Septic tank stank, I can't do it anymore! - Page 5 - SailNet Community
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post #41 of 50 Old 10-03-2017
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Re: Septic tank stank, I can't do it anymore!

Stop using vinegar and save some money.

http://www.pbase.com/mainecruising/vinegar_in_the_head

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post #42 of 50 Old 10-03-2017
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Re: Septic tank stank, I can't do it anymore!

Another myth dispelled - looks like the vinegar theory (I think it originally came from the Head Mistress) seems to be debunked.
Let's call this one BUSTED.
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post #43 of 50 Old 10-03-2017
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Re: Septic tank stank, I can't do it anymore!

As best I recall, Peggy Hall, The Head Mistress, also debunked the vinegar myth. It's one of those myths that never made any sense to me anyway. A properly flushed head, leaves nothing in the waste lines, other than perhaps the lift to a vented loop. Even then, it should only be clear, clean water. Can't figure how the vinegar would have had the chance to work, even if it actually did.

The primary mistake people make with marine heads, is they don't clear the lines out, thinking they will self empty, like a household toilet.


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post #44 of 50 Old 10-03-2017
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Re: Septic tank stank, I can't do it anymore!

"We are already shopping for a 33ft+ boat this winter..."

I just happen to have one of these for sale! 1973 Morgan Out Island 33 sailboat for sale in Maryland

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post #45 of 50 Old 10-03-2017
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Re: Septic tank stank, I can't do it anymore!

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Originally Posted by Minnewaska View Post
As best I recall, Peggy Hall, The Head Mistress, also debunked the vinegar myth. It's one of those myths that never made any sense to me anyway. A properly flushed head, leaves nothing in the waste lines, other than perhaps the lift to a vented loop. Even then, it should only be clear, clean water. Can't figure how the vinegar would have had the chance to work, even if it actually did.

The primary mistake people make with marine heads, is they don't clear the lines out, thinking they will self empty, like a household toilet.
I tell guests to pump till you see nothing and then a minimum of ten more pumps. Seems to work.

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post #46 of 50 Old 10-04-2017
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Re: Septic tank stank, I can't do it anymore!

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I tell guests to pump till you see nothing and then a minimum of ten more pumps. Seems to work.
Good plan. Since I've had to do maintenance to my holding tank (replaced the tank), I had the opportunity to see exactly how much water it took to clear a line. The amount of water it takes to get the beginning of the contents to the tank is much less than what it take to clear the line. Every set up is a bit different. The laminated instructions I leave for guests, call for 2X that amount I determined mine requires.

Still, guests leave and, when I go to clean up, I see little bits of paper in the water at the bottom of the bowl. You know the rest is just past the joker valve, a few inches behind that bowl outlet, settling back down on it in a clump. Non-sailing guests just can't wrap their heads around the fact that marine waste lines don't gravity drain like their house. Or they don't understand how either works and just assume, if you can't see it, it's done. This is how heads get clogged. You can use paper in your heads, if it's flushed properly. If it isn't, those solids settle, become more dense as gravity works on them and they hold the joker valve closed by surrounding it.

I now go to every head, after guests depart and flush plenty of clear water through them. If they are with us for the weekend, I will do this at least once per day, when they are above decks. We often dump the holding tank offshore, as we transit the islands. SOP is to go around and put a gallon or two through each head either before or during the dump to clear them out well.


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post #47 of 50 Old 10-04-2017
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Re: Septic tank stank, I can't do it anymore!

@Minnewaska , you have just sold me on a Vacuflush system - again!


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post #48 of 50 Old 10-04-2017
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Re: Septic tank stank, I can't do it anymore!

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@Minnewaska , you have just sold me on a Vacuflush system - again!
That's the gold flush standard, for sure. Essentially, guest proof, unless they fill the bowl with TP. But you pay up, don't you. I'm going to make a point of checking into them again at this year's boat shows. My recollection is about $5k to fully retrofit a single head?

The one we use the most is in our stateroom. It needs a full rebuild, from hoses to pumps and valves. If ever there was a time to do it, now would be the time. It's all getting ripped out. That's been a hard check to write though.


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post #49 of 50 Old 10-04-2017
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Re: Septic tank stank, I can't do it anymore!

It was "professionally" installed on my boat. My analysis of the PO's records indicates that he did indeed write a check for about $6K. About $3100 of this was labor.

I ripped out all of the "professional" work (before I earned my ABYC certification), because the "professionals" did a piss-poor job (wiring was all run through the bilge, the hoses were single clamped and had dips), replaced the duck bill valves, rebuilt the bowl to solve an air leak and re-installed the rest of the system. That was in 2011, and I haven't had to maintain or repair it since.

Also, getting back to the point of the thread, I do not leave effluent in the holding tank for more than a day or two.


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Last edited by eherlihy; 10-04-2017 at 08:22 AM.
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post #50 of 50 Old 10-04-2017
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Re: Septic tank stank, I can't do it anymore!

Besides holding tank capacity, I think motion impacts the appropriate interval between emptying a holding tank. If there are solids in the tank, I agree with the day or two limit at the slip. If just #1 and no paper, I'm sure longer is fine. If cruising about and constantly churning the contents up, I'm not as concerned with interval as whether we're reaching capacity. I always add a tank bacteria booster, after each emptying.

In the end, it seems proximity to a pump out station or an offshore leg for dumping overboard are taken advantage of, whenever they present themselves, just to reset the clock. Rarely does that mean more than few days anyway.


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