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Go Back   SailNet Community > On Board > Gear & Maintenance
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  #1  
Old 10-10-2010
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Head odor

Lately every time we use the head we are getting a foul odor. I first thought it was the raw water sitting in the hoses for some time so I give it a really good flushing but it still seems to give us the odor each time the head is used over the course of a weekend. Any suggestions?
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  #2  
Old 10-10-2010
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How old and what type are the hoses? I find that hoses are a major source of smell. They can still look OK and are structurally sound but can weep odor.
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Old 10-10-2010
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I had the same problem and it turned out the vent hose was clogged. The good bacteria needs oxygen to consume the smelly bacteria.
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Old 10-11-2010
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killarney sailor - I am not sure how old the hoses are but I was wondering the same thing as to the hoses being the source of the problem. I know they are at least ten years old.

njadventure - thanks for the advice. I will check the vent hose for a problem.
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Old 10-11-2010
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Yep - old hoses and whats been left in em for 10 yrs.
New ones are odour resistant.
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Old 10-11-2010
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Head case!

Yup - it has taken us two summers so far, but I think we are close.

When we bought her, she had been sitting on the hard since April in the Chessapeak area. We bought her in late July. The head stunk! The PO had left the holding tank half full of poop! I have no idea what they were thinking - but my wife and I sure had some stinky thoughts about them.

So - first job - pump it out.
Next - I changed all of the big 1.5 inch hoses - all of them. And boy, did those old hoses stink. Oh yes, I also took the empty holding tank out and really cleaned it.
That helped, but there was still an odor we did not like.

This year, I changed the entire vent hose. Wow - that one stunk too! OK - now things are much better but not yet perfect.

The cupboards where hoses ran still held the odor. We used full stength Lysol, then green dish detergent, then dried and aired them out, then painted the inside of one of the cupboards. What a difference. The faint smell of Lysol sure beats the old smell.

This winter (she comes out every winter) we will clean the remaining associated cupboards and paint them as well.

This is our "summer cottage". We spend six to eight weeks on her in the summer. We want her smelling as she should, not like an outhouse.

Best of luck. You can do it. And, the Admiral will thank you for it!

Rik, Linda and Captain Hook
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Don't scrimp on the hoses. The good quality ones are quite expensive but worth it - they will last much longer in non-smelly mode than the cheap ones. You might get Peggie Hall's book, 'Get Rid of Boat Odors' for advice on setting up your head hoses (most are not plumbed correctly). Lots of other good stuff in that book too.
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We had the same problem on my parents IP. Your odor is likely caused by two things. The stuff already in the hoses, as other have mentioned, and also the raw water coming in (after it sits in those hoses for a bit) I assume that the smell is Sulfur-y or horrible rotten eggs. You should replumb with new high quality hose, but even then, you may still get the sulfur smell from the critters in the raw water.

We re-plumbed and now find that if we are any place where there is a lot of organic matter in the water (ie: most east coast rivers or anyplace in the Chesapeake), it can still smell horrible when flushing, and if we can flush with fresh water, it goes away completely. Likewise, if we are off shore where the water has less stuff in it we have no odor at all.
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Head Odors, ask the Head Mistress

Peggie Hall has an expert forum over on Sailboatowners.com. She is a fabulous resource and THE expert. You might want to read her book which address the causes and cures for the eau d'toilet smell.
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Old 10-11-2010
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Our system is set up for either salt or fresh water, but we use fresh water only. New hoses and holding tank were added several years ago, and we've never had a problem with odors. Pumping out includes a couple of rinses after the main pumping, and a back flushing of water through the vent line. After each pump out I include some holding tank chemicals, and never let the holding tank get to full.
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