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Old 08-14-2002
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Using a Marine Head

How do you use a marine head? I just bought a larger boat with one, but my other boat just had a porta-potty.

Dan Dickison responds: 
Thanks for the question. Most marine heads work in a similar fashion and chances are the one on your boat does too. The basic principles for mechanically operated marine heads are pretty simple:
1. Never put anything in the head that hasn't first worked its way through your body's system (except for toilet paper).
2. Always make sure that you've pumped sufficiently in the flush mode to have water in the bowl before you use it.
3. Make sure you pump the bowl dry after you've finished using it.

With pump toilets, the idea is to set the valve to flush, pump about five to 10 strokes to get water in the system and the bowl, then use it. After you've finished your business, pump enough strokes in the flush mode (usually around 20) to get all the waste into the tank or overboard, depending upon how your system is set up to exhaust the waste. Once you've done that, turn the valve to dry and pump the bowl dry (about another five to 10 strokes).

There are other kinds of marine heads that function a little differently. Some of these rely on a vacuum function, which is really a lot simpler, and some have a slightly different sequence for pumping, so you'll need to make sure that your usage is consistent with the kind of head you've got. Here's hoping this information helps you straighten out your head issues.

Good luck.

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