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Old 05-07-2011, 13:35   #16
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Re: Head odors

Sometimes it is what Peggie says, sometimes it is an anaerobic problem like what Extemporaneous shared. My boat's holding tank smelled so bad that flushing the head was life-threatening ... not good since I live aboard. My boat had a single 0.5" vent on the tank, and once I learned that is not enough ventilation to prevent an anaerobic environment I hoped to schedule new tank vents for the day or two after I died, which probably would have been pretty soon if I didn't get a Round Tuit last month.

Fortunately, new vents made it to the top of The List three weeks ago, and my tank became ODOR FREE THAT DAY.

First, thoroughly check out anything Peggie has to say and try that. If you still have the smell then it is probably due to the waste living in an anaerobic environment and you will need to add an additional vent to your tank, and/or possibly also enlarge the existing tank vent. This is not fun, and not easy, or cheap if you do not do your own work.

On my tank I installed two 5/8" vents, one port and one stbd, to get some cross ventilation, and glassed over the old 1/2" vent. It was a little complicated because my boat has a fiberglass tank and I used threaded Marelon hose fittings with a 3/8"-thick piece of PVC with an embedded PVC coupling as the go-between (praise West System Tech Support ). But really, the only bad part was the smell from drilling the two new holes into the holding tank and cutting off the old fitting. WEAR A GOOD RESPIRATOR and do this on a day every window and hatch can be open.

For tank treatment, as an Environmental Scientist in my previous life I do not support the approval from the Men In White Coats who claim Better Living Through Chemistry. Excrement is natural and if natural ways of breaking it down had not evolved along with it we would be awash with excrement instead of water for our boats. Whether you pump-out at a marina or pump-out at sea, Earth is our home, please be kind and thoughtful about what you discharge from your boat - or house. Remember the adage, "you can't throw anything away, it just goes someplace else," and in the end that "someplace else" is usually our water. Be aware, sewage treatment plants do not remove many chemicals, and their "treated" effluent gets discharged in our rivers and oceans. To get my tank biologically "happy" I tried the 100%biodegradable enzyme CAMCO RV Toilet Treatment Drop-INS. In the USA these are available at Wal-Mart, or try www.camco.net.

Do question Peggie for advice first, she is an expert in her field and much more pleasant than adding new tank vents.

However, I Strongly disagree with T-ing intakes into drains - things go out drains that you do not want to bring back into boat systems. Keep intakes separate from the drains, inside and outside the vessel. If I surveyed a boat and found an intake on a drain, or an intake too close to a drain, I would write it up in the findings.

Bazzer and silversailor - I am not familiar with the Jabso head, but compared to my boat's Raritan head, it sounds like the o-rings on your pumps may have torn/broken. Sad but true, I named my head Caesar because of the regular vinegar and mineral oil treatments it needs to function properly.

Priscilla
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Old 05-07-2011, 15:26   #17
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Re: Head odors

A couple of things...

The holding tank is rarely if ever the source of odor INSIDE the boat...cuz unles the tank is leaking, odor from inside the tank only has one place to go: out the tank vent. There can be several sources for odor INSIDE the boat--permeate sanitation hoses and/or wet dirty bilges and sumps can make a whole boat smell like a swamp or even a sewer. If the odor is confined to the head, look to the shower sump and the head intake...and, replace the joker valve, 'cuz that's the only thing that can allow odor from inside the tank to escape inside the boat except an open porthole or hatch downwind of the tank vent.

I Strongly disagree with T-ing intakes into drains - things go out drains that you do not want to bring back into boat systems.

You'd have to argue that one with several boat builders who do it...Tartan was one in the '90s...not sure whether they still do, but others do.

You're not using gray water from the sink to flush, you're using the same sea water you've been using, just pulling in through a different hole in the boat. And since very few people can manage to use the sink and flush the toilet at the same time, it's HIGHLY unlikely that anything can be pulled back up the sink that couldn't be pulled in through a dedicated toilet intake thru-hull. The only thing that matters is whether the toilet discharge thru-hull is aft of the toilet intake...whether it's the sink drain OR a dedicated intake thru-hull.

If you really need a "combo" to take exception to, consider how many boats use the head intake thru-hull for both the toilet flush water and a sea water washdown pump....just THINK of all the toilet creepy crawlies the washdown pump can spray all over the deck! (I'm kidding!)

