Head Maintenance


Author
Message
Bill Balme
Bill Balme
Gaining Respect (105 reputation)Gaining Respect (105 reputation)Gaining Respect (105 reputation)Gaining Respect (105 reputation)Gaining Respect (105 reputation)Gaining Respect (105 reputation)Gaining Respect (105 reputation)Gaining Respect (105 reputation)Gaining Respect (105 reputation)
Group: Forum Members
Posts: 244, Visits: 1K
I'm changing the head hoses on Toodle-oo! today. Eugh! Why? Because we've had occasional blockages and last time I realized that the buildup in the hoses was excessive. While I probably could just remove all hoses and bang out the build-up, I thought I'd start fresh with new hoses - and a new vented anti-siphon bend.

I've chosen to use the typical white sanitation hose - but wonder if other folk use other stuff.
How do you stop the build up within head hoses? We use vinegar occasionally - but obviously not frequently enough...


Our plumbing takes waste from the head, via a vented loop, to a holding tank. The tank can either be emptied from the bottom, by gravity via a thru hull or it can be pumped out from a deck fitting.

Unfortunately, the bottom of the tank is not a lot higher than the thru hull and is about 3 feet forward of it, so the lower emptying hose has a very slight gradient - I wish it were a significantly shorter run and therefore steeper... A couple of years ago, after various blockages, I re-plumbed the lower exit to include a macerator pump (force the stuff out!), but was later convinced to remove that from the system as being a disaster waiting to happen when it fails. It's sitting there not attached now.

Question: Would you incorporate the pump or leave it out of the system? If you did incorporate it, how would you facilitate fixing it when it breaks (when of course the tank is full!)?


We've met several boats that don't allow the flushing of any paper products in order to avoid blockages. Is that something you do? (Interestingly, the first boat we encountered that told us this, ended up with a blockage the following week! Too much chocolate??)
The thought of putting paper in a separate container and then having to deal with that is just not appealing...
edited by bbalme on 11/5/2018

Bill Balme
s/v Toodle-oo!

Dick
Dick
I'm into this (378 reputation)I'm into this (378 reputation)I'm into this (378 reputation)I'm into this (378 reputation)I'm into this (378 reputation)I'm into this (378 reputation)I'm into this (378 reputation)I'm into this (378 reputation)I'm into this (378 reputation)
Group: Forum Members
Posts: 613, Visits: 1.3K
Hi Bill,
Some initial thoughts on sanitation hose:
For a long time, I used very expensive multiple ply sanitation hose (usually dark grey in color and always spiral wire re-enforced) that very much had a mind of its own (and lots of strength) when it came to cajoling it into tight spaces and around corners. Hateful to use and like working with steel belted radial tires.
For a decade now, I have been using the far less expensive, far easier to cut and use, white sanitation hose (no wire). Both are smooth interior bored and there is essentially no difference in their functioning, in my experience, for at least 2-4 years or longer (live aboard use).* My program is to swap hoses more frequently: made much easier by…
When first installing, ensure you make a hose schematic and measure each piece accurately. Installation is easy if you use a heat gun warming the whole length of hose and especially the ends where it inserts onto the barbed connections (heat makes far less, maybe no, difference on the expensive multi-ply wire hose). When warm, the white hose is easily turned and cajoled into corners and gotten into places.
Every couple of years, before toilet trouble starts, I buy some more white hose and cut it to the measurements I took when first installing. Removing the old hose is easy: remember there is no wire spiral wrap. Just cut it in the middle, heat it with the heat gun, and pull it off easily after removing the hose clamps. The next piece goes on easily as it fits, just needs to be heated and put on.
One of the more difficult tasks is much easier, that of getting the hose between two fixed places. With the very stiff hose, often a fixed object (vented loop or joker valve assembly) needed to be removed to get the hose on the barbed end. The warmed white hose is more like a noodle, goes on easily and stiffens up considerably as it cools.
The most unappealing part of the work might be to remove the vented loop or diverter valve if it looks caked up and in need of cleaning.**
Please come back with questions/comments.
My best, Dick Stevenson, s/v Alchemy
*The expensive stuff’s only real asset is that it might make any smell less likely to permeate the hose after years of use or if deposits are left to sit. Clogs will be just as likely regardless of the hose as will the caking up of the interior that eventually blocks passage. As to smell, we have never been bothered: possible as we have lived aboard most of the last 16 years. We do make a habit of pumping lot of water through the system after use making sure all deposits are well out of the hoses.
**A strategy I use when dealing with clogs and problems is to use one of the “throw-away” aluminum pans used for meat loaf and the like that are easily bought at a supermarket. I keep a selection of sizes. These are malleable and can always be bent and inserted (or taped in place) to catch fluids that may be caught in hoses and that you really do not want dribbling into the bilge. Loosen the hose clamps at the lower end, slightly crack the hose off the barb and let the pan catch what comes out. Be patient and you will have a very much more agreeable task and the boat will need far less clean-up.
Dick
Dick
I'm into this (378 reputation)I'm into this (378 reputation)I'm into this (378 reputation)I'm into this (378 reputation)I'm into this (378 reputation)I'm into this (378 reputation)I'm into this (378 reputation)I'm into this (378 reputation)I'm into this (378 reputation)
Group: Forum Members
Posts: 613, Visits: 1.3K
Hi Bill,
Vinegar does nothing.
Please see: https://marinehowto.com/vinegar-in-the-head-does-it-work/
This site is brilliant and I trust this guy implicitely.
My best, Dick
Dick
Dick
I'm into this (378 reputation)I'm into this (378 reputation)I'm into this (378 reputation)I'm into this (378 reputation)I'm into this (378 reputation)I'm into this (378 reputation)I'm into this (378 reputation)I'm into this (378 reputation)I'm into this (378 reputation)
Group: Forum Members
Posts: 613, Visits: 1.3K
Hi Bill,

