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Why does my RV smell like rotten eggs?

    Updated December 10, 2022

    Do you even RV, if your temporary residence doesn’t smell like rotten eggs? Don’t feel bad if this describes your current circumstance. It appears to be a milestone. It seems to hit you out of nowhere as you open the door of your RV. The awful stench of rotten eggs. Is that a warning? Or worse, did you really forget about the egg salad from last week? It doesn’t matter in the end; you need to get the scent gone immediately.

    We’ll go over a couple of the main offenders today, provide you with the best fixes, and offer you some advice on how to completely avoid the scenario. To find out everything you need to know to deal with this “stinky” scenario, keep reading.

    Why does my RV smell like rotten eggs?

    The majority of the time, stagnant water in your water heater that has been there for some time is what gives your RV its rotten egg smell. Just drain it and then refill. Your propane system and grey water tank are other offenders.

    Water Heater

    The anaerobic bacteria in your water heater is the most likely culprit. An anode rod made of magnesium or aluminum is typically a part of your RV’s water heating system and is there to protect your water tank from corrosion.

    The hydrogen sulfide formed as bacteria and sulfur microorganisms in your water tank interact with the rod reacts with the magnesium or aluminum to produce the rotten egg stench. Ironically, the very thing that’s designed to keep impurities and rust out of your water tanks might cause your RV water to smell corroded and contaminated.

    Gray Tanks

    Sometimes it’s the sound that freaks you off rather than the smell. If water is gurgling down the drain, the gray tanks may be so full that they are preventing effective operation of the roof vents.

    Sinks have a p-trap that collects water and acts as a barrier to prevent fumes from the tank from entering the living spaces. Water is drawn out of the p-trap when it is flushed down the drain by the suction. There is a vent to let the suction out. The vents may exit under the sink with a one-way valve that releases pressure by sucking air from the inside, or they may go up through the roof.

    The p-trap may not be keeping water if the rooftop vent is obstructed. If you have a one-way valve under your sink, it might not be working properly and be letting vapors inside. If you’ve used an RV for a while, you are aware that even the slightest smell might make someone uncomfortable, especially if they have sensitive noses.


    Although ethyl mercaptan, the chemical added to make propane identifiable, is odorless in and of itself, the stench it gives off is sometimes equated to that of rotten eggs. If you detect even a small amount of “that smell,” your gas tank may be leaking.