Best way to clean a holding tank and lines - SailNet Community

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Old 04-20-2010
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Best way to clean a holding tank and lines

I was wondering if anyone had any suggestions on what to do with a stinky head and holding tank
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Old 04-20-2010
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I would point out that most of the stench is probably due to the hoses being permeated, leaks or dead sea life in the hoses from flushing with raw water, rather than the holding tank. To check for permeated hoses, you should take an old t-shirt and soak it very hot water and wrap it against the hoses for a few minutes. When you take the cloth away from hose, if it smells of sewage, the hoses are permeated and should be replaced.

The best hose to replace them with is 1.5" Trident 101/102 hose. The intake lines should be replaced with 3/4" Trident 148 hose.

To clean the holding tank, add fabric softener and fill with water and take the boat out sailing in brisk winds... the fabric softener will help break up the sludge and such in the tank and then you can pump it out more easily.
Another thing to do with the holding tank after pumping the tank out and rinsing it several times is adding Raritan KO.

Spraying Raritan KO around the area will also kill off any residual odor, mold, mildew, spilled sewage, etc. Do not use bleach or any other standard cleaning product before using KO as KO is a bioactive cleaner and will not work if exposed to bleach, ammonia or other standard cleaners.

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Old 04-20-2010
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Does it use fresh or salt water to flush? Most sailboats use salt which makes the smells much worse and leaves calcified deposits.

There is no substitute for having an actual manhole on the tank. If you have one, set up some good fans, open it up and clean it right. If not, there are tons of different things that people try adding to their tanks and people have their own theories as to what works. People try fabric softener, bleach, etc. The more you can flush the tank with water, the better.
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Old 04-20-2010
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The very best method of keeping a holding tank smelling good is to inject air (sparge) into it at the bottom. A few cc's per minute injection of air will keep it 'aerobic', thus stinking less.

You need a small 12vdc piston pump, a porous metal or ceramic 'injection tip' - submerged into the bottom of the tank to *sparge air* INTO the tank.

Ortherwise a BIG diameter VENT (which is somewhat dangerous on an 'ocean-going' or 'bluewater' sailboat because it can 'back-flood' into the tank and then back through the head).

Others have and will post about the 'quality' of the necessary 'sanitary' connection hoses. Common (comparatively cheap) exhaust hose from the head to the tank is a primary source of 'odor permeation' because it quickly becomes virtually 'transparent' to 'head stink'.
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If your tank is full of solids that can't be sucked out, use a product called Eco-Save before you put anything like head treatment, fabric softener, or bleach in. The bacteria similar to Rid-X will break down the solids and help them liquefy so you can vacuum it out. Once you let the eco-save sit in the tank for a week or two take the boat sailing and get some sloshing motion to help things break up.
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