Thoughts on your questions in red below.
Come back with questions/comments, My best, Dick Stevenson, s/v Alchemy
Our plumbing takes waste from the head, via a vented loop, to a holding tank. Why go to a vented loop?. Holding tanks are (or should be) vented to accommodate pressure changes and should suffice to prevent any back-siphoning. Much simpler to go straight to the holding tank (HT). The tank can either be emptied from the bottom, by gravity via a thru hull or it can be pumped out from a deck fitting. This can be a nice system and one I have thought about installing on Alchemy.

Unfortunately, the bottom of the tank is not a lot higher than the thru hull and is about 3 feet forward of it, so the lower emptying hose has a very slight gradient - I wish it were a significantly shorter run and therefore steeper... Question: is there a valve (seacock) on the through-hull fitting for the HT? How far below water line is the seacock? Assuming there is one, is the valve always open and therefore always “draining” the tank or is the valve only opened when the tank has sufficient deposit to wish to empty? Is it 1.5 inch hose/through hull?
A couple of years ago, after various blockages, I re-plumbed the lower exit Did you cut a hole in the bottom of the HT? Most HTs are designed not to have a hole in the bottom because of the possibility of leaks: all input and output is done from the top or high up the sides. to include a macerator pump (force the stuff out!), but was later convinced to remove that from the system as being a disaster waiting to happen when it fails. It's sitting there not attached now. Question: Would you incorporate the pump or leave it out of the system? If you did incorporate it, how would you facilitate fixing it when it breaks (when of course the tank is full!)? Generally, I would anticipate a system, such as I imagine yours to be, as self-cleaning (to some extent) and self-emptying. With the action of the boat through waves, clean sea water is pushed into the HT and then drawn out given a natural flushing action. A macerator would just interfere with that and introduce more points of failure or leaks. Even at anchor gravity should allow the emptying of the tank (or emptying to the level to the extent the HT is above the water line). If clogs are occurring because deposits are just too thick to naturally “fall through and out” I would be surprised. Usually travel through a joker valve squeezes some of the life out of these deposits and the paper should just fall apart in short order. If a macerator is introduced at all, I would see it as being one attached to the toilet: Raritan makes one and I am sure others do as well. Once these units are finished, everything is essentially liquid and should just drain away.

We've met several boats that don't allow the flushing of any paper products in order to avoid blockages. Is that something you do? No, but we are very sure that our TP is one that disintegrates easily. Practical Sailor magazine had an article on this in recent years. (Interestingly, the first boat we encountered that told us this, ended up with a blockage the following week! Too much chocolate??)
The thought of putting paper in a separate container and then having to deal with that is just not appealing...We have done this when we have run out of TP and used land based TP: it is less un-appealing than anticipated—no big deal.
Dick
Dick
I'm into this (378 reputation)I'm into this (378 reputation)I'm into this (378 reputation)I'm into this (378 reputation)I'm into this (378 reputation)I'm into this (378 reputation)I'm into this (378 reputation)I'm into this (378 reputation)I'm into this (378 reputation)
Group: Forum Members
Posts: 613, Visits: 1.3K
OOPs, The red did not come out. I hope you can decipher. D
Dick
Dick
I'm into this (378 reputation)I'm into this (378 reputation)I'm into this (378 reputation)I'm into this (378 reputation)I'm into this (378 reputation)I'm into this (378 reputation)I'm into this (378 reputation)I'm into this (378 reputation)I'm into this (378 reputation)
Group: Forum Members
Posts: 613, Visits: 1.3K
The following format may be easier to follow.
Hi Bill,
Thoughts on your questions follow asterisks below.
Come back with questions/comments, My best, Dick Stevenson, s/v Alchemy
Our plumbing takes waste from the head, via a vented loop, to a holding tank.*
Why go to a vented loop?. Holding tanks are (or should be) vented to accommodate pressure changes and should suffice to prevent any back-siphoning. Much simpler to go straight to the holding tank (HT). The tank can either be emptied from the bottom, by gravity via a thru hull or it can be pumped out from a deck fitting.*
This can be a nice system and one I have thought about installing on Alchemy.

