Bad Smell While Flushing Head

Nov 7, 2010
3
Hunter 340 Ocean Gate, NJ
Just looking for a little guidance to resolve a smelly issue on my '97 Hunter 340. Recently when we flush the head we get an odor in the aft cabin and a strong odor in the cockpit area of the boat. It lingers for a few moments and then dissipates. I keep the sea-cock closed and we flush with freshwater. Could this be a vent issue or am I looking at a hose problem. I am a novice when it comes to the workings of the Marine Head so any help would be appreciated.
 
Jul 12, 2011
984
Catalina 36 1771 Ft Pierce, Florida
Suggest you go on-line, or to your nearest West Marine, and buy a bottle of Raritan KO and CP (for cleaning), and treat tank according to directions. That should take care of the immediate problem.

Invest in Peggy's book and learn about how to minimize odors - Trust me, it is the best $23 you'll spend on happy boating: http://shop.sailboatowners.com/prod.php?53615
 
Dec 2, 1997
8,122
- - LIttle Rock
Recently when we flush the head we get an odor in the aft cabin and a strong odor in the cockpit area of the boat. It lingers for a few moments and then dissipates.
The odor in the cockpit is most likely odor from inside the tank forced out the vent. What are you using in the tank?
There are 3 likely sources of the odor in the aft cabin: 1. The odor out the tank vent is finding its way into the aft cabin via an open hatch or port. That is the ONLY way, unless a tank is leaking, that a tank can be the source of odor INSIDE a boat.
2. permeated hoses. As a flush goes through a permeated hose it puts pressure on the hose wall, pushing odor out of the hose. 3. a leaky fitting on your holding tank, which--if the hose from your toilet to the tank goes through the aft cabin--has to be in the same area. However, a leaky tank fitting is the LEAST likely source because that area would be stinky all the time, not just when you flush.
You admit you're a novice when it comes to marine sanitation systems, so I'm gonna recommend my book to you too (see link Parsons included in his reply or the link in my signature below). The title (my publisher's idea) is a bit misleading...'cuz although it does deal with every source of odor on a boat and how to cure, or better yet PREVENT 'em, it's actually a comprehensive "marine toilets and sanitation systems 101" manual that explains the laws, describes all the types of systems and how they work, and will help you learn how to operate and maintain your system to prevent 99% of problems instead of having to cure 'em. 'Cuz you get to do any preventive maintenance on your terms when it's convenient...the need to cure a problem never happens when it is! And I'm always glad to answer any questions it doesn't.

--Peggie
"If you can't explain it to a six year old, you don't completely understand it yourself." --Albert Einstein
 
Jul 29, 2004
396
Hunter 340 Lake Lanier, GA
The head vent on the H340 is on the starboard side hull as shown in the attached picture, and is likely the source of the temporary odor when flushing. The holding tank is under the battery compartment. Listen to Peggy to minimize!
20180919_163716.jpg
 
Nov 24, 2015
63
Hunter 27 Middle River
Hate to pointlessly pile on, but BUY PEGGIE's BOOK!!! (best money I ever spent on the boat, except maybe toilet paper-...or is that head paper?)
 
Jul 7, 2004
8,004
Hunter 30T Cheney, KS
+1 get the book. I have to refer back to my copy. I wish I had left it on the boat. I came out this weekend to a giant smell. And we only pee in it. At least that is what the admiral claims. The bowl was full again. :eek: Anyway, I thought a new joker valve would take care of it after the first time happened.
 
Jun 4, 2004
812
Hunter 340 Forked River, NJ
I had a similar problem on my 2000 H340. I traced the odor that appeared inside the cabin and aft berth to a crack and broken piece on the top of the tank level sending unit on top of the holding tank. The original OEM unit had a small diameter capped tube, apparently to be used to clean the float mechanism inside the unit. Well, that broke off and the holding tank smell seeped into the boat whenever I pressurized the tank by flushing the head. A bit of caulk cleared that up. The smell in the cockpit could be from the same source but more than likely is coming out of the main tank vent. Follow Peggy's advice and also flush your tank more often. I use Pine-sol to rinse the tank once or twice a season.
 
