How To Keep Your RV Odor-Free

TheRVgeeks Great RV Products, Plumbing 38 Comments

We’re pretty meticulous about maintaining our black and gray tanks and never really noticed much of an odor problem. The only time it was an issue was while traveling down the highway with a mostly full gray tank with the driver’s window open. That seems to create a vortex that pulls gray tank odors into the RV.

If you don’t think that gray water can smell almost as bad as black water, you probably haven’t done much serious boondocking. Using such a small amount of water results in a high concentration of soap, food particles and body oils, creating a pretty bad odor. Let’s face it… the contents of both RV waste holding tanks can stink. The trick is keeping that smell out of the RV’s interior.


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After a recent trip with mostly full gray and black tanks, we decided to try out a solution we’d read about many times in Chuck Woodbury’s RVtravel newsletters. The results are in, and we can’t believe the difference. We didn’t think we had much of a problem, but now we’re wondering if we’ve been like those cat owners who don’t seem to know that their house smells like a litter box. Hope not!

So we’re excited to announce our newest RVgeeks Contest! On Monday, May 26, 2014 at 7pm Pacific Time, five lucky RVgeeks viewers will each win two 360 Siphon Roof Vents with a total retail value of about $300!

Click to order 360 Siphon vents on Amazon:

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We're handy RVers, not professional technicians. We're happy with the techniques and products we use, but be sure to confirm that all methods and materials you use are compatible with your equipment and abilities. Regardless of what we recommend, consult a professional if you're unsure about working on your RV. Any task you perform or product you purchase based on any information we provide is strictly at your own risk.

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Comments 38

  1. Thanks for this recommendation! We were having some pretty bad tank smells in our class A, so we had this installed and it already made a difference! We had an issue today where the house batteries had gotten low while our rig was in the shop. We were trying to treat our black tank and the electric toilet valve wouldn’t close properly….for an HOUR! It was completely open while we finally got our house batteries charged enough for the pump and flush to work. ZERO smell inside the rig that whole time. This vent should be standard equipment on ALL RVs. It is such an inexpensive upgrade…I’ll recommend this for every RV that has a black tank!

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      “Toilet valve stuck open for an hour, and NO odor.” What a great story, Brian! Thanks so much for sharing with us. We love our 360s and can’t imagine having an RV without them. Hope you got everything up and running on your rig. Safe travels.

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  4. Pingback: How To Keep Your RV Odor-Free – RV LIfe Videos

  5. I just installed two of these, inspired by your video, and I must admit, also by following the directions on the packages. One minor discovery – using one of those little hack saws like you use in your video, I just laid it on the roof of our MADP and started sawing… it automatically cut the hose down to just under 1/2″. Perfect.

    After cleaning and sawing, it was obvious that there was a gap between the hose sticking out of the roof and the roof material itself, so as a precaution, I ran a bead of lap sealant around the base of the hose where it met the roof before installing the water collar and final cap. Never can be too careful, right? We’ll be starting our long term trip near the end of january and can’t wait to not smell odors even with the bathroom vent open while flushing! :-)

    As always, like all the others, a great video! Gene

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  6. Just installed on my Allegro Bay and what a difference. This is my first RV and I have watched all of your videos- thank you so much. While waiting on delivery, I watched your videos and as a result I’m much more confident and comfortable owning the new rig. I also have M4 LEDs a shot on your recommendation and I must say they are superior quality to what is sold in stores and in many cases, less expensive. Thank you so much for your tips and videos, I appreciate it so very much.

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    1. Hi Mary,

      We’d suggest dropping a note to Greg Cravens at 360 vents. He mentioned this to us and said there is an easy solution, but we don’t know what it is. His email address is gregory.cravens@sbcglobal.net. Be sure to let him know RVgeeks sent you.

      Let us know how you make out!
      Peter & John

      1. Hi everyone. Thank you all for your interest in the 360 Siphon®. The response to the video by Peter and John has been amazing.

        Our goal at 360 is to help everyone who enjoys the RV lifestyle to experience a healthier living environment inside of their coach.

        A few manufacturers, such as Mary’s , use a 1 1/4″ pipe on their holding tanks. In addition to Scott’s helpful suggestion there is another way to adapt the collar to the pipe. A PVC bushing that can be found at any plumbing supply store or Ace Hardware will do the job as well.

        Please contact me at gregory.cravens@sbcglobal.net or Bob at rv3604u@aol.com
        for more information if needed

    2. You will need to cut off the straight part of the flange (the lower part) that would normally slide into your vent pipe and discard that. You will glue the base of the flange to your vent pipe so that the flanged part fits nicely in the 360 just as if you had it slide into the vent. Because you are cutting that off you may want to leave factory vent pipe slightly longer when you cut it off. To glue the flange to your factory vent pipe use ABS to PVC glue. It is also good to use some cleaner first so you get a good bond. I used Weld*On C-65 Cleaner and Weld*On 790 Multi Purpose glue. You can buy it at Home Depot and you won’t need much of the stuff. If you know a plumber who has some or if by some slight chance you live in the Sacramento area I can give you some so you don’t have to buy any.

