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Fuel odor in houseboats black water holding tank.

by Paul Kern
(Moses Lake, WA)

Fuel odor in the houseboats holding tank?

Fuel odor in the houseboats holding tank?

There's a strong fuel odor in our houseboats black water holding tank. After pumping out the black water tank and filling the houseboat with fuel, I had a very strong odor of fuel coming from my black water holding tank.

After a couple of weeks, I still have the odor and my fuel tank is fine, and there is no water getting into my fuel tank, and I don't understand how this can be.

I have a 1987, 44 foot, Three Buoys houseboat, and I would like to get blueprints to see how the lower part and holding tanks are placed and constructed. Where could I purchase the blueprints for this houseboat?

I thought at first this could be a venting situation underneath the house boat deck allowing the fumes to come from the fuel tank into the black-water holding tank.

I have never had this problem before. The odor is present when you flush the toilet.

Thanks, Paul Kern.

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Reply - Answer

Well Paul, I can sympathize with your problem. I don't imagine it's a pleasant situation, or a safe feeling, to be smelling fuel when you flush.

Just from the top of my head, I would say that the likely culprit is someone (they might not admit to it) who was supposed to pump gas into the fuel tank, mistakenly took the waste cap for the fuel tank cap.

They/he/she possibly noticed this after a very very short period, and figured that a couple of cups full of fuel shouldn't matter. I'm sure a cup of fuel in a holding tank can smell for years to come.

Other than that scenario, I don't understand either how fuel could make it into the holding tank. Unless, the fuel tanks and holding tanks are both in the same interior pontoon cylinders.

Regarding the "blueprints", I don't have any, however you may find the following article of interest, it's about Three Buoys Houseboats.

Lastly, hopefully some of our readers will share and post comments about their houseboats fuel and holding tank experiences. Feel free to use the "Click here to post comments." link found at the bottom of this page.

Thanks again for sharing, IAN from all-about-houseboats

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Comments for Fuel odor in houseboats black water holding tank.

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1983 Three Buoys SunCrusier
by: Anonymous

Gas has been sitting in the tank for some time and after having repairs to the fuel pump and carburetor, we are pulling the old fuel out to put new in.

After almost 100 gallons of fuel being pulled out, it seems like it is never going to end. Does anyone know how many gallons of fuel it holds?

Houseboat Dangers - fuel odor in holding tank?
by: Ray

If your boat is gasoline powered, you could have a very dangerous situation on your hands. In as much as the holding tank and fuel tank are separated by at least two walls, about the only logical answer would be a SNAFU as mentioned by Ian, by whom ever fueled your boat. If the fuel and pump out deck fittings are anywhere close together, this could easily happen.

As a retired Arson Investigator, I would suggest you contact your local or state fire marshal ASAP as they should have the equipment to detect any gasoline in your holding tank.

If you have gasoline in the holding tank, seek their advice on how to dispose of it immediatly. Even one cup of gasoline in the holding tank can be very explosive. Plus there is a good chance of methane gas being present too.

If this is the case, there are also products available to help neutralize the fumes even after it is pumped out. I can't emphise strongly enough to get this done Immediatly. It could cost you your boat and even your life.

Houseboat fuel odors
by: Anonymous

I know a lot about Three Buoys houseboats as I have seven of them and rent them every year. Your problem could be that someone has put fuel in the holding tank.

The problem is that your holding tank and fuel tank are only separated by a bulkhead in your center pontoon. Check for a dent in the front of the center pontoon on the keel, if its dented you likely have fuel leaking into the holding tank.

NO FUN TO FIX, good luck, Darren

Reply - Answer
Thanks Darren for taking the time to respond.
IAN from

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