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You will get to know how much poop fits the tank, how many flushes 'til full. You will be able to feel the difference in flushes (assuming manual, non-electric head). You will see the overflow out the vent until you develop this sense the tank is full thing. Then pump outs will be your friend. We have never had a gauge and feel they are prone to failure. Live without, say I!

15 gallons is very small for a tank. Since you guys want to cruise, that is going to be a big factor in your plans. You need some way of emptying that tank when out at sea, away from land where it's legal. Do you have a macerator and overboard discharge? Guys can "direct discharge" over the side which helps but ladies can't. Also, have a "No toilet paper down the toilet" rule. Keeps things from filling and clogging. Keep a trash can for the TP.

At least the tank didn't explode.

Tod


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You might want to put in some poop eating bacteria. You can get the really strong stuff at places like Lowes. I say this, because on an old tank, the same as in a septic system on land, you can get a buildup of sludge in the bottom of the tank that reduces your actual holding capacity.

The bacteria will start to break that stuff up. You need to put it in with lots of water, and then just let the stuff work for a while. (I got turned on to this when living in a used motor home after Katrina that had the same problem).

And, I agree. Long term cruisng wise, a 15 gallon holding tank is pretty small.

I have two 40 gallon holding tanks in my boat (two heads). My problem is just the opposite. I can go a lot longer without needing to empty my tanks than most state water enforcement people (like in some Florida places) believe.
 

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All I can say is Air head - really. Skip the tank and start composting - no float valve/switch/pump out required.
To the OP, sorry to here your woes,
We just installed a natures head, never ever want to go through the inevitable horror of playing the failed marine head game, I have read far to many threads/post about the failures, the aroma, etc, I just don't see the appeal.
I do realize that many folk have success with their marine heads, but I suspect that composting heads will become more and more common place on boats, they make to much sense. Just one mans opinion.
 

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Allow me to vent:

datswite,

I also had a 15gal holding tank, attached to it of all things was a Jabsco macerating electric toilet (BIG flushes). You may imagine the capacity was virtually nil with that little rig. Add to that, the poorly thought out way the system was plumbed.

I had one overflow (quel gachis!), I was hesitant to use the head because of the small capacity, and I could always smell it.

Exactly a week ago Friday, I removed the entire system, and yes even though the tank was empty there was still some stuff in the hoses, so be aware of that. The removal was one of the vilest jobs I've ever had to endure. The formalin (ergo "tank treatment") in the holding tank, once I cut the hoses, fumigated the area and made my nose bleed. It was 100F in the engine compartment and on top of everything else I had to wear a cartridge mask. I thought cleaning up after the overflow was pretty bad, but the tank removal was waaay beyond that.

Now I have two heads 'cause I have a catamaran. (Take that wherever you want.)

On the other side we had experimented with a C-Head. I gotta say, these desiccating/composting heads are IMO the greatest thing since sliced bread. The C-head's containers are in another container, which means that even if you spill, the whole merde is kept in the outer container which is easy to clean. Detractors say that the system is archaic, gallon jug for urine, 5-gal bucket for feces, but I say its simplicity is what is good about it.

The C-head has never, ever smelled bad (well, RIGHT after a deposit, ok.). It did get gnats, and a couple handfuls of diatomaceous earth solved that. I use the effluents to water and amend my garden. AFAIC, the desiccating/composting toilet is the best way to go.

If we were in Florida, which is really good about having pumpout facilities literally everywhere, I might rethink. No, even the empty holding tank smelled bad. Likely because it was time to change the hoses.

Yeah, even maintaining within regular intervals means a vile, vile job with a holding tank system. If the equipment in the C-head gets to stinking, the milk jug goes into the recycler and I bleach the 5-gal bucket. Done. No hoses to install, no worries about capacity, no worries about where I pump out...

I am absolutely sold on the composter. Give it a thought since it sounds like you're having to rip out your system anyway. And if not, I've got a Jabsco macerating electric head, a Jabsco pump head, and a 15-gal holding tank with some hoses. We can make a deal.
 

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Discussion Starter #7
All great ideas!!! I like the idea of the bacteria... sort of like a septic tank system. I'm also curious about the composting heads. Frankly, it comes down to cost. If I can fix the float cheaper than replacing the entire head, I have to go that way. Cruising kitty and safety trump all.
 

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Allow me to vent:

datswite,

I also had a 15gal holding tank, attached to it of all things was a Jabsco macerating electric toilet (BIG flushes). You may imagine the capacity was virtually nil with that little rig. Add to that, the poorly thought out way the system was plumbed.

I had one overflow (quel gachis!), I was hesitant to use the head because of the small capacity, and I could always smell it.

Exactly a week ago Friday, I removed the entire system, and yes even though the tank was empty there was still some stuff in the hoses, so be aware of that. The removal was one of the vilest jobs I've ever had to endure. The formalin (ergo "tank treatment") in the holding tank....
I am amused that these rants against conventional holding tanks systems always start with...
1. the original system was terribly designed (often they do not understand proper design).
2. I used the wrong holding tank treatment (formalin/formaldahyde, which we all agree is an enormous mistake--should have researched that).
3. I went about the repair/removal all wrong (I didn't clean the system out with water flushes first--I've found replacing hoses to be both neat and easy).
... and then they expect other folks to agree. We do agree that mistakes were made.

If we relate a tale of a composting head installation that failed (I believe the percentage is greater than conventional systems) due to some error, we are told, "well that was all their fault."

Just comical.
 

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Discussion Starter #9
I've no complaints about the design. However, I do think that a non-mechanical sensor is better. Given the age of the system, I'm sure what I currently have was common technology at the time of installation.
 

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pdqaltair,

it's always amazing to me that people like you, who know so very much, only expound your knowledge on Internet fora, rather than being published in peer-reviewed publications, or other publications which pay for such knowledge.
 

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pdqaltair,

it's always amazing to me that people like you, who know so very much, only expound your knowledge on Internet fora, rather than being published in peer-reviewed publications, or other publications which pay for such knowledge.
ASTM journals and sailing mags both. Chemical engineer by training and long experience.

Journals and mags don't pay spit, but the writing is fun.
 
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