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Old 20-04-2016, 12:00   #1
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Any reason to leave in head holding tank when ripping out head?

Hi,

Weary of head odor woes and pumping, we are ripping out a Jabsco head and replacing it with an Airhead composting toilet. Are there any reasons that people might leave in the holding tank for future use? One possible reason seems to be as a holding tank for gray water if we are ever in a harbor or somewhere truly pristine. Just thought I'd ask before hauling it away.

Thanks,
Eve
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Old 20-04-2016, 12:26   #2
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Re: Any reason to leave in head holding tank when ripping out head?

I think retaining the old holding tank for possible use for gray water might be a good idea IF:

- you don't need that space for other storage or equipment
- the holding tank itself isn't part of the odor problem
- it's accessible to plumb the gray water to it.
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Old 20-04-2016, 12:26   #3
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Re: Any reason to leave in head holding tank when ripping out head?

Remove the tank. It can always be replaced with a smaller one if needed.
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Old 20-04-2016, 12:51   #4
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Re: Any reason to leave in head holding tank when ripping out head?

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Originally Posted by peghall View Post
Remove the tank. It can always be replaced with a smaller one if needed.
Hi Peg,

Good to see you're still on the forum.

Eve, listen to Peg's recommendations. She actually wrote the book on head odors.

Speaking of the book on head odors, does your book address other odors, for example the musty, mildewy, diesel, bilgey smells that seem to permeate everything on a boat? I walked into a store a few weeks ago wearing a jacket that had been left on the boat for no more that 2-3 days. The guy at the register turned out to be a boater. I found out because he immediately asked if I had a boat since he could smell it on my jacket.
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Old 20-04-2016, 13:05   #5
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Re: Any reason to leave in head holding tank when ripping out head?

I installed an airhead on one of my boats. I had a small holding tank for urine which I felt was much preferable to emptying bottles.
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Old 20-04-2016, 14:32   #6
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Re: Any reason to leave in head holding tank when ripping out head?

I can answer the question about Peg's book...yes it does address other odors! In attempting to address our head odors, we ended up addressing others...and have a prissy clean bilge. The book helped us figure out our odor problems and how to fix them, but doing so would be complicated and expensive as we are not prepared to do the work ourselves and such work is billed at over $100 per hour where we are.

Thanks skipmac for your reply... I don't think we can put anything else in the difficult to access space that the tank is in. In fact, the location will make it fairly challenging to remove, which is one reason we were thinking about leaving it in place.

The holding tank may well be part of the problem...I think that it has inadequate and wrongly placed venting. We could address that. We could have fixed the system, but the cost to redo the problematic aspects would have been fairly high, and we would still have a standard system, which seems problem prone.

Yes, I think it is sufficiently accessible to plumb the graywater to it. And as nautical62 suggests, we might want to plumb an option to pump urine into the tank. I've heard of others doing that as well.
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Old 20-04-2016, 14:37   #7
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Re: Any reason to leave in head holding tank when ripping out head?

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Originally Posted by peghall View Post
Remove the tank. It can always be replaced with a smaller one if needed.
Thanks, Peg. It's a thrill to meet you electronically. We found your book very helpful.

I forgot to say that removing the tank looks like it will be difficult as it is large and wedged in a difficult to reach spot at the back of our boat. We will also have to carry the empty tank through the boat to get it out, which seems potentially messy.

Can you say why you think it ought to be removed? Can it do any harm if left in place, assuming we make sure it is empty and vented properly?
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Old 20-04-2016, 18:16   #8
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Re: Any reason to leave in head holding tank when ripping out head?

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Originally Posted by Chat de Mer View Post
I can answer the question about Peg's book...yes it does address other odors! In attempting to address our head odors, we ended up addressing others...and have a prissy clean bilge. The book helped us figure out our odor problems and how to fix them, but doing so would be complicated and expensive as we are not prepared to do the work ourselves and such work is billed at over $100 per hour where we are.

Thanks skipmac for your reply... I don't think we can put anything else in the difficult to access space that the tank is in. In fact, the location will make it fairly challenging to remove, which is one reason we were thinking about leaving it in place.

The holding tank may well be part of the problem...I think that it has inadequate and wrongly placed venting. We could address that. We could have fixed the system, but the cost to redo the problematic aspects would have been fairly high, and we would still have a standard system, which seems problem prone.

Yes, I think it is sufficiently accessible to plumb the graywater to it. And as nautical62 suggests, we might want to plumb an option to pump urine into the tank. I've heard of others doing that as well.
Sounds like leaving the tank in might be the easiest option. Of course easiest isn't always best but in this case may be so; if you can ventilate it properly, make sure there's no spillage, seepage, and any remaining hoses aren't smelling. I installed new holding tanks and new, larger vents that lead outboard. Haven't yet put "stuff" in the tank but am optimistic it will be odor and trouble free.

