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mathislaw1 03-29-2007 09:29 AM

Clogged Marine Head
Just recently purchased a used 35 foot sailboat. When sailing her home, I noticed that I could not get water to pump out of the head. I have no problem pumping water in. And yes, I switched the lever to dry when I tryed pumping it out. I believe that it is clogged as tiny bits of toilet paper have starting floating back into the bowl. The holding tank is completely empty and there is no Y-valve that separates the holding tank from the overboard discharge.

The question is: "Can I use draino or a snake on a marine head?" Are there any other suggestions besides having to take the thing apart?

Thanks for you help.

PS. The plumbing is not PVC pipe but marine grade plubing hose.

Freesail99 03-29-2007 09:34 AM

I would not use draino, but I would give the snake a shot or two, before taking it apart.

roywmoss 03-29-2007 09:37 AM

Possibly clogged discharge hose-very common to have build-up of hard mineral deposits in hose from combination of saltwater and .... Remove hose and if necessary bang it on dock or better yet replace it.

sailortjk1 03-29-2007 09:40 AM

Damn, I hate it when that happens.
Good luck. I'm glad I'm not in your shoes.
Try the snake: gently and no I would not use Draino (Just like Freesail said).
Remember, your not dealing with Household Fixtures. Draino will most likely deteriorate and damage the hoses.

Valiente 03-29-2007 09:49 AM

You could try a dose of vinegar as well, and then CLR. But I suspect for peace of mind you might just plug your nose and replace the hose so you have a fresh start date for its use.

Freesail99 03-29-2007 09:51 AM

A friend of mine coats the inside of all his pipes with vasoline. He swears it keeps things moving freely ......

TrueBlue 03-29-2007 09:52 AM

I suggest you be very careful if using a snake - particularly extending the metal snake beyond what you can see. Depending upon the make of your head, there is a high risk of damaging rubber components which make up the valves and gaskets.

Try using a manual bilge pump to empty as much liquid from the bowl as possible and begin to disassemble the manual pump - working your way down to the discharge hose and finally, if the source of clogging isn't yet found, to the rubber joker valve at the base of the toilet.

rheaton 03-29-2007 10:19 AM

You might want to gently try a plunger. I would not use much force. Relacing the hose might be your best bet.

btrayfors 03-29-2007 10:52 AM

Once you get past the present problem, think PRECAUTION.

In over 17 years full-time liveaboard I learned a thing or three about marine heads. After several very nasty clogs of the macerator and other parts, I adopted a very hard policy aboard my vessel:



Use small plastic bags to line the wastebasket. Guests are told they can use all the toilet paper they want...just ball it up and put it in the wastebasket, not the toilet.

I have signs to that effect in my head, and whenever a new guest or crewmember comes aboard I ALWAYS go thru the proper use of the toilet with them, including the policy of no paper or other material in the toilet.

It's now been over 15 years since I adopted that policy, and I've had no (zero) problems with head clogs.


TrueBlue 03-29-2007 11:05 AM

That's a good policy which we normally use on our boat as well - although only with liquid waste. How do you contend with the wastebasket stench with all that brown smeared TP?

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