  7. My wife has MS, so being full timers isn’t easy. This winter the apartment we were living in was demolished so we had to move out. Rather than rent we moved into our 36 foot Class A and got a crass coarse in full time RV living. One of the problems we have been having is exactly what you posted here. When we drive down the road, it smells HORRIBLE! and now we know why. There is also a smell when we run our vents when parked which we don’t expect this solution to solve; but its a step in the right direction. :-)

  8. I just bought my first RV. A 37ft 2002 Newmar Mountain Aire. I know nothing about RV’ing, but, with all of the information I am learning from your video’s and website, I am sure I will be saved a lot of heartache, not to mention money with all of your fantastic information and advice. Thank you very very much from all of the newbie’s out there for helping us especially with information like the voltage problems with camp sites. You probably saved me the cost of new appliances with that one…. Keep the info coming please!!

    1. You’ve just made our entire weekend Dennis! Thank you so much for taking the time to send us such a nice comment. And a hearty congratulations on your new RV. As you can probably tell, we love our Newmar. We wish you the best of luck with yours and safe travels. :)

  9. My wife and I got our 4th new camper last fall ,and getting ready to use it . But I am having trouble learning how to use the LCI 6 point leveling . The camper is parked close to level ,But it wants to rise the wheels on one side way off the ground , I am mine told to zero it out ,But how . Can you help . Thanks Roy

    1. Congratulations on your new camper, Roy! I’m sorry we’re unable to help with this one, as we have a different brand of levelers and aren’t familiar with yours. We have a suggestion as to where you can find the answer though: the iRV2 discussion forums. They’re free to join and you can post your question where thousands of experienced RVers (and some RV techs) will see it and reply. There are surely many others familiar with your system who can provide the answer. Here’s the link to this awesome resource: http://www.irv2.com/forums/

  10. So crazy because I just had someone ask me ‘how do you handle the vortex smell’ question and had no idea what they guy was talking about. Now I get it! We have never had this issue…possibly because we have a composting toilet or because our body oils smell like roses (ya right). But I know what to do now! I now feel the need to start up the coach, roll down the highway and open the window to see what happens! I’ll keep you posted. Thanks for the great video and the education!

    1. I bet your composting toilet does a much better job of keeping its contents to itself, since there’s no humongous vat of poo lurking under it. And if anyone in this world smells like roses, it’s definitely you, Nikki! I meant to tell you that after you were hot tubbing with us in BC, the spa smelled like potpourri for weeks. Or was that Jason? ;-)

  11. Does our house/RV really smell like a litter box? Maybe our litterbox needs some 360s as well :) Looks like a great product.

  12. Hi guys,

    Thanks for all of your wonderful and informative vids! One question, can you turn on the roof vent in the toilet room while flushing and still not get the ‘updraft’?

    1. Haven’t tried that one Brad, but I think we’ll stick to turning off the fan while flushing. We love our 360s AND our Fantastic Fans, so it might be rude to pit them against each other. lol

  13. Hi Guys,

    Bob’s brother here. Thank you so much for the video. I’m sure you’re glad you did it as well! I just arrived in Goshen Indiana to make some factory visits. I’m in charge of taking our product to the manufacturers.

    As Bob mentioned, they either don’t want to admit the problem or think it costs too much to give to their customers. Maybe someday they’ll get it.

    We are making a push to raise awareness of the health and safety aspects of ridding the living spaces of the harmful residual gases that are a result of the waste breakdown. It’s nice to have an unbiased opinion such as yours to get our point across.

    My wife has already posted the video and link to our Facebook page and we will promote you at every opportunity.

    Take care and safe travels!

    Greg

  14. i really would add some where that it is hard to go back to stock cap after cutting the pipe down

    all ways have to add that line to cover your but now days?

    for me my roof is 12.6 with no AC units so trees would love to pull this off

    so i had to move to the still covers

    keep up the good videos

    1. We appreciate the thought Terry, but we’ll risk not covering our butts. lol Stay outta those trees with that tall rig… ours is 12’4″ WITH a/c units! What the heck are you driving!?

  15. We installed one on our Class A and it made a huge difference, in fact we have not had any smell going down the road to speak of since the install. We did have an issue with the install that might help folks here if they have a similar problem. Our vent pipe was smaller then what is normal, ours is a 1 1/4″ vent pipe and insert for the 360 Siphon is made for a much more standard 1 1/2″ pipe. I spoke with Drainmaster their solution was to cut off the insert to the length of the flange and then use PVC to ABS glue and glue the flange to the existing vent pipe then proceed with the install.

    1. Absolutely! As far as we know, Forest River is the only manufacturer to include them. The others are being penny pinchers at the expense of our olfactory nerves!

    2. Hi Thomas! We just got an update about manufacturers that are currently using 360 Siphon roof vents for at least some of their products:

      Forest River, Dynamax, Airstream, Showhauler, Newell, Born Free and Haulmark. Didn’t want to leave them out, since they deserve credit for taking the initiative to make our lives a bit sweeter. ;-)

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