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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
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My black water hose is clogged between the head and the blackwater tank. I've done the research and found that it is a messy job. I'll be honest. I don't want to do it, but need it done quickly. My wife and I are living aboard (when things are working) and everything is breaking all at once. Our marina is not a liveaboard one, so we are trying to get out on the water instead of spending time on family's couch. I'm at the end of my rope of fixing things. Is there anyone in the Puget Sound / Tacoma area that could unclog the pipe? Willing to pay you and pay you well.
 

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Sounds like the marine repair reaper is in your head. I try to go sailing, when that happens. I understand that’s hard to do with out an operating head.

Painfully, it’s the one job I find boat yards not wanting to prioritize either. Who can blame them.

If your hoses are old, it’s probable that they are clogged with scale and need to be replaced. Best method is to saw them off, plug them with a thru hull wooden plug and toss. Use a heat gun to soften the parts that go over connection barbs.

Wear gloves and be prepared to seriously clean up the head floor. It’s just a nasty job.
 

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Learning the HARD way...
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Buy a "sacrificial" Shop-Vac, and toss it when the job is complete. It will be well worth it.
 
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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
@mink I’m happy to pay what is needed, but I’m not made of money to be able to do that. We’ve sunk more than what we have in two months trying to live aboard. It seems the boat we bought has major issues with every system.

Every place we have called is booked out a month for emergency repairs.3-4 months for regular service. We called a ton to see about getting the engine fixe

Our current plan is to cut the hose and replace it. We picked up tons of towels, gloves, and protective gear to deal with the mess.

what do you do when you move on to a boat with no backup plan? We were told everything was working, but just needed some care? In two months we’ve replaced rigging, lighting, rusted exhaust elbow, coolant, fuel bleed, head pump, propane lines and tanks, fridge, and stuffing box. I just picked up two AGM house batteries as the ones on the boat die very quickly. I dont know that my brain can handle any more emergencies. We are right on the edge of selling her. She could be a great boat, but an older and smaller boat might not be the thing for us.
 

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Learning the HARD way...
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what do you do when you move on to a boat with no backup plan?
As you have discovered, knowledgeable boat owners ALWAYS have a backup plan for EVERYTHING! - especially when docking.
We were told everything was working, but just needed some care?
I am going to go out on a limb, and guess that you did not have a survey.
 
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A clogged hose is not a big deal. Yeah it is smelly, and yeah you have to do some clean up after, but it is a minor job. Get a drain snake from home depot, disconnect one or both ends and run the snake through it. Have buckets ready and pump out your holding tank before you start.

Pay attention to what comes out to see what caused the blockage.

That should get your head up and running again, and if you need to replace the hoses in the future at least it is not an emergency and you can plan properly.

Sent from my SM-G981W using Tapatalk
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
It looks like the snake we picked up and new hoses should fix it. Thanks for all the tips to get the job done.

We didn’t get a survey before hand, but got a safety and rigging one afterwards. We didn’t think it made sense to pay for it as it would be a large percentage of what we paid for the boat to begin with. The PO went through everything with us, but we didn’t know what minor things to look for that would be major ones right away. Boy we were wrong...

Turns out that the stuffing box does need to drip water for cooling as the PO said, but not so much that the auto bilge runs every 20 minutes when the motor is on...
We found that out while the auto bilge was leaking massively and the manual one is broken.
 

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It looks like the snake we picked up and new hoses should fix it. Thanks for all the tips to get the job done.

We didn’t get a survey before hand, but got a safety and rigging one afterwards. We didn’t think it made sense to pay for it as it would be a large percentage of what we paid for the boat to begin with. The PO went through everything with us, but we didn’t know what minor things to look for that would be major ones right away. Boy we were wrong...

Turns out that the stuffing box does need to drip water for cooling as the PO said, but not so much that the auto bilge runs every 20 minutes when the motor is on...
We found that out while the auto bilge was leaking massively and the manual one is broken.
If a survey is a large percentage of the purchase price then you should expect plenty of ongoing repairs. That is just the nature of old used boats.

The stuffing box is no big deal. It is likely to be a simple matter of tightening the nut, unless of course it is a dripless seal...if that is the case you have a more involved repair.

Sent from my SM-G981W using Tapatalk
 

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If you own a boat very long, I would expect that you'll have to deal with some head plumbing. Redoing ours is not not my fondest memory, but it could have been worse. While you are at it, if there is a Y valve in the head plumbing you might want to clean that out too. Also, are you sure that your problem is not partly due to a lougged holding tank vent? I would expect that to make it hard to pump waste out of the head.
 

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Lou Ann
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If you own a boat very long, I would expect that you'll have to deal with some head plumbing. Redoing ours is not not my fondest memory, but it could have been worse. While you are at it, if there is a Y valve in the head plumbing you might want to clean that out too. Also, are you sure that your problem is not partly due to a lougged holding tank vent? I would expect that to make it hard to pump waste out of the head.
Hi everyone, this is not my idea - I recall reading somewhere - get a can of the expanding foam - like what you put around a window - cut one end of the hose and spray that stuff in - do the same for the other end - might be a bit messy ...
 

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Hi Kevin, I also bought an old boat with no survey (until after the purchase)...same reason as you. My head is not even hooked up to the holding tank and I'm also having a hard time finding someone to either 1) put in a connection with Y valve, or 2) take the whole thing out and install a porta potty (which might be my preference). Now that you are experienced, maybe you can come help me out?? ;-) (Or let me know if you found someone). I'm in Des Moines. Thanks!
 

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Discussion Starter · #16 ·
@HunterAgainstTheWind I took a break from our boat issues. We were drowning in "Everything is broken and it's an emergency!". We moved off the boat so that we could rest and so I could get some actual 9-5 work done.

We are waiting for our vaccinations to be complete before we see anyone outside our bubble. I'd be happy to help if I'm able, but I'm still so new to boat work that I'm not sure that I know what I'm doing to hook that up properly.

I've looked at the comments here and in searches and have a plan when I get back to it.

  • Point the Y valve to outside the boat. There shouldn't be much waste at all in that tube by now.
  • Pump clean water through the head and first section of pipe
  • Move Y valve back towards tank.
  • Remove the pump and joker valve
  • Carefully snake the hose through the Y valve and down to the tank
  • Clean up the big mess
  • Plan replacement of hose / Y valve / 90* bend to tank. I may or may not be up for the task right away.
  • Profit!
Otherwise I'll cut the clogged hose, clean up the mess, and replace it using a heat gun to get the old pipe off.

I started into some of this and found that our tank is 2/3 full even after trying to pump out. I think the pumpout port is clogged as well. The vent seems to be working though.
 

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..... or 2) take the whole thing out and install a porta potty.....
I personally think porta potties are only good for emergency use. Maybe on a day sailor, with no head and you need something just in case. The tanks are typically dosed with chemicals that most marinas don't want flushed, let alone the volume of the tank, so one typically needs to take them home. Need I mention the impact of a leak along the way? It sounds like your boat has room for a proper head, if not fully installed. I'd consider the pros and cons of properly designing a flush head, or perhaps you'd adapt to the composting (desiccating) head.
 

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We moved off the boat so that we could rest
I have to admit, from April to Oct, we only go home, when we need to. While not so conscious of it aboard, I do notice that I stop scrapping, bruising, cutting, etc, myself and seem to heel back up, during the few land days. At least this time of year anyway, while it's all projects and commissioning, all day.

Plan replacement of hose / Y valve / 90* bend to tank. I may or may not be up for the task right away.
While your issue may be simple to snake out, it may also be built up scale that won't snake out. If that's the case, it's often much easier to just plug up the old and replace it. New hose is usually a bit more flexible than old too.

I think the pumpout port is clogged as well. The vent seems to be working though.
My first guess would have been the vent. Typically, the pumpout hose is a larger diameter than the one the product traveled through to get in the tank. Then again, it sounds like yours had a lot of time to resolidify in the tank. It's also not uncommon for the pumpout itself to lack sufficient suction.
 

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I just replaced all sanitation hoses during a mini refit.

i used Raritan hose, pretty flexible, in comparison.
 

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@HunterAgainstTheWind I took a break from our boat issues. We were drowning in "Everything is broken and it's an emergency!". We moved off the boat so that we could rest and so I could get some actual 9-5 work done.

We are waiting for our vaccinations to be complete before we see anyone outside our bubble. I'd be happy to help if I'm able, but I'm still so new to boat work that I'm not sure that I know what I'm doing to hook that up properly.

I've looked at the comments here and in searches and have a plan when I get back to it.

  • Point the Y valve to outside the boat. There shouldn't be much waste at all in that tube by now.
  • Pump clean water through the head and first section of pipe
  • Move Y valve back towards tank.
  • Remove the pump and joker valve
  • Carefully snake the hose through the Y valve and down to the tank
  • Clean up the big mess
  • Plan replacement of hose / Y valve / 90* bend to tank. I may or may not be up for the task right away.
  • Profit!
Otherwise I'll cut the clogged hose, clean up the mess, and replace it using a heat gun to get the old pipe off.

I started into some of this and found that our tank is 2/3 full even after trying to pump out. I think the pumpout port is clogged as well. The vent seems to be working though.
I'd go ahead & replace the hoses rather than just trying to snake them at this point (assuming that y ca get to them without too much trauma). Once you start taking the head pump itself off to get to the hose, etc., the extra work to do it right the first time won't add all that much time (again, strongly recommend removing & cleaning the Y valve). Also if you have to disconnect any of the hoses I'd be willing to bet you end up cutting them off anyway; sounds like this has been neglected for quite some time. Old hoses are likely to be permeated with crap etc. and you will have a very hard time getting the head not to smell.

Remember that if your holding tank is not lower than the head, then your step 4 (remove head pump and joker valve) may result in draining the holding tank in what Elon Musk calls an "unscheduled disassembly). You would not want to be under the hose when that happens. Pumping out first is a good idea.
 
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