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Old 09-28-2020, 04:26 PM   #1
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Holding tank aerator to reduce smell.

We have a large 100+ gallon holding tank and it has an aeration pump that I believe is there to promote good bacteria growth and eliminate smells and, it is supposed to be left running continuously???

In the 4 years we have been living aboard we have not used it and rarely get a whiff of nastiness but yesterday after a recent pump out we are getting a pong.

I fired up the aerator and got bad smells for a while but that seems to have dropped off considerably this morning - that, or we are used to the smell.

But I am wondering..........if we have treatment plants onboard that give each flush a shot of chlorine (saniloo) wouldn't that shot of chlorine kill any of the good bacteria we are supposedly trying to grow?
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Old 09-28-2020, 06:22 PM   #2
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I am familiar with aeration as I built and run a DIY version. I am not familiar with treatment systems.
I would think the chlorine will kill the good (aerobic) bacteria you are trying to promote. Is there an option to treat when / before discharging vs every flush.
My understanding is treating and hold for later discharge doesn't qualify as treated waste but again I'm not an expert.
I do run my aerator 24/7 during our boating season.bi also use NoFlex and planning on switching hing to bulk sodium percarbonate when current supply runs out.
Is the odor inside or outside? When / what conditions?
Any inline vent filter?
Raw or fresh water flush?
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Old 09-28-2020, 06:48 PM   #3
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On a previous boat we had an 80 gallon holding tank. The smell was worse than horrible out of the vent when a head was flushed. I talked to Peggie and she suggested a Groco Sweettank. We added one and turned it on, late on Sunday so others on the dock would be gone. It was really bad for 2 hours and then the smell was gone. We owned that boat for another 8 years and never added any chemicals into the tank. No chemicals at all of any kind and had no more smell. Just adding oxygen into the tank promoted the aerobic bacteria and killed the anerobic bacteria, and the anerobic bacteria is what causes the smell. We ran the Sweettank 24X7. Does it need to run continuously? Not sure but my wife demanded it run continuously since the smell was gone and she didn’t want it back. We added a Sweettank to our current boat last winter but with the virus we have not used the boat much this summer so it seems to be working but not much usage this year. I can’t recommend the Sweettank highly enough. You can make your own and save some money but the kit is just easier. It only takes an hour or so to install it if you have power nearby. Drilling a 2” hole in the holding tank takes a bit of gumption but that is the worst part...
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Old 09-28-2020, 07:44 PM   #4
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Originally Posted by Bacchus View Post
I am familiar with aeration as I built and run a DIY version. I am not familiar with treatment systems.
I would think the chlorine will kill the good (aerobic) bacteria you are trying to promote. Is there an option to treat when / before discharging vs every flush.
My understanding is treating and hold for later discharge doesn't qualify as treated waste but again I'm not an expert.
I do run my aerator 24/7 during our boating season.bi also use NoFlex and planning on switching hing to bulk sodium percarbonate when current supply runs out.
Doesn't really matter as we pump out the same as if it was untreated


Quote:
Is the odor inside or outside? When / what conditions?
Inside coming up through the toilet after flush
And in the er where tank is
Comes in waves, not continuous


Quote:
Any inline vent filter?
No


Quote:
Raw or fresh water flush?
Usually fresh but on this trip we have bucket of salt water and a ladle so as to conserve fresh.
Maybe its the saltwater causing the pong
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Old 09-28-2020, 07:47 PM   #5
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I talked to Peggie and she suggested a Groco Sweettank. ...
Same same but different to what we have running now

240v hiblow

https://www.septicsolutions.com/sept...blow-air-pumps
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Old 09-28-2020, 08:08 PM   #6
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Can you simply disable the treatment and activate the aerator as an experiment? If so that would be my first move and go from there based on results.
Second move might be to try to inspect tank (even if only from outside w lighting?) to see if there is any residual sludge or solids that a good clean up might help.
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Old 09-28-2020, 08:26 PM   #7
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But I am wondering..........if we have treatment plants onboard that give each flush a shot of chlorine (saniloo) wouldn't that shot of chlorine kill any of the good bacteria we are supposedly trying to grow?

It's not that you're trying to GROW aerobic bacteria, it's that you want to keep them alive...which can't happen if you're injecting chlorine to every flush 'cuz chlorine doesn't discriminate.


Treatment devices are designed to discharge treated waste overboard...that's the whole point of having one--to avoid the need to store toilet waste in a tank. So why have you directed your Saniloo to discharge into the tank? Why not have a y-valve in the toilet discharge line that provides a choice of discharging via the Saniloo or going into the tank?

I fired up the aerator and got bad smells for a while but that seems to have dropped off considerably this morning - that, or we are used to the smell.