Dec 2, 1997
8,122
- - LIttle Rock
I came out this weekend to a giant smell. And we only pee in it. At least that is what the admiral claims. The bowl was full again. :eek: Anyway, I thought a new joker valve would take care of it after the first time happened.
Two questions, Justin:
1. is the water in the bowl clean or dirty? If clean, is the required intake vented loop installed? If dirty, does the toilet discharge hose run uphill to the tank?

And a suggestion: you already have the print edition of my book...that's the only version available from sbo.com and I hope that's where you bought it 'cuz buying things here helps to support this site. If you have a iPad or Android tablet, get the Kindle edition from Amazon too...you'll need to download and install the kindle app on your tablet if you don't already have it..it's free. You'll always have it handy. Kindle editions of Nigel Calder's books are also available. I know a lot people who have both editions of the boat books they need, the print edition stays at home, the tablet--which often has navigation charts etc on it---goes with 'em to the boat.
--Peggie
 
Jul 7, 2004
8,004
Hunter 30T Cheney, KS
Hi Peggy. I'll get the e-version.
The water in the bowl was dirty. The discharge runs uphill to the tank. It seems to be gravity backfilling the bowl. At least it didn't run over!
 
Dec 2, 1997
8,122
- - LIttle Rock
In that case, you're not flushing long enough in the dry mode to move the bowl contents all the way to the tank...gravity IS sending it back to the toilet. Even a brand new joker valve can only block it until enough flushes go through it spread the "lips" even a milimeter, at which point it can only slow it down, but less and less as more flushes go through it.
If the run from the toilet to the tank is longer than about 6', it may be necessary to modify the toilet discharge plumbing a bit...install a loop--not necessarily a vented loop, just a loop--immediately after the toilet that's slightly higher than the top of the tank. Any toilet that's working anywhere near factory specs can lift bowl contents at least 4' in the dry mode...gravity will get it the rest of the way to the tank.
--Peggie
 
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Jul 7, 2004
8,004
Hunter 30T Cheney, KS
Excellent. Thanks Peggie. We'll be sure to pump longer, and I'll see if I can trace out my hoses and see how I can add the loop.
 
Nov 7, 2010
3
Hunter 340 Ocean Gate, NJ
Thanks Peggy, I will get your book. I will check all clamps as some have suggested and go from there.
 

SeanP

.
Jun 6, 2017
87
Hunter 31 Portland
We are experiencing a similar issue. Only when we manually flush the head is there a strong odor that fills the head and cabin. We tried the vinegar + Raritan CP/KO without any change in the issue. I had the entire pump replaced. Same issue. There is a vented loop. Any feedback would be terrific and appreciated!

Best,

Sean
 
Dec 2, 1997
8,122
- - LIttle Rock
Nothing you flush down the toilet will cure this problem. Sea water, especially coastal sea water and some lake and river water too, is alive with animal and vegetable micro (and not-so-micro) organisms, When that water is left to sit and stagnate in the toilet intake line and pump, or worse yet, a not-so-micro-critter becomes trapped in the intake line, pump and/or the channel in the rim of the bowl, they die, decay and stink—and they stink a lot worse in hot weather than in cool weather (everything does). If you aren't sure whether that's at one of the sources of your odor problem, there are a couple of indicators:

The odor is concentrated in the head and not pervasive throughout the cabin--or at least is much worse in the head than in the rest of the boat.

The odor is much worse after the boat has been sitting for a few days than while you’re aboard and flushing the toilet regularly—in fact, it either goes away or is greatly reduced after you've flushed the toilet a few times when you first come aboard again.

You may see dark flecks from the channel in the rim of the bowl if the source is the remains of trapped animal or vegetable sea life.

To find out if this is your problem, close the intake seacock and flush the toilet as dry as possible. Disconnect the hose from the through-hull and stick that end of it in a bucket of water to which you’ve added a quart of distilled white vinegar. Pump/flush the whole bucketful through the system. Do not reconnect the hose to the through-hull yet, flush only with clean fresh water while you’re aboard this time....use cups of water from the sink.

If the odor is gone when you come back to the boat next weekend, bingo! you’ve found the source of your odor problem. If you still have odor, and it’s still confined to the head compartment, clean your shower sump.

--Peggie
 
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