Wednesday, April 1, 2015

RV toxic cloud

Dear Dr. R.V. Shrink:
We just started RVing this winter. We are in our fourth month. RV life is now shifting from the imagined to the realistic state. It is not as placid as I had imagined, but still very enjoyable.

We are still learning about where we like to explore, the need for reservations in some areas, what types of parks we like, and the days we like to move or sit. Everything is falling into place and we are beginning to feel like we are now part of the lifestyle and not still in boot camp.

I have to say, one of my first real shocks was a situation you brushed on a couple weeks ago. We were sitting out under our awning having breakfast. It was a beautiful warm morning. The birds were singing, sun was rising, and you could almost hear the flowers growing. Just through the palmetto hedge we could see the neighbor packing up for departure. All of a sudden our tranquil morning turned into a nightmare of stink. Even knowing we were sitting there, the guy dumped his sewer without so much as a by-your-leave.

I almost gagged before I got inside our rig. I know dealing with waste holding tanks is a necessity, but isn't there some code of conduct that should go along with the procedure?
--Smelly Nelly in Naples

Dear Nelly:
I would agree that if the person saw you sitting out and did not give you some warning, that was rude. I believe you will find this is a rare case the more you travel. There is no question you will end up dealing with individuals with all kinds of idiosyncrasies. The RV lifestyle is no different than life in general. You will run into those people that just don't think their blackwater stinks.

They say, "Timing is everything." I think you will find that most people will be a bit more stealth when they dump their tanks in close quarters.

Let's give this person the benefit of the doubt and assume he is newer at this than you are. Perhaps he didn't realize he was going to release a toxic cloud of stink into your site.

Continue to enjoy your travels. I can guarantee you will find nine friendly and courteous camping site neighbors for every annoying one you encounter.
--Keep Smilin', Dr. R.V. Shrink


Merikay MacKenna said...

This post is a heads up for us. We dump before we leave. It is always one of the last things we do. We leave on our own time, not based on when the neighbors are sitting outside. We try to be careful with our dumps, but occasionally there has been a back flow from a badly draining dump connection that is not our fault and does make a stink. My husband usually does the dumping, and I am usually out there with my foot on the connection to prevent backwashes, but it has happened.

md_procouple said...

Just remember... It's all part of camping things have to get done, but try to be polite.

Micheal said...

We have discovered that many of the parks with tight quarters have a design problem. The layout of the sites place the site sewer connection at the rear right of the site. While this is great for ease of connection it places the dump station right next to the patio of the sight next to it. When we have these we wait to dump at the parks central station so as not to create a stink with our neighbors.
At the price you pay for full service sites I would suggest larger or staggered site layouts to minimize the issue. Until that time, hold your water, save a few dollars on a water/electric site and dump at the central station.

Anonymous said...

We too dump the last thing before we leave-
I don't feel it is rude - it is a necessary thing to do before going on the road.
In many parks I have stayed in you can get a smell anytime during the day when someone decides its time to empty and we all have our schedules but I have
never smelled anything so bad that
one would have a complaint against the person that is dumping. Most all sewer connections now have a gasket and are pretty safe. Maybe some people just aren't cut out to be in public campgrounds as you have to realize that there are all sorts of people in life and all aren't like ourself.

Anonymous said...

Much of the problem is when you flush your black water tank with a self rinser. For every cubic centimeter of water you add to your black tank to flush it, that's a cc of stink air that's going up and out of your roof tank vent. If you can minimize adding water to flush your tank you'll minimize the amount of foul air expelled.

Anonymous said...

Most all of us dump when leaving a site, and I never have smelled anything too terribly bad, it is not the most pleasant thing, but if you keep your tank managed, and dump frequently we don't have smell issues.

George said...

The first thing that came to my mind was how to go about getting a site with a palmetto hedge. Few places we visit have any barrier between sites at all. :-)

The second thought was "Why didn't you say something"? As noted in the response, maybe the guy didn't know any better. A simple "Are you getting ready to dump? Could you wait until we go in or at least give us time to vacate the area first?", done in a friendly way, might have avoided the situation. It's also possible that he didn't have the right equipment (e.g., screw-in connector) or the site's receptacle was damaged; either could have been addressed before the mushroom cloud was released.

Last, I wonder how the questioner plans to handle their own dumping activities, assuming there is someone on the other side of them. I usually try to wait for no one to be around, or at least give a heads-up. When we are getting ready to hit the road after a stay, I often dump the night before so we have less to do day of departure. If it's an extended stay, unhooking to use a separate dump station can be a big hassle.

Bottom line, I agree with the response. It happens but not often and we learn that it takes all kinds to be an RVer...

Anonymous said...

We have been RVing for years - I never get offended by the smell. That is just a part of RVing. On the flip side, things that can make it worse: people failing to use a sealed connection (most states require it but parks do not force it); poor sewer system. We are long term now due to my husband's illness. When we dump, I have to keep the gray water closed for a day after or else the gasses will come back up. We were in one park that had vent pipes on their system. When anyone would dump, everyone in their area would smell it no matter how careful they were.

This lady is relatively new to RVing. In time she will learn some things are just a part of the lifestyle.

Anonymous said...

We have been fulltime RVing for over 9 years. Our dumping almost never gives off any odor. We keep all our connections air tight. We always do serious rinsing of our tank with fresh water to clean out leftover waste. Sometimes the odor comes from bad seals on neighboring sewer dump connections that are not properly sealed. Sometimes odors come from vents the park installs to vent the entire system. Most of the pipes underground are all connected so odors can come from anywhere in the system that is not properly sealed. Most parks require "donuts" or threaded connections to seal the dump. I suspect the odors the poster experienced came from improper dumping by someone who did not know how to properly dump.

Anonymous said...

Their thinking is kinda silly because at some point and time they have to dump too and their s**t stinks too !

Ellen said...

We've been full-time RVing for 7 years and this is the first time I've heard anyone complain about any odor from regular dumping -- I'm with the commenter who said it's probably the result of poor connections or seals. When it's done correctly, it's hard to imagine why much odor would be released...

I wonder how this poster will feel when she runs into some truly inconsiderate neighbors (loud music, dog poop on her site, people traipsing through her site next to her windows, looking in... etc.). The only time I remember a problem with a neighbor's sewer was when they unhooked their hose from their rig and left the hose open and on the ground, still connected to the sewer.... Ew! Not only smelly but unsanitary.

Anonymous said...

EVERYONE dumps the tanks prior to departure!

Did you expect them to haul full sewage tanks to their next stop??

Some folks are too fragile for RVing.