Q- Bill, When we are driving our 2002 Winnebago motorhome we get a sewer smell that fills the inside of the coach. Fortunately, it only occurs during hot weather, but after several hundred miles it does get kind of old. I have asked several of your friends if they are experiencing the same problem, which they are not. Do you have any suggestions?
A- Hello, Shane. Over the years I’ve run into this problem periodically. Tracking down a smell that occurs only when you’re driving is rather difficult and there isn’t enough peppermint oil or chewing gum in the world to mask such odor. I don’t know which model motorhome you have but start by looking under your galley and bathroom sinks and see if you have a vent check valve mounted at the top of the gray tank vent pipe protruding up thru the floor. This vent is designed to allow you to drain the tanks without allowing fumes into your RV. When manufacturers are unable to run the vent pipe through the roof, they will use this check valve to be able to vent the tank properly. While driving, a slight vacuum pressure can a raise the seal of the check valve filling the inside of the coach with the odor. The seal can also warp over time allowing odor to seep into your rig. The check valve is just threaded into place so it’s easy to change. Something else you may want to check are the P-trap’s for the galley and bathroom sinks- if they are empty the odor can come up through the P-trap’s. Simply put a little bit of gray tank deodorant and run a little bit of water through each p- trap before you drive. One way to test this would be to empty both your holding tanks & leave the valves open to air dry before driving it. After the holding tanks completely dry, you shouldn’t get any odor from them.
Q- Hey Bill, it was very nice meeting you at the Rancho Oso preserve. I have a question about my 2003 Discovery motorhome I purchased about a year ago. The top of the passenger side slide out room has swelled up in several places causing some low spots along where the seal makes contact. It’s almost like there’s particleboard underneath the rubber roof material, however I’m not certain what the material is. Every time I bring the slide out room in after a rain I get soaked from the standing water. Sometimes I even experience a rain leak into one of the cupboards at the top of the slide out. I have slide out awnings over both of my slide out room but unfortunately they don’t seem to keep the rain out. Any suggestions?
A– Sorry you are to having so much trouble with a rain leak. I know how irritating that this can be. I am assuming that the slide out awning fabric is in good shape; they tend to sag badly after several years. If the slide toppers fabric is sagging have somebody wind the spring 4 or 5 more turns to keep the fabric a little bit tighter thus preventing the rain from running through the sagging fabric. Have the slide out seals checked with a bright flashlight to make sure that they’re coming into contact with the top of the slide out room. Repairing the bulging slide out roof is going to be very difficult. I would suggest making some sort of a small dam along the top of the slide out room just outside of the seal to prevent the water from running inside. As far as the cupboard leak, the pooling water maybe running through a small crack in the sealant somewhere, if so, this needs to be addressed before wood rot sets in. You may need to remove the slide topper and the seals to really get a good look at the moldings and sealant.
Q- Bill, I have owned my 1994 Pace Arrow motorhome since it was new. The last couple of years some large and small bubbles have appeared on both sides of the motorhome in the fiberglass sheeting. Our local repair shop said it was not repairable. The inside of our motorhome is still like new and do not want to get rid of it and buy a new one. Do you have any suggestions that would be a simple repair?
A- What you have described was a very common problem for the early 1990 Fleetwood motorhomes. First of all, you’ll need to stop the rain leak that’s getting in under the filon, which the siding is made of, creating the problem. 99% of the time the bubbles are occurring around or near a piece of molding, baggage door or a window. If possible, remove these to gain access to the bubbled out material. Inject a marine epoxy into the area that is bubbled out; be careful not to use too much epoxy, as it will be difficult to make it lay flat. Next use a piece of plywood or plastic to hold the siding flat and secure it by wedging a 2 x 4 between a building or solid object until the epoxy dries. If you’re unable to gain access to the bubble, you could drill a small hole in the upper part of the bubble to inject the epoxy. I’ve done this many times over the years and it works quite well as a permanent fix.
Q- Bill, On our last camping trip a friend of mine was using what he called a macerator to dump his holding tanks- I had never heard or seen such a thing. It was quite impressive how fast it emptied the black tank through a small hose. He explained to me how nice it was to be able to use it at home rather than going to a dump station & how he could run the waste through a 1-inch hose for 150 feet to a sewer clean out on the side of his house. I need this! I would love to be able to do the same thing at my house rather than having to find a dump station every time we go for a weekend outing. What make a type of macerator do you suggest for my 2006 motorhome?
Zach, Yuma Arizona
A- Zach, Macerator pumps have been around for many years for RV use as well as marine use. They really are amazing! There are several brands that will work for your needs but make sure it has a 3-inch input and a 1 1/2 inch output. Go to a hardware store and get a short piece of 1 ½ inch clear tubing with a male hose end adapter and make a pigtail for the macerator pump. You can use any 1-inch garden hose up to 150 feet for the discharge hose. Macerator pumps can be mounted permanently or temporarily. Make sure that you add a switch with wiring according to the manufacturer specifications as they do draw quite a bit of amperage. As far as the make, check out Thetford’s new macerator pump that should be available to the public in late April 2017. I have personally tested the unique design and it is very impressive. The macerator can by hooked up permanently as it has its own flow through design. In other words, the gray water will flow through the macerator without having to run the pump.