Thursday, March 21, 2013

Head First.

by Riley
Sometimes it’s best to just dive in. One of the first things on my to do list was to replace the head (toilet). It is one of the worst jobs to be had on a boat, and I knew it. I was a little apprehensive about the project, but I figured it wasn't rocket science, so I would just get it over with. 

Thankfully, I thought ahead enough to try flushing a good bit of fresh water through the hoses before I disconnected them. After closing the thru hull valves, I took loose the water inlet hose first, and placed the end in a bucket to drain. It kept draining and draining and draining until it was apparent that it wasn't going to stop. The valve was broken and wasn't closing, it need to be replaced. 

broken thru hull

The working area was extremely tight, and at times, made me lose my religion. Originally, I was just going to replace the head itself. After removing the old, and replacing with the new, I went to try it out. I chose a Jabsco manual head for price and availability of parts. With the outlet hose set to “pump overboard,” just running water through worked flawlessly. So I switched it to go to the holding tank. When I did, I heard a rush of water. I thought to myself, “that sounded odd.” Sewer water had run back from the tank to the head along with some other "solid material" that I'm still telling myself was tree bark because of it's consistency. It clogged the pump valves, causing it to no longer work. I knew nothing at this point about head pumps, but it was apparent that I getting ready to learn. 

In a few minutes, I found myself in a really crappy situation (pun intended). I removed and disassembled the unit, realizing why people just buy new ones. After removing all of the “bark,” I reassembled it with minimal difficulty. Test run number two I don’t care to write about because it went a lot like the first. In the end, I found that the problem was caused by an anti siphon loop on the sewer side that was in the wrong location, causing the waste to run the wrong direction since the holding tank is at a higher elevation.  There was also buildup on the old hose, which is where the "bark" came from. I also added an anti siphon on the water inlet side. The previous installer failed to recognize that the head was below the waterline, which allowed water the ability to siphon into the bowl and possibly flood the boat. So after a new thru hull valve, all new hoses, two new anti siphon loops and the head itself, I have a new toilet. And I'll know how to fix it a little faster heaven forbid, next time. 

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