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Old 06-12-2014, 06:28   #1
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Fresh Water Intake

We sail a 1992 Hunter Passage 42 and are in St Martin right now. The last two times we were empty and filled the tanks our side tank would start to overflow after about 20 gallons.
Wahoo can carry about 150 gals of water in two tanks. We usually get 10 days to 2 weeks when it's just the 2 of us aboard. But about 2 weeks ago we went down to about a week before running out of water. However, as I mentioned above, we could only add about 20 gals to the side tank before it acted full (the vent and the fill started overflowing). This tank normally takes about 85 gals.
We've checked the filter and blown out the lines - all seem clean.
Anyone have a clue as to what's happening?
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Old 06-12-2014, 07:16   #2
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Re: Fresh Water Intake

I suspect your tank isn't emptying.

Each of my two tanks has a valve where the water leaves the tank (at the bottom). They are easy to turn and every once in a while I accidentally close one while working in the bilge. That may be your problem.

Other possibilities are a blockage in the water line or in the tank itself. Can you see the water level through the side of the tank? Can you measure it with a stick?
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Old 06-12-2014, 07:30   #3
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Re: Fresh Water Intake

Thanks for your reply.

Unfortunately we can do neither. The tank is aluminium and there's an elbow which prevents us putting a stick down it.

We also think it isn't emptying, but, here's the strange part which I neglected to put into my first post. We use the 85 gal side tank(this is the problem tank) first. It last 4 - 5 days. We then switch to the 65 gal front tank is last about 4 days, this is about right for the front tank, as we use about 15 gal/day. So the conundrum is how are we getting 4 - 5 days out of the side tank and only being able to put 20 gal in?
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Old 06-12-2014, 07:39   #4
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Re: Fresh Water Intake

I agree, it sounds like for some strange reason the tank is not emptying properly. To see if this is the case and to deal with the elbow problem which prevents a dipstick test, try a flexible length of 1/2 inch hose (or smaller) and feed it through the elbow down to the bottom of the tank. Inhale.

This won't solve the problem but it will bring you closer to determining if the tank still holds water.

You may find there is an issue with the pickup line going into the tank. I would then check that by pulling it off the top (or bottom) of the tank depending on where it is located.

And let us know. This is curious.

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Old 06-12-2014, 07:44   #5
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Re: Fresh Water Intake

Pull the dip tube out and see if it has broken off, all water tanks I've been around draw water from the top, there is a tube that extends close to the bottom, I bet it's broken.

Are your tanks connected in any way?
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Old 06-12-2014, 08:04   #6
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Re: Fresh Water Intake

Time to have a "sit down" and find out if the wife is smugglin' dope in the tank...
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Old 06-12-2014, 08:31   #7
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Re: Fresh Water Intake

Quote:
Originally Posted by a64pilot View Post
.......... all water tanks I've been around draw water from the top, there is a tube that extends close to the bottom, ............
Mine don't. They draw water from the end near the bottom.

Sometimes it's possible to determine the level of a liquid in a metal tank by tapping on it and listening for a change in the sound. In a humid environment, condensation can form on the tank and indicate the level in the tank. An IR thermometer might work for this.

If you can only put twenty gallons of water in an eighty five gallon tank and the vent is not plugged, it's a certainty that the tank wasn't empty to begin with. The question is why?

If there is a dip tube then it being broken or missing (or having a hole in it) is a good possibility
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Old 06-12-2014, 08:52   #8
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Re: Fresh Water Intake

To test it you can fill the tank completely and then pump it off until it is empty, while measuring the amount pumped off with a couple of buckets or a small barrel.
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Old 06-12-2014, 10:52   #9
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Re: Fresh Water Intake

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Originally Posted by rwidman View Post
Mine don't. They draw water from the end near the bottom.

Sometimes it's possible to determine the level of a liquid in a metal tank by tapping on it and listening for a change in the sound. In a humid environment, condensation can form on the tank and indicate the level in the tank. An IR thermometer might work for this.

If you can only put twenty gallons of water in an eighty five gallon tank and the vent is not plugged, it's a certainty that the tank wasn't empty to begin with. The question is why?

If there is a dip tube then it being broken or missing (or having a hole in it) is a good possibility
Can't get to the tank to tap on it. A hole in the dip tube is a possibility.

Obviously it wasn't empty to begin with and was working fine a month ago when we filled both tanks and took on 150 gals of water at Leverick Bay in VG.

We've just come into Fort Luis Marina to work on the problem AND to pick up 3 guests. Sure hope we can figure this out as 5 people on the boat for the next 10 days as we sail to Anguilla and St Bart's will be a challenge with the current condition.
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Old 06-12-2014, 14:35   #10
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Re: Fresh Water Intake

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Originally Posted by Dhillen View Post
I agree, it sounds like for some strange reason the tank is not emptying properly. To see if this is the case and to deal with the elbow problem which prevents a dipstick test, try a flexible length of 1/2 inch hose (or smaller) and feed it through the elbow down to the bottom of the tank. Inhale.

This won't solve the problem but it will bring you closer to determining if the tank still holds water.

You may find there is an issue with the pickup line going into the tank. I would then check that by pulling it off the top (or bottom) of the tank depending on where it is located.

And let us know. This is curious.

Dhillen
Curiouser and curiouser -
So wanting to work with an empty tank we tried to empty whatever was left of the 20 gal we had added to a supposedly empty tank yesterday. We'd already had 3 showers, done dishes and cleaned up the boat didn't think there'd be much left.(if indeed the tank had been empty) We took 20 gal out of the tank before deciding to stop. Next we inserted a wire and indeed there was a good bit of water in the tank. So next we added that 20 gal back. As it wasn't overflowing we added more, 12 gal more.

Our latest thought is the vent line - you can blow through it but it's a wee bit hard. Maybe at some point no more air is getting in. This would certainly make the pump suck air like the tank is empty.

As guests are coming aboard soon we're stopping here and leaving the vent line unattached. (But to be safe we're carrying extra water in jerry cans.)
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Old 06-12-2014, 14:45   #11
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Re: Fresh Water Intake

plugged tank vent. often by bees. or the vent takes a dip in the hose along it's way to the vent.
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Old 06-12-2014, 14:58   #12
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Re: Fresh Water Intake

Re-attach the vent, then when it gets to where it won't suck any more water out, open the fill port, that will now be a vent and verify your diagnosis, or not.
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Old 06-12-2014, 17:02   #13
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Re: Fresh Water Intake

Quote:
Originally Posted by Cheechako View Post
plugged tank vent. often by bees. or the vent takes a dip in the hose along it's way to the vent.
That would be a common case but this is from the original post:

Quote:
we could only add about 20 gals to the side tank before it acted full (the vent and the fill started overflowing).
If the vent started overflowing it isn't clogged.
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Old 06-12-2014, 17:26   #14
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Re: Fresh Water Intake

Yep, I missed that. Although if the vent has a "down loop" in it's travels toward the exit... it can spew water when the tank is not full.
OP: is there a cleanout or any top plate on the tank? try filling with it open....
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Old 06-12-2014, 17:53   #15
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Re: Fresh Water Intake

I had a similar problem on a previous boat. It had a low spot in the vent line, and the fill line did not drop straight into the top of the tank. When water would rest in the low spots it would appear that the tank was full as the water was pushed through the lines by air pressure building up as the tank filled.

If you have this situation, it would be worth rerouting the lines to eliminate water from resting in any low spots.
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