You didn't just get used to the smell. Aerators need to run 24/7 to keep the environment in the tank aerobic. When it sits unused, there's no source of oxygen to create that aerobic condition, and without it the anaerobic (stinky) bacteria thrive. When it's turned on again, it pushes the air in the tank out the vent...initially stinky but gradually the influx of oxygen "turns" the tank aerobic again, eliminating the odor. And it works this way regardless of whether the toilet uses sea water or fresh.


--Peggie
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Old 09-28-2020, 08:29 PM   #8
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+1 on what Peggie said. It took exactly 2 hours for the smell to go away when we turned on the Sweettank. We never turned it off, it was still on when the new owners took possession.
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Old 09-28-2020, 09:48 PM   #9
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On a dairy, for the house and barn toilets, I had a system that added a small amount of air (aquarium air pump) to the first chamber of the system thru nozzles near the bottom. It encouraged aerobic bacteria that ate the sewage, leaving clear water that could be discharged without chlorine treatment. It was a system commonly used in remote places like mining and lumber camps. For the cows I had a digester using anaerobic bacteria that made hydrogen and dissolved the manure into a liquid. The discharged liquid had double the fertilizer valve of the original manure and had no smell. The hydrogen ran a multi fuel generator that turned my meter backwards.
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Old 09-28-2020, 09:58 PM   #10
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Simi
Can you simply disable the treatment and activate the aerator as an experiment? If so that would be my first move and go from there based on results.
Not simply, no
Quote:
Second move might be to try to inspect tank (even if only from outside w lighting?) to see if there is any residual sludge or solids that a good clean up might help.
It has a screw out port in the top and its pretty shitty in there, but you'd expect that being what it is
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Old 09-28-2020, 10:05 PM   #11
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Originally Posted by HeadMistress View Post
[
It's not that you're trying to GROW aerobic bacteria, it's that you want to keep them alive...which can't happen if you're injecting chlorine to every flush 'cuz chlorine doesn't discriminate.
Thought as much, so probably best off not adding any more chlorine


Quote:
Treatment devices are designed to discharge treated waste overboard...that's the whole point of having one--to avoid the need to store toilet waste in a tank. So why have you directed your Saniloo to discharge into the tank?
Not me, previous owner/installer

Quote:
Why not have a y-valve in the toilet discharge line that provides a choice of discharging via the Saniloo or going into the tank?
I would think because the discharge is ABOVE waterline, not the sort of thing you want to see happening though it would scare those to close neighbours away.


Quote:
You didn't just get used to the smell. Aerators need to run 24/7 to keep the environment in the tank aerobic. When it sits unused, there's no source of oxygen to create that aerobic condition, and without it the anaerobic (stinky) bacteria thrive. When it's turned on again, it pushes the air in the tank out the vent...initially stinky but gradually the influx of oxygen "turns" the tank aerobic again, eliminating the odor. And it works this way regardless of whether the toilet uses sea water or fresh.


--Peggie
So it makes me wonder why it hasn't really been an issue for the previous 4 years we have not been using the air pump?
The only thing that has changed recently is using salt water assist for the flush.
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Old 09-29-2020, 08:18 AM   #12
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Originally Posted by HeadMistress View Post
But I am wondering..........if we have treatment plants onboard that give each flush a shot of chlorine (saniloo) wouldn't that shot of chlorine kill any of the good bacteria we are supposedly trying to grow?

It's not that you're trying to GROW aerobic bacteria, it's that you want to keep them alive...which can't happen if you're injecting chlorine to every flush 'cuz chlorine doesn't discriminate.


Treatment devices are designed to discharge treated waste overboard...that's the whole point of having one--to avoid the need to store toilet waste in a tank. So why have you directed your Saniloo to discharge into the tank? Why not have a y-valve in the toilet discharge line that provides a choice of discharging via the Saniloo or going into the tank?

I fired up the aerator and got bad smells for a while but that seems to have dropped off considerably this morning - that, or we are used to the smell.

You didn't just get used to the smell. Aerators need to run 24/7 to keep the environment in the tank aerobic. When it sits unused, there's no source of oxygen to create that aerobic condition, and without it the anaerobic (stinky) bacteria thrive. When it's turned on again, it pushes the air in the tank out the vent...initially stinky but gradually the influx of oxygen "turns" the tank aerobic again, eliminating the odor. And it works this way regardless of whether the toilet uses sea water or fresh.


--Peggie
Could you use a 12v bait tank aerator? Sweettank seems kinda pricey!
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Old 09-29-2020, 09:25 AM   #13
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Could you use a 12v bait tank aerator? Sweettank seems kinda pricey!
You Betcha!
See Holding Tank Aeration project at https://dkloeber.wixsite.com/bacchus/projects-pg-2

Only change I made was to change out the copper tube to PVC. I'm not convinced that it even needs a diverse stream of bubbles - a single stream should work OK in my opinion. That assumption is based on the fact that adequate venting to the surface of a tank works without any bubbling action and even a single stream of bubbles has to help the oxygenation IMO

The fish tank bubbler was <$40 including a $5 2YR extended warranty. My low cost DIY bubbler has been in operation for 6 seasons now without a problem. I would still like to find & try a simple lo cost timer that would allow adjustable on/off times in the neighborhood of 5-10 mins every hour but the continuous operation for 6 seasons hasn't been an issue so annual cost even if replacement was needed is around $5 / yr - cheaper than treatment chemicals! I still use NoFlex (belt & suspenders and for tank "cleanliness") but plan to follow Ted - OC Diver - lead to switch to bulk sodium percarbonate when my supply runs out.
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Old 09-29-2020, 10:24 AM   #14
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So it makes me wonder why it hasn't really been an issue for the previous 4 years we have not been using the air pump?
The only thing that has changed recently is using salt water assist for the flush.

Maybe not the only thing... Odor is a result of anaerobic conditions, regardless of whether the flush water is fresh or sea water and too many people who have sea water toilets have odor-free tanks for sea water to the culprit. If the vent was allowing enough air exchange to prevent odor before, there's a good chance something is preventing it from doing so now....There may be a partial blockage--buildup due to tank overflow, an insect, or just dust, salt air, pollen. All of which is one of the reasons to replace the "vent" thru-hull (designed to keep sea water out of fuel and fresh water tanks) with an open bulkhead or "mushroom" thru-hull that'll let you put a hose nozzle against it to backflush it every time you wash the boat and/or pump out. At the very least, clean out the thru-hull...use a screwdriver blade, ice pick--whatever works. A full tank can just splash enough in heavy seas to create a buildup at the other end of the vent line and/or vent fitting on the tank that restricts the air exchange.



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Old 09-29-2020, 10:25 AM   #15
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You can buy high output air bubblers for home aquarium use. They are 120v and can have two diaphragms for true dual output. It didn't buzz like the cheap bubblers do. I used it on my fishing skiff bait well with a $50 square wave inverter. As to why it only smelled bad after many years, it could be a combined reaction of several things you ate. Just think about how asparagus still retains certain characteristics after digestion. Cheers.
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Old 09-29-2020, 11:17 AM   #16
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Curious about the bubbler and sodium percarbonate. Isn't that an oxidizer that kills the bacteria? Aren't these two methods defeating each other?
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Old 09-29-2020, 12:03 PM   #17
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Curious about the bubbler and sodium percarbonate. Isn't that an oxidizer that kills the bacteria? Aren't these two methods defeating each other?
No problems using both last 6 seasons. Amount of sodium percarbonate is small. Best daily in small doses. But oxygen is what you want for aerobic bacteria so I don't see where an oxidizer would be bad.
If oxygen kills bacteria it must be the anaerobic variety but I'm no expert in the biologic arena other than some casual reading. I do believe one of the applications for bulk sodium percarbonate is sewage treatment but not sure of the specifics.
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Old 09-29-2020, 04:21 PM   #18
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.There may be a partial blockage--buildup due to tank overflow, an insect, or just dust, salt air, pollen. All of which is one of the reasons to replace the "vent" thru-hull (designed to keep sea water out of fuel and fresh water tanks) with an open bulkhead or "mushroom" thru-hull that'll let you put a hose nozzle against it to backflush it every time you wash the boat and/or pump out.
That's what we have in the hull side now
I'll stick the deck wash nozzle in and give it a blast

Quote:
A full tank can just splash enough in heavy seas to create a buildup at the other end of the vent line and/or vent fitting on the tank that restricts the air exchange.



--Peggie.
And we did have full tank and rough water a while back when the macerator pump died so that could be it

Thanks
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Old 09-29-2020, 04:39 PM   #19
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Curious about the bubbler and sodium percarbonate. Isn't that an oxidizer that kills the bacteria? Aren't these two methods defeating each other?
After thinking about this more and checking in the technical sense there are many oxidizers including chlorine, bromine, bleach, and acids that may very well kill bacteria. Sodium percarbonate in the presence of water releases oxygen, water and sodium carbonate. So I'm thinking what we are benefiting from, regarding smell, is the release of oxygen that is not necessarily the case with other oxidizers.
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Old 09-29-2020, 04:52 PM   #20
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After putting the aerator in a previous boat we never added any chemicals to the tank for 8 + years and never had any smells or issues. We put one in our current boat and have not added any chemicals but with the virus have not really been able to use the boat much this summer so not sure how it will turn out.
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