I think if you give this some more thought, you'll realize that combining sink drain and toilet intake to use the same thru-hull has no downside whatever, but has several advantages, not the least of which is, it eliminates a hole in the hull. Which is why builders do it...it saves 'em the cost of a thru-hull and seacock.
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Old 15-07-2011, 09:50   #18
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Re: Head Odors

Increasing the ventilation in the holding tank is a good idea, having said that, why do pit toilets still smell so bad? I solved the problem of holding tank smell by using a fresh water flush instead of sea water. I teed off the domestic water supply line and plumbed it directly to the rim connection bypassing the Jabsco hand pump. When I first experimented with the upgrade I used a ball valve then after seeing how well it worked I took the ball valve out and replace it with an electric valve. I found that the valves used for lawn sprinkler systems worked in my 12 volt system. You still have to pump the head to flush but now you push a button to introduce fresh water into the bowl. Result, no head smell. Speaking of Jabsco head pumps, I too spent the money to “upgrade” the head pump to a locking pump designed to seal off the outflow from back flowing. It’s a design that failed to work from day one. The idea is sound, push a seal against the hose fitting to seal it off and lock the plunger down but somehow Jabsco failed to make it work. Don’t spend the money.
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Old 15-07-2011, 10:51   #19
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Re: Head Odors

I teed off the domestic water supply line and plumbed it directly to the rim connection bypassing the Jabsco hand pump.

Oh dear...you're just ASKING for e-coli in your potable water supply! NO toilet designed to use raw water (sea water) should ever be connected to the fresh water plumbing, and EVERY toilet mfrs specifically warns against it in their installation instructions...'cuz it cannot be done without risk of polluting the potable water supply, damage to the pump, or both. So it's not surprising that the Jabsco "Twist 'n' Lock" function didn't work for you...it's horrible idea, but it does work as advertised when the toilet is installed correctly.

Toilets designed to use raw water PULL flush water in...pressurized flush water PUSHES water through the pump, which messes up the seals, valves and o-rings. By connecting the line directly to the bowl, bypassing the pump, you've avoided that problem while creating another one that's equally damaging to the pump. What's in the bowl only goes through the bottom part of the pump...so the rest of the pump stays dry, which wears out the seals, valves and o-rings it very quickly.

Please don't argue that you don't drink the water so there's no risk...'cuz you ingest a lot more of it than you think you do. You wash your hands, then pick up a sandwich...wash dishes in it...it gets into your ears, nose, mouth and "privates" when you bathe in it...so you DO "drink" the water that's in the same plumbing that's connected to your toilet bowl...and bacteria do migrate. Toilets that are designed to use pressurized flush water have check valves and vacuum breakers installed--neither of which you've installed--to prevent bacteria from migrating into the fresh water supply. So while you've actually cobbled up a pretty good fresh water washdown pump, you've put yourself, your crew and any guests at risk by replumbing the toilet as you've done.

There ARE safe ways to supply fresh water to the toilet to eliminate sea water odor...the simplest is to reroute the head intake line to tee it into the head sink drain line (several boat builders do it, btw). There's been discussion here about it recently...I suggest you find the thread and read all about it.

Btw...there's so much bacteria in waste that holding tanks don't even notice whether the flush water is sea water or fresh. The odor that you THOUGHT was coming from the tank is actually stagnant sea water in the pump and head discharge line. Replacing the joker valve at least once a year and rinsing the sea water out of the head discharge line before the boat sits would eliminate any odor except that from sea water left to sit in the INTAKE...and that can be eliminated by teeing the intake into the head sink discharge line.

Oh...why do pit toilets smell so bad? Most of the odor is from the chemicals used in 'em. However, chemicals exhaust themselves, especially as new waste is added...requiring additional chemicals...which, if not added often enough leave us with the wonderful aroma of waste AND chemical.
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Old 15-07-2011, 11:06   #20
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Re: Head Odors

I have changed my head intake to the sink drain as well because I was always getting a smell in the intake lines after the boat has set unused for a while. I now just close the throughhull, as I always do leaving the boat, and run enough water in the sink to flush the lines. Haven't had that smell since and closed one throughhull.
When I use the sink drain as intake I have not noticed any difference in the water now from what I was getting from the throughhull that was positioned 3-4 inches away from the drain. But the big question for people who are worried about this is "What would you put down a drain into the water that you would be that afraid of flushing into your toilet?"

Jim
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