Unfortunately, the bottom of the tank is not a lot higher than the thru hull and is about 3 feet forward of it, so the lower emptying hose has a very slight gradient - I wish it were a significantly shorter run and therefore steeper...*
Question: is there a valve (seacock) on the through-hull fitting for the HT? How far below water line is the seacock? Assuming there is one, is the valve always open and therefore always “draining” the tank or is the valve only opened when the tank has sufficient deposit to wish to empty? Is it 1.5 inch hose/through hull?
A couple of years ago, after various blockages, I re-plumbed the lower exit *
Did you cut a hole in the bottom of the HT? Most HTs are designed not to have a hole in the bottom because of the possibility of leaks: all input and output is done from the top or high up the sides. to include a macerator pump (force the stuff out!), but was later convinced to remove that from the system as being a disaster waiting to happen when it fails. It's sitting there not attached now. Question: Would you incorporate the pump or leave it out of the system? If you did incorporate it, how would you facilitate fixing it when it breaks (when of course the tank is full!)?*
Generally, I would anticipate a system, such as I imagine yours to be, as self-cleaning (to some extent) and self-emptying. With the action of the boat through waves, clean sea water is pushed into the HT and then drawn out given a natural flushing action. A macerator would just interfere with that and introduce more points of failure or leaks. Even at anchor gravity should allow the emptying of the tank (or emptying to the level to the extent the HT is above the water line). If clogs are occurring because deposits are just too thick to naturally “fall through and out” I would be surprised. Usually travel through a joker valve squeezes some of the life out of these deposits and the paper should just fall apart in short order. If a macerator is introduced at all, I would see it as being one attached to the toilet: Raritan makes one and I am sure others do as well. Once these units are finished, everything is essentially liquid and should just drain away.

We've met several boats that don't allow the flushing of any paper products in order to avoid blockages. Is that something you do?*
No, but we are very sure that our TP is one that disintegrates easily. Practical Sailor magazine had an article on this in recent years. (Interestingly, the first boat we encountered that told us this, ended up with a blockage the following week! Too much chocolate??)
The thought of putting paper in a separate container and then having to deal with that is just not appealing...*
We have done this when we have run out of TP and used land based TP: it is less un-appealing than anticipated—no big deal.
Bill Balme
Bill Balme
Gaining Respect (105 reputation)Gaining Respect (105 reputation)Gaining Respect (105 reputation)Gaining Respect (105 reputation)Gaining Respect (105 reputation)Gaining Respect (105 reputation)Gaining Respect (105 reputation)Gaining Respect (105 reputation)Gaining Respect (105 reputation)
Group: Forum Members
Posts: 244, Visits: 1K
Thanks for all those thoughts Dick!

I can confirm that I have previously used the thick grey reinforced hose - got rid of it all this time around - not the easiest to deal with! It's now all white!

I proceeded too quickly - so replaced what was there - including vented loop. Next time, I think I'll be going direct from the head to the tank and eliminate the loop. Good idea. (Good job therefore that I didn't follow your recommendation to pre-cut the next batch of hoses!)

It was the thru-hull that I replaced and the new one stands rather higher than the old - exacerbating the gradual gradient - but I take your point -it probably is doing some degree of cleaning when the thru hull is open. Anyone want to buy a slightly used macerator pump - and another new in the box spare!

Thanks for the link about the vinegar - I somewhat figured it was a waste of time and now that I have independent verification, perhaps I can convince the Admiral to stop the process!!!

Cheers!
edited by bbalme on 11/6/2018
edited by bbalme on 11/6/2018

Bill Balme
s/v Toodle-oo!

GO

Merge Selected

Merge into selected topic...



Merge into merge target...



Merge into a specific topic ID...




Login

Search