Marine head won't pump - SailNet Community
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post #1 of 22 Old 08-15-2014 Thread Starter
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Marine head won't pump

Hi, really need help. I have a Raritan PHII manual head. Was working fine but
got a lot of use in a couple weeks, and suddenly, pump extremely hard to push down. If I wait a while, I manage to pump down, and waste water goes down without a problem.

But quickly the pump builds up pressure again,and I can't push down lever.

I've checked the tank vent line, no problem there. And I've emptied the tank.
HAVE not checked waste line from pump to tank as it's very hard to get back there and get hose off coupling.

I don't think this is blockage b/c if I wait it is pumpable. I did have toreplace the "flush- dry" valve recently,and think that's installed properly.

Suggestions for troubleshooting? Is it a problem with piston?

Thanks for any help. God, heads are one part of boat work I could do without!
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post #2 of 22 Old 08-15-2014
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Re: Marine head won't pump

Check the vent line too.

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post #3 of 22 Old 08-15-2014
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Re: Marine head won't pump

Mine does this when the output hose is nearly blocked up with scale.

Take it off and go somewhere discreet and whale it against something. That will shift it. Fit a new joker valve too.
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post #4 of 22 Old 08-15-2014
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Re: Marine head won't pump

Sounds to me you are on the right track sounds like either a clogged line definitely check the effluent line

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post #5 of 22 Old 08-15-2014
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Re: Marine head won't pump

Also sounds like a plugged line to me.

To quickly rule out a plugged vent, you can open the pumpout fitting and try to flush. If it works, the vent is probably plugged. Mine plugged up last in the vent fitting at the tank, not the actual vent line. Also, if the vent is plugged, you'll probably hear pressure (or worse yet, effluent) escape when you open the pumpout fitting, so open carefully.

If it turns out to be a plugged line between the head and tank, you could first try pumping it out, and while pumping, open the sea water intake and pump the flush valve a few times to try and run water through the line. You might get lucky and clear it without disassembly (sort of like a vacuum plunger) .

Good luck.
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post #6 of 22 Old 08-16-2014
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Re: Marine head won't pump

This happened to me when after a crew of non-marine types came aboard for a day sail. I gave them the usual safety briefing as well as my briefing on head use and that if they clog it, they will be the one unclogging it. Well, long story short, someone decided to use paper towels to wipe and they were bound up in the rubber one way valve. The symptoms were the same, the plunger handle had tons of pressure behind it but as slow steady push would slowly drain the bowl. The remediation was "easy" as you just separate that one joint and removing the offending material. Lesson learned, don't store the galley use paper towels in the available cupboard space in the head. Single ply TP will be the only thing within reach of the head from here on out.

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post #7 of 22 Old 08-16-2014 Thread Starter
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Re: Marine head won't pump

Thanks everyone, for the suggestions. I especially like the pump out/salt water in trick as it might avoid actually facing the offending material!

Will post update, for the record.
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post #8 of 22 Old 08-16-2014
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Re: Marine head won't pump

I've had the opposite problem with my PHII. The intake will often run dry. If I "seed" it with a bit of fresh water, it then pumps fine for the duration of that particular flush. Then, same problem later ... but not always. I checked the intake and doesn't seem to be clogged. I wonder if the O-ring around the piston in the pump needs to be replaced -- perhaps the seal is gone. Sorry, didn't mean to hijack the thread, but my question seemed substantially similar.
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post #9 of 22 Old 08-16-2014
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Re: Marine head won't pump

Some pumps with a dry/wet bowl lever can break off the little tab inside and now you try to move the piston in a vacuum .Once I found a little cod fish stuck there.
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post #10 of 22 Old 08-16-2014
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Re: Marine head won't pump

I'm with TQA on this one. More than likely, if this is an older installation, the inside of the head exhaust lines are probably filling with scale. I've tried what many others have suggested, but to no avail, perhaps because we live aboards and can't let the (white vinegar, CLR, ospho etc.) work long enough. It is always pull it out and replace the line or beat the living daylights out of it against concrete wall.

sneuman, you might want to check the ball and seal in the dry/flush valve. Also check for air intrusion (hose clamp, crack in fitting, etc.). I'd dismantle the pump as a last resort. Of course, this is re; a PHII only, though air intrusion equals air instead of liquid for any pump, but not necessarily a visible liquid leak.

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Last edited by capta; 08-16-2014 at 05:32 PM.
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