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· Mermaid Hunter
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The 20+ year old head started to give us some trouble on our 8 day cruise last week. I was getting rinse water down the bowl while in the flush mode (it was pee coming back into the bowl), so obviously I have some seal problems.
Exactly. It is the seal in the pump - an o-ring between the white side and the black side.

What are your experiences using salt water rinse versus fresh water (holding tank), chemicals that help etc.
Raw water (salt, brackish, or fresh) has a lot of organisms living in it. Those die in the plumbing between the thru-hull and the toilet rim and smell bad. Occasionally you'll get something like a baby squid that smells quite awful.

Chemicals are of no utility unless you close the thru-hull, pull the hose, and flush the intake water size with something (hot water with vinegar works well). This is a PITA.

Liveaboards have fewer problems as the regular use of the system itself flushes the rotting organisms through, unless you pick up something that won't fit through the rim holes. Ugh.

Regardless your cleaning regimen will be more frequent with raw water.

* Do NOT plumb directly to potable water. Bugs can swim upstream into the rest of the water system.
Often true but not always.

For conventional manual toilets and those with electric conversions (anything with a two-sided pump) you are at significant risk plumbing fresh water. The pump housing with the handle you use to flush the toilet has white water on one side of the plunger and black water on the other side. There is a single o-ring between. You cannot, even with a new greased o-ring, count on bacteriological separation. You could get sick. You could die. I'm a guy that takes my lunch to work in the morning and eats it at noon with no refrigeration. I wouldn't plumb fresh water to a manual toilet.

In this respect pdqaltair is spot on.

Toilets that are built specifically as electric toilets can be plumbed for fresh water. The Jabsco Quiet-Flush II on Auspicious can be switched between fresh (which we use inshore) and raw water (offshore). Vacuflush toilets can also be plumbed either way or configured with a valve to choose. I think the Lavac can do the same but check with St. Brendan's Isle for details.

The upshot is, as pdqaltair stated, there needs to be an air break just as there is in shore side toilets.
 
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