent years we tried a few other methods! This ranged from pouring disinfectant down the sinks and shower after emptying the waste tank, then letting fresh water flow from the taps at the same time as filling and emptying. Basically, in an attempt to flush things out!

Then we’ve tried bleach, but again to no avail. Before even having poor Nigel on his hands and knees or should that be his back? Beneath the van with a hose pipe straight into the waste tank! Not a very pleasant experience if you can picture the dump drain on an Aire or similar.

Then we’ve tried bleach, but again to no avail. Before even having poor Nigel on his hands and knees or should that be his back? Beneath the van with a hose pipe straight into the waste tank! Not a very pleasant experience if you can picture the dump drain on an Aire or similar.

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Waste tanks below the bench seat in the Sprinter

The smells kept coming back – Smelly Motorhome Waste Tank

Well, you can’t say we didn’t try. After a few days the horrid smelly motorhome waste tank would be back, no matter what we tried to do to stop it. So, we thought we’d just resign ourselves to having to do some sort of cleansing process to help eliminate the aroma.

This continued for year’s, in each motorhome we had. Size didn’t matter or location didn’t matter. From the big A-Class Carthago, where the waste tank was fitted into the double floor to our La Strada campervan which has an external waste tank. Design or location held no barrier to the smells that kept coming back to haunt us.

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The Sprinter shower area

Hiring a campervan with no smelly tank

Over the past few years, we’d hired campervan’s for several months between trips to Australia and New Zealand. Strangely enough, neither had a smelly waste tank but was that just chance or was there something different going on?

It wasn’t until we came to buy our own van in New Zealand that the light bulb moment hit. Fortunately for us, we’d got friendly with the most incredibly talented guy, who happened to build the campervans for the company that we’d hired from.

He’d kindly offered to help us with our own van conversion that we were about to do. Not only loaning us use of his tools, but also his yard as well as providing various kit for the build. One thing he instructed us to do on the waste tank was to make sure it had a vent.

The very simple smelly solution

My goodness, after all the year’s of the smelly motorhome waste tank, was this really the answer to the problem? Over in New Zealand we were able to buy our waste tank complete with a vent hole. Both our fresh and waste tanks Nigel fitted inside the van.

All Nigel had to do was to connect a vent hose. This he fitted to the pre-drilled hole in the tank, which then went up about half a meter to prevent leakage. It then dropped back down before coming out through a hole in the van floor, which Nigel had drilled.

The actual vent hose isn’t seen from outside as it is underneath the van itself. All we had to do was hope this would be the answer to our prayers!

Sure enough after several months of travels in the finished self-build campervan, I can happily report no smells! This is despite extremes of heat and continuous use.

smelly motorhome waste tanks
Fitting water tanks, notice the vent hose at the back

Fitting a vent hose on our Sprinter tank

Thank goodness, we’d finally after all these years found a solution to the smelly motorhome waste tank problem.

Now all we had to do was sort out a vent hose on our Sprinter campervan.

So, without further ado, Nigel got out his tools and slipped under the Sprinter to drill a small hole in our waste tank.

He then fitted a piece vent hose into the hole. About half a meter in length this vent hose now dispels any smells out underneath the van.

At last, we are hopefully smell-free and the only aroma sweeping through the van will be the smell of wild flowers on a hot Summer’s day!

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