On the other hand, even after some aggressive cleaning I still have too much boat smell. I was able to get plenty of hints for head smell free on the forum but may bite the bullet and buy the book.

I also like the idea of using the old tank for urine from the new head. To me having to dump urine is one of the big negatives to composting heads.
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Old 20-04-2016, 18:43   #9
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Re: Any reason to leave in head holding tank when ripping out head?

Yes, get the book! It is well worth the cost for the advice on the many sources of bad odor and the best ways to eradicate them. Our old boat smelled terrible - probably the bilge and diesel fumes permeating all through the boat. After reading the book, I can look into hidden spaces and think about what to do to keep them smelling nice. For example, at a recent boat show, I bought some Kanberra tea tree gel and hung it in the space where the bilge and the head (with stinky hoses) is.

I think that mildewy smell grows over time from dampness or even just humidity in closed spaces. I think we could use more products to absorb moisture to inhibit the growth of things in the dark, dank spaces.

I'm going to go order some damp rid right now!
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Old 20-04-2016, 18:54   #10
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Re: Any reason to leave in head holding tank when ripping out head?

Make sure whatever the tank is sitting on or is butted up against is not permeated with odors. Plywood can really reek if it is not totally sealed.
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Old 20-04-2016, 20:08   #11
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Re: Any reason to leave in head holding tank when ripping out head?

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Originally Posted by skipmac View Post
On the other hand, even after some aggressive cleaning I still have too much boat smell. I was able to get plenty of hints for head smell free on the forum but may bite the bullet and buy the book.
Fwiw, the "New Get Rid of Boat Odors," 2nd edition, updated, revised and expanded was just released in February...available from amazon in both hard copy and kindle. If there's an odor on a boat I didn't address in this one, I don't know what it could be.

As for leaving the tank in place to use for urine or gray water, you'd still have smelly hoses that would have to be replaced...and, gray water and urine will create much the same odor problems you're switching to an Airhead to get rid of. Plastic tanks don't permeate so any residual odor after it's removed would either be from a leaking fitting or permeated hoses...but on the plus side, once you replace the permeated hoses with top quality hoses that don't permeate and make some mods in the plumbing and venting...and THEN get rid of the residual odors (which is easy with the right products), your troubles with your existing system will be over. The cost do all that, even if you have to pay for help with it, will be less than the price of an Airhead. It truly ain't that difficult to have an odor free system once you learn how, and that ain't rocket science either! I'll be be glad to help you.
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Old 21-04-2016, 08:54   #12
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Re: Any reason to leave in head holding tank when ripping out head?

We gave up on our head entirely. Unless you are going to be a week at sea, why have the stupid thing. They cause nothing but problems. Instead, we use camping poop bags... they are odorless, work perfectly, don't cost a lot, and there is never any mess. It's a whole lot easier to deal with. Usually we are only on the boat for a week or so at a time, most of which is spent at one dock or another... I think most boats are totally designed incorrectly. They need to have good trash management, not finiky, leaking, smelly heads and black water tanks!
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Old 21-04-2016, 09:40   #13
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Re: Any reason to leave in head holding tank when ripping out head?

It's only a matter of time until most, if not all, marinas/waterways require grey water holding tanks, for my money keep it and hook it up.
Bill


Quote:
Originally Posted by Chat de Mer View Post
Hi,

Weary of head odor woes and pumping, we are ripping out a Jabsco head and replacing it with an Airhead composting toilet. Are there any reasons that people might leave in the holding tank for future use? One possible reason seems to be as a holding tank for gray water if we are ever in a harbor or somewhere truly pristine. Just thought I'd ask before hauling it away.

Thanks,
Eve
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Old 21-04-2016, 09:45   #14
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Re: Any reason to leave in head holding tank when ripping out head?

Resale value. Replacing the head is simple. Replacing the whole system is not. Your buyer may not agree with your decision. In fact if the head you ripout is in good shape and you have a place to store it, I would keep it in case a buyer wants it. You have probable done some research but my understanding is that odor problems are fairly easy to solve. Have you read Peggy's book?
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Old 21-04-2016, 22:18   #15
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Re: Any reason to leave in head holding tank when ripping out head?

If you really want to take the tank out, you can do it in pieces. Just take a cordless multi-tool to it, and remove it bit by bit.


HOWEVER - if I was looking at buying a boat that did not have a proper toilet and could not be easily converted back, I would not want it. So heed others suggestions there - re-sale value may be a consideration.


As to odours - on our boat we have two Jabsco electric flush heads going to holding tanks, and still do not have an odour problem after now 5 years, so it can be done.
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