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  #1  
Old 09-15-2010
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Toilet Troubleshooting

Hi Everyone:

I need some help from those of you who have had to troubleshoot the marine head on your boats. Mine doesn't seam to want to pull water from the thru-hull anymore into the bowl when the handle is pumped. I am not sure if this is just a priming issue or if the seals are shot in the toilet pump assembly and can't pull a suction anymore. I have verified all valves are properly opened when doing this. Any thoughts? Also, I have noticed if I just poor water in the bowl from external sources, and pump (flush) it, I can hear a girgle noise like air is trying to come back through the line to relieve pressure in the holding tank. I wonder if this suggests the holding tank vent line might be blocked some how, or again, seals are in need of replacement. We don't use the marine head much, but this started happening recently. Thoughts?
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Old 09-15-2010
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Question

Model and brand of marine head?
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Old 09-15-2010
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If you have an anti-siphon valve in the inlet hose it might be stuck open. Seals get deformed on heads and need to be replaced every few years it seems. Also it is possible your vent is plugged. Especially if the hose is too long or improperly routed. So you could have multiple problems.

You need to check the whole system.

Gene
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Old 09-15-2010
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First, is the through-hull for the water intake line clear? Barnacles could have clogged it, as could have eel grass. If either is the case, you won't have much luck flushing.

Also, when was the last time you flushed the head vent line. You really should do this on a regular basis, to prevent it from clogging. If you've over-filled the holding tank, it is very, very likely that the head vent line is clogged. When was the last time you pumped out the tank, and was it filled to the top at the time???

Also, when was the last time you re-built the pump on your head unit? If you can't answer that, it's probably been too long.

It would probably help if you said what make/model head you had. Some are notorious for having pump issues, like the Jabsco units.

I'd point out that pumping water into the head bowl from the sea is mostly unrelated to being able to pump water out of the bowl. The problems with one should not generally affect the other, unless the seals in the pump are completely shot.

Some heads, like the inexpensive Jabsco units, are generally not worth re-building. Others, like the Raritan PHC or PHII units are very reliable and quite worthy of being re-built. If you have a unit like the Jabsco or even a slightly more reliable unit, like the WC Headmate 90 which has been discontinued, it might be worthwhile to upgrade your head instead of rebuilding it.

Raritan offers a PHC LBA or PHII LBA unit, which is basically the entire head minus the bowl and seat. You basically take one of these and swap the bowl and seat onto it, and voila, you have effectively a brand new Raritan PHC/PHII head for a lot less money, since the bowl is one of the heavier and more expensive elements in a new head. Think of it as recycling. SBO has the LBA units for sale.

BTW, I'd point out that Peggie Hall considers the Raritan PHC/PHII to be one of the best low-priced manual heads for boats. She's basically the doyenne of the marine sanitation industry...
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Gene—

I seriously doubt it is that, since the anti-siphon valve is supposed to be AFTER the pump, between it and the head bowl—not in the line between the pump and the intake seacock. Think about it.... how is an anti-siphon valve supposed to know the difference between the hose siphoning and causing a vacuum and the head being pumped and causing a vacuum in the exact same line.

The anti-siphon valve always has to be installed on the PRESSURE SIDE of the pump to work properly—never on the intake side.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Gene T View Post
If you have an anti-siphon valve in the inlet hose it might be stuck open. Seals get deformed on heads and need to be replaced every few years it seems. Also it is possible your vent is plugged. Especially if the hose is too long or improperly routed. So you could have multiple problems.

You need to check the whole system.

Gene
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You know what the first rule of sailing is? ...Love. You can learn all the math in the 'verse, but you take
a boat to the sea you don't love, she'll shake you off just as sure as the turning of the worlds. Love keeps
her going when she oughta fall down, tells you she's hurting 'fore she keens. Makes her a home.

—Cpt. Mal Reynolds, Serenity (edited)

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Old 09-15-2010
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I had a similar problem a while ago. It turned out that the ball valve had corroded such that the stem that connected the ball itself to the handle had broken. Turning the handle "seemed" to open the valve, but actually had no effect at all; in reality, the ball was stuck partially open no matter what position the handle was in.

If you have a ball-valve on the thru-hull, take the hose off off the valve and try sticking a wire through the valve as you turn the handle. If you can't feel the ball rotate as you turn the handle then the stem is probably kaput. (Note-- A traditional seacock is built differently, and shouldn't fail in this manner.)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sailingdog View Post
Gene—

I seriously doubt it is that, since the anti-siphon valve is supposed to be AFTER the pump, between it and the head bowl—not in the line between the pump and the intake seacock. Think about it.... how is an anti-siphon valve supposed to know the difference between the hose siphoning and causing a vacuum and the head being pumped and causing a vacuum in the exact same line.

The anti-siphon valve always has to be installed on the PRESSURE SIDE of the pump to work properly—never on the intake side.
Maybe I need to start drinking coffee in the afternoon too.

Gene
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Maybe I need to start drinking coffee in the afternoon too.

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a boat to the sea you don't love, she'll shake you off just as sure as the turning of the worlds. Love keeps
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Thanks for the input so far. Lots to check out. I will check the vendor of the marine head when I visit the boat tonight. The holding tank was emptied last year, but I have no idea how full it was since I have no holding tank monitoring system. This issue started showing itself about 3 months ago. The thru hull that brings in the water was replaced 2 years ago when I had the boat hauled and should still be in great shape. There is a anti-siphen valve in the system, so I will check that and see which side it is on. I have never flushed the vent line, so that could be a problem. Not sure if the service I used to empty the holding tank would have done that or not. I can get to it so I will give that a try also. I have never rebuilt the seals on the pump so it might be time.

On a further note, how often should the waste hoses be replaced? Mine feel solid like a rock, but the "flush" never backs up, so I expect the path to be clear to the tank. Based on what type of head I have, maybe it is time to upgrade the system.
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Last edited by LittleWingCA; 09-15-2010 at 08:01 PM.
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Old 09-15-2010
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Wow, haven't pumped out since last year? You must not use your boat enough or drink enough beer.

If you put fresh water in the bowl, can you pump that out?

Do you have a strainer on your intake line?

You could take the intake hose off the pump and see if you get water coming in through the thru-hull. That would only leave the pump.
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