Sunday, May 12, 2013

Week 2: The Saga of the Wet Bath

Now that we've completed our second week in the RV, I'm happy to report that life is slowing down a bit. The house has had about a dozen showings, the kids had some good doctor appointments this week, and we survived more inclement weather.

And, we are learning things that I never thought I'd have to learn.

Enter, the wet bath.

If you are unfamiliar with RVs, then you might not even know what a wet bath is. Simply put, it is a bathroom with a toilet and sink and a shower head, but the entire bathroom doubles as the shower stall. As such, there is a drain in the floor of the bathroom into which the shower water drains.

Our wet bath is in the "garage" where the four teen boys sleep. It is their own little bathroom.

Last week when I attempted to do laundry for the first time, I erroneously assumed my washer drained into my front grey water tank. (Makes sense, since the washer is in the front of the camper.)  Well, I overflowed the back grey tank because, lo and behold, the washer drains into the back grey water tank, not the front one. That tank is also where the wet bath sink and shower drain into; so when the tank started to overflow, the grey water started coming up through the drain in the floor.

Yesterday was a warm day, and we started getting a sewer smell coming from - you guessed it - the drain in the floor of the wet bath. Living with septic tanks in hot southern Texas, I am no stranger to dry p-traps. Many times when a house drain is unused for a few days, the p-trap water will dry out due to evaporation, and sewer gases will come up through your drains. It's an easy remedy: just run some water down your drain, and problem solved!

So I assumed that's what was going on in the camper, especially since it was a hot day and we aren't ever putting water down that floor drain. So I went in there and started pouring some water down the drain.

Immediately it started to back up. Water was running VERY slowly down the drain.

Out of frustration I shined a flashlight down the drain to see if something was plugging the drain. I could barely make out something white that looked like a chunk of soap.

I called Steve in to look at it. He looked, then got a screwdriver and removed the grate on the top of the drain. Sure enough, something was in there, but it wasn't a chunk of soap.

It was plastic, and wadded up. We tried to pick it out, but it was stuck. What in the world could it be?

Well, after much research and with the help of my online friends on the Escapees forum, I learned that we have what is known as a "waterless p-trap".  (I know! Who has ever heard of such a thing?!?)

In a waterless p-trap, a diaphram is used to allow water to flow down the drain, but prevent sewer gases from floating up the drain. (It works like the valves in your heart work, by allowing flow in only one direction.) Waterless p-traps are intended to be used in drains that seldom get used, or where space is an issue - like in a wet bath in an RV!

What I suspect happened is that last week when I overflowed the grey tank, the backflow pushed the diaphram inside-out. So now we have a waterless p-trap that works in the opposite direction: water doesn't flow down the drain, but sewer gases do flow up the drain.

So now what?  Well, I don't know. Right now I have a wash cloth stuffed into the drain to keep the stench from coming up. I suppose on Monday when I call the RV repairman to fix the converter (yes, we still have that issue with the slides and awning not working - suspect the converter is blown), I'll see if he can also fix that waterless p-trap.


In other maintenance news:

We have a broken gas pressured hinge on the back door. We tried to replace that hinge this week, but got the wrong pressure rating. Still need to fix that, but that's something we can do on our own.

The sliding door on the main bathroom came out of its track this week. Steve had to screw the track back into place. Chalk up one maintenance success!

I know that we are going to use this camper hard, but I didn't realize it would become a constant maintenance issue. I'm hoping we are just behind a learning curve and getting all the kinks out now before we start to travel.

The RV supply store loves seeing us. We are nearly on a first name basis by now.