How To Fix Your RV When It Smells Like Rotten EggsAnthony Day
This article may contain affiliate links where we earn a commission from qualifying purchases.
- The rotten egg smell in your RV is most like connected to the water heater, fresh water tank, gas leak, or waste water tanks
- You can remove the smell by cleaning the water heater and replacing the anode rod, draining and flushing the fresh water tank, closing all gas valves, and sealing the waste water tank.
- If the rotten egg smell is due to a gas leak, approach your RV with extreme caution until the leak is resolved by following strict safety protocols.
When you notice that your RV smells like rotten eggs, you want to get rid of the smell before you continue your road trip, but how do you remove the odor?
The rotten egg smell in your RV is likely coming from the water heater, fresh water tank, gas leak, or waste water tanks. To remove the smell, clean the water heater and replace the anode rod, drain and flush the fresh water tank, close all gas valves, and seal the waste water tank.
After extensively researching RV troubleshooting forums, I have been able to gather enough information to determine how to remove the rotten egg smell from your camper. My research has indicated that multiple different factors could be contributing to the rotten egg odor in your RV and you should consider each possibility if you want to get rid of the smell.
Reasons Your RV Smells Like Rotten Eggs
Dealing with a camper that smells like rotten eggs is never fun and it will certainly interfere with your travels if the odor is not removed. With that said, if you want to get rid of the rotten egg smell in your RV, you first need to figure out what is causing it in the first place.
When I encountered this issue, I realized that there are a number of possible culprits behind the odor and it took going through a process of elimination to track down the source. If you’ve already confirmed that the smell is not coming from an actual rotten egg somewhere in your RV, then it is safe to say that the odor is likely connected to one of the following areas of your camper:
- Water heater
- Fresh water tank
- Gas Leak
- Waste water tanks
The reason why tracking down the source of the rotten egg smell can be a bit tricky is that it’s easy to mistake it for something else. Rotten egg odors are often associated with foul water, sulfur, gas, and other sources, which is why it’s best to be thorough and leave no stone unturned.
How to Get Rid of the Rotten Egg Smell in Your RV
The foul stench of rotten eggs is not how you want to remember your next RV adventure, which is why it is best to hop on the issue as soon as you notice it.
Whenever I troubleshoot my RV, I always like to start with the easiest and most logical solutions first, as they are often causing the problem in the first place. Let’s take a closer look at each possible source behind the rotten egg smell in your camper so that your RV is road trip-ready for your next vacation.
Bacteria in Water Heater
The water heater is generally the last place that most people think to look when trying to track down the rotten egg scent in their RVs. However, this is usually the most common source of the smell.
If the water heater is causing the smell, it’s likely due to hydrogen sulfide gas. Sulfur is an incredibly strong and foul smell that people often mistake for rotten eggs. The reason this smell can develop in your water heater is due to sulfur and magnesium inside the anode rod.
The anode rod is a component of your water heater that is designed to attract sediment and corrosive elements so that the steel tank stays intact and protected. Over time, the anaerobic bacteria inside the water heater will react with the anode rod, creating hydrogen sulfide gas, which smells a lot like rotten eggs.
How to Fix
Getting rid of the smell is not very difficult and you have a few different options to consider depending on the condition of your anode rod and the supplies that you prefer to use.
- Replace the anode rod
- Descale and flush the water heater
- Wash the water heater with hydrogen peroxide
- Wash the water heater with a vinegar solution
Cleaning the tank should get rid of the smell. However, if your anode rod is old and past its prime, you should consider replacing it and trying a combination of methods if the smell is hard to remove.
Bacteria in Fresh Water Tank
Foul water that came from a bad source can often smell like rotten eggs. I find that RVers can sometimes run into this issue when filling up their fresh water at RV campgrounds. If bacteria has spread throughout the water, a sulfuric smell is not uncommon.
However, you can also experience this issue with your RV’s fresh water tank if you forgot to drain it at the end of the previous season. Water that has been left stagnant will start to develop bacteria over time, which can eventually lead to it smelling like rotten eggs.
How to Fix
If you have confirmed that the odor is coming from your freshwater tank, then you should not drink any of it until you have resolved the smell and killed any bacteria that may be in the tank.
- Drain the freshwater tank
- Make a bleach solution and pour it inside the tank
- Run your water pump with all taps open
- Refill the water tank with fresh (clean) water
- Leave it for 1 to 2 hours
- Flush the entire system
You may need to flush your water system once or twice to fully get rid of the smell. In addition, be sure to let the campground where you got the water from know that their water is contaminated.
Propane gas is commonly associated with the smell of rotten eggs. With that said, gas leaks need to be taken very seriously and you should approach your camper with extreme caution if this is behind the smell.
Not only is gas combustible, but it will also contaminate the air inside your RV, which is a danger in and of itself.
How to Fix
If you have a gas leak detector, this will make determining if this is the source of the rotten egg smell a lot easier. Regardless, you should take precautionary measures just in case by following these steps:
- Close all gas valves (propane tank)
- Extinguish all open flames
Once you have done this, open all windows and doors in your RV and exit the vehicle to let it air out.
Open Waste Water Valves
Dealing with sewage is every RV owner’s least favorite task, but it comes with owning a camper. Your grey water, in particular, can smell a lot like rotten eggs.
Wastewater that comes from your shower and sinks will be stored in the grey water tank, which can emit this smell if you leave the valve open. Alternatively, what may have happened is that your grey water tank actually got damaged and is now leaking.
How to Fix
Provided that the grey water tank is not leaking, resolving this issue is very straightforward. Simply head out to your greywater inlet and check to see if it’s open. If it is, close it with the valve and the smell should go away shortly.
However, if your grey water tank is damaged and leaking, this is a much more serious issue that will require fixing or replacing the tank.