That dreaded mildew smell - looking for ideas - Fiberglass RV


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Old 05-10-2017, 04:39 PM   #1
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Unhappy That dreaded mildew smell - looking for ideas

We've had our Escape 17 for 10 years. Every winter, we take all the cushions and everything else out, it is always stored under a roof, and for all the other winters, this kept our trailer dry and we had no mildew smell. Even though we were in and out of it many times (two house frig disasters meant we had to use the frig in trailer), we never smelled the mildew smell until we got got ready to clean it up and put everything back Sunday for a trip next week. It has a horrible mildew smell, I'm too sensitive to stay in it, though maybe to someone else it wouldn't be a bother. We've cleaned every space, heated, cleaned again, aired out, tried a 'air sponge', and it has not gone away, likely because we can't find the mildew and it is still there. There is/was nothing obvious, other than a little bit of mold in frig., and that isn't where the odor was even strongest. We don't even know where to look, as we have looked everywhere. Any ideas? We're pretty broken-hearted, I have too many health problems to use a trailer with such a strong mildew smell. We love our trailer, I wouldn't be able to camp without it. HELP!
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Old 05-10-2017, 07:53 PM   #2
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Often the "mildew" smell is floors rotting.
I would look carefully along the bottom for the evidence of rot.
I had to remove the entire floor to get rid of the odor in my Scamp.
There was plenty of mold stains on the ensolite, but bleaching and scrubbing made no difference.
When I pulled to floor out that took care of it.
The Escape might be built differently as I am not familiar with how they are constructed,
Backs of cabinets and where water might collect from condensation from the fridge etc.
Look low where moisture might remain long enough fro the mold spores to burrow into something that will let it grow.
Mold needs a source of food be it wood or soap residue
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Old 05-10-2017, 08:20 PM   #3
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Thanks, appreciate the suggestions. We've looked most places, but will keep looking. I suggested pulling out the frig. thinking there could be condensation behind it, though it is well vented to the outside and there is no odor in the vent. My husband was reluctant to because it might mess up the woodwork around it, but at this point he's willing to look anywhere we haven't already! The floor is a whole different matter, there is no evidence of leaks anywhere, plus the trailer was covered all winter.
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Old 05-10-2017, 09:11 PM   #4
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Is there water in all the traps? I'd put fresh water in all the traps, just to get any funky water down into the gray water tank.
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Old 05-10-2017, 09:17 PM   #5
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I would also run a dehumidifier inside it constantly for a couple of days.
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Old 05-10-2017, 09:54 PM   #6
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there is a great product called Mold Control, commercial restoration co's use it and its available at Home Depot
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Old 05-11-2017, 01:34 AM   #7
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Try putting some of the toilet treatment chemicals down both sinks and the shower drain (make sure the chemicals say they are safe for grey water).
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Old 05-11-2017, 03:43 AM   #8
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When is the last time you washed the curtains and the seat covers? Fabric does hold onto mildew odors even after the original source is cleaned up.
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Old 05-11-2017, 06:19 AM   #9
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Thank you all for the suggestions. We keep looking for the source while at the same time washing down all the walls, cupboards, etc. again with a strong mold/mildew soap. The curtains, cushions, etc. are not in the trailer, we removed them in the winter. Our winterization routine is to remove anything that could potentially take on moisture, drain the water system, then use vodka (learned about this on the forum years ago) as an anti-freeze. The trailer is also stored under a roof.

Our fear is that the source is in some inaccessible area of the trailer, we have considered taking out the frig. though there is no odor when we check the venting system from the outside.
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Old 05-11-2017, 07:32 AM   #10
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Fear of mildew (Wife driven) has us keep power on the trailer and the A/C running for dehumidification (South you know).
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Old 05-11-2017, 09:15 AM   #11
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My Burro had a stale smell. Florida is very high humidity, especially in summer. I washed all the curtains and cushion covers. I got a solid state dehumidifier and keep it running. I'll be ripping out the old carpet next and replacing with vinyl planks.
Meanwhile, the best solution so far has been a spray of eucalyptus branches from Michaels craft store(Joann's also has them.) The stale smell is almost unnoticeable. (I put a small piece on my car dash too.) The eucalyptus smell is lessening now after a few weeks, so I'll probably have to replace it regularly.
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Old 05-11-2017, 10:50 AM   #12
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The Solution:
https://www.google.com/search?q=kanb...a+tea+tree+oil
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Old 05-11-2017, 11:24 AM   #13
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Mildew

I scrubed my trailer with Lysol. Then I found a product called mould and mildew remover from Tilex and sprayed that all over the inside. Also used bleach on the walls and in all the cupboards and scrub them inside and out completely. As a last resort but I never had to do this I would rent and ozonizer commercial ones are available from rental companies and run that for a couple of days that will kill any mould or mildew left over hopefully finding the source before you do all this
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Old 05-11-2017, 01:13 PM   #14
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I'm sorry to hear that this has happened to you.

Borax is another product to consider using.

Does Borax Kill Mold? Cleaning, Removal, Powder, Detergent, Solution
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Old 05-11-2017, 01:27 PM   #15
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I think the biggest problem is reaching all the crevices and cavities behind the walls, fridge, insulation spaces, etc. I kinda like the Happier Camper design that allows you to remove everything, hose the whole thing out and drain through a floor drain. Three times what I paid for my old Burro, but . . .
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Old 05-11-2017, 08:59 PM   #16
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Originally Posted by Penney H. & Mike E. View Post
We've had our Escape 17 for 10 years. Every winter, we take all the cushions and everything else out, it is always stored under a roof, and for all the other winters, this kept our trailer dry and we had no mildew smell. Even though we were in and out of it many times (two house frig disasters meant we had to use the frig in trailer), we never smelled the mildew smell until we got got ready to clean it up and put everything back Sunday for a trip next week. It has a horrible mildew smell, I'm too sensitive to stay in it, though maybe to someone else it wouldn't be a bother. We've cleaned every space, heated, cleaned again, aired out, tried a 'air sponge', and it has not gone away, likely because we can't find the mildew and it is still there. There is/was nothing obvious, other than a little bit of mold in frig., and that isn't where the odor was even strongest. We don't even know where to look, as we have looked everywhere. Any ideas? We're pretty broken-hearted, I have too many health problems to use a trailer with such a strong mildew smell. We love our trailer, I wouldn't be able to camp without it. HELP!
We get a bad smell in the winter because it is so dry in Colorado that the drains and toilet bowl dries out even when we put RV anti-freeze in the drains. After we put water down the drains and have water in the traps then the smell goes away in a couple of days. We also keep our trailer in a garage and there's no way we have mold even though it smells that way. So put water and some tank treatment for grey and black tanks down the drains and you may find out that is the problem.
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Old 05-12-2017, 07:35 AM   #17
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We found a leak in shower vent, into top cavity of shower stall, a real nightmare, as there is a foam strip that runs the length of the shower stall that is wet and no access to that area except a narrow space, can't get my hand in more than a few inches. The odor is not strong there however. Since the trailer was under a roof all winter the moisture is likely from the last few days, since we pulled the trailer out. It is a huge problem, but probably not the only one and not the source of the odor.

The small vent is near impossible to replace, on the 2005 it is smaller than on later models. May have to cut a bigger opening and put in a larger vent.

We may have to remove the whole outer veneer wall of the shower to hopefully access the top and get it cleaned and dried out. And cancel our camping vacation next week.

Amazingly, in our rural area, the nearby rental place has an ozone generator so going to rent one and put in trailer. Might be worth a try, there are concerns and risks however. Anyone ever use one?

Everywhere else we've looked so far has been dry, it's really upsetting to tear into our little trailer this way. It is in great condition in every other way.
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Old 05-12-2017, 10:39 AM   #18
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Originally Posted by Penney H. & Mike E. View Post
We found a leak in shower vent, into top cavity of shower stall, a real nightmare, as there is a foam strip that runs the length of the shower stall that is wet and no access to that area except a narrow space, can't get my hand in more than a few inches. The odor is not strong there however. Since the trailer was under a roof all winter the moisture is likely from the last few days, since we pulled the trailer out. It is a huge problem, but probably not the only one and not the source of the odor.

The small vent is near impossible to replace, on the 2005 it is smaller than on later models. May have to cut a bigger opening and put in a larger vent.

We may have to remove the whole outer veneer wall of the shower to hopefully access the top and get it cleaned and dried out. And cancel our camping vacation next week.

Amazingly, in our rural area, the nearby rental place has an ozone generator so going to rent one and put in trailer. Might be worth a try, there are concerns and risks however. Anyone ever use one?

Everywhere else we've looked so far has been dry, it's really upsetting to tear into our little trailer this way. It is in great condition in every other way.
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Can you possibly dry it out with a fan running after removing as much wet stuff as possible then spray with bleach and let it dry. If it is not mildewed then they is not the smell problem. Then fix the vent that is leaking.
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Old 05-12-2017, 01:38 PM   #19
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That's what we're doing Jann, but it is a very inaccessible area and after running heat into it for 5 hours it's still damp, also even with spray, not sure we can reach as far back as we need to, but will try. Thanks.
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Old 05-12-2017, 02:20 PM   #20
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sharpstick View Post
My Burro had a stale smell. Florida is very high humidity, especially in summer. I washed all the curtains and cushion covers. I got a solid state dehumidifier and keep it running. I'll be ripping out the old carpet next and replacing with vinyl planks.
Meanwhile, the best solution so far has been a spray of eucalyptus branches from Michaels craft store(Joann's also has them.) The stale smell is almost unnoticeable. (I put a small piece on my car dash too.) The eucalyptus smell is lessening now after a few weeks, so I'll probably have to replace it regularly.
Our old 13' Burro had a vent leak we didn't know about when we bought it (there was no forum then to learn about fgrvs), Burro's are (lovable!) a challenge with the double walls, we replaced everything, rebuilt cabinet doors, table, etc. replaced carpet, still had mild odor, we used scent oils a lot and told it's whole history to the young couple who bought it 12 yrs. later, they were still delighted and happy and did their own renovations. Good luck with yours!
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