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Hello, we got our first boat recently. It is second or third hand. We have used it for a few weekends. The toilet has a drop through into a holding tank. This was very smelly from the outset, so we had it pumped out and rinsed. We put in new Odourlos stuff. But it is still smelly, though not as bad. It's not even a poopy smell (mainly  cos there's no poop in there, only pee.) more like mouldy cabbage. Can anyone tell us how to clean the tank? Please don't say change to a different system!

Oh and by the way, hello! We are on the Rufford Branch just now, moving onto the Lancaster in August.

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It probably needs larger breathers on the tank and if water will not sit in the bowl a new seal. I  expect the tan only has one breather. If you can fit another with a computer fan in it that will help purge the foul air from the tank.

 

Some members have had success in using oxy-bleach/washing powder in their tank or a variety of other things.

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Thank you Tony, I cannot find a breather on the tank. I had assumed such a thing would have an opening on the hull but there is nothing there.  Can this be fitted? the boat was built in 1998 as a hire boat. The toilet bowl seal is fine - it's when it opens to release into the tank that the pong emerges.

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41 minutes ago, TodDog said:

Hello, we got our first boat recently. It is second or third hand. We have used it for a few weekends. The toilet has a drop through into a holding tank. This was very smelly from the outset, so we had it pumped out and rinsed. We put in new Odourlos stuff. But it is still smelly, though not as bad. It's not even a poopy smell (mainly  cos there's no poop in there, only pee.) more like mouldy cabbage. Can anyone tell us how to clean the tank? Please don't say change to a different system!

Oh and by the way, hello! We are on the Rufford Branch just now, moving onto the Lancaster in August.

 

These type of toilets are very common on hire boats (we are hire boaters). Its also very common to get a wiff when the tank is opened unfortunately.

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I found that the way to solve the problem was dual vents, one at each end of the tank. These provide an air flow through the tank,  which encourages aerobic bacteria. They break down the contents. Anaerobic bacteria cause the smells. I just use bio washing liquid pods, two after a pump out.

Richard 

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If there is inadequate or non-existent tank ventilation, every time you flush the air displaced has to come up through the bowl.

 

It will always stink if you don't ventilate the tank.  If you use gallons of blue it will stink of blue.

 

Best to chuck the loo and fit a new one that is not a dump through, either a proper sea toilet or a modern macerator one on the tank after you have sealed the big hole up. 

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Had you asked for advice before buying the boat (and taken the advice) you would now not be in the position you are in.

 

But, you are where you are .........................

 

Whatever you do is going to require extensive 'surgery and costs', if you keep the tank you already have you are going to need to cut vents into the tank and out thru the hull and install electic fans and make sure your electrical system can support the extra electical demands,

Or

Take it out completely and install a more suitable system such as a cassette system.

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31 minutes ago, Alan de Enfield said:

 and install electic fans and make sure your electrical system can support the extra electical demands,

 

Where are you talking about installing electric fans?

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Just now, PD1964 said:

Where are you talking about installing electric fans?

 

In the vents so the air is sucked / blown across the top of the contents.

 

Having no flow of air means the anaerobic (the ones that produce the smells) thrive. You need to generate an environment where the aerobic (non smelling bacteria) can thrive and break down the tank contents.

 

We used to have to throw a dead Pheasant (other road kill worked as well) into our cesspit to help keep the aerobic bacteria going as modern chemicals (washing powder, washing up liquid, bleach etc) do not help them thrive.

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Not many Narrowboats if any have a fan installed for blowing air into a Pump-out tank and out of the vent.

  If it’s the normal small drop tank type as found in the old hire boats, with the foot pedal type toilet, I’m sure it won’t be difficult to add an extra larger vent pipe through the top and out to the side. There were lots of this type of system used, so I’m sure someone has done it before, without adding fans.

  

Edited by PD1964
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5 minutes ago, PD1964 said:

Not many Narrowboats if any have a fan installed for blowing air into a Pump-out tank and out of the vent.

If you do install a fan it would be better to arrange it to suck (rather than blow) air from the tank to the outside world, so that the tank is under slight negative pressure, and foul air won't be blown up through the toilet when the valve is opened.

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4 minutes ago, David Mack said:

If you do install a fan it would be better to arrange it to suck (rather than blow) air from the tank to the outside world, so that the tank is under slight negative pressure, and foul air won't be blown up through the toilet when the valve is opened.

Yes, but as I said I have never see this used for a pump out tank, she just needs to add more ventilation. So no need to confuse her. I have seen fans used with composting toilets though, but totally different.

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But why stick with 40 or 50 year old habits and put up with the smells and other problems, things move on, we don't know have horses towing or parafin lights in NBs why do we have to have 20C toilets when the technology is available to make the smell-free ?

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30 minutes ago, Alan de Enfield said:

But why stick with 40 or 50 year old habits and put up with the smells and other problems, things move on, we don't know have horses towing or parafin lights in NBs why do we have to have 20C toilets when the technology is available to make the smell-free ?

They asked the best way to get rid of the smell, easiest way would be to enlarge the ventilation, they also say please don’t say change the system. I would say they just want a quick fix, probably with no fans just yet.

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2 hours ago, TodDog said:

Thank you Tony, I cannot find a breather on the tank. I had assumed such a thing would have an opening on the hull but there is nothing there.  Can this be fitted? the boat was built in 1998 as a hire boat. The toilet bowl seal is fine - it's when it opens to release into the tank that the pong emerges.

A friend of mine had an ex hire with a pumpout, there was quite a build up of solid in the bottom of the tank due to years of poor pupouts

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In respect of fans and vents.

 

When we got JennyB it had  a single tank vent of about 1/2" i.d. at one end so It cut a steel plate, fitted a 22mm tank connector, cut a suitable side hole in the tank to accept the tank connector flange, and screwed the plate down using self drilling and tapping screws and plenty of sealer/adhesive. Then 22mm copper to a  hull outlet. I also made a steel box containing a computer fan to fit into that pipe. The fan was controlled by a pneumatic push button timer switch beside the toilet so the fan only ran when you pushed the switch. So perhaps 300mA for 20 minutes per session.

 

This worked well for years although not totally smell free, certainly not from outside the boat when it was close to pump out time when the fan was activated. However after about 18 years we started to suffer smells and investigation showed the apparent 1/2" breather had a male adapter screwed into it with a well under 6mm hole and the hole was blocked so no air could be drawn through the tank. Regrettably that ad apter was seized into the tank with insufficient working room so I could not get it out without a welding torch to heat the boss it screwed into.

 

Now the comment about 20th century technology. Dump through toilets are simple and reliable. They do not demand electricity to work and can if necessary be flushed with a bucket of canal water. This is unlike maccerating and vacuum toilets that won't work without electricity. That just leaves the other 20th century solution of some form of bucket & chuck it  unless you want to get into so called composting toilets that also seem to involve very regular dealing with liquids and long term storage of solids . Not everyone is happy get involved with such disposals.

 

The OP needs to get a couple of large bore breathers fitted and as I have shown it can be a DIY job if you are practical.

 

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 if you can get at the tank I'd have a quick look all around it just to see if there's any pin holes or leaky bits. You probably can't get at it without taking the boat apart but these things do eventually fail. There's biology and chemistry in that tank that would make you shudder and it can be awfully smelly. I guess vents might help but it'll be tricky to fit. I can well understand that changing to something different would be the last thing you want to do but it might just be better to put the rubber gloves on and call it a winter project.

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My boat has a dump-through toilet and a (plastic) holding tank as per the OP.

We've found that Odorlos, which used to be very effective, is now useless. I suspect the formulation was changed a few years back.

We now use bio washing liquid, or nothing.

After a thorough clean (jet-washer down the hole, with old towel to prevent splashback 🤢), we've had no issues with smells.

Don't listen to the cassette brigade, your toilet is simple and easy to deal with.

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12 hours ago, TodDog said:

Hello, we got our first boat recently. It is second or third hand. We have used it for a few weekends. The toilet has a drop through into a holding tank. This was very smelly from the outset, so we had it pumped out and rinsed. We put in new Odourlos stuff. But it is still smelly, though not as bad. It's not even a poopy smell (mainly  cos there's no poop in there, only pee.) more like mouldy cabbage. Can anyone tell us how to clean the tank? Please don't say change to a different system!

Oh and by the way, hello! We are on the Rufford Branch just now, moving onto the Lancaster in August.

Your answer is with you.

You've had one pump out and rinse, which improved the situation, rather than Odourlos use Biological washing powder/tablet, Brewers Yeast is said to be good as well.

Be sure to pump out as part of the winteriseing process, combined with making sure any tank ventilation is not blocked.  The problem should lessen, as you don't know how long the "smelly" contents have been in there.

 

Bod

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1 hour ago, Tony Brooks said:

In respect of fans and vents.

 

When we got JennyB it had  a single tank vent of about 1/2" i.d. at one end so It cut a steel plate, fitted a 22mm tank connector, cut a suitable side hole in the tank to accept the tank connector flange, and screwed the plate down using self drilling and tapping screws and plenty of sealer/adhesive. Then 22mm copper to a  hull outlet. I also made a steel box containing a computer fan to fit into that pipe. The fan was controlled by a pneumatic push button timer switch beside the toilet so the fan only ran when you pushed the switch. So perhaps 300mA for 20 minutes per session.

 

This worked well for years although not totally smell free, certainly not from outside the boat when it was close to pump out time when the fan was activated. However after about 18 years we started to suffer smells and investigation showed the apparent 1/2" breather had a male adapter screwed into it with a well under 6mm hole and the hole was blocked so no air could be drawn through the tank. Regrettably that ad apter was seized into the tank with insufficient working room so I could not get it out without a welding torch to heat the boss it screwed into.

 

Now the comment about 20th century technology. Dump through toilets are simple and reliable. They do not demand electricity to work and can if necessary be flushed with a bucket of canal water. This is unlike maccerating and vacuum toilets that won't work without electricity. That just leaves the other 20th century solution of some form of bucket & chuck it  unless you want to get into so called composting toilets that also seem to involve very regular dealing with liquids and long term storage of solids . Not everyone is happy get involved with such disposals.

 

The OP needs to get a couple of large bore breathers fitted and as I have shown it can be a DIY job if you are practical.

 

Or the best toilet, a proper sea toilet like a Blakes, expensive,  no electricity, no plastic parts, last for ever bronze, no smells, use as little water as you wish.

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43 minutes ago, Tracy D'arth said:

Or the best toilet, a proper sea toilet like a Blakes, expensive,  no electricity, no plastic parts, last for ever bronze, no smells, use as little water as you wish.

 

That I have considerable sympathy with but not if other non-boaters use it frequently. It is not the volume of water drawn from wherever that concerns me but that large volumes of flush water fills the holding tank faster.

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7 minutes ago, Tony Brooks said:

 

That I have considerable sympathy with but not if other non-boaters use it frequently. It is not the volume of water drawn from wherever that concerns me but that large volumes of flush water fills the holding tank faster.

I don't understand, you can use next to no water to flush a Blakes Baby.

You have total control as the water in for flush is on a separate hand pump.

I suppose if you use a dump through with no water at all you could say that a sea toilet uses more water but using a dump through in that manner is asking for problems.

Both can use far less water than an electric macerator or even a Porta Potty or Thetford cassette.

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34 minutes ago, Tracy D'arth said:

You have total control as the water in for flush is on a separate hand pump.

 

Our are not Blakes (but a similar Dutch toilet manufactured by RASKE) 3 pumps (for a pee) is under a litre, or you can just 'leave it' (if its yellow let it mellow).

 

A proper porcelain toilet virtually identical to a domestic toilet, just a side-pump instead of a flush-button.

 

We have one in the forward heads and one in the aft 'master cabin' in the en-suite.

 

 

image.jpeg.eb588e139f1847cffd3476613b5e0d79.jpeg

 

 

The Baby Blake is a wee (see what I did there) bit expensive priced as it is at £3,999 (the Raske is just under £200

 

Baby Blake

 

 

image.jpeg.5047995489c3c4af5defbf15bcb764bc.jpeg

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As mentioned by at least one other above, bio is the way to go. ‘Er in doors prefers either Tescos or Morrisons own brand (cheapy). After a few ‘cycles’ we no longer get obnoxious smells. We get smells but not obnoxious smells. Not mine anyway